Chapter 5 of The Imagined Ones – The World Upside Down ! One of my favorites, ’cause it finally gives the general tone of the book (which is basically just a bunch of millenials running amok and not taking shit seriously).
I decided the world was against me at twenty-three.
As usual, a performance that should have been perfectly executed, down to the second, had quickly derailed in stratospheric proportions. And I still firmly believed it wasn’t my fault I was locked in the broom closet of one of the tallest buildings in the North Ark with baboons on my tail, no matter what the imbecile I had on the phone had to say about that.
« Who the fuck has security guards in broad daylight?! » I ranted, as loud as I could without having them find me. “And weren’t you supposed to know?!”
“I think you’re treating my talent for information as omniscience, gorgeous, and it’s a fatal mistake. And they’re traders; the money in their account in Switzerland is only matched by their paranoia.”
I could hear the condescension in his voice, the hands-free kit uncomfortably hot against my ear. But before I could properly send him packing, hurried footsteps echoed down the corridor, forcing me to shut up. I waited for them to pass my closet, someone hysterically screaming at them to ‘Find me this fucking bitch!!’ Oh, he was so pissed off that he still remembered that I was a girl! Wouldn’t last long.
“That the guy you hit in the private parts?” Orphée asked.
“I don’t know,” I pondered, pensive. “I find his voice a bit too high, compared to earlier.”
I heard him muffle a laugh with his hand before he continued:
“Sorry, love, but I can’t get you out of there. You’ll have to climb. And get a move on, Dom’s already in place.”
I rolled my eyes, sighing loudly.
“Yeah, well, thank you for nothing,” I mumbled before hanging up.
I put one foot on one of the rickety shelves and hoisted myself up, the 1.80 meters that I achieved with my high heeled boots allowing me to reach the ceiling without much effort. I went right through the reinforced concrete and quickly found myself on the floor above. Fortunately, I’d managed to reach the last few floors before I was spotted. The case of the poor little secretary who began screaming after seeing a girl materialize through her floor wasn’t something I’d have to suffer for long. I ignored her, climbed onto her desk, and continued my ascension for another three floors before finally reaching the roof.
Domino and I were currently on top of one of the many buildings sprouting in the urban jungle that was the district of La Défense in Paris. Buildings like that, there were others, higher, more secure, but this one had the particularity of sheltering the offices of our target, a grade-A asshole I didn’t even want to know the name of. The only name I had in mind at that time was Rose’s. His daughter.
I spotted Domino quickly, about two hundred yards away from me, easily noticeable with her impressive height of 1.90 meters .Like Orphée had said, she was waiting for me, already in position on the ledge, arms crossed, and from where I was, I could almost see the bored expression she loved so much. I scowled while I got to my own ledge. Unlike Domino, I hadn’t been allowed to reach the roof from the outside (“No, Iria, a young woman walking onto thin air is not discreet!”), hence my unfortunate encounter with a broom closet and the delay that followed. Once in place, I turned my head towards her, and she made mimicked a phone at me. My own buzzed a second later from the back pocket of my jeans and I answered with the hands-free kit:
“Ready?” she asked immediately.
« Yeah, » I said, raising my hands in front of me.
The sleeves of the blazer that I wore over my ‘I can’t run, I’m a mermaid’ t-shirt stopped before the elbows, so I could see the specks of blue and black running over my skin, unchanging and familiar, to go lose themselves in my bracelets. On my palms, on the other hand, the black scribbles that piled on each other before throwing themselves in opposite directions refused to stay in place. They unfolded and retreated, waiting only to be released and finally take the form they were intended for. I knew the exact same thing was happening on Domino’s hands. We just had to wait for our target to get here.
“When do we go?”
I leaned over the edge, watching how the large glass panels formed the front of the building, descending gently towards the ground before falling more abruptly. My cell phone vibrated again, and Domino read the text Orphée had just sent us.
One leap and we were on the other side of the barrier, the ground a hundred meters below. I pressed my palms to the glass, doing the same with the tip of my feet. Domino and I looked at each other, and as one, let go of the ledge and slid down. It was all we needed to do for the scribbles on our hands to escape and melt in the glass, falling ahead of us to unfold into an animated masterpiece on the building’s facade.
