Knights (Part 10)
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9
Even experienced parents will have trouble raising a new baby.
Part 10: Why Is It That Everything Seems Beautiful
- - - - - - -
Three days after Arthur and Elaine had their third child, the family celebration of Vivian's birth went along fine for the most part. Vivienne had her chance of holding her new great-granddaughter. Vivienne's age is starting to get the better of her, so she often stays in her home attached to Four of a Kind Queens as a result. Once that was done, Arthur and Elaine took their newborn daughter to the next family reunion with the latter's immediate family to introduce her. She was carefully passed over between Elaine parents and aunt, then to her cousin Eleanor and her husband Nicholas.
Soon Gwen and Percy stared at their new sister with curiosity, wonder, fear, and joy all at the same time. They each took turns holding their new little sister, and Arthur couldn’t help but subtly take a few pictures of his three children with his phone to hold close to his heart. He now has not two, but three reasons to keep living.
After the reunion, when the now family of five returned home. It was getting rather late, and with Vivian now asleep, it was decided that they should all turn in for the night soon. Gwen and Percy soon went to bed, and Arthur and Elaine went into their bedroom to put their newborn daughter into her crib before turning in themselves.
Unfortunately, as Arthur knew and feared, he started to have nightmares of the wraith wanting to take his newborn daughter away after failing to take the twins. He has no idea what would happen if the wraith did successfully take any of the three children, but he knew he didn’t want to find out. Gwen and Percy are capable of handling themselves even though they’re only eleven, but with Vivian being a three-day-old baby so far, she’s as defenseless as one could get. When he woke up from the first nightmare, he could barely remember it as he heard Vivian cry.
It was agreed that since Elaine had just gone through childbirth, Arthur was usually to be the one to handle the baby for the first few days to let her rest, only to get her if Vivian happened to be hungry and wouldn’t take a bottle Elaine prepared.
Arthur got out from the bed, attached his arm, and gently picked up the tiny crying newborn from the crib. Vivian’s crying quieted down immediately, which meant that she only wanted to be held. He knew that Vivian could recognize Elaine as her mother, but he isn’t exactly sure if she could recognize him as her father. Regardless, he used his usual technique, holding her close to his chest to let her hear his heartbeat, and humming the lullaby he used back when Gwen and Percy were babies.
It still made his heart ache.
This time I might just disappear…
This time I might just dis-
Oh mo mo mo mo
Oh mo mo mo mo (Oh yeah)
Oh mo moo mo mo oh
Arthur felt Vivian nuzzle her head against his chest, her cries being reduced to quiet whimpers. He nudged one of her tiny hands with a finger, and smiled a little when her finger wrapped around it.
He walked out of their bedroom and went downstairs to go into his current work and study room. He’s aware that he can’t do much since he’s holding his newborn daughter, but looking over Gwen and Percy’s homework or something akin to it shouldn’t hurt. He made a small bassinet to keep in there next to his desk before Vivian was born, so he can always keep an eye on his newborn daughter while working. He also needed time to calm down from his nightmare, even though he can’t remember much from it now.
Upon seeing Vivian go back to sleep, Arthur set her in the bassinet and went to his desk. The twins occasionally leave their math and science homework for him to look over, and upon seeing the two worksheets, saw that they both had their questions correct.
Arthur gave a breath of amusement while feeling proud of the twins, for it’s not every day a father gets to see his children skip not one, but two grades to where they can be properly challenged in their current Eighth grade class. He felt even more proud when the two decided to join their middle school robotics club, which allowed him and the twins to truly connect with one another. Once they graduate to high school next year, Arthur knew that they’ll probably dominate the robotics club there, too.
He looked to his right where a lone table stands, and smiled upon seeing the half-complete project the twins are steadily working on in secret at first before he discovered it by accident just last week.
- - - - - - -
Arthur came home from his temporary job later than usual as a teaching assistant for the robotics program at the Cantabile Institute of Technology. The main instructor, Mr. Robert Cromwell, had to suddenly leave early today to handle a sudden family emergency, leaving Arthur with a request to watch over the class until it was over. He usually didn’t like being the center of attention, but he still helped the students by giving them feedback on their projects, correcting their prints on their software, and just encouraging them to work hard and strive to be better.
To his dismay, however, he still had his fear of crowds, although he is slowly improving.
The main instructor, the man who hired him, was very understanding once he learned of this. Because his class only had around thirty students for the semester, he had split it into two classes with fifteen students divided among them so he wouldn’t get overwhelmed. During the official lab times, Arthur would help the students with either the projects themselves or answer questions regarding their written homework. The students, in turn, remained professional for the most part, especially once they learned that they actually liked Arthur as a fellow robotics enthusiast.
The only reason Arthur took the job is that not only did it give him access to more reliable equipment when working on robotics, it paid well, allowing him to earn some extra money on preparing for his third child, who’s due to come any day now.
He briefly wondered what would’ve happened if he had taken this as his career route before everything went wrong, then shoved the thought aside. He long decided to discard the thoughts about the “woulda-coulda-shoulda” as that one quote he can’t remember someone saying. He managed to do the “one little did” from the same quote by leaving Tempo, and will keep doing it until he can live without any fear.
Arthur is healing, and will keep healing until he is ready to completely move on.
He wondered what Elaine made for dinner, then shrugged the thought off that if by some chance she didn’t, then there’s always leftovers he could always eat. Assuming the twins haven’t eaten them, that is, then he’ll have to scrounge. Taking the keys out of his pocket, he unlocked the door and went inside and announced his presence with a hello.
Almost immediately, he heard something fall and the twins yelping in surprise and frustration. Setting his bag down, Arthur quickly went upstairs and heard the twins who seemed to be arguing amongst themselves within Percy’s room. He peeked into the doorway to see if either of them are hurt.
Gwen immediately threw a white bed sheet over what seemed to be yet another science project, but it didn’t cover it completely, which Percy tried to correct.
“W-W-What are you doing, Dad?! You’re supposed to knock!”
“…Your door was already open, Percy,” Arthur slowly pointed out with a raised brow before turning his attention to the poorly hidden project, “What are you making this time? Do you need me to give you feedba…” He trailed off as he could make out the long and thin shape hidden beneath the sheet, and noticed what seemed to be smaller appendages barely poking out. Was that an–?
