Status: In Progress

The Majesty of Choice


“This is going to be really awful, isn’t it?” Gerard asks Ray from the corner of his mouth.

“Oh most definitely,” Ray responds.

“Should I jump off a bridge now, or wait until they’re here?”

Ray rolls his eyes, and huffs, though he’s not that excited either. He’s not expecting much, and he doesn’t like replacing things that can’t be fixed. Gerard’s mother is not someone who can be replaced.

“Oh god, they’re almost here, this is my final chance to jump in front of the damn carriage,” Gerard says.

“You will do no such thing,” Ray replies.

“I wasn’t actually going to do that you know. You worry too much.”

“You’d be making quite the first impression if your first action was to literally display how much this all displeases you.”

“But it does displease me,” Gerard scowls, “I’m not fond of the idea of a stepmother, but god forbid, I’m about to have step sisters.”

“They might be lovely,” Ray says, not believing himself.

“Rumor has spread of them. They’re not well liked in their old town. Arrogant, obsessive, rude.”

“Don’t believe everything you hear.”

“Don’t choke on your own clichés.”

Ray doesn’t respond because the carriage stops. Only a few meters away are the people who are about to overtake and habit their lives for possibly the rest of Gerard’s life. Probably not Ray’s, what with the eternal youth and all, but Gerard is still not looking forward to the fact that he’s probably never going to be able to escape this place ever.

Gerard can’t find himself a job because no one wants to hire him, he has no money, no room to ever leave this town, and probably no room to ever leave this house. He’s probably going to die in this place working a job in town selling chicken feed or something equally as dull. And on top of that he’d be the most irresponsible employee ever because he wouldn’t really be able to stop someone from stealing things as long as they told him not to interfere. Gerard’s life is really setup for ever looming disaster. Really, it’s a wonder that nothing really bad has happened yet.

“Stand up straight,” Ray says before the door opens.

“You’re not my mother,” Gerard says, but he has no choice in the matter. He feels his back straighten as if on instinct.

“No, that would be,” Ray starts, and the door opens as if on cue. The first to step out is Gerard’s tired looking father. Gerard’s not sure if he necessarily dislikes the man as much as he is indifferent to him. He’s never been there. He’s never been an overly horrible person, but he’s just never been there to prove himself as anything other than the guy who Gerard has to thank for his own existence.

“Ah, good, you’re here,” he says, which his hello apparently after not seeing either of them in over six months.

“We didn’t want to miss this,” Gerard says, and his father is too unfamiliar with him to detect the sarcasm there.

“I’m sure you’ll love them,” he replies, and Gerard scowls to himself, trying to prolong this whole thing from happening at all, but his brains hopes don’t make it any more possible.

Without even acknowledging Ray’s existence, he smiles back into the carriage, and beckons for someone to come out, making Gerard’s frown even more obvious. He turns to Ray quickly who sends him a warning glare to play nice. He’s not a huge fan of people though, especially not rich people, which these people won’t exactly be, but they’re certainly richer than them.

“Gerard, I’d like you to meet Dame Olga,” he says, and Gerard thanks him for not including the fact that the ugly old bat who steps out of the carriage is his new stepmother. It’s all very typical of Gerard’s father to go off and do something without consulting either of them before he does it. He’s always trying to change everything, and doesn’t seem to understand that both him and Ray would rather be living poor and happy lives rather than with spare pocket change and completely miserable.

“Say hi,” Ray hisses at him, before introducing himself first. Gerard doesn’t want to. He doesn’t want to acknowledge the existence of this woman let alone play around with niceties.

“This is my son, Gerard,” his father says for him. Gerard makes a hand gesture that could be described as either a wave or a swat at the fly that’s buzzing around him.

“Hello,” Gerard says, because he can’t stop the words from coming.

“Well,” Dame Olga, who Gerard is fondly in his head referring to as Buggy, says, “this isn’t exactly what I was imagining.”

