The new few days were pretty bleak in the Hasslich household, but Clarissa’s birthday was coming up and Grainna hoped that a little party would be enough to lift everyone’s spirits.
So she did her usual and baked a cake for the birthday girl. When Clarissa returned home from school, everyone sang to her and blew out the candles. She acquired the insane trait, which isn’t surprising considering the environment she’d grown up in. She also retained her ever-growing love of food.
She changed her clothes and hair, and then immediately went back to doing what she loves most….
Roy had been keeping a safe distance from the Hasslich house since his little altercation with Seraphina, but he and Clarissa had kept in touch through text and email, and continued to meet for their nightly Biliblock games. So when Roy showed up unannounced one night, Clarissa was pleasantly surprised to see him. They’d both grown since the last time they’d seen one another, and it took her a moment to adjust to the changes in him.
Clarissa: Roy! What a fantastic surprise! What are you doing here?
Roy: It’s my dad. He’s been missing for a few weeks now, and I’m really starting to worry. He’s been….stressed….., so I figured he’d just went off the grid in Granite Falls for a few days–you know, just to relax and get a little space. But it’s been weeks! I don’t know….I guess I just needed to see my best friend….
By now Clarissa knew all about the relationship between Geoffrey, Roy, and her sister. Grainna had sworn her daughter to secrecy-she genuinely believed that telling Roy the truth about Geoffrey would cause more harm than good. But Clarissa’s heart was heavy. Roy had been her closest friend for so many years, and she could see the worry on his face, the exhausted slope of his shoulders. How could she look her best friend in the eye and lie to him?
Clarissa: Roy… I think you need to talk to my sister Seraphina.
Roy: Seraphina? But she hates me! What does she have to do with this anyway?
Clarissa: It’s really not my place to say. It’s her you need to talk to.
Clarissa called Seraphina over and after an intense, hushed conversation, Clarissa stepped aside, leaving brother and sister alone to talk.
Seraphina: I’m afraid you’re not going to like this and I’m sure you hate me enough already. But I think Clarissa is right – you have a right to know what truth about your dad.
Roy: I’m confused, Seraphina – what do you know about my dad?
Seraphina took a deep breath.
Seraphina: He’s not just your dad. He’s my dad, too.
Roy: What are you talking about?! You must be insane!! There’s no way–
Seraphina: Just listen, Roy! Your – OUR – dad and and my mom, they had a one-night stand back before you were even born…..I was the result…..
Roy: My dad would NEVER cheat on my mom!! They’re happy together!
Seraphina: Are they really, though? Think about it – all the talks, the times your dad was away…
Roy: Then YOU’RE the reason! All those times he just disappeared, he was with YOU? And your MOTHER? You’re the reason they can’t get along!
Clarissa took a few steps toward them, hoping she wouldn’t have step in.
Seraphina: At least you got to live with him! Spend time with him every day! Go places with him, make him proud! You had the kind of life with him I only dreamed of!
Roy softened, a realization dawning on him.
Roy: So THAT’S why you hated me…
Seraphina: I was jealous of you, Roy. I’m so sorry for that. I know now it was never your fault.
Roy: So – what you’re saying is – you’re my sister…
Seraphina: I am. I know this is a lot to take in, but there’s something else I need to tell you.
Roy: You know where he is, don’t you?
Seraphina: I’m so sorry you have to find out like this. He was here visiting when it happened.
Roy was quiet, solemn, but somehow he didn’t seemed shocked.
Seraphina: Are you okay?
Roy: Oddly, yes. Dad was getting up there in age, and he had a heart condition. The doctor said it was only a matter of time – that’s why I was so worried about him. When he’d been gone so long, I on some level I already knew — but I couldn’t bear the thought of him, lying on the ground somewhere alone and….
Seraphina: He wasn’t alone, and we gave him a proper burial.
Roy: Thank you, it means a lot to me. I don’t know what I’ll tell my mother but I’ll figure something out. But Seraphina – you’re my sister and I want you to be in my life. Will you at least consider it?
Seraphina grinned, and hugged her brother. At least something good had come out of all of this.
And then she felt it – a shiver up the spine, a cool breeze, the smell of a familiar cologne…
Roy: Do you feel that?
Just as Seraphina opened her mouth to answer, Clarissa came back outside, and the moment was gone.
Clarissa: So she told you?
Roy: She told me. I think I’m okay, or as ok as I can be.
Clarissa: I’m so sorry about your dad. He was a nice man.
They stood in silence a moment, and then Roy suddenly tensed.
Roy: You knew? This whole time, you knew! You knew about the affair, you knew my dad was DEAD, and never thought to tell me?
Clarissa: I’m sorry, Roy. My mom swore me to secrecy, she thought the truth would do more harm than good.
Clarissa was relived to see Roy relax. He sighed heavily.
Roy: I guess I can understand that. Your mom has always been so kind to me, and you’re my best friend, Clarissa. I know you wouldn’t do anything to intentionally hurt me.
Roy hugged her close, and Clarissa realized how good it felt to be in his arms.
Roy: I really should go. I need to figure out what to tell my family and there will be a memorial service to plan…..
But as Clarissa watched him go, she looked at him – really looked at him – for the first time all night. And she noticed how handsome – how STRONG – he had become. She felt a faint flutter in her stomach.
Clarissa: PLUM. I think I’m in love with my best friend.