I quickly recognized the silence that fell onto the crowd, calm before the storm, before the people below finally understood what was happening and reacted accordingly. The panicked cries and furious curses arose at the same time a sweet and innocent laugh filled the air between the cold buildings. And they reached a whole new level when the growing crowd spotted us, Domino and I, free falling along the building. The whispers mentioning the Imagined Collective were quick to come. Behind us, on the tinted glass, Rose’s life was playing a broad smile on her adorable baby face while she jumped in puddles in her garden after the rain, covered in mud.
Already we could hear the sirens in the distance. Soen was quick on his feet to begin with, but today he’d definitely set a record. We stopped our descent about twenty meters above ground. Domino clinging to the almost non-existent rim holding the glass panels together, turned towards the crowd. Me slamming my heels on a solid block of air, crouching onto nothingness. The screams, if possible, intensified, but I ignored them, trying to find amongst the mass of people the fucker that I wanted to ruin.
He was there, right in front of the steps leading to his workplace, tall and proud, a peacock in a business suit that probably cost him more than what he’d spent to abandon his daughter, surrounded by imbeciles just as full of themselves as him. I particularly enjoyed seeing his face drop:
“Did you see, Dad?! I’m a frog!!”
Rose’s memories continued to unfold behind us, revealing to the rest of the world that the real monsters weren’t always the ones we were pointing at.
“Dad!!Dad, are you watching?? Dad, where are you going?”
Her sweet, joyful voice was rippling around us, a pure moment of happiness that wouldn’t last, as Rose grew before our eyes.
“Dad, I’m scared, what do they want with me? What’s wrong with me?”
The gleam in Rose’s eyes had taken years to fade inside these gray corridors. To see her grow up, lose weight and waste away was a torture some people should experience tenfold.
“Dad, I don’t like it here. Please bring me home. I promise I’ll be good. Dad, please.”
I didn’t look at the pictures. I’d seen them. Now, I wanted to concentrate on the cause of their existence, whose horrified look was just not enough for my taste.
“What do I have to do to make you love me?”
A whisper. From twelve years-old disarticulated corpse who had the misfortune to still be breathing.
“Dad, I can’t do it anymore. Please.”
My phone rang along with Dom’s, and we picked up our earphones.
“Yo, girls!” cheerfully exclaimed Orphée. “Not to rush you or anything, but you have to finish now. The PJ’s coming on your right and Sorokine on your six.”
“Don’t worry, we’re almost done,” I replied. “We sign and we scram.”
“I didn’t do anything to deserve that.”
Domino and I jumped and finished the rest of our fall, landing on the skyscraper’s square and raising another round of screams from the crowd. Before anyone could react, I let go of the last scribble on my hand and watched it form onto the ground, wide and visible, our hymenopteran emblem, identical to the tattoo I had between my thumb and forefinger.
“JUST LET ME DIE!!!!!!!!”
Rose was fourteen when she’d sent a bunch of cold, clinical doctors flying against the wall of her padded room, her father with them. They’d ignored the signs. She’d gotten a hold of liquid potassium chloride less than a week later. We were March 12th, and today she would have been twenty.
The last image slowly appeared on the glass, large handwritten letters, and I turned my head towards Dom:
“You take care of Nadia ,I go east and intercept Soen?”
“I’ll go through Les Quatre Temps, I’ll bring her that way, » Domino nodded, cerulean eyes already looking for the quickest exit route in the compact mass of people before us.
We took off running, Dom towards the South Ark, parting the crowd, jumping and avoiding with a supernatural ease any person in her path, me towards the Seine, going through, immaterial, any obstacle alive or otherwise.
Considering the density of the crowd, few people noticed us, most of them staring at the message imprinted on the glass: “Your daughter died because of you.”
Matter wasn’t a problem for me, and neither was distance. If La Défense’s police officers were quick to show up at the site of the performance, still largely missing Domino and I, Soen belonged to the Quai des Orfèvres. So he needed more time to get there, and I could have avoided him completely if it wasn’t for the wicked demon who ruled my life striking again.
