The Bard Challenge #16: Solstice from A to Xe ~ Entry #11

Most Words Used ~ OZ's Special Merit

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Christmas

by Phantom Quill

Disclaimer: I will never disclaim love. If ye be above the age of consent I hope you enjoy the story.

"The abyss was marred by the downed airplane that had a gaping gouge from an impromptu appendectomy in the shape of an apple the size of an asteroid.

What the hell kinda sentence is that, and what kind of bizarre writing exercise are you competing in now? The crappiest story using every 'a' letter word in the dictionary?"

Justine mischievously spun Melissa around in her computer chair a couple of times to distract her girlfriend from her fiasco of a story on the computer screen. Placing her hands on either side of the brunette's shoulders along the back of the chair she straddled the frustrated woman and made herself comfortable on her lap.

"Hardee har har. Remind me again why everyone thinks you're a little angel?" Black bangs flew upward as a frustrated breath was expelled. Melissa's hands gently grasped and rubbed the straddling hips clothed in navy sweats.

"I never claimed to be an angel. A fallen angel maybe, but a bonafide angel, never." The corners of the blond's mouth quirked upward slightly. "Besides, I'm not the one with Diablo tattooed on my ass."

"No, you have a tiny island with the words paradise found around it just below your navel." Looking away Melissa mumbled under her breath, "Not that I would personally know."

The blond softly chuckled. "That's not my fault."

The seated woman blushed and fidgeted in her seat.

Taking pity on her girlfriend Justine attempted to get back on track. Leaning forward she placed a quick kiss on a bang-covered forehead. "Anyway, what *are* you up to this time around?"

Making imaginary quotes in the air Melissa groused, "The Great Willy, and her merry band of Umpa Lumpa's from The Academy of Battling Ink Slingers have seen fit to issue a writing challenge to use a twisted list of words again." She spun the chair around to face the monitor.  "How the blazes can you use the word supercalifrack… supercalimagicstick… super-expectorate-precocious in a sentence?!"

"What, that's not a word?"

"You're telling me!" Melissa removed her bodacious lap warmer to bring up a list of words on the monitor. She pointed to one particular word separated from the list, underlined in red, and in bold face.


"I don't want to hear *THAT* word," The brunette testily interrupted.

"If you can't even say the word without making up your own version of it, how can you expect to use it in a story?"

A glower was her only response.

"It's from Mary Popins, and it just means fantastic. *EVERYBODY* knows that. You've seen the movie right?  What's so hard about using it in a story?"


 "Besides, what does that word have to do with the grievous slaughter of the English language I read?"

The glower continued to answer her queries.

"Babe, why do you keep entering these challenges?"

The cantankerous writer sighed. "Because they're fun, relaxing, and creatively it gets my juices flowing."

"Uh huh. Flowing like jelly apparently since you were yelling unimaginative invectives at your monitor, which is why I came to check on you."

The brunette had the good grace to look sheepish. "I just forgot where I was. Sorry for the language. I hope Ariel didn't hear me being an ass."

"My little sister is taking a nap at the main house so you're forgiven for that oversight.  On the other hand, my mother…"

"Oh Jeez, what a great way to spend the Christmas holiday. First your mother finally meet me as your official girlfriend for the first time while I have a doozy of a hangover from imbibing their brandy that *THEIR* daughter told me was okay to drink." Melissa scowled at her girlfriend. "Then I puke on their hapless prize poodle because the freshly cut juicy cantaloupe for brunch made me queasy after *YOU* got me drunk the night before. They catch me running around late at night wearing a harness *YOU* made me wear because you said it turns you on. Thank *GOD* it was just the harness and your mother didn't know what it was really for! They only thought it was part of my outfit."

Justine muffled a laugh. "You did look luscious running around in that kick-ass, killer, all black, leather outfit complete with the harness, and I merely suggested you have *A* drink to calm your nerves since you were… girlish about us spending the night together. I did not say to drink nearly half the bottle! Who knew she was going to come down to the cottage to invite us for brunch the following day? She's usually in bed by ten."