“A-Anyway, Daddy,” Gwen started to shove some of her tools aside while glancing at the sheet hiding their latest project, “How was work at the uni… uni…”
“‘University’?” Arthur finished for her, “It’s all right. There’s these two students that are always hard on themselves whenever things don’t work out the way they should.” Wait a minute. They’re trying to switch the topic on him! He quickly reached out and grabbed at the sheet before the twins could protest, “So what are you–”
Upon seeing what was beneath, Arthur went silent.
Although it looks half complete due to the many wires that were strewn about, he immediately recognized it as a robotic arm. Gwen and Percy were trying to make a prosthetic all by themselves? At their age?
He looked at his son and daughter, both of whom were looking away nervously. What has them so uptight? He looked around, and nearby he saw what seemed to be a blueprint. He picked it up, and upon examining it, he quickly realized that it’s a blueprint for a previous model of his arm that he made a few years back. Hadn’t it gone missing about two weeks ago?
He looked up and saw the twins give each other a nervous glance before looking at him.
“Gwen. Percy. Why hide this?” Arthur held out the blueprint to them, confused about their behavior, “You’ve had me look at all your other projects. Why would you hide this one from me?”
The twins looked at each other before Percy decided to speak up.
“You never liked talking about your arm.”
Arthur went still before looking down at his left arm, made from metal, wires, and other material that isn’t flesh, blood, and bone.
He still remembered the day he still had it, healthy and whole. Remembered the time the demon took hold. Remembered the time it shoved Lewis to his death while feeling the fabric of his friend’s vest. Remembered the feeling of the kitsune’s fangs sinking down to break the flesh and bone before it was ripped away from him, spilling blood. Remembered being unable to remember why his arm was lost. Remembered trying to take a grip at the wraith’s sleeve in desperation as he was held by his shirt from a cliff while dangling over the stalagmites.
Remembered the falling.
After he was dropped when the wraith let go, after he and the others had learned the truth, the arm had taken a whole new meaning. People would stare at his prosthetic, whether to rarely marvel or gawk at in disgust like the wraith did. He became recognizable, people would know him as the mechanic who lost an arm to an animal attack to the general public, or as an unfortunate victim of a possession while giving the feeling that he should have fought it off to the ones who really knew the truth.
Remembered his arm breaking.
He couldn’t bear the guilt weighing him down and the prejudices he perceived. The stares that the Yukino family and the Peppers have given him when they saw him and his arm. The suppression he felt was too great for him to handle, the tears threatening to fall every time. The wishes that said he should have died, instead.
I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry
He curled his fingers around his left wrist, feeling the fabric of his wristband while trying to ignore the fleshy feel of the prosthetic. The fake flesh cover that Elaine made with Eleanor’s help is what saved him when he first arrived in Cantabile. It made him look normal. It made it easier to hide. Still, he didn’t like to look at his left arm unless it needed maintenance.
But the fact that the twins noticed that, is…
“You don’t need to worry about that, you two,” Arthur smiled as he waved his left arm in a dismissive gesture, “It’s true that this thing has a lot of bad memories, but you making an arm won’t bother me. I’m proud, actually. So…” he looked at the partially built arm in more detail, “I see some parts are different, what’s up with these?”
The twins jumped slightly upon Arthur asking, looked at each other, then Gwen shrugged before picking up a notebook to show him a page, “Well, we saw a video on YouTube where it has a prosthetic arm with the ability to feel things. You know, like, touch things? You know, if it’s hot or cold? We’re trying to re… rep… rep– copy that.”
“You’re trying to replicate it?”
“Yeah, Dad, that. Problem is, the one on the video is too heavy for an amputee to use, so we’re trying to make one that’s lighter,” Percy, who finally relaxed, pointed at the arm’s metal parts, “We’re trying to find pieces to remove or replace with lighter parts to reduce the weight. We thought about using one of your prints as a base, and if we succeeded, we could get accepted at that school you’re working at now…” The boy trailed off as he looked at his father’s arm.
A feeling of relief and happiness filled his entire being. Oh, how Arthur loved his children, always trying so hard to make him proud. He couldn’t remember the last time he felt so moved, knowing that these two strive for their goals, for both themselves and him.
Still, they’re only eleven. They’re still young, and the young ones will always need guidance.
“I think I’ve got a few suggestions on how to do that.”
- - - - - - -
The sound of Vivian crying pulled Arthur out from the happy memory. Smiling a little, he got off from his desk chair to lift her from the bassinet. Looking at the clock, he saw that it was about time for Vivian to have one of her feedings. Well, good thing Elaine prepared Vivian’s food ahead of time in the refrigerator. With the goal of feeding Vivian in mind, he went to the kitchen to heat up the milk.
He recalled Elaine making a scene once back when the twins were babies where she loudly thanked the heavens for breast pumps. In public. While in a restaurant. Caelia and Morgan were laughing while Arthur just focused on giving Gwen her bottle. Nope, I don’t know her for the next thirty minutes.
After feeding and changing his newborn daughter, Arthur went back to the bedroom and saw that Elaine is still asleep. A good thing, since he knew that she still felt sore from childbirth and needed all the time she could get to recover. He then read the clock and saw that’s it’s a little past four in the morning.
His lips tugged into a thin line, he knew he needed to go back to bed soon. He has work tomorrow morning at the university, and he needed to be there by ten if the main instructor doesn’t come back. He knew that Elaine will start taking care of Vivian once her alarm goes off at six, so maybe he can leave the next time their daughter needs care to her.
Arthur soon went back to focus on the task at hand, and placed the now sleeping Vivian back in her crib. He then took off his arm, crawled into his side of the bed beside Elaine and went to sleep, dreading the next nightmare or memory he knew he will have.
The next time Arthur woke up, to his relief, he couldn’t recall dreaming anything. Looking at the alarm clock next to him, he saw that the time read seven forty-five in the morning. He pressed a button on the clock to check the alarm time itself, and saw that it was set to go off at eight. He normally has the alarm set at seven fifteen. Which meant that Elaine modified his alarm again.
He slowly sat up as he let out a breath of mixed amusement and exasperation. Elaine did this back when Gwen and Percy were babies, primarily to have him sleep as much as he could. She knew about his nightmares, and thus knew about his tendency of being up late at night. As soon as Elaine confirmed Arthur’s schedule, she would modify his alarm clock. At first, it was by ten minutes, and soon it became more than that. From what he noticed, she never modified the alarm to exceed the original time by one hour.