I’d just came out of an office where I had terrorized half the staff when I could finally check why my phone kept buzzing. I sighed when I saw Jules Verne’s black and white photo blinking on my screen. I put the phone back in my pocket and picked up with my earphone before resuming my run:
« Just tell me she didn’t kill anyone, » I said, not bothering with manners.
I was met with perplexed silence.
“Am I talking to Alix Sebastia’s mother?”
“Depends, what did she do? If it involves manipulating someone in some way, I have nothing to do with this. She gets it from her father, that motherfucker is particularly persuasive.”
Soen and his men were barely passed the Galilée, all sirens out, not caring about the Esplanade of General de Gaulle being a pedestrian zone, when I ended up in front of his car, bursting from a side street where I’d almost caused a pileup. Detective Soen was generally smarter and more reactive than the idiots he was forced to work with, always good at keeping his cool. To the point I felt bad for making his life miserable. And while his colleagues were swerving to the side, bumping each other, once they saw him brake, he kept a perfect control of his car, piling right in front of me, without me having to dematerialize in order to avoid him.
He stared at me in shock. I smirked and waved at him before taking off in the direction he had come from. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him laugh softly before revving his car, turning around and start chasing me, the other vehicles ending up following him for lack of knowing what to do.
“The problem is a bit difficult to explain on the phone,” finally said the school’s secretary. “If you could stay after school to have a talk with Alix’s teacher, it would be very much appreciated.”
I quickly distanced the detective, leaving the Esplanade and joining the adjacent streets, crossing walls, cars and panicking people. I traveled the distance like the seven-league boots, easily losing the cops who thought driving Fast & Furious style and crashing into walls was a good way to catch me.
“I’ll be there,” I replied absently.
I didn’t wait for her answer and hung up. Soen and his positive IQ, unlike the other losers, had managed to follow me through the Esplanade Nord and to the Neuilly Bridge.
The police had formed a roadblock, preventing cars from entering La Défense, subway stuck in the same stagnant state on the bridge. The officers there saw us arrive, wide-eyed, some taking their weapons out, not knowing what to do with them, the people around the barricades starting to scream. This detail didn’t bother either me or Soen, and I ran to the railing bordering the bridge, him still on my tail.
With one hand, I jumped on the barrier, crouching on it in a fine exercise of balance. I turned towards Soen, who braked sharply, stopping right before me. He couldn’t get out of the car in time. With a smirk, I gave him a beautiful middle finger; I might like him, but I still had to represent. I saw him rolling his eyes before I jumped into the Seine.
I touched the water and let myself sink slowly, the sounds disappearing completely around me. I watched the dim light of the day above me fade away before it came back in a brighter shade, a warmer red, the water turning more limpid.
When I reached the surface, I gripped the copper edges before my head was even out of the water and hoisted myself up, leaning against the back of the large footed tub I had emerged in.
In the Legends, we could see the stars in broad daylight, and the Milky Way was visible through the skylight twenty meters above us, where the lush vegetation hadn’t invaded or broken the glass. The wide windows and glass doors were wide open, offering a panoramic view of the city sprawling below the palace. A Spanish colonial architecture, iron balconies and colorful facades, street noise and intoxicating smells coming to us, before the buildings stopped and the wild flora began.
The bathtub was in the middle of the room. The youngest were scattered all over the place, most of them slumped on the oriental sofas and benches. The Elders sat in big armchairs behind the large crescent-shaped table, separated from the old red stone and Persian rugs by the dark wooden elevation taking up half of the Council Chamber’s floor. Jude was sitting on a crimson dormeuse that he had placed against the copper bathtub, casually leaning against the edge, one of his hands dipping absently into the warm water.
Like everyone else, he’d watched my arrival before his forget-me-not colored eyes went back to the old movie type screen in the back of the room, precariously wedged between two columns of broken stone, overgrown with ivy. I did the same while Domino came through the heavy engraved oak door, holding her left arm against her side (and the moderately bothered look she was sporting was tantamount to murderous desires for a normal person), and joined the little porcelain doll that was her sister on one of the benches.