"I WAS NOT BEING GIRLISH," the irascible brunette gritted out. "All that is not bad enough, oh no, that would be letting me off easy. They also catch me trying to wipeout that creepy army of gnomes your pest of a brother Brad creates and has patrolling the grounds that LOOK JUST LIKE ME!"

"Now I know you're out of your gourd."

Melissa was flabbergasted into silence. Shaking off her astonishment she closed her mouth, her eyes narrowed, and her jaw muscles stood out in vivid relief before she stomped out of the room. A minute later Justine followed after her friend. When she reached the living room Melissa barged back into the cottage with a gnome poised beside her face.

"Tell me that that does not look like me! The same exact color of my eyes and face shape, the hair color and style, and look right there," she pointed to an exposed portion of the right breast peeking over the gnome's low cut top, "*THAT'S* the scar I have on my chest from when you deputized me in that children's hospital play we put on! Brad even asked me if the knockers reminded me of anyone! As if being depicted as a gnome wasn't bad enough he has that licentious expression on it to add insult to injury! That's a squat, hideous looking effigy of me wearing a frou-frou to boot!"

Justine could not refute the uncanny resemblance her brother's gnome army had to her girlfriend upon closer inspection. Making a decision, she tossed the figure into the trash and grabbed Melissa's hand to lead her over to the couch. Briefly resisting, the brunette petulantly followed after a moment. Justine sat Melissa down and knelt on the floor between her legs facing her girlfriend. Taking each of her girlfriend's hands she gently caressed her thumbs along the back.

"What's really bothering you Sweetheart? I know a lot of… unfortunate… things have happened lately, but nothing you're not used to. You know how uppity my mother can be, even on a good day. Brad has always been a pest. Especially after you shot him down in front of his friends when he wouldn't stop pestering you to sleep with him. Comparing his… uh, attributes to knockwurst in front of those friends did not help matters either. Though you got points on my scorecard for originality for it. Though I'll never be able to look at stubby sausages ever again." The blond laughed. "You always have a rough start when you try your hand at writing challenges, but usually hit a groove after some brainstorming. So what really has your knickers in a wad?"

Melissa could not help but chuckle at her girlfriend's idiom. Taking a deep breath to calm down she pulled Justine's hands to her lips and placed a kiss on each.

"Nothing I'm not used to? The resigned brunette raised her face to the ceiling and closed her eyes. "Your mother find out that I'm in love with their innocent and naïve, to them anyway, what a joke *THAT* is, 22-year-old daughter."

"Hey, I take umbrage to that remark even though it's true! You make it sound like a bad thing." The blond unrepentantly and playfully groused. "I'll have you know I took that Purity Test online and I scored in the nineties!"

"Seventy percent on the five hundred question Purity Test tells a different story."

"It was still above the average score." She countered.

"It's barely passing."

"But still passing."

"You always have to have the last word."

"Yes, and your point is…?" Justine looked at her questioningly.

Melissa continued undaunted. "They catch me drunk and running around dressed to seduce said daughter. They find me on a one-woman crusade in the middle of the night obliterating their son's yard ornaments with a golf putter while effusively bellowing, 'Kill 'em all!'  I traumatize their champion poodle Cornelius after I hurl on him while he's trying to sniff my crotch. Dog or human, that's no-man's land."

Justine had to bite her bottom lip to keep from laughing.

"I break their custom-made crystal figurine set of a unicorn, elephant, and kangaroo that they'd planned to give Ariel for Christmas, while running away from a pissed-off poodle with a grudge fiercely attached to my ankle. Jack your butler catches me buck-naked in the pool while waiting for you, and with his usual snarky tone instructs me to vacate the pool.  I *KNOW* he was itching to say to vacate the premises. I catch your brother trying to be a peeping tom while conveniently placing one of his gnomes outside my bedroom window. Your mom hears me cussing out my monitor and my adult version of what super-licka-licious means while their 8-year-old daughter is apparently running around. I pass out while trying to make love to my girlfriend for the first time." The brunette looked away in embarrassment. Her voice dripping with sarcasm she finished, "Yeah, each of those events sound like a day in the life of Melissa Evans."