He saw that Elaine isn’t in bed, meaning that the former is up and about. He soon heard his daughter crying, and he went to check on her after reattaching his arm. He noticed something long and black in color that looked like another blanket at first glance, but didn’t pay attention to it as he picked up Vivian from her crib. Upon noticing that the black material has followed the baby girl’s movement, he went still.
Had this been the time back when Gwen and Percy were newborns, Arthur would have freaked out and screamed or somewhere among those lines. Now, after knowing what exactly goes on in the Knights family bloodline, he could only just stare.
Vivian’s hair… should not be longer than her tiny body.
Yet here she is with a full head of long hair at four days old, now cooing at Arthur with her gummy mouth open without realizing the oddity she has.
What… is this?
He quickly decided to take her to Elaine. If there’s anyone who would have an idea on what’s going on, it’s her.
Whoever said that raising a baby can be difficult at times had it right, and Arthur knew that for a fact. However…
“Oh, no, Vivian! Mom, what do we do?!”
“Dad! Vivian’s vanished again!”
…they probably didn’t account for said baby to have powers.
Remember the part that said the women born in the Knights family typically have their powers awaken and emerge at around the age of ten years? The three children from Arthur and Elaine have broken that expectation in three ways. The first being that the twins’ powers came to be at seven years of age; the second being Percy even having the power at all, which is an oddity since he is the only male born in the family bloodline in over ten generations. The third being that…
“WHAT THE DID SHE JUST POOF INTO SMOKE?!”
…their third child having her power awaken four days after her birth.
Arthur could only just stare incredulously upon seeing the aftermath, the chaos happening as quickly as it came.
It was just so sudden, while Elaine was examining Vivian on the kitchen counter (“Her hair wasn’t like this when I nursed her about an hour ago…”), the baby just turned into smoke and disappeared, leaving her blanket sleeper and even her diaper behind, which then instilled a panic amongst the family members to find out where Vivian went.
At first, Elaine simply cut Vivian’s hair with a pair of scissors, but it would almost instantly grow back to it’s original long length. She then tried to to braid the hair, but it quickly became undone on its own. After the third attempt at getting Vivian’s hair either under control or at a manageable length, the baby girl started disappearing and reappearing while wailing, thus leading to the chaos just earlier.
Arthur, who distanced himself from Elaine to give her space while looking over some blueprint modifications that Gwen and Percy had made for their next science project, could only stare numbly at the four-day-old baby girl, lying on the kitchen table in front of him on her back with her hair partially covering her, her hair still longer than she is tall. Vivian’s arms twitched, as if trying to reach out to him. Arthur slowly blinked and put his pencil down.
He tried to process what the hell just happened.
As soon as Vivian started crying again, she started to float upward. On reflex, Arthur immediately grabbed her and wrapped her in a spare blanket he had nearby while minding her hair, calming her almost immediately. Elaine running to his side and taking their child into her hold.
“Uh, okay,” Elaine flustered, “So, baby disappears into smoke, teleports, and floats. And has hair with a stubborn streak. That’s a new one.”
Percy stared at Vivian with an incredulous look, “How did–?”
“Smoke appeared. Took her shape. And bam. Vivian,” Arthur shrugged, “I’m not sure what just happened, but it wasn’t any of you, was it?”
“No,” Gwen said as if the answer was obvious, “I can only make ice and just started being able to turn into a wolf. I can’t teleport.”
“It wasn’t me,” Percy rolled his eyes, “I can only turn into a fox and make fire. I just started figuring out how to travel from one TV screen to another.”
Gwen sighed, “I need to figure out how to do that…”
Arthur rubbed Vivian’s long hair against two of his fingers, noticing that it feels like real hair. It looked to be about a meter long. What kind of yokai would have long hair again? He would think Vivian might be an onyro, but last he checked, an onryo isn’t exactly a yokai, right…?
“You know,” Elaine said with exasperation, “I should probably be happy that she didn’t get this long hair of hers while I was pregnant with her. I don’t know if it’s true, but I probably would’ve had the worst heartburn. …Or the reactions from the hospital staff, which would’ve been worse.”
“So what do we do, Mom?” Gwen asked.
“Charm and hex her?” Percy suggested half joking, half serious.
“Maybe, I’ll just have to take her to Mom and Mama Vivienne and see if either of them might have some ideas. I’ll have to see if Nana Niniane is still around, since she’s usually traveling at this time of year.”
Elaine looked unsure, but she’s showing more confidence than Arthur is, so he’s not complaining.
“Arthur, you should get going to the university soon or you’ll be late,” Elaine nodded to him, “We’ll take care of everything here. I’ll see you later tonight, okay?”
- - - - - - -
“I swear, Arthur, ever since you became a part of this family, it’s one thing after another. First you father a set of twins, one being a boy, then their power awakens at age seven instead of ten. And now you father a child whose power awakened in her infancy who’s not even a week old yet, which is unprecedented in and of itself,” Niniane started sewing patches of some sort onto Vivian’s clothes, “Are you from some kind of ancient and powerful bloodline or something?”
Arthur isn’t sure what to think of that. If he is, then no one told him, nor does he care about it. All he cared about is Vivian’s safety, because since she’s still a baby, her power can be dangerous to herself and others if not properly controlled.
In response to this, Niniane and Vivienne started sewing various charms on Vivian’s clothes so that way the next time she vanishes, it’ll take her clothes with her and “not appear naked on a table again,” as Niniane puts it. Morgan and Caelia went through the trouble of placing multiple wards around Arthur and Elaine’s home to keep Vivian from disappearing to places that lead to outside the house.
In response to this, Niniane and Vivienne started sewing various charms on Vivian’s clothes so that way the next time she vanishes, it’ll take her clothes with her and “not appear naked on a table again,” as Niniane puts it. Morgan and Caelia went through the trouble of placing multiple wards around Arthur and Elaine’s home to keep Vivian from disappearing to places that take her outside the house.
This, however, created a new problem. With so many protections around the house, Arthur’s prosthetic arm would act up every now and then. The magic would prevent the electric signals from going through his arm. Without the full function of his prosthetic, it prevented Arthur from being able to do the more complex tasks, and even prevented him from being able to properly hold Vivian, much to his dismay.
Still, it was a necessary drawback. He either temporarily loses the complete use of his left arm, or risk Vivian accidentally teleporting outside the house where she could get herself hurt with no one around to help her.