On the screen a journalist, I didn’t know which one, didn’t care, relayed with a tone one would use to announce World War III, the events instigated by Domino and I;
“… and once again, for a reason the authorities still can’t explain, the witnesses are unable to remember what the Collective’s members look like, even though they were seen up close. The strange images broadcasted earlier, we still don’t know how, are of unknown origin and fail to make any sense at the moment. This stunt of the Imagined Ones comes only two days after their sabotage of the Volques Bridge’s reopening ceremony…”
“Orphée, could you turn it off, please?”
From the sofa he had all to himself, the Greek God – as many girls in the Legends had the bad taste of calling him, all giggling – lazily passed a hand through his fire red mop of hair before carelessly gesturing towards the screen. The later went blank again, and the younger ones turned towards the Elders while I was pulling repeatedly on the hand Jude had in the water. He grabbed the large towel at his feet and threw it in my face with an evil smile just as I came out of the tub. I freed myself before hitting him on the back of the head and sitting next to him on the dormeuse, drying myself. I turned my attention to the Council.
Augusta Blas was sitting upright in a large baroque armchair made of dark velvet, behind the outer curve of the table, her hands resting calmly on her lap. At seventy years old, the official leader of the Imagined Ones had the appearance and attitude of a grandmother. Her hair short and silvery, her eyes black and laughing, wrinkling every time she smiled, her hands thin and slender, always filled with homemade pastries to give, slight Andaluz accent she’d kept despite many years living in France, the one we called La Abuela would never have made it on the authorities’ radar as the head of the criminal group that’d been escaping them for years.
We were a little more educated than them on the subject.
“I think I can speak for everyone here when I say that the technical part of this performance went astoundingly well,” she began slowly. “It definitely was the results we were hoping for.”
A general murmur of approval answered her.
« Domino, considering the state your arm is in, I am guessing that Miss Sorokine forgot her manners again?”
Dom lifted her hand, sighing softly, showing a bloody but fortunately shallow wound, Daisy leaning over to take a closer look at her sister’s cut, worried.
“She couldn’t catch me, but she was a bit trigger-happy today. I was entering Les Quatre Temps when she fired. If I had moved, she would have touched a little girl. »
La Abuela nodded thoughtfully before turning to my best friend.
“Jude, could you take a look, please?”
Jude stood up, grabbing the brown leather satchel at his feet, in which I knew was the compact version of a private clinic. He began to clean and suture the wound while Augusta changed targets:
“Iria, with Detective Soen?”
« It’s Soen. » I replied with a shrug. “He was chill.”
« You provoked him, » the Abuela surmised, a hint of accusation in her voice.
Augusta sighed as many in the room laughed softly.
“Well,” she kept going. “In any case, it is interesting to note that the police showed remarkable reactivity. Iria was found out fairly quickly.”
« Yeah, and by the police, you mean Soen, » I retorted, throwing the towel on the floor and grabbing my phone. “The other idiots would not have gotten that I was an Imagined One even if I’d taken the time to write it on their forehead with permanent marker.”
My phone was of course intact, despite its stay in the water, perks of having enough courage (or idiocy, as the grandmother would tell me) to face the misanthrope that was Hank and ask him for a favor. The Abuela simply raised an eyebrow and turned her head towards Orphée, who was absently surfing on his tablet. When he saw that everyone was watching him, he just shrugged:
“We need to give credit where credit is due,” he said with an appreciative pout.
He straightened up against the armrest and concentrated more seriously on his tablet.
“But we knew it would happen,” he continued. “Soen is the only one who understands our way of thinking, and no one in the PJ gives him any credibility. We planned this outcome. As for Sorokine, first off, we knew our intervention on the Volques Bridge alone was going to piss off the Moirae’s Eye. Next point, my friends, it’s official; they figured out the statues represented the Fates!”
The announcement was followed by a wild uproar, the decibels going through the roof, we young people clapping and stomping. La Abuela let us celebrate loudly for a little while before restoring calm from a wave of her hand.
« I had no doubt Justin would understand the message, » she stated. That said, the Moirae’s Lamentations is definitely one of our best performances. We can once again congratulate Avi for this breathtaking show.”