"I didn't say it wasn't an interesting week, just nothing to worry about." Justine quickly continued as Melissa gave her a disbelieving look. "I know it's been a tough week for you, and I'm sorry about my part in it. As for our special night, it was no big deal Sweetheart. We have the rest of our lives to show each other how we feel. Just because we didn't make love then doesn't mean I don't know how you feel about me, and I hope you know how I feel about you. I. Love. You.

Would you rather spend Christmas with your family?" Justine quietly inquired. "You can still make arrangements to join them on their trip."

Melissa sighed deeply and hugged her still kneeling girlfriend in silent comfort.  Burrowing her nose into the blond hair Melissa took a deep breath. "No. Even after all that I still would rather be here with you than anywhere else. I blame it all on my altered states of consciousness whenever you're around, or on my mind since thinking of you puts my mind in limbo." The brunette joked.

The blond pulled back to face her girlfriend. "Hey, I think I should be offended by that, but since it made you smile I'll let it slide. *THIS TIME.*" The blond impishly warned as she playfully punched a shoulder. "Only for the greater good would I allow myself to be impugned by my girlfriend," she teased.

The brunette tilted her head and ran the back of her hand down the side of Justine's face. "Why would I want to be anywhere without you by my side to cheer me up when the next calamity strikes me, or when I get in my melancholic moods?  Besides Ariel would never forgive me for leaving, and I don't want her to be lonely cuz I know you'd follow me if you thought I needed you. And I know your mother would never let Ariel spend Christmas with us."

Attempting to inject some levity into the conversation Melissa affected a high-pitched semi-childish unknown foreign accented voice, "In unity we three shall defeat the evil mama dragon with our everlasting cradle of hope that deep down she really doesn't have a heart covered in icicles. She's just grumpy from sleeping in slush all the time."

Justine burst out in laughter recognizing elements from her sister's imaginative stories, but not recognizing the atrocious accent. "That's a horrible accent, whatever it's supposed to be."

"Duh! It's a *STORY* it's a make believe accent. To quote your sister." Melissa imperiously informed the blond.

When the blond's chuckles died down a pensive expression formed on the youthful face. "That's how Ariel really sees our mother? She's the dragon in her stories isn't she?"

Melissa's silence was her answer.

Justine sighed and cuddled with the brunette. They enjoyed their quiet respite for a few minutes lying on the couch.

Breaking the silence Melissa tried to get Justine out of her reflective family musings. "I just want everything to be perfect this Christmas, and everything seems to be going wrong, and then some. Right down to the little things like the story I wanted to write, about amazons and mythology, and having to switch to a real world story because of that stupid word. Somehow I can't see my ancient amazon queen standing in front of her tribe and using super-clit-a-licious as part of her battle cry to inspire them to have a *FANTASTIC* and victorious battle against the marauding evil viceroy of Onomatopoeia. Wait a minute, or was it the viceroy of Potadaeia?" She drummed her fingers on Justine's back apparently deep in thought.

 "I don't know. If you ask me, saying *THAT* word would be an ideal way to get a fire lit under any amazon. Dangle what they have to look forward to after winning the battle."  Justine suggestively raised her eyebrows repeatedly.

Melissa silently cheered at her successful attempt to distract Justine.  The brunette mock scowled. "Stop it. You're ruining my bad mood from all my bad luck." Melissa kissed the smiling lips, indulging her senses for several heartbeats. "I love you. Thanks, I needed that little diversion," She murmured after a second quick peck to the lips.

Justine smiled. "You and me both. Anything for a friend in need." Even if you need an ovary I'm there for ya. I got two of 'em so I can spare one," she cheekily informed.

"You can keep both your ovaries. You're all I need," Melissa released the blond and they both stood up. "so I'll be able to handle whatever else goes wrong with Christmas three days away."

"C'mon, think positive."

Melissa smirked. "I'm *POSITIVE* something else is going to go wrong."

"After going through all that and almost smiling, when joking about it, is a good sign that it's not really getting to you. It's a start. I'll take what I can get. Just like this!" Justine quickly ran by Melissa smacking her on her ass and getting a good grope on the way out slamming the door to automatically lock. Melissa was in hot pursuit after a few stunned moments of shock, and fumbling with the lock.