“I’m sorry, but our summer home is currently being overrun by man eating chipmunks,” Gerard says, and apparently this is not seen as funny to anyone but him.

“These are my daughters,” Buggy says, with a stern face and a thin mouth which really only does more to make Gerard think she looks like an overlarge bug. Or a frog. She could also be mistaken for a frog.

Her hair looks stiff from teasing and perfecting, her eyes look like they can see 360 degrees in all directions because they’re too wide and not in a very good way. Her mouth is huge as well, taking up at least half of her face, and her small nose, tinier than any nose Gerard’s ever seen, feels so desperately out of place on her. It’s so out of proportion from the rest of her face.

Overall, Gerard doesn’t hold out a lot of hope for the appearance of her daughters if they share her genes.

His guesses are kind of proven right when two girls step out, one a few years older than the other, the elder about his age.

The thing is, they’re not even that unattractive, it’s just that their faces are both so morphed from making the same exact pretentious scowl that you can read their entire character just from their expressions. The older is going to have wrinkles indicating that permanent scowl she has someday, and it’s probably going to make her face look worse than the way she’s already presenting it. She wears a dress far too gaudy for everyday attire, and Gerard thinks that she’s probably dressed up for this event. As she looks upon Gerard, he can tell she’s regretting it.

The other girl looks similar, and maybe it’s the way her eyebrows are tweezed, but she looks less villainous and more stupid. Her dress looks far more secondhand, like Buggy has a very definitive favorite child, but that doesn’t make the least loved any less horrible or mean looking.

Buggy, with her lips pursed, and very obviously looking down at Gerard, introduces her two daughters, looking to her favorite first as Gerard is given the name he already knows to belong to her. Her name is Hattie, and from the rumors that Gerard’s heard about her, she is appallingly narcissistic, boy-crazy, and uncaring. The second is Olive, whose intelligence is about as low as Gerard’s savings and that’s saying quite a bit. The rumor is also that Hattie, whose face probably deters most boys and her personality deters the rest, is in love with the Prince which is kind of strange because the Prince is probably as corrupt and prejudice as his uncle.

Gerard is not fond of the monarchy, nor of the family which rests wealthily under it. Ray says he’s too young to be thinking so politically, but Ray is like a hundred years old and has seen a couple governments reign over him, but Gerard’s seen only two and the adverse difference between them are offensive. After the death of the King and Queen before him, Sir Edgar as his first act made the kingdom hell for anyone not human. Segregation was multiplied tenfold and no one bat an eyelash at his unfair methods of control.

Gerard’s views on the matter are a minority though, as everyone else seems blissfully unaware of how the enslavement of elves, and giants is as everyday as the sun rising in the east. Seemingly, no one cares.

For this, Gerard’s outlook of royalty is not flattering, and he expects very little from that puny man who thinks himself a prince. Frank, as he calls himself looks about as meager minded as any of the kids in the back of Gerard’s classes. He holds little hope for the future of the kingdom and he holds as low an opinion of Sir Edgar and his nephew.

For these reasons, Gerard dislikes Hattie immediately. She only likes the Prince because he’s dreamy. In all fairness, Gerard doesn’t disagree, but it’s a pathetic reason for supporting someone by all accounts. The fact that one would support corrupt royalty based solely on looks is what makes Gerard already feel the growing hatred he’s going to have with his stepsisters.

“Honor to meet you,” Gerard finally says, and you’d have to be a real idiot not to sense how flat and stale his words are. So, of course, Olive completely misses his tone. She’s really not doing a whole lot to disprove her reputation.

Hattie makes no indication that she intends to respond, and Gerard simply rolls his eyes again and waits for his chance to ditch this situation. He doesn’t care if he never acquaints himself with either of these girls, they’re here to ruin his life even if they don’t know it yet. All three of them are the shittiest possible replacements for the family that Gerard’s lost. For all intense and purposes, the only family Gerard has is Ray.