Said jerk was already full of himself without having Augusta sing his praises. I saw the smug smile he was sporting from the wide armchair he had taken for throne, enjoying the new round of applause, and knew I was right about that. At thirty-two, Avi Mesika, the Legends’ tortured artist, was, after Orphée Sinclair, the biggest star of the female population’s wet dreams. Tall, tanned skin, dark irises, black ink hair never brushed, and a square jaw so perfect one might think his parents were as fine sculptors as he was, this harbinger of doom was, for a reason completely escaping me, the most coveted Art Professor at the Sorbonne, and a respected (the word burned my throat) member of the Imagined Collective. I didn’t understand how anyone could like him on any level, but I was apparently the only one thinking that.
Okay, so, his little intervention on the Volques Bridge was pretty nice, sure, but it didn’t warrant getting cocky about it.
« It was nothing, really, » he said in a tone he probably wanted to be modest. “It still took me six months of preparation (« Only six months, Avi! » Asshole). I’m just glad they understood our message.
I gave Jude an exasperated look when he sat back down next to me, and he smirked, knowing perfectly what I thought of all this.
« Don’t be modest, Avi, » I replied with a big smile. “We all know it was amazing.”
I paused for effect, Jude already starting to laugh, Augusta holding her breath and Avi looking at me suspiciously:
“With that good a performance, we’ll be talking about it for years to come. We might even forget all about the Place des Pyramides debacle.”
Some (like Jude and Orphée) sneered, others (like a good chunk of the Elders) rolled their eyes, while Avi glared at me and the Abuela sighed loudly (« Please, not again… »).
« The Place des Pyramides was not my fault, » Avi snapped. “I know you did it!”
I took a conciliatory tone.
“Avi, we don’t blame you. You lost a statue, it happens. We all had performances going sideways.”
“I know it was you, Iria.”
“Good heavens! Both of you, enough!” Augusta interjected before I could answer. “Let’s get back to the matter at hand here!”
« Augusta, it wasn’t me, » Avi insisted. “I know it, you know it, everybody knows it! It was her doing!”
True. A year and a half ago, while he was prepping for a performance in which he was to replace (temporarily) the equestrian statue of Joan of Arc in the Place des Pyramides with a version a little more alive, Avi had the really bad idea to piss me off. The original had disappeared during the night, before Avi could even finish his own sculpture, leaving the next morning a desperately empty pedestal and a clergy out for blood. What really happened, where the statue was, only Jude and I knew. Avi had it coming. Still, the incident was enough for la Abuela to forbid any performance involving an object that was part of our cultural heritage.
“You have no proof.”
« Anyway, » Augusta exclaimed, cutting off any possible argument. The Moirae’s Eye didn’t retaliate with anything that was unexpected, their quick response today was something we had anticipated and a risk we had accepted. That being the case, Justin will obviously not be happy about this week’s events. I want to remind all of you, young and old – yes, Renata, I am talking about you – that if knowing this is one thing, acting accordingly is another. Therefore, I ask you, for those of you who live outside the Legends, to stay under the radar and remain careful. And I am not just saying it. It might be the only thing I can trust Iria on…”
The joy of having a child depending on you. Security, responsibility, say goodbye to liberty.
“But many of you take safety instructions a little too lightly. Jude, Orphée and Mab are only the most obvious examples. Believe me, there are others. Yes, Renata, I am talking about you.”
Renata Habiera, Daisy and Domino’s grandmother, her small body engulfed in the seat she had at the Elders’ table, closed a mouth painted in red, her question once again answered before it was out. She just pushed the large bright yellow frame of her glasses up her nose and pretended to look innocent, failing to convince anyone when the crevasses on her skin were multiplied by a badly hidden smirk. Jude turned to me, pretty annoyed, while the Sinclair siblings, for their part, shared an unimpressed look at the mention of their name.
“That’s not true, I’m not like that, I can be careful.”
“Right,” I agreed calmly. “Because running after a corpse escaped from the morgue at least twice a week is so responsible.”
He glared at me as la Abuela adjourned the assembly. We got up and got out with the rest of the younger ones, the Elders remaining behind to talk some more. Jude let me pass out the door first only so he could try and trip me, and I threw my wet towel in his face in retaliation, before we walked through the maze of old corridors that led from the council room at the top of the palace, down to the Garden Between-two-worlds.