After searching around the grounds Melissa spotted Justine climbing up the vines on a decorative trellis leading up to her room. Running to her girlfriend's escape route Melissa started up the trellis as Justine's leg disappeared from view.

"I can handle all the bad stuff going on…" Melissa slipped and ended up at the bottom of the trellis. "Fuck. I forgot how nimble that blond monkey is." She sighed in frustration brushing her stinging hands on her jeans, and then addressed the empty open window. "But what really chaps my hide is that I can't think of a way to work superflagellation in that blasted contest!" Melissa quickly spun around to go through the back door to catch her girlfriend and stopped short.

"Uh, hi Mrs. Chapman."



ater that afternoon walking from the cottage she shared with Justine for the holidays, Melissa ran across Brad lining the path to the main house with a succession of gnomes to replace the ones she had delighted in smashing into oblivion. Seeing Mrs. Chapman on the back veranda hovering over Ariel as she unhappily worked on her French lesson that her mother insisted she learn so that she would know a dignified language, she decided to make an effort with her nemesis.

'Ah, the price I have to pay for caring about my two favorite girls. I'll gladly make the sacrifice to make them both happy." Melissa mused.

"Hello Brad. I see you've taken your therapist's suggestion to heart to find other outlets for your… what's the term? Oh yeah, your *ADDICTIVE BEHAVIORS.*" She almost felt bad about her dig about Brad's apparent reason for his obsessive interest in his ceramic gnomes. Alcohol abuse was not a laughing matter, nor was his obsessive tendency to fixate on her.

"My path of vengeance is nearly complete. I'm just working out the geometry so the cottage can have the optimum, unobstructed, optical view to get on your last nerve," he smirked.

Almost, but not quite.

"Why would your therapeutic endeavors get on my nerves? I couldn't be more proud of your hard work."

"Yeah sure. You don't fool me."

"In fact I was just visiting my parents at their country club for lunch earlier, and I sang your praise to all the members there about your hard work spending all your free time making gnomes to get over your *LITTLE PROBLEMS*. Of course I didn't tell anyone what those problems were. That wouldn't have been very nice. We all know proper ladies don't gossip so I'm sure they're not making all kinds of assumptions and spreading rumors about you. Although Mrs. Van De Camp was quite inquisitive about your work so I told her all about it. Isn't she your new girlfriend's mother? You can show her all your little female gnomes. In fact why don't I personally show them to her and she can put my mind at ease by telling me that they don't look like me. Aren't you two supposed to go out tonight? I'll be sure to be at the main house to meet her."

"Not a chance."

Justine sauntered up to the duo from the main house and kissed her girlfriend on the lips. "Hey Brad, Sinclair called just after lunch while you were getting your art supplies. She said to tell you that she can't make it tonight. Something came up. Said she'd try to give you a call sometime next week."

Brad gritted his teeth, but did not reply to the news. "You're both sick."

Melissa moved forward and opened her mouth to speak but was stopped by her girlfriend's hand stroking her stomach.

"Jealous much Bratford?" Justine smiled and kissed her girlfriend again. This time for an extended period of time. Brad stomped off to the storage facility where he crafted his gnomes.

"Where'd your mother go?" Melissa asked when she looked up in apprehension after her girlfriend kissed her again. Seeing only Ariel working on her lessons on the veranda.

"The deliverer dropped off the ice sculptures for the party and mother took off in a huff."

"Ice sculptures? Why would anyone have ice sculptures delivered three days before an event, and why would you call the delivery person a deliverer?"

"She didn't order ice sculptures. Brad did. That's why she took off in a huff, and I say deliverer because it drives my mother crazy when I use improper speech. Remember, being passive aggressive is a wonderful way to irk people. Among other things," she grinned. "I'll catch ya in a bit sweetheart and help with the cottage. I just can't reschedule this appointment being so close to Christmas, and I have a couple more presents to get. I'm sorry."

"If I remember nothing about your passive aggressive tendencies then I wouldn't have any memories of how you snared me as your girlfriend." Melissa teased. "Don't worry about it. I don't mind. It'll keep me busy and out of trouble with your mom," she joked. "Besides this South Texas weather is great. Not too hot and not too cold."

