Elmire wasn’t the only one bullied. When the boy who was quickly becoming her best friend came to her house to play, he seemed quite down. Some big kid at school had taken his money.
Pondering his situation for a moment, she told him …
Elmire: !@$#^&%*… is what I said when he tried to rob me. The first time I had been shocked and cried, but last time I’d been prepared. I don’t think he’ll bother me again, so if you’d like, I’ll help you. Or I can just get him in trouble…
Brett cheered. He liked Elmire. He’d always heard that little girls were made of sugar and spice and everything nice, but experience led him to believe that wasn’t exactly true: Elmire was made of sugar and spice, lots of spice, so she wasn’t quite nice, even if she was sweet enough to take care of bullies for him.
The two friends hugged and then continued playing.
The next day, Asher, Adelise, and their daughters Delmarya and Elmire, traveled uptown to visit Asher and Adelise’s twin son and daughter.
Things went well, at first… Everyone talked and played games. Elmire was ecstatic to see Aster, a fellow piano enthusiast and her oldest sister. They weren’t close, but Asher always talked about Aster and Elmire was intrigued.
Elmire loved music so much, but music wasn’t something she had much success discussing with others. They didn’t seem to hear notes the way she heard them and she hadn’t figured out how to explain her thoughts on music properly, either, so most of her musical interactions felt hollow. Elmire was either showered with praise and quickly dismissed or condescended to and quickly dismissed. Either way, she was made to feel odd, so she’d stopped trying to talk about music with most of her friends and most adults. Having an opportunity to play in front of Aster, and discuss piano with her (where Aster probably wouldn’t dismiss Elmire after saying “you’re so~ good!” but would instead say something fun or interesting or otherwise nourishing to Elmire’s musical heart) had Elmire so excited that she was struggling not to jump up and down.
And Aster didn’t dismiss her! Aster listened to her play, exchanged thoughts about music with her, and filled Elmire up with techniques to investigate, specific pianists’ interpretations and performance styles to study, and hope that her musical explorations would be never-ending and magical.
Then, Dyna introduced her fiancé, Phillip.
Fiancé? Asher was immediately irritated and confused. He had never even heard of this person before. He wasn’t sure if he’d been clueless, missing obvious signs, or if Dyna hadn’t wanted him to know. His second youngest daughter was a mystery sometimes. She was quiet and private, which was fine, but this was a bit much. He would prefer to conspire with her on at least a few things, creating a father-daughter duo and leaving everyone else ignorant, instead of always being left out himself.
Regardless, Asher decided he was going to get to know this guy.
He tried to be polite, but he said a lot of things that weren’t so polite while enthusiastically asking question after question: Where are you from? What do you like about my daughter? What else? What else? What else? Where did you go to school? What did you study? What are your hobbies?
Asher: What do you do?
Phillip: I’m a mixologist.
No? Before Phillip could think of something to say and before Asher could explain that his daughter liked sports and computers, not drinks (or so he thought), Adelise, who had been watching her husband stumble into utter rudeness, rescued Phillip by calling him over and sent Elmire in to distract her father.
Before they left, Asher wasn’t able to extract any more information from Phillip, but he did get Dyna to promise she would visit their home in the Meadows more often.
Recently, Asher was shown frolicking in piles of and kissing money, and while he loved money, and ironically also loved setting it aflame, he actually preferred setting his wife aflame. Perhaps surprisingly, it was people > money for him, and recently he’d been spending a lot of time with his wife. They generally avoided deep conversations, but they did talk and do other things.
So, anyway, that night when they returned and when Asher was thinking about his favorite “+1 or 18 or even 18++;” inside math jokes with Adelise, he was disappointed when she told him that she was tired, actually tired, and wanted to sleep.
He was fairly certain that there wasn’t anything wrong. If Adelise were angry with him, she would express that anger posthaste and clearly, so not dwelling on the rejection, he went away.