Every once in a while, though, Arthur hated being the powerless one in the family. He once told Elaine this once they managed to figure out a system on how to properly care for their new baby.
“Of course you have a power, Arthur!” Elaine exclaimed, incredulous, “Your power is being my amazing husband and an amazing father to our kids! And Vivian’s almost always calm when she’s with you. You have…” Elaine made a show of fanning her hands and then made a show of spreading them apart, “Dad Powers.”
However, the loving words from Elaine, the hugs from Gwen and Percy, and the smiles and giggles from Vivian more than make up for it.
There were still many obstacles to overcome when raising their youngest child, but thankfully, Arthur and Elaine managed with the help from Elaine’s immediate family, and the twins were willing to put their weight in it, too. As Vivian grew, the baby girl started to grasp her abilities more clearly, and soon she was able to stop teleporting around once she reached eight months of age. After that, some of the protections were removed, and it allowed Arthur to be able to regain full use of his left arm again, much to his relief.
Soon after Arthur regained the use of his prosthetic, he noticed that his life is gradually improving, for better or for worse, he thinks.
Although he was unable to obtain a full time instructor position at the Cantabile Institute of Technology since he still works at Four of a Kind Queens, he managed to get a proper position as a part time instructor complete with a raise in pay, where he teaches robotics. The job has him to work three days a week from nine in the morning to five in the evening, allowing him to be able to still spend the evening with his family. A good thing, since Vivian tends to get cranky if she doesn’t see him in the evening.
Four of a Kind Queens has been having an increase in business, which allowed more money to flow in. This in turn gave Caelia and Morgan the opportunity to remodel Vivienne’s home that’s attached to the shop. A small elevator was added in the foyer, and the bathroom facilities were modified to allow the place to be more mobile friendly since the old matriarch is nearing her nineties. Because she can only walk short distances now, Vivienne became wheelchair bound most of the time.
One day when Arthur was at work at the university, he overheard some students talking about a band that is coming out of retirement after ten years. Arthur took the time to read an online article about it and saw that the band in question is MS Dubuc, an old band that Vivi and Lewis were big fans of. Vivi loved the band so much that she even named the Mystery Skulls after one of the band’s songs of the same name. Arthur didn’t consider himself a huge fan to that extent, but he did enjoy some of the band’s music. His personal favorite being “Every Note” and “Together.” When he told Elaine, Gwen, and Percy about the band, they came to like the music, too, enough to where the twins even wanted to go to the concert that marks their return.
What surprised Elaine and the twins, though, is that the band is only run by one person. If Arthur remembered right, it was Alberto Rodgers or something like that. From the looks of it, the man behind the band retired to spend time with his wife and family, and came back upon his wife’s insistence. The identities of his “secret” wife and other family members weren’t revealed, but that isn’t Arthur’s concern.
Gwen and Percy were gradually able to fine tune their powers, allowing them to utilize their skills safely without the risk of harming anyone. Arthur felt that it was good timing, because Vivian started teething, and whenever they run out of rice rusks (“How are we going through so many?!” Elaine exclaims.), Gwen started to hand her baby sister clear ice spheres for her to gnaw on, and would soon make little ice pops out of fruit juice to give her new things to taste. Percy hasn’t been able to find things to entertain Vivian with his fire power yet, but giving her rides as a kitsune would work in the meantime.
Of course, Arthur now has to deal with the occasional spat between Gwen and Percy on who gives Vivian rides when she wants them.
- - - - - - -
Arthur somewhat dreaded for this day.
“Hold on, you two, it looks like there’s a trap up ahead to your left. Can you see it?”
“Uh… The wall over here does look a little different compared to the rest of this room,” Gwen said, “I don’t see anything else that seems strange.”
“Maybe it’s motion sensored?” Percy suggested.
Back when Arthur first met Elaine, not counting her distant cousins such as Melia, she and her cousin Eleanor were the latest members of the Knights family. For the Knights, as Arthur long knew by now, their duty is to handle the more malicious side of the paranormal, and fight actual monsters. When the twins were born, he knew that they would eventually take up the duty as well. Or at least Gwen would have to, since it wasn’t known if Percy would have any powers at the time.
And now, with the twins being twelve years old, Elaine decided to take the twins on their first solo excursion to start their training. She meant to take the twins shortly after she recovered from Vivian’s birth, but the premature awakening of the baby’s own powers threw a wrench in that plan. Thankfully, now that Vivian is a year old now, her powers have gradually stabilized. The baby’s hair is still longer than her body, and she still teleports around every now and then, but only for very short distances.
(He noticed a few months back that Vivian would only teleport whenever she wanted to be with her daddy, much to his inner joy. It was so amusing that he decided he’ll let the rest of the family figure it out for themselves.)
It was a simple job in Largo, Florida, according to Elaine. There weren’t any disappearances, just some strange occurrences at a cave close to a school that was abandoned due to lack of funding. Lights randomly appearing and disappearing, the one time sound of a screeching woman, and the occasional sound of a dog. It was originally investigated by the local police when their client, a local man, first reported it, but they didn’t find anything telling. Eventually, their client had heard about the Knights family from a distant acquaintance, and hired the family to investigate the area.
* * *
“I saw someone enter the cave, but I didn’t see anyone come out and heard a woman screaming before it went silent. I reported it to the police and have them check it, but they didn’t find anything, and no one had been reported missing for the past three days. Also, they refused to investigate further because they’re busy trying to stop a drug ring or something according to my friends. Will you look into it? If we don’t do something, who knows what will happen?”
* * *
It is strange that only one man is concerned, but he did pay them to investigate. To Arthur, the least he can do with his family is find out what exactly is happening to give the man a peace of mind.
…He just hoped it wasn’t a demon.
Although Arthur feared for Gwen and Percy’s safety, he knew that with him in the van navigating for them, and with Elaine watching over the twins going through their first time exploring a paranormal assignment solo with her watching from the shadows, things should be fine.
“Let’s see, if I press this part of the wall here, it migh– AUGH WHY ARE THERE ARROWS?!”
Or maybe not.
“Gwen, Percy, you know I can only detect hidden things in a vague fashion with my radar. Also, I can only see whatever is on your cameras, so I wouldn’t have been able to know what exactly that trap is.”
“I noticed,” his son grouched, “Whatever, we got it disarmed.”
“More like you made it run out of ammo, Percy,” his daughter commented.