"Don't worry about my mother, and don't let her force you to do anything you don't want. You're my girlfriend, not a slave." Justine kissed her again before walking to the garage.

Melissa's trek to the main house was interrupted by Brad's voice. "You fucked up."

'Damn I almost made it.' The brunette thought as she covetously looked at the back door to the main house, and the empty veranda. 'At least Ariel is done with her torment.' "You're just like a bad yeast infection, Brad. So damn hard to get rid of and irritating as hell, but at least the yeast infection eventually goes away."

"The key to the kingdom is not through Justine. I was your ticket to the Chapman Empire. I'm the big man who'll control everything. You could have had it all, and you blew your chance." Brad sneered.

"Then I guess it's a damn good thing I already have what I was after."

Brad smirked. "Which stupid sister did you take advantage of and swindle, or did you screw both of them over.?"

"Who said either one of them was the stupid one I chose?"

Brad visibly tensed, and stalked up to Melissa until they were inches apart. "If you've taken any of my money I'll hunt you and your family down like the vermin you all are," he growled.

The glittering eyes did nothing to hide the veiled threat of the soft voice as the brunette spoke, "Temper temper Bradford. To borrow your hunting analogy, the prey you underestimate is the most dangerous prey of all.

I'm a problem-solver. Are you going to continue to be a *PROBLEM* Brad? See the only thing that's kept me from really making an effort to fix this… situation was Justine. Now that I've apparently got what I want what's to stop me from making  everyone see just how pathetic you really are? The country club stunt was just a drop in the bucket of how I can make your life… uncomfortable. Don't you think it's a big coincidence that your new girlfriend suddenly had something come up after her mother ran off to call her during lunch? Oh did I forget to mention that? I imagine right about now there are whispers of poor Bratford, I mean Bradford having to deal with his problems by creating female gnomes that all look like a certain friend of the family who has publicly turned him down. Repeatedly. I heard that some were planning to visit soon to get a look at your crafts. Soon your whole circle of friends, as well as your mother's, will see for themselves how obsessive you can be when you don't get your way."

Brad slightly paled at the thought of his mother's friends looking down their noses at him in front of her, pitying him, and the ribbing he'd get from his own friends if they saw just how many of the gnomes he had made.

"Imagine if I really put my mind into sullying your precious reputation, Brad."

Composing himself he replied, "You don't have the intellect or the balls to come after me."

"Hurt any member of my family, and Justine and Ariel are part of my family, and you'll see just how ballsy and manipulative I can be."

The two combatants stared one another down.

"Brad help Melissa with the cans of whitewash so she can start on the cottage." Mrs. Chapman autocratically ordered from the veranda where she once again stood. "Then come help me correct the arrangements for the Christmas Eve soiree."

"All you're good for is manual labor," Brad spat as he headed toward the servant storage facility.

"At least I'm good for something. Your mother apparently doesn't trust you to be able to do something complex like maintenance on the cottage. Though you have fetching down pat. Run along and get those cans like a good little boy. Make sure to make room for your ice sculptures so they won't melt by Christmas."

"Bradford hurry up and assist me with the preparations." Mrs. Chapman testily ordered her son. She looked down at her daughter who was pulling on her sleeve.

'Ah it looks like it's going to be a great day after all,' the brunette thought.

"What are you doing out of your seat Ariel? Are you finished translating English sentences into French?"

"Almost mother. How do you say ballsy in French, and what is a yeast infection?"



wo hours later found the brunette patiently whitewashing the cottage.  She was struggling with getting the lid off another container when the lid finally popped off releasing a noxious odor. Surprised by the stench and an object falling out of the canister she stumbled back.

"*Son of a… motherless goat*!" Melissa just had time to remember not to cuss when Ariel might be around. Learning her lesson from both that morning with Justine, and that afternoon with Mrs. Chapman when she had to explain how Ariel knew *THOSE* words.

"What's the matter Melissa? Ewww, what's that smell and what's that in the can?" Ariel appeared from the side of the cottage immediately covering her nose.

