“Because I’m not Gigi or Owan,” Faye says, feigning frustration.  “All this arguing is burning me up.”  This is said so she can tug at her collar in a suggestive fashion for what she says is just cooling off.  Not at all intrigued, Ent looks away, but not before noticing something else that’s annoying him now.

    “Where’s your necklace I gave you?”

    “Huh?” Faye is sincerely startled.

    “I gave you a necklace that you promised to wear today.” Now, Elf is looking at her neck, but only at the specific area where his gift should be.

    “M-maybe I forgot it at home,” she suggests in a hasty guess.  “Baby, it’s been a rough morning.  I’m nervous about possibly going back to Juniper.  All those fancy know-it-alls, you know.  I’m sorry if I’ve let the stress get to me.”

    With a patient sigh, Elf says, “It’s okay, my Tilt-a-whirl.”

    “WHAT DID YOU CALL ME?!” Faye explodes in anger.

    Jumping back, Ent explains, “That’s what you told me to call you last week, Faye!”

    “Well, whatever delusion you heard was NOT what I told you, do you understand?!  If you EVER call me that again, I will personally forfeit graduation to send you straight to the Drawing Board.  Are we Kammy Crystal clear, Entoni Franklin Rug?!”

    Ent stares at her, resisting the urge to get as angry as she is now.  She clearly said otherwise last week.  What’s gotten into her today?  Sadly, this is no surprise as she’s been gradually digressing like this for the past year.  Ent won’t put up with this forever, but they’re still in the very hopeful stage of the two somehow working out what’s been bothering Faye.  It might have to do with losing her mom to Ultimaxine, so Ent has decided to lovingly help her through this struggle.

    “Did I just see what I think I saw?” Doug asks his wife.

    “What did you think you saw?” his spouse playfully asks since her back is to the excitement.

    “Faye trying to kill Elfie?”  This is Doug’s best interpretation of the matter.

    “She’s been trying to do that for years.  Be more specific.”  Cat is on her second salad.

    “Okay,” Doug tries again, “so, our ‘future daughter-in-law,’ as you call her when those two aren’t around, just went into a big rage over something he apparently called her.  Should we be concerned?”

    “Men should choose their words carefully, dear.  They’re grown adults now.”  This thing is loaded with ranch dressing and bacon shards.  Cat named it Salad Astronoma.  In between her monstrous chomping of this unfortunate vegetable victim, Duplica discusses with her sister the recent school year from the new faculty member’s perspective.  “I never thought you’d be a teacher, so I’m curious to hear about the last few months from your view.”

    “Hey, now,” Abbie says, “who raised you, little girl?”

    Pausing her dietary domination to smile admiringly at her older sibling, Cat gratefully affirms, “You did, my adorable Abigail, and I’ve been mad at you for not sharing that talent for years.  Mom and Dad were great, but everything I am is owed to an older sister who, in spite of having messed up, determined to use her failures as lessons to help me live right rather than as excuses to live for yourself.”

    “And I’m ever grateful for the results,” Doug comments.

    “Yet you never pay me,” Abbie teases.

    “Uh, babysitting?” Doug reminds her.

    “Hahahaha!  That’s the worst example you could give for your point.  You never paid me to babysit.”  Abigail is thoroughly entertained.

    “And the two times we came home early, you almost cried because you couldn’t bear to leave the twins before you were mentally prepared.”  Now, Doug feels the confidence.

    “Those kidders were so cute!” Abbie admits.

    “Point proven,” Doug concludes.  “That’s payment for sure.”

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