“I’d be more concerned if it activated a silent alarm,” he rose a brow, “Well, anyway. I don’t see anything else out of the ordinary. What’s your status, Elaine?”
“I’m fine. Someone’s definitely using this place as base, though, judging from the footprints and some trash found here. We may have to get the police involved if we find anything illegal.”
Arthur rose a brow and glanced at Vivian, who is asleep in the small custom made bed next to him in the van. He isn’t sure what to think about Elaine’s comment. Is she serious? One would think the that shot arrow aimed to kill was enough to want to call them.
“But seriously, jokes aside, we’re definitely getting police involved after this,” Elaine declared, “These traps are recent, and if a civilian entered this cave, they probably would’ve been killed, which can pretty much lead to murder.”
Arthur sighed, not bothering to argue with an amused smile. From the looks of it, the cave is being used by a person, and rigged it with traps to keep people from getting out. But that meant that whoever is using the cave, he or she has something to hide. What exactly, he doesn’t know.
“Hey… do you guys smell something?” Gwen asked as the screen with her icon shift downward suddenly, which Arthur realized is her shifting into a wolf, the sound of her sniffing the ground was picked up then, “Oh geez! What the heck is this?!”
He saw Percy’s screen shift downward as well, no doubt for Percy to smell it too as a fox/kitsune, “Ugh…! She’s right, it reeks! I can’t tell if it’s like a cleaner, or what! …Dad? I don’t feel so good.”
“Me, too… My head’s spinning…”
That’s concerning. Right as Arthur was about to say something, he heard Elaine give the twins the command head back to the cave entrance, then saw the icon marking Elaine’s position on the map sprint ahead. He turned to Elaine’s screen and saw her moving further ahead.
“I see it. The smell is getting even to me, so there’s no way I’m not letting them go through that without protection.”
“What about you, Elaine? Do you even have a respirator?”
“I have one that mainly stops dust from getting into my lungs. It won’t stop the smell of whatever this crap is, though. Just let me know when the kids return to you. I’m considering their training to be done for today.”
Arthur gave his word to Elaine, and within the next fifteen minutes, the twins returned to him by climbing into the van’s side door in their human forms. Once they were all safe inside, Arthur excused himself from Elaine to take a moment to hug his two children.
“Are you two okay?” He whispered, mindful of Vivian.
“I feel better now that I’ve had fresh air,” Gwen grumbled as she hugged him back, “I don’t wanna smell that again.”
“You’ve got that right,” Percy also returned the gesture of affection, “How’s Vivian, Dad?”
“Amazingly, she’s still asleep,” Arthur turned to the baby girl, who is still asleep in the small bed, “I didn’t have any trouble handling her at all while I was here.”
“Whenever any of us hold her, she always cries,” Percy sighed, “I don’t know how you do it.”
“You two were like that when you were babies, you know,” Arthur chuckled as he went to check on the little one, “You two almost always cried when Elaine or anyone else held you, so I had my hands full with the two of you. If it hadn’t been for your grandmother and Vivienne, I probably wouldn’t even have a moment’s peace or get anything done at Queens. Well, then again, you didn’t have your power at infancy, thank heavens.”
Gwen and Percy were silent when Arthur gently brushed the knuckles of his flesh hand against Vivian’s chest. As he felt her breathing, Vivian’s arms twitched before she moved to snuggle against his hand. Arthur then looked at the twins, both of whom where staring at Vivian’s sleeping figure. He didn’t know what exactly the twins were thinking, but what he did know is that they’re good siblings. Sure, they made some mistakes, such as forgetting to change her diaper or burp her after a feeding once or twice. But in the end, they do what they can.
“My knight, could you do me a little favor real quick?”
Smiling to himself, he slowly pulled away from Vivian’s hold and went back to the screens. The screen with Elaine’s icon still shows that the footage is being recorded.
“I’m back, Elaine. Have you found anything?”
“Yes, remember me saying that we need to get police involved? Well, I found that drug ring they’ve been chasing for months.”
“Wait, seriously?” Arthur gave an exasperated shrug in total disbelief, “In the one place they didn’t check?!”
“Yep, and also, the stuff the kids smelled was meth. I didn’t recognize it at first since I’m more used to smelling pot. Oh, and I found the source of the screaming woman our client heard. A good thing I sent the kids back, because we have a, uh… 10-64.”
Arthur’s fingers twitched inward, nearly closing his shrugged hands into fists.
“What does that even mean?” Percy asked.
“Was someone doing math equations in the kitchen…?”
Arthur could tell that Gwen has no idea what exactly Elaine is talking about. Probably a good thing that Percy doesn’t get it, either, since the two of them are too young to realize what Elaine discovered is actually pretty gruesome. Which meant that any further attempts for the job to go smoothly is now gone.
- - - - - - -
When Vivian became eighteen months old, Arthur and Elaine soon realized what kind of yokai form their third child has.
The family of five had gone on a walk through the downtown area of Cantabile to attend a music festival celebrating the Day of the Dead. There are various booths that sell various festival treats and merchandise, some booths sold arts and crafts made by individual people, and there were even some lottery booths. The lottery booths had small bingo ball cages full of small spheres of various colors, with the color determining the prize. Prizes that range from stickers to books and coupons to vouchers. Neat.
As the music played to honor the dead and departed, as Arthur held his second daughter in his arms, he noticed that Vivian started to reach out to something. He looked, and saw that it was one of the many bingo ball booths. Curious as to what had Vivian’s attention, he decided to check out the booth while Elaine and the twins were looking at another booth nearby.
Arthur read the list of prizes. The common white ball gives a sticker, the not so common blue ball gives a voucher for a free chicken sandwich at a locally owned restaurant, the rare red ball will result in a free meal for two from the same restaurant, while the only one gold ball within will win… Wait, is that right? Arthur rose a brow as he read the sign that showed the top prize.
“Baba! Baba!” Vivian tugged at his shirt and pointed at the bingo and babbled excitedly, “Tee! Tee!”
Arthur rose a brow while deciphering her words, but soon realized what she was trying to say. Shrugging to himself, he reached out to try his luck.
Later that evening, once the family of five came home, Arthur went and showed Elaine, Gwen, and Percy exactly what he won at that one lotto booth and three others.
“Tickets to an MS Dubuc concert?! They’ve been sold out for weeks!” Percy gawked at the items in question.
“Forget only winning one, Daddy,” Gwen is also shocked, “How were you able to win four of them in four different booths?!”