"Nothing munchkin. Just someone playing a tasteless joke. I was just surprised." She looked around knowing Brad had to be somewhere watching events unfold.

Deciding a break was in order she started cleaning up the mess. "Can you go inside and get us some drinks? There's lots of stuff to choose from in the fridge. You know how your sister is." She joked. "I'll meet you on the back deck after I wash up. Sound good?"

The beaming smile lit up the child's somber face. "I can do that," and she sped off.

Melissa found Ariel seated in one of the patio chairs with her huge stuffed black wolf Wombat keeping her company. Finally unable to ponder the conundrum of how the animal acquired his name she asked.

Ariel rolled her eyes. "Because that's the name Daddy and I gave him when he gave him to me silly. I wanted him to have a name nobody else would have. That way he could be special like me. Daddy told me so."

"Oh I see," Melissa smiled, "makes perfect sense to me now." "So why do you keep him over here since he is so special? Wouldn't you rather have him at the house with you?"

"Because Mother says it's a boy toy and I should only play with girl stuff. If I keep it in my room she'll throw it away like she did my tambourine because it wasn't a real instrument.," she sadly replied. "Daddy bought me it right before he got so sick." Tears welled in the expressive eyes.

The sad expression when she talked about her dad and the loss of her beloved instrument broke the brunette's heart.

"Come on sport. You owe me some more of your cool stories. Let's go inside and get settled so you can tell them to me."

The little girl sniffed and smiled up shyly at her idol. "You really like my stories? I have lots of them. Mother says they're silly so I can't tell them unless Yah Yah is here."

"Yeah, I love them. Your mother is just too old to appreciate them as much as Justine and I do, and your drawings are getting better and better too. When are you going to draw me a new one?" She tousled the soft red hair on their way inside.

"I'll make you one when I go back," she happily promised. They settled in a huge overstuffed loveseat and the child began her tale.

"There was once a sickness called leprosy spreading across the land of Xenon."

"Where'd you learn that word?"

"In school silly. The first thought a parasite was causing all the people in the land to get sick."

"Where did you learn about parasites?"

Green eyes rolled at her and she blew out a breath of exasperated air. "At school. Didn't you learn this stuff already Melissa?"

"Yes, I was just wondering how you knew it all."

"School. Are you going to let me tell the story or not?" she huffed.

"I'm sorry. Go ahead. No more interruptions." Melissa mimed zipping her lips shut.

"So some villagers tried to dig tunnels to get under the walls that kept them in the villages. One day a brave hero and her trusty sidekick…"



elissa placed her arm around Justine's shoulders as they walked back to the car after dropping off their rented video, while Ariel waited in the car listening to a favorite song on the radio. "You can't honestly tell me there wasn't an underlying reason you had Ariel pick the video for tonight? I find it hard to believe she just happened to choose Mary Poppins as her video to watch. I know you had something to do with it."

"Would I do something like that sweetheart?" Justine devilishly replied.

"If I'm wrong I'll join a monastery and take a vow of chastity."

Justine laughed and playfully pushed against her girlfriend. "Sweetheart, a monastery is for monks. You'd have to join a convent, and you'd probably enjoy something like that anyway you glutton for punishment. However, since that vow of chastity would still apply, and directly affect me, I won't plead the Fifth and admit that I *MAY* have given Ariel some title suggestions, but she chose it all on her own. It was destiny that she chose it."

"Uh huh." They split up and entered Melissa's indigo cavalier coupe. "Ariel, what other titles besides Mary Poppins did your sister suggest?"

Ariel replied without looking up from her drawing. "Um, Santa With Muscles.  Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny."

"What? That's a real movie. Not my fault she wasn't impressed by the cast." Justine defended at her girlfriend's incredulous look. "It had animals in it. She loves animals."

Ariel continued, "Mrs. Hippo."

"See, another animal movie." Justine unnecessarily pointed out.

"I saw Ariel reading the cover of that one. If I recall, it was in black and white, and from the early twenties. No wonder she wasn't interested."

"Hey I gave her a good variety of title suggestions! Like Bambi and Dumbo."

"She's eight not three."