Said garden was a large sanctuary of various floras, entirely surrounding the palace and accessible from the town. Made of rainforests and arctic tundra, wide open corridors ran across it, the thick, weathered stone walls flanked by large doors, carved and detailed, of all types of woods, colors and shapes. Engraved finely in each architrave, calligraphy letters indicated where the door led.
Once in the immense veranda opening directly on the French part of the garden, I stopped on the wooden steps bridging old crumbling tiles and green grass. I frowned at the scene in front of me, thinking. The corridors were almost at capacity. If the other idiot kept going like this, I’d still to expand the garden again, and flora was definitely not my favorite medium. Reda was the one who’d insisted on having shared gardens in the Legends after he was done going behind my back and invading the house with succulents and the garden with fruits and vegetables.
“What’s wrong?” Jude asked.
He was standing in front of the old horizontal wood panels covering the porch’s red stone wall. He opened the one marked with ‘Jude Everaer’ before pulling out his jacket. I sighed as I headed for my own locker.
“He’s creating another door.”
I changed my clothes, Jude waiting for me, leaning on his locker. Advantage of being able to bend reality, when I took off blazer and t-shirt, I was already wearing a white shirt and a black officer’s jacket. I grabbed my shoulder bag.
“And where does it lead, this new door?”
“I don’t know yet. It’s between Europe and Asia, I think. Hey, do you need to go pick up Gab and Max today?”
« Wait, I’ll check, » he said, taking his phone out of his pocket. “Yep… Arnaud needs to run an errand for my father, it’s urgent.”
“All your father’s errands are urgent,” I replied as we headed towards the Parisian corridor. “Well, we can go together. The school called when I was leaving La Défense. I don’t know what Alix did yet, but her teacher wants to see me.”
While most corridors held the doors of an entire country, Paris had its own corridor, due to being the physical location for the Legends. As a result, a large number of Imagined Ones decided to settle there in order to be closer to the Collective. A door led directly behind the second arrondissement’s primary school my kid and Jude’s little brothers attended, and we went through it, quickly diving back into the noise and smells of Paris’ urban life.
Jude didn’t say a word as we reached the front of the school, and I turned to look at him, beginning to find his silence suspicious. He saw me do so when we stopped in front of the gates, still closed, already besieged of parents older than us.
“I’m sure it’s nothing like an insane scenario where she’d have… say, convinced all the teachers to dance the Macarena in their underwear on the playground and record it before posting it on YouTube. It would be completely ridiculous.”
“Everaer,” I groused, teeth clenched. “Tell me you did not really mention this stupid scenario to my very suggestible seven years-old.”
“She might have heard some words taken out of context… you know, by accident,” he hesitated, trying to play it cool. “But! I told her it was something she shouldn’t do, that it wasn’t nice.”
He took a step back when I sent him homicidal look, trying to kill him with my mind rather than concentrating on the school’s opening doors.
“Really insisted on the… not nice…”
Silence on my part. Sheer panic on his:
“It’s probably not even what she did!”
“I’ll never let you near my daughter ever again,” I decided.
“You can’t do that to me. I’m her godfather, I have the right to see her.”
“Making you Alix’s godfather, that bastard couldn’t possibly have a worse idea,” I sighed, exasperated.
The first wave of children came out. Jude raised an eyebrow.
“I thought it was your idea.”
The majority of the children were already out, Jude’s twins obviously not part of it, and I was slowly realizing I wouldn’t like what was coming next. The posh and anorexic mother of one of the pests in Alix’s class was glaring at me, her posture rigid, her puffy mouth and reduced nose twisted in a pout that was meant to be intimidating. It only made me want one thing: squeeze all the fake parts ‘til they went back to their original shape. To complete the whole picture, Timothée’s mother, the boy ‘so cute, Iria, he’s just per-fect!’ of the class, was there too, and seemed to have tripled her prozac dose to give herself some courage.