“Crazy as it is, it only happened when I tried the ones Vivian pointed at,” Arthur raised Vivian slightly, the little girl clapping and giggling, to show his point, “When I tried the other booths that Vivian didn’t show interest in, I only got the last place prizes. I guess the ones she pointed out was just luck?”
“Luck…!” Elaine just barely stopped herself from doing a facepalm, “Of course, now it all makes sense! We’ve been having such good fortune happen to us ever since Vivian was born is because she’s a Zashiki-Warashi!”
“A Zashi-what?” Arthur rose a brow, as did the twins.
“Zashiki-Warashi. They’re yokai that are said to grant good fortune and great riches to the house they haunt. Assuming that the homeowner takes good care of them, that is. In short, they bring good luck in return for love and care. Their power isn’t always consistent, but all the sources mainly say is that they love pranks and play tricks. Teleportation is among some of the things they’re capable of doing when playing around. This also explains her long hair, because she’s always been in her other form.”
“Is that even possible for you?”
Elaine shook her head, “Not really, most of us can’t use our monster forms constantly. It tires us out.”
Arthur looked at Vivian, who is still grinning up at him. If she really is a Zashiki-Warashi, then all the good things that have been happening since she was born did make sense. Still, whether she had power or not, Vivian is a perfect little girl to him, and he’s determined to see to it that she grows up with all the love he could give her, just like he always had with Gwen and Percy.
Assuming I can live to see her reach that age. He thought bitterly for a brief moment before shoving the thought aside.
A few weeks later, the family of five made sure to enjoy the Dubuc concert to the fullest as a family. They were able to include Vivian because admission to those three and under were free.
- - - - - - -
Why? Why did this have to happen?
I thought that… if we just waited and talked…
None of this would have happened.
Where are you? It’s so cold…
I just want to say that I’m sorry.
Why aren’t you coming back?
What have you done?!
It’s too late! We can’t fix this!
After everything he did for us!
AND IT’S ALL!
Notes: Regarding Arthur’s arm, keep in mind that his current prosthetic has a covering that makes it look like a real arm. You can barely see the detail revealing it if you look closely.
MS Dubuc is actually a shout out to the Mystery Skulls band itself, run by Luis Dubuc. Alberto Rodgers is named after two people. “Alberto” being Luis’s middle name, while “Rodgers” is from Nile Rodgers, who has collaborated with Mystery Skulls a few times, notably for Magic and Number 1.
Because the Mystery Skulls in the Animated series is named after the band, I thought it would be fitting that, in-universe, Vivi named the team after a band she really liked. In context, Vivi named her Mystery Skulls team after MS Dubuc’s song “Mystery Skulls.” Do keep in mind that this “song” doesn’t actually exist in real life as of this writing.
So in Knights, MS Dubuc is a parallel of our world’s Mystery Skulls, and MS Dubuc wrote all the songs that Mystery Skulls released except for Ghost, which is something Lewis made in this world. If Lewis hadn’t made Ghost, Arthur wouldn’t know the chorus he uses as a lullaby, so I had to make that adjustment.
…What? You’re asking how Vivienne is still around? She had her daughters pretty early in her life, for one thing, and she hasn’t reached the age of ninety yet.
Part 11: Together…?
LUCY: 40 YEARS OF TELEVISION
1954 Part One ~ JANUARY to JUNE
Season three of “I Love Lucy” concludes with another Emmy win for the series and for Vivian Vance. February would see the premiere of the film “The Long, Long Trailer.”
"The Million-Dollar Idea" (ILL S3;E13) ~ January 11, 1954
Lucy takes a page from Jackie Gleason with this get-rich-quick scheme selling salad dressing on television! Frank Nelson is back as yet another TV host, Dickie Davis. Filmed November 26, 1953.
"Ricky Minds the Baby" (ILL S3;E14) ~ January 18, 1954
Ricky takes a page from “Father Knows Best” when telling a bedtime story to his son. To assure that the potential crying of the Mayer Twins (Little Ricky) didn’t hold up the filming, this is one of the few episodes not filmed in front of a live audience. Filmed December 3, 1953.
"The Charm School" (ILL S3;E15) ~ January 25, 1954
Best remembered for Natalie Schafer (”Gilligan’s Island”) as Charm School proprietress Phoebe Emerson. The week before this episode first aired, Schafer made an appearance on CBS TV’s "Topper” as a character named (coincidentally) Mrs. Vance. Filmed December 10, 1953.
"Sentimental Anniversary" (ILL S3;E16) ~ February 4, 1954
This episode was filmed on December 17, 1953, just two weeks after Desi surprised Lucy with a 13th wedding anniversary party at the Mocambo. Includes real snapshots of Lucy and Desi that were taken from Lucille’s dressing room! Despite the color photo above, the episode was shot and aired in black and white and has not (to date) been colorized.
"Fan Magazine Interview" (ILL S3;E17) ~ February 8, 1954
This episode marks the first appearance of Kathryn Card as Minnie Finch, although she would be best remembered for playing Lucy’s mother, Mrs. McGillicuddy. Best remembered for a joke about the controversial Kinsey Sex Study. The first episode filmed after the holiday break, on January 7, 1954.
“Sixth Annual Primetime Emmy Awards” ~ February 11, 1954
Only broadcast on local television station KHA (aka KCLA-TV). The series won for Best Situation Comedy, as did Vivian Vance for playing Ethel Mertz. Lucille was nominated but lost to Eve Arden in “Our Miss Brooks” (ironically filmed at Desilu Studios). William Frawley lost to Art Carney as Ed Norton on “The Honeymooners.”
“Toast of the Town: The MGM Story" ~ February 14, 1954
Lucy and Desi appeared on Ed Sullivan’s show to mark the 30th Anniversary of Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM). Three days later, their MGM color film The Long, Long Trailer premiered.
"Oil Wells" (ILL S3;E18) ~ February 15, 1954
It was a bit of a stretch for the Ricardos and Mertzes to strike oil in midtown Manhattan, but that didn’t stop the writers! Featuring Sandra Gould, who is probably best remembered as the second Gladys Kravitz on “Bewitched” (1966-1971). Filmed January 14, 1954.
“What’s My Line? (S2;E25) ~ February 21, 1954
As Mystery Guest, Lucille Ball uses the same voice she created when she played a Martian at the top of the Empire State Building in “Lucy is Envious” (ILL S3;E23). Host John Daly tells the panel that Lucy is speaking Martian. That episode was filmed on February 16, 1954 just five days before this quiz show.