“Gerard, I’ll ask you to show your sisters around, give them a tour,” his father says and Gerard looks back at him aghast. Why does he have to do it? Is there something that his father already has to do after being back in town for less than five minutes?

“Just do it, don’t complain,” Buggy says, and the order bites at Gerard like a fist, and he grits his teeth before shaking his head and waving a hand for the two to follow him. He’s know the woman for less than a minute and already he’s being ordered around by her. He’s not going to give these girls a very good tour, but if he must, he’ll do what he’s told.

“This here is called a front door,” Gerard says, turning to look at the two reluctantly following girls.

“I am aware of what a front door is,” Hattie says, which she probably says to try to make herself look better, but it just makes her look more idiotic.

“Congratulations,” Gerard says, entering the sad excuse for a foyer. It’s an unassuming small room, with a thin wooden and overly creaky staircase nestled into the corner. It leads through to a sitting area with a couple, mostly empty bookshelves, lining the walls. Every time his dad visits, a few more books go missing and Gerard’s supposed to not question it, but it’s very obvious that they’re being sold off little by little to pay for the excessive travelling fees that being a traveling businessman entails.

“Just show me my bedroom and be on your way,” Hattie demands of him as soon as the door closes behind him.

“Ah well see, it’s a small house, you’ll be sharing a bedroom between the two of you,” Gerard says, smiling, because he knows that’s bound to piss them off.

“Excuse me?” Hattie says with the most pretentious accent Gerard has ever had the displeasure of hearing.

“It’s a small house,” Gerard shrugs, leading the two of them up the stairs. Olive doesn’t seem very talkative, and Gerard is fine with that.

“Can’t the help sleep somewhere else?”

“If you’re referring to Ray, he’s not the help,” Gerard says.

“But he’s-”

“A household fairy, yes, but he’s lived here my whole life and deserves a room to himself. Now unless one of you two wants to bunk with me, you share a room or you sleep in the pig house.”

“There were no pigs out there,” Olive says, and Gerard turns to see her looking thoroughly confused, and that’s what makes him grin to himself.

“Well, not yet,” he replies.

“What do you mean by that?” Hattie asks, his joke apparently not going as far over her head as it had Olive’s.

“Just that we have enough land to make this into a farm one day,” Gerard says, “We just don’t have the funds.” It’s a smooth enough recovery, he thinks to himself.

He gets to the landing, takes a left and shows them to the vacant room, which in all honesty, is the biggest reason for why he was so angry with the arrival of his new step family. This had been his brother’s room. Up until a few days ago, not a single item of his had been touched or moved since his disappearance. Not a thing. But now it’s all been gathered up and stowed in the storage room off the sitting area downstairs. Gerard’s hatred of these girls was instituted as soon as he had to start moving Michael’s belongings away from where they should always be.

Gerard has rarely visited this room since Michael had disappeared, because it makes him sad to be in there, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less angry about having to give this away to these two undeserving infiltrators.

He backs up to let the two of them look at it, two small mattresses and a dresser barely shoved into the room, leaving only a small amount of space for one to walk around.

“Are you sure this isn’t a broom closet?” Hattie asks, her lip curling as if in disgust. It’s the same face that her mother had been making a few moments ago.

“What kind of huge ass brooms do they have where you lived?”

“We lived next to the castle,” Olive says proudly, “on the south side which is the side with the Prince’s bedroom on it.”

“How very creepy of you to know that,” Gerard replies, wondering how obsessive you have to be to know which window belongs to the Prince in a castle with hundreds of windows. He doesn’t even think he wants to know how Olive could know that.

“Show us your room,” Hattie orders. Gerard’s insides fill with venom that he wants to spit at her, but he can’t refuse, so he just sighs and leads her back across the landing to his own room. Gerard’s room is very bare, because they don’t have enough money for him to decorate it, so it’s not much more exciting than theirs but it’s still bigger, and instead of a dresser there’s a closet which makes it seem even larger.