Two heads full of curls as blond as his plowed into Jude and I saw my daughter’s teacher come out, exhausted, the three children following her. The pest was trying her best to mimic her mother’s constipated face while Timothée was weeping crocodile tears and Alix, the Antichrist personified, affected a devil-may-care attitude, ready to raise hell. I raised a very judgmental eyebrow in her direction, arms crossed, and she held my gaze for a short moment before deflating, her shoulders dropping heavily when she sighed.
I was being perfectly objective when I said Alix was the most beautiful girl to have ever graced this earth. Tall for her age, her skin was soft and golden, her moles were constellations fallen on the perfect oval of her face, I constantly wanted to bite her little turned up nose, her big eyes were of an edifying almond green and her long hair was a sandy blonde nightmare I loved to fight with every morning. In short: my daughter was gorgeous.
Sadly, she had a bad temper.
Posh lady grabbed her daughter, just as dolled up as she was, squeezing her like the kid was dying. Timothée fell blindly into his mother’s arms, crying even harder, and Alix cautiously approached me, crossing her arms in turn, before announcing in a slightly superior tone:
“They have no proof.”
Ok, fine. She had MY bad temper.
In retrospect, things weren’t as bad as I thought they’d be; they were worse. It all started when my daughter, who apparently was ‘in a relationship’ with Timothée for three long days already, had decided they’d grown apart, and that it was time to end ‘an meaningless relationship only standing for the habit and need to keep up appearances’ (“What did I say about the psychology books at home?” “I didn’t read them!”). Timothée was not of the same mind, he and Alix were supposed to get married when they were older, in year 7. Cue buckets of tears. My kid, always attentive of other people’s feelings, had then the idea of convincing her archnemesis, Elysia (Elysia? Seriously?), also in love with Timothée, that he wanted to go out with her and that she needed to go for it, so she could be rid of this dimwit (“Alix.” “Sorry, so I could help him move on.”). Elysia had jumped at the chance, sure of getting the guy, and Timothée had brutally rejected her in front of everyone (“I want Alix!”). Humiliated, Elysia went yelling after Alix. Annoyed, Alix had convinced Elysia to get on her desk in the middle of quiet time, and dance the Macarena (Jude took a cautious step back when I turned my gaze on him).
The situation didn’t make any sense to anyone who wasn’t at least a bit open-minded, and I could hardly explain to the stuck ups in front of me that ‘convince’ had for Alix a slightly different meaning than the rest of the world. Might as well keep digging.
“Does your daughter always do what people tell her to, like that? Because when mine pisses me off and I tell her to stick her fingers in the outlet, she knows not to do it.”
The distorted grimace her blown up lips made in that instant gave me a glimpse of the tortuous moment I would soon be living. And I wasn’t wrong since the verbal logorrhea that followed was all I knew it would be and all I didn’t want it to be.
Her daughter was well behaved. Sure. She was PERFECT. Mine too, but it didn’t stop me from fantasizing about strangling her half the time. It was my kid who was manipulative and diabolical. I might be repeating myself here, but she gets it from her father. She was a ruthless heartbreaker. Okay, I’ll admit, the crazy irresistible charm is entirely my fault. You are not taking the situation seriously, Mrs. Sebastia! It’s not Mrs., it’s not Sebastia, it’s Miss Moriarty. Oh, I see, too proud to take the father’s name! Yeah no, it’s not Sebastia for him either, so…
Posh lady’s growing irritation and my apathy towards the situation pushed the director to come out and avoid a possible slaughter. Alix and the pest should each give a presentation on why getting along in society was important. As for Timothée, the poor boy had already been through enough already.
When the whole thing was finally over, the only ones left were Alix, Jude, Gabriel, Maxence and I. If the two eight years-old were finding the situation hilarious, my daughter and best friend two were far from thinking the same. Jude because he knew I was going to castrate him, Alix because she knew she was going to be in a world of hurt. I opened my arms with a big smile:
“Guess who’s scrubbing toilets for the next two months!”
 Nothing to do with pajamas. PJ stands for “Police Judiciaire” or Judiciary Police, which in this specific case refers to Paris’ police forces, famous for being located on the Quai des Orfèvres. It actually changed locations in 2017 but since this story is set in 2015, that’s really not our problem.
 Huge mall in La Défense.
 Not re-explaining. Way too lazy for that.
Here are the links to the other chapters :