"Ricky Loses His Temper" (ILL S3;E19) ~ February 22, 1954
Includes an appearance by Madge Blake (Aunt Harriet on “Batman”) as Mrs. Mulford, who owns the hat shop Lucy patronizes. Famed Western ventriloquist Max Terhune makes a brief appearance with his dummy, Elmer Sneezeweed! Filmed January 21, 1954.
"Home Movies" (ILL S3;E20) ~ March 1, 1954
Home movie technology was new in the 1950s, but that doesn’t stop Ricky. Due to logistics, this episode was filmed (January 28, 1954) without a studio audience. Once the gag reel of Ricky’s audition had been created, the entire episode was shown to an audience and their laughter recorded for the final broadcast. Includes the songs “Vaya Con Dios” and I’m An Old Cowhand (On the Rio Grande)”.
"Bonus Bucks" (ILL S3;E21) ~ March 8, 1954
The episode was inspired by the popular newspaper contests of matching serial numbers on a bill which were called ‘Lucky Bucks’ but due to the show’s sponsorship with Philip-Morris cigarettes, the word ‘Lucky’ [as in Strike] was to be avoided. Once again Lucy tries to outpace a speedy conveyor belt, this time one that leads to a laundry starch vat! Filmed February 4, 1954.
"Ricky's Hawaiian Vacation" (ILL S3;E22) ~ March 22, 1954
Hawaii was a favorite get-away for the Arnaz family, but the Ricardos never leave their living room. Includes Frank Nelson reprising his role as quiz master Freddie Fillmore hosting a TV show called “Be A Good Neighbor.” Lots of physical comedy by Lucy adds to the fun! Filmed February 11, 1954, the same day that the show won its second Emmy.
"Lucy Is Envious" (ILL S3;E23) ~ March 29, 1954
“It’s a moo-moo!” Inspired by Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast, Lucy and Ethel take a promotional gig as women from Mars atop the Empire State Building! Mary Jane Croft makes her first appearance as Cynthia Harcourt, the socialite Lucy is envious of, and Herb Vigran plays the publicity agent who hires the girls. Filmed February 16, 1954.
"Lucy Writes a Novel" (ILL S3;E24) ~ April 5, 1954
Having already tackled a play (”A Tree Grows in Havana” / “The Perils of Pamela”) and an operetta (”The Pleasant Peasant”), Lucy tackles a novel, a roman a clef she titles “Real Gone With the Wind.” Filmed March 4, 1954.
"Lucy's Club Dance" (ILL S3;E25) ~ April 12, 1954
This episode was rerun in season five with a new opening that set the rerun up as a flashback. Lucy is back on the sax and TV Guide gets some publicity as a thank you for putting Desi Jr. and Lucy on their first national edition’s cover. Filmed March 11, 1954.
"The Black Wig" (ILL S3;E26) ~ April 19, 1954
Inspired by the Italian film stars of the time, Lucy wants her hair short and dark. While Ricky disapproves, he (amazingly) fails to recognize her setting off an elaborate charade to test his fidelity; one that ends up with Ethel dressed up “like a trip around the world.” Filmed on March 24, 1954, in black and white, despite the colorized photo above.
"The Diner" (ILL S3;E27) ~ April 26, 1954
This episode and the “The Black Wig” (ILL S3;E26) had their filming and broadcast order switched so that Bill’s Diner ended up becoming the set for Tony’s Restaurant where black wig Lucy and Geisha/American Indian/Eskimo Ethel meet Ricky and Fred for their fake blind date. The episode ends in true vaudevillian comic style with everyone getting a cream pie in the face.
"Tennessee Ernie Visits" (ILL S3;E28) ~ May 3, 1954
The first of two linked episodes guest-starring country music personality Tennessee Ernie Ford. Not only would he return during season 4, he would guest-star on “The Lucy Show” and “Here’s Lucy.” This is the first mention of Mrs. McGillicuddy, Lucy’s scatter-brained mother. Filmed April 1, 1954.
"Tennessee Ernie Hangs On" (ILL S3;E29) ~ May 10, 1954
Lucy tries everything to get rid of her country-fried house guest. The finale finds Ernie and the gang on television singing “Y’All Come!” Filmed April 8, 1954.
"The Golf Game" (ILL S3;E30) ~ May 17, 1954
Lucille Ball was a golf widow on camera and off. Desi Arnaz even built a home on a golf course. Even her second husband Gary Morton was addicted to the game. This episode features real-life golf pro Jimmy Demaret. He returned for another golf-themed episode on “The Lucy Show.” Filmed April 15, 1954.
"The Sublease" (ILL S3;E31) ~ May 24, 1954
So that the Ricky can take a booking in California, the Ricardos sublet their apartment to Mr. Beecher (Jay Novello) who jumps at his own shadow. When the booking falls through, Lucy goes to extremes to get Mr. Beecher out! Filmed April 22, 1954.
ALSO IN 1954...
“THE MILTON BERLE SHOW” (S6;E23) ~ May 4, 1954
Berle's guests include Vivian Vance and William Frawley from “I Love Lucy” (1951) and singer/actress Janet Blair. Miltie rents a new rehearsal hall from landlords Fred and Ethel Mertz. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz do not appear.
Hey tumblr so I need your help! My school always had one of those “Read Across America” maps with young adult novels or romances or whatever (evidently, I’m American) but I’ve never seen anything comparable for wlw. I’ve tried to rely on my memory and on other people’s recs but I’m only (exactly) halfway through. Any suggestions to fill in these missing states? I’ve tried to avoid stories that take place across multiple locations. Or offer more options for the ones I already have, the more the merrier.