“Oh this is quite a bit better,” Hattie says. “We want this one.”

“That’s fantastic. I want to live in a palace but you don’t see me making impossible wishes all over the place, do you?”

“Oh come on,” Hattie says, “we’re in a strange land, our lives uprooted. The least you could do is give us your bedroom.”

“Oh how hard for you,” Gerard says in a honeyed voice that does little to guise how little he means it. “That must be so very hard for you.” He resists the urge to tell them about how much harder he has it, but that would only make him the same brat that he’s making fun of in his head right now.

“It can be your gift to us,” Hattie says, “You don’t need all this space after all.”

“This has been my room from the day I was born, I may not need the space, but this is my space nevertheless.”

“Just give us the room!” Hattie says, her voice getting shrill as she says it and Gerard seriously is a second away from punching her in the face at those words.

He wants more than nothing in the world to say no, but he can’t. He has no choice but to say, “Fine.”

“What, really?” Hattie asks, looking completely taken aback.

“Fine, just have it, but you’re moving your stuff from the other room, if you want it so bad, I’m not going to help,” Gerard says, feeling as if his heart is about to explode from how bottled in all of his true thoughts on the matter are. He doesn’t know if he can bear sleeping in the other room. All he’ll think about day in and day out is of the brother whose room he’s stealing. But the fact is that he has no choice. It’s not up to him what other people command of him, but he doesn’t want to be here to wait for more orders from the two of them. He wants to be far away so that he’s safe from their words.

Just like that, he’s running down the stairs feeling a huge portion of his life being ripped away from him without his consent. It’s stupid, he knows it is, but he’s lived in that room for eighteen years. For his entire life that room has been his room. Now two bratty girls come into his life and without any other words they just take it away from him. He doesn’t get to say no, or debate about it, he’s just forced to give in.

And Michael’s not here to help him out. He’d never known about the curse, but Gerard would have told him in a second. If he were here, maybe those two would still demand Gerard’s room, but at least Gerard would be living in a room that’s occupied by his brother rather than the memory of him.

He’d be sixteen right now.

Gerard shakes his head and corrects himself, because he is sixteen. He’s still alive. He has to be. He can’t be dead, because Gerard won’t allow himself to think like that. He’s out there somewhere, living a large portion of his life without Gerard, probably wondering if Gerard misses him at all. He does, more than anything.

He misses his brother more than his mother, but that’s because Gerard still has the hope that Michael might still be alive. He knows his mom is gone and she’s not coming back, but he doesn’t have the relief of knowing if that’s true of his brother or not.

Gerard hurries out of the front door, he’s not really storming out, he’s just escaping for a while. Ray is still standing outside, pretending to help to move all of the new stepfamily’s stuff, but Gerard can tell he’s not really doing much of anything besides watching Gerard’s father do all the work.

“How are they?” Ray whispers as Gerard walks over to him.

“Vile,” he responds, “as to be expected.”

“Tell me what’s wrong.”

“They... ugh, they’re taking my bedroom,” Gerard says, grumpily.

“Sorry to hear that,” Ray says. “Maybe that will put you on better terms with them though.”

“I don’t care if they dislike me or not, I will be civil, but I will not let them step all over me if I can help it.”

“Do your best,” Ray says, “but for now, leave so you won’t be told to do anything more.”

“You’re probably right,” Gerard agrees nodding, I’ll find Patrick in town. Is there anything I need to get while I’m out?”

“Not that I can think of, just hurry along okay? Don’t let them get more out of you.”

“Alright,” Gerard says, and he starts to head off in the direction of town, going the way that the carriage had come. He knows that before the day is done, he’ll probably be ordered around more, but the least he can do is find refuge in the company of someone who’s hardly ever ordered anything of him in his life.

It’s not much of an alternative from his usual chores, and the nagging he’s anticipating from the people stealing his house, but it’s something at least to put off the inevitability of his already crumbling routine.
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