Never Be the Same: Character Blurbs Part Two


She brushed her hands off and reached for the locket around her neck, opening the front with its glittery dragonfly engraving to check the time on the small clock inside. Fifteen minutes until the buyers were scheduled to be here. She’d been working with them long enough by now to know that meant she had twenty minutes to finish getting ready. She walked through the house, humming a wordless tune to herself, turning off lights and letting the golden sunlight filter through the windows into the bare rooms, suffusing them with a welcoming warmth. She’d been lucky they were able to meet at this time of the day. It was the perfect hour for viewing in this part of town. Every room looked inviting, full of possibility. Perfect for a young couple just starting out, imagining their future together. As she went, she collected the tea lights she’d left to burn during her pre-showing cleaning. Nothing too obtrusive. Just enough to leave a light, fresh, homey scent lingering in the air. One more bit of enticement for prospective new owners.

These buyers were choosy, and she’d shown them almost every listing in their price range already. But today they’d called and asked to see this one again. She had a good feeling about it. Everything she knew about them led her to think that this was their home. She just had to help them see it. She paused in the bathroom to glance in the mirror. Straighten the skirt, smooth out the blouse. A small frown creased her forehead when she caught sight of a streak of pink in her hair. “Damn,” she murmured. “I thought I’d washed all of that out.” It might not be a big deal, but she didn’t want to distract the buyers, so she pulled out her braid and redid it with swift, efficient movements, making sure to cover up the tell-tale sign of her night life. Satisfied that it was taken care of, she took a deep breath and met her own eyes in the mirror. “Right, then,” she told herself, practicing a wholesome, welcoming smile. “Let’s turn on the charm.” Not too much, of course, she never wanted any of her buyers to regret their decision. But she was confident this was the right match. Just enough to seal the deal couldn’t hurt.

The doorbell rang and her smile widened. She headed for the front door, humming to herself again, relishing the subtle shift in the air. It was time to work her magic.


She scanned the playground with eyes narrowed against the sun. A quick adjustment to her hat brought slight relief, and she went back to watching the children. Nothing too rowdy today, but it was early yet. Groups played tag, hopscotch, and four square on the pavement. A boy with scraped knees ran by her, laughing with glee as a girl chased him. “I am a mighty triceratops!” she cried, barely able to get the words out over a giggle. “You stay away from my eggs, you nasty mammoth!”

“Slow down,” she called, trying to keep her own laughter out of her voice. The imaginations on these kids. “Watch where you’re going! Don’t run into anyone.”

“Yes, ma’am!” the girl called back over her shoulder. She and her friend slowed by a small fraction, speeding up again once they were clear of their classmates.

She went back to keeping a watch on things, catching the eyes of the other teacher on duty and exchanging nods. She started running a mental checklist. Rehearsal tonight, so she needed to get out of school on time today. Her nose wrinkled at the thought of the paperwork that waited in her office, but after morning recess wrapped up, she had a free hour. She thought she could knock out most of it then. The third graders were on a field trip today, too, so she’d let the few kids who hadn’t been able to go watch a movie. That would give her a chance to finish catching up.

Did she need to run by the store on the way home? She’d gone shopping on the weekend, so she had snacks, and Bobby said something about bringing cookies. She was low on beer. If she got out early enough, she’d swing by the store and pick up a couple of six-packs. Otherwise she could text someone else to bring some. No one minded chipping in, since she let them stash their gear at her place anyway. Her nose wrinkled again. She did need to pick up in the garage. All the stuff she moved when she was cleaning out the spare room the other day would get in their way. Before she could consider how long that was going to take, a nearby kid yelped and her focus shifted.

There, on the climbing wall. Oh, crap. Stuck, or falling? She didn’t wait to find out which one it was, bolting over to the wall, arms already out in case she needed to catch the student.

“Hey,” she called up, encouraging, “you’re okay.” He clung to the pole at the top of the wall, part of the larger structure, and his eyes were squeezed shut. His feet dangled against the wall, kicking for purchase.

“Gonna fall,” he cried. “I don’t wanna fall.”