Alabama : Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flag
Alaska : Grief Map by Sarah Hahn Campbell, The Dead Go to Seattle by Vivian Faith Prescott
Arizona : Bright Lights of Summer by Lynn Ames
Arkansas : Cottonmouths by Kelly J. Ford
California : Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour, Honey Girl by Lisa Freeman, Frog Music by Emma Donoghue, The Necessary Hunger by Nina Revoyr, Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians by Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons, Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde, Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler, Far From Home by Lorelie Brown, The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding, You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour, Excavation by Wendy C. Ortiz, The IHOP Papers by Ali Liebegott, Soft on Soft by Em Ali, She Is Me by Cathleen Schine
Colorado : Marionette by T.B. Markinson, Sleight of Hand by Mark Henwick, Snow Falls by Gerri Hill, Sadie by Courtney Summers, Tell Me What You Like by Kate Allen
Connecticut : Pages for You by Sylvia Brownrigg, Patience & Sarah by Isabel Miller
Delaware : As I Lay Frying: A Rehoboth Beach Memoir by Fay Jacobs
Florida : Breathing Underwater by Lu Vickers, Roller Girl by Vanessa North, Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole
Georgia : Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, The Blue Place by Nicola Griffith, Taking Flight by Siera Maley, Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir by Maggie Thrash, Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli, Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake, Odd One Out by Nic Stone, The Cherokee Rose by Tiya Miles
Hawaii : Razor Wire by Lauren Gallagher, Name Me Nobody by Lois-Ann Yamanaka
Idaho : Ship It by Britta Lundin, Her Hometown Girl by Lorelie Brown, Right Out of Nowhere by Laurie Salzler, Idaho Code by Joan Opyr
Illinois : Coffee Will Make You Black by April Sinclair, How Sweet It Is by Melissa Brayden, What Matters Most by Georgia Beers, The Long Way Home by Rachel Spangler, Close to Home by Rachel Spangler, Memory Mambo by Achy Obejas, Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country by Chavisa Woods
Indiana : Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin, Hoosier Daddy by Ann McMan and Salem West
Iowa : A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley, Moo by Jane Smiley, The Butches of Madison County by Ellen Orleans, Death by Discount by Mary Vermillion
Kansas : Far From Xanadu by Julie Anne Peters, My Almost Certainly Real Imaginary Jesus by Kelly Barth
Kentucky : Run by Kody Keplinger, Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens
Louisiana : Her Name in the Sky by Kelly Quindlen, Beauty and the Boss by Ali Vali, Rusty Logic by Robin Alexander, Spelling Mississippi by Marnie Woodrow, The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
Maine : Style by Chelsea Cameron, Double Exposure by Chelsea Cameron, A Good Idea by Christina Moracho
Maryland : Cytherea’s Breath by Sarah Aldridge
Massachusetts : Mermaid in Chelsea Creek by Michelle Tea, Map of Ireland by Stephanie Grant, Heart of Brass by Morven Moeller, A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo, P.S. I Miss You by Jen Petro-Roy, Hocus Pocus & The All-New Sequel by A.W. Jantha, Marriage of a Thousand Lies by AJ Sindu, Love & Other Carnivorous Plants by Florence Gonsalves, Marriage of Unconvenience by Chelsea M. Cameron, Cool for You by Eileen Myles
Michigan : The Liberators of Willow Run by Marianne K. Martin, Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow, The Cold and the Rust: Poems by Emily Van Kley, Her by Cherry Muhanji, Vanished by E.E. Cooper, Radical by E.M. Kokie
Minnesota : Sister Mischief by Laura Goode, Being Emily by Rachel Gold, My Year Zero by Rachel Gold, Bend by Nancy Hedin, Hallowed Murder by Ellen Hart
Mississippi : Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
Missouri : Deliver Us from Evie by M.E. Kerr, Heart of the Game by Rachel Spangler, Jam on the Vine by LaShonda Katrice Barnett
Montana : The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth, Innocent Hearts by Radclyffe, Storms by Gerri Hill
Nebraska : Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz, Over You by Amy Reed
Nevada : Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee, Desert of the Heart by Jane Rule, Bittersweet by Nevada Barr
New Hampshire : Good Moon Rising by Nancy Garden, Snowsisters by Tom Wilinsky and Jen Sternick
New Jersey : A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernández
New Mexico : Beauty of the Broken by Tawni Waters, So Far From God by Ana Castillo, The Last of the Menu Girls by Denise Chávez, Like Water by Rebecca Podos
New York : Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova, Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde, Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown, We Are Okay by Nina LaCour, Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg, Thaw by Elyse Springer, Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger by Kelly Cogswell, Rat Bohemia by Sarah Schulman, Tailor-Made by Yolanda Wallace, The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri
North Carolina : The Ada Decades by Paula Martinac, Challah and Callaloo by La Toya Hankins
North Dakota : Prairie Silence: A Memoir by Melanie Hoffert
Ohio : Fat Angie by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo, Taking the Long Way by Lily R. Mason, The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka, Eat Your Heart Out by Dayna Ingram, Juniper Lane by Kady Morrison
Oklahoma : Tumbleweed Fever by L.J. Maas, Edited Out by Lisa Haddock
Oregon : Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera, Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before by Karelia Stetz-Waters, Dryland by Sara Jaffee
Pennsylvania : Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, In the Silence by Jaimie Leigh McGovern, The Summer We Got Free by Mia McKenzie
Rhode Island : The Red Tree by Caitlín R. Kiernan, Homecoming by Nell Stark, Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
South Carolina : The House You Pass on the Way by Jacqueline Woodson, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure by Dorothy Allison, The Revolution of Little Girls by Blanche McCrary Boyd
South Dakota : Charity by Paulette Callen
Tennessee : Secret City by Julia Watts, If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo, South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf, Choices by Skyy, Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer by Chely Wright
Texas : Forgetting the Alamo, Or, Blood Memory by Emma Pérez, Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey, The Unraveling of Mercy Louis by Keija Parssinen, Gulf Breeze by Gerri Hill, Gulf Dreams by Emma Pérez, Lay Down the Law by Carsen Taite, Far From the World We Know by Harper Bliss, Spinning by Tillie Walden, Mean Deaf Little Queer by Terry Galloway, The Dime by Kathleen Kent, Uncovered: How I Left Hasidic Life and Finally Came Home by Leah Lax
Utah : Saving Alex: When I Was Fifteen I Told My Mormon Parents I Was Gay, and That’s When My Nightmare Began by Alex Cooper
Vermont : Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon
Virginia : As I Descended by Robin Talley, Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley, Jericho by Ann McMan
Washington : The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George, Dreadnought and Sovereign by April Daniels, About A Girl by Sarah McCarry, Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear, The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz, Stuck Landing by Lauren Gallagher
Washington, D.C : Madam President by Blayne Cooper and T. Novan, Pulp by Robin Talley
West Virginia : The Winter Triangle by Nikki Woolfolk, Blue Apple Switchback by Carrie Highley, Sugar Run by Mesha Maren