Ariel's timid voice interrupted the conversation. "Are you mad at Yah Yah, Melissa? She didn't make me pick that movie, and I really liked it. It's my new favorite. If you don't like it I'll never watch it again."

Melissa replayed portions of the movie in her mind and could see why Ariel would be drawn to the movie about neglected children that had a happy ending.

"Munchkin, no I'm not mad at Justine. I'm just teasing her a little. You can watch that movie any time you want, or any movie you like for that matter. Well, as long as it's not an adult movie I mean, and you have your sister's permission." Melissa smiled back at the little girl.

"Good. Then I hope I get it for Christmas!" The child replied and happily returned to her drawing satisfied her sister was not in trouble.

Melissa reached across to her girlfriend's hand and squeezed. "I still say you should just say fantastic rather than…"

Justine loudly cleared her throat, pointedly looking back at her sister.

Melissa smiled "… Rather than saying *THAT* word."

"Sometimes the word fantastic doesn't express just how sensational, superb, or wondrous something is. Now you have a reference as to how it can be used."

"My own personal crusader." Thanks for trying to help me with my story."

"It takes one to know one Melissa. Who is on a personal mission to make sure every Chapman daughter is well-loved and cared for, and makes sure they know they're wanted no matter how unique, willful, and off the wall they are?"

"I just take care of my friends and family because it's the right thing to do. I'm no crusader."

"If the shoe fits ya gotta wear it Babe." Justine grinned and kissed her on the cheek.

Melissa turned up the radio to drown out the sibling's laughter.



hristmas Eve found the immediate family sitting in the drawing room. Melissa and Justine entered the room after returning from the airport seeing Melissa's parents off on their trip to Hawaii.

"It's a quarter to ten so you can open one gift before turning in for the night Ariel. Now that the girls have seen fit to join us. Which gift would you care to open?"

"I want to open Melissa's present." Ariel excitedly responded.

You could hear a photon spinning on its axis in the silence that followed.

"Are you sure you would not prefer to open the gift from me or from Santa Claus?" Mrs. Chapman asked slightly perturbed at the unexpected turn of events.

"I want to open Melissa's." She repeated.

"Fine." Her mother clipped out sliding a midsized, heavy, gold foiled wrapped present.

Ariel ripped open her gift from Melissa with fantastical glee revealing three sets of small children's illustrated books. Each set contained 24 books. The leather case holding the books had an intricately embroidered title of "Ariel's World" and had the child mesmerized with the realization that the individual books were those of the various tales she'd made up and shared with Melissa. Opening one of the books she was filled with surprise and pride seeing some of the artwork she had drawn over the years.

"*SON OF A MOTHERLESS GOAT!*" Ariel exclaimed.

"Ariel Whitney Chapman, watch your language young lady!" Her mother reprimanded.

"It just means I'm surprised Mother. Melissa uses it all the time." The child explained.

Melissa was sure she was looking death in the eye when she was lasered by a piercing stare from Ariel's mother. She squirmed in her seat.

"How'd you know the hero was supposed to be me?" Ariel asked in wonder. "My hero's name was Gabrielle and her sidekick was Xena."

"Because whenever you told me a story I always saw parts of you in the character, and your eyes would sparkle like you had a secret whenever Gabrielle was doing something. Besides in the stories Gabrielle has a cute blond big sister too." Melissa grinned first at Ariel while tweaking the child's nose, and then at Justine.

"By the way, thanks for making me your sidekick."

"You knew it was you and you didn't get mad because you're not the hero?!" Ariel asked in surprise.

"Yeah, I figured it out after your sidekick got a scar on her chest from a beesting. She also looks a lot like me in your drawings." Melissa chuckled. "Why would I be mad at having adventures with the brave Gabrielle with me as her trusty sidekick? Besides, you're my hero for not giving up whenever you have trouble with something. I could learn a thing or two from you."

Ariel ran towards Melissa and enveloped her in a fierce embrace. A muffled thank you and an I love you floated up to Melissa's ear as the fictional sidekick returned the hug and gave a quick kiss to the top of the red hair.

"You're very welcome kiddo." Pulling back she rubbed Ariel's back. "This doesn't let you out of telling me more stories. I wanna know what happens next."

"'Kay." A proud smiling Ariel promised.

"Ariel, do not revert to using improper language. Do not abbreviate your speech." Mrs. Chapman chastised. "Head up to bed now. You can open the rest of your gifts in the morning."

"Mother I want to read my books to Melissa."

"Don't argue with me young lady, or I'll collect all your books and donate them to a charity where they can be put to some use."

With tears threatening to spill Ariel was about to argue but was forestalled by Melissa. "Go on up to bed kiddo. You can read to me tomorrow alright?"

The redhead rapidly blinked her eyes then kissed Melissa on the cheek. "I'm sorry. Goodnight Melissa."

The brunette smiled. "Nothing to be sorry about. 'Night munchkin."

"I'll tuck you in," Justine said as she grasped her sister's hand to lead her upstairs and calm her down. She scowled at her mother. She then turned to her girlfriend and mouthed a thank you to her. Melissa gave a subtle nod of acknowledgment.

Once the siblings were out of sight Mrs. Chapman spun towards Melissa to vent her ire.

"I do not appreciate you undermining my authority. You have no idea how difficult motherhood is, especially as a widow, and to see you manipulating my daughters into your hillbilly lifestyle is despicable.

Brad looked on in smug amusement as he leafed through one of Ariel's books.

Your Montessori method is not how I want to educate Ariel. It might have been adequate for your parents, but i prefer for her to develop useful skills that will make her a successful and contributing member of society. Not gain financial independence by *happenstance*. Useful skills will allow her to be a part of her own social class, her own race, and not necessitate her ingratiating her way into proper social circles by corrupting the offspring of respectable citizens to get their greedy hands on their legacy. Now you're trying to corrupt a young child. Probably because the prodigal lifestyle you lead has depleted your finances. Have you no shame?" Mrs. Chapman fumed.

Melissa took a deep breath and glanced at Justine who appeared frozen in shock at the top of the staircase as if waiting for an all out donnybrook to ensue. She turned to face Justine's mother. "I don't know what you're talking about. I just encourage Ariel to do the things she's interested in. If she's not interested in something then why would she bother to learn it?  She loves to make up stories. She has a vivid and creative imagination that should…"

"What good is making up ridiculous stories going to gain Ariel in the real world aside from embarrassing herself and our family? It's bad enough that you flaunt your… relationship with my eldest daughter in public, but to encourage a child to make a fool of herself is deplorable."

Justine tromped down the stairs and moved toward her mother to intervene. Her fists clenched in anger. Melissa placed a restraining hand on her girlfriend's stomach and shook her head slightly.

Melissa turned to Mrs. Chapman again. "EXCUSE ME. I am not finished. Just because I like to make things fun for Ariel doesn't mean she isn't learning. At least I make an effort to help her with homework if she needs it, to spend time with her, and to listen to her. I bet you've never sat with Ariel and listened to one of her stories or anything she has to say, much less played with her." Mrs. Chapman moved to speak. "I'M STILL NOT FINISHED," Melissa enunciated, "because if you had you would know that she is a very lonely child who has to make up stories to cope with her mother's indifference toward her.' I have better maternal instincts from spending the last five years getting to know Ariel than you have from twenty-two years of being a parent.

You don't know the anything personal about any of your children. You don't know that Ariel is still grieving for her father and your insistence on her acting like an adult is stealing precious  moments of her childhood that she'll never be able to get back.

You were not even aware that Justine and I have been seeing each other for over six months now. Nor that she volunteers at the Community Children's Hospital on a regular basis. I bet you don't even know her favorite food, or what her favorite hobby is? Go on tell me?

Mrs. Chapman merely raised her chin in defiance. "Those are of no importance. They do not further anyone's social status."

"I thought so. Just FYI. It's my mother's Chicken Parmesan, and Chess as a non-physical hobby, and painting. Seems there's an artistic gene running rampant in the gene pool that you are trying to repress.

And speaking of the gene pool, I bet, no I know you're not aware that Bradford is a practicing Rastafarian. I also know he is only a follower for the practice of smoking weed that is part of that religion. I bet you don't know that's why he has let his hair grow so long. Not