Akira prowled the romance festival, stumbling his way past each booth with a sakura tea in hand. It seemed that all over, couples were snuggling and kissing, basking in young and old love alike. But where was Mare? At work, like always. A shred of jealousy ripped down Akira’s stomach as yet another disgustingly happy couple slow danced to music.
Tired of seeing it all, Akira whipped out his phone and dialed Mare.
“Akira?” Mare answered on the third ring. “You can’t call me when I’m at work. We talked about this.”
“I’m at the romance festival,” Akira muttered, disregarding Mare’s annoyance. “And I want you down here, now.”
Mare sighed audibly on the other line. “Look, I’ll try to get there when my shift ends, but I can’t make any promises.”
With that, Mare hung up. Akira clenched the phone in his hand and scoffed. His own fiancee couldn’t bother to show up when asked.
“Trouble, love?” A woman crooned from her seat on one of the numerous picnic benches.
Akira nodded and sighed before joining her. “My girlfriend is always so awful to me. I want to leave her but…” Akira trailed off and shook his head. “Sorry – I don’t want to burden you.”
“It’s no burden at all!” The woman said affectionately, placing a hand on Akira’s thigh. “If your girlfriend can’t appreciate the wonderful man you are, she doesn’t deserve you.”
“But I just can’t bring myself to leave her. She has no job, no drive. She’d practically die if I wasn’t around.”
The woman nodded in understanding. “Well, maybe I can help.”
In a second, the woman threw herself at Akira and kissed him passionately. Akira was immediately receptive, filled with lust and the elation at being noticed.
When they broke apart, the woman leaned into him and whispered her number. Akira was practically starry-eyed as she walked away.
He turned to find Mare running towards him. He stood up and embraced her, pecking her face with kisses.
“Let’s get married,” Akira smirked. As much fun as the other woman was, he needed the financial stability of the Ayers Estate. “Call the children, get them here. It’ll be a family affair!”
Mare beamed. “Oh, do you really mean it?”
“I do,” Akira nodded.
They borrowed formal clothes from the special dressing area set up at the festival before making their way to the wedding arch. Marilyn and Marina were there as well, though the youngest had already fallen fast asleep on the bench. Random strangers also gathered for the event, crowding happily and cheering as the couple exchanged vows.
The next day, it was back to work for Marilyn. Her birthday would be coming up soon, and she was determined to max out as many skills as she could. Mare had encouraged her curiosity and purchased a huge playground for the backyard where Marilyn could swing and climb to her heart’s content. She also spent much of her time crooning on the violin, determined to learn and grow.
“That was wonderful, darling!” Mare said, clapping joyfully.
“I wrote it for you, mama.” Marilyn said shyly.
Outside, Akira stomped to the graveyard where Mara and Johnny had been laid to rest. The night before he had been woken up at least three times by their ghosts, floating through the halls and breaking the toilets.
And Akira had had enough.
Without remorse, he released both their spirits to the netherworld and chuckled to himself.
“Perhaps I’ll take a nap,” he whispered.
As Akira napped, Mare was scrambling to set up a birthday party for Marilyn. Her little girl was going to be a teenager already – plum forbid she go rogue. Sycamore, Archie, and Samson all showed up to celebrate, along with Brody and his two twin boys.
The party flew by, and before Mare knew it, her little girl grew into a beautiful woman.
Well, close to it, anyways.