“Can you pull yourself up?” Her only answer was a vehement shake of his head. She held back a sigh and reached for the nearest set of handholds. The wall was only about twice her height, which wasn’t saying much, and wasn’t built for an adult. But she was small enough that she could make do. She scrambled up beside him, keeping an eye on his grip in case he started to slip. When she reached his feet, she tapped the nearest one. “Move this to the right, your other right, and a little up. There you go. Now, push up.” Slowly, he complied. She leaned back and tapped his other foot. “Now this one. A little higher. Perfect. Okay, now that you’ve got a more stable grip, I’m going to climb up and pull you over, sound good?”

He cracked one eye open and nodded. She offered him a smile, then clambered up. It took a minute to convince him to let go of the pole, but after that it was easy enough to lift him up and over the edge. She knelt down beside him, checking to see if he was all right. He sniffled and wiped his nose with his arm. She managed to hide her wince at that. “Thank you, ma’am,” he said. A look of hope brightened his face. “Can I go down the slide?”

“Course you can,” she answered with a grin. He grinned back and ran off, letting out a whoop of joy as he disappeared into the bright plastic tube. She crossed over to the other side of the platform to watch his exit. Already he was running toward his friends, fear of a few moments before forgotten as he joined in their play. Shaking her head, she whispered to herself, “Wish I bounced back that fast.”


“Daddy, play me a song!”

He glanced up from his book and tried to hide a smile as he took in her determined face. It should have been at odds with the large stuffed mouse in her arms, but somehow wasn’t. “Past your bedtime, muffin.”

She made a small noise of disgust. “I’m not a muffin,” she protested. Remembering her original purpose, she widened her eyes and added, “Please? I can’t sleep without a song. Please?” The second “please” was drawn out for greater effect. It worked.

“Okay, sugar. But just one.”

“Yay!” She launched herself into his chair, throwing her arms around him as he stood up. “Play the one about the dragons, okay?”

“You got it,” he agreed, setting her down with a sharp jolt of regret that she was getting too big to carry. He took her hand and led her across the room, to the piano. “Dragons it is.”

She sat next to him on the bench, ducking underneath his arm to lean up against him as he played. When he got to the chorus, she joined in with the song, and after it was done, he didn’t fight too hard when she begged him to play it again. They were on their third repeat when he glanced up to find his aunt leaning in the doorway, watching them in amusement.

“Could’ve sworn you told her just one, kiddo.”

He shot her a sheepish grin. “Well. Technically it has been one. We just, uh, repeated it a few times.”

“Uh huh.”

He shrugged, glancing down at his daughter again. She was mid-yawn, but tried to hide it when she saw him watching. “Okay. Sing-a-long’s over. Bed time.”

“Do I have to?”

“School night, sugar. You know the rule.” He gave her a hug and then steered her toward her room. “Maybe this weekend we can put on a concert.”

She thought about this as he tucked her into bed. “Can I wear a costume?”

“Don’t see why not.”

“Yay!” She yawned again and then rolled over, burrowing under the covers. “Night, Daddy.”

“Night, sugar.” He kissed the top of her head and slipped out of the room.

“She only does that when she knows you’re home, you know,” his aunt observed when he joined her in the kitchen.


“Mmhmm. Of course, it could just be that she doesn’t want her old auntie singing to her right before bed. Liable to give her nightmares, that.”

He snorted and shook his head. “You’re not that bad.”

“Not that bad, he says,” she laughed. “You certainly didn’t get your talent from my side of the family. The love of books, sure. Musical ability? Not so much.” She tilted her head, looking thoughtful. “You have any shows coming up that I could bring her to? Might do her good to see her daddy up on stage again. It’s been a while.”

“Yeah,” he said, realizing she was right. “I’ll have to check with Cammy. I still don’t want her in bars, but we might have a fair or a festival coming up.”

“Good,” she replied, shooting him a knowing smile. He could guess what was behind it. His daughter might love to see him play, but he loved getting to see her out in the audience just as much. It would do them both good. He’d definitely have to talk to Cammy and see what he could do to make it happen.


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