Elle – 5

Tucker brings the last of my things into the tiny, fully furnished one bedroom apartment and sets the box of dishes Cory gave me on the two person kitchen table. Milo continues his nap in his carrier that I placed in the middle of the sitting room, by the coffee table.

“I don’t understand why this is necessary…” I state.

“Look at the bright side, you’re a Beta now… Working in product development for PlumTree… You’ve been released of High School classes. This is a sweet deal. When the new housing is finished, you’ll get a bigger place. You’ve achieved every teenager’s dream. You get to be a BIG PERSON.” Tucker chuckles.

“But I’m not comfortable with anyone taking care of Milo but me.”

“Oh relax, there’s a daycare at the office and you can check on him as often as you need.”

Rex knocks on the open door as he enters in without asking.

“Miss Elle, mom wants to know if you want come back to our house for dinner or will you be okay for the evening?”

“She’ll stay.” Tucker answers for me.

“Grandpa, I asked her… not you…” Rex retorts.

“Ah… Milo and I will join you, just let me make some new bottles for Milo.”

“Okay, we’ll wait for you downstairs.” Rex smiles like a dork, super stoked I accepted his invite.

Cory set all of Milo’s supplies on the kitchen counter. I go over there and look for the open canister of formula on the gray countertop. The entire decorum of the apartment are shades of gray. Light gray carpet through most of the place, an almost white tile in the bathroom and the kitchen. Dark gray appliances, sofa, recliner, coffee table, cabinets, tub, bed, entertainment center, dresser, and wardrobe. The sinks are silver. Then every other surface and the walls a normal gray. The ceiling a light gray.

I’m allowed to repaint and decorate however I want, but then I have to put everything back to the way I found it. What a hassle. I think I’ll just let this dreary gray grow on me.

“You stay away from my grandson…” Tucker says. He clarifies what he means as I shake formula powder and water into a milk-like substance in two bottles simultaneously. “Rex is not gonna be my first grandkid to make me a great-granddad.”

I giggle. It’s funny how he’s worried about a virgin ruining his clearly mutually virginal grandson.

“Don’t worry grandpa, Rex isn’t my type.”

Legal age of consent for intercourse is 15 in the DCA. If a couple are expecting, they don’t need parent permission to marry if they’re under 18.

In the RA, age of consent remains at 18. If you’re under 25, you need a “blessing” from both sets of guardians to marry. Usually, teen parents place their child in adoption because they don’t have the means to care for the infant. No one can get employment without a college degree. Abortion is a felony for the mother and the abortionist, and if the father knew about it and didn’t notify the authorities, he’d charged with a misdemeanor…

I guess mom found the perfect place to hide Milo.

Tucker checks to make sure the apartment is secure and then picks up Milo in his carrier to help me down to Cory’s SUV.

The apartment door automatically swings shut after we both step out. The apartment A.I.- Roogle, says goodbye in a pleasant, calm male voice.

In the ride back to Tucker’s neighborhood, Cory makes small talk.

“We’re gonna miss having you next door.” She says, looking at me through the review mirror.

“I’ll miss it too… I love you guys…” I say honestly.

I only read in mom’s journal what Paxton, Cory, Tucker, Uncle Houston, and dad were like. But even though Paxton and Cory will older and wiser, their charm and joyous spirit was the same.


Standing, Paxton holds out his wine glass to make a toast. The short man’s black full beard had the two gray streaks at the corners of his lips like white fangs.

“I’m so happy, that- that Elle here is gonna come into the office and use her genie mind to like make more new awesome tech for the company… For the WORLD! I’m ecstatic that Quora and Walker are here- back with fam will on break from college. AND next week- it is the anniversary of when Cory agreed to go out with me -like a lifetime ago- a long time ago- cause we’re old…” He lifts his glass high and we join him in the gesture, “Let’s toast, to a great year ahead life just getting better!!!”

As we clang our glasses up against one another, the lights go out, rushing steps close in on us, and before my eyes can adjust to the dark to defend myself, a needle pricks my arm as a bag is placed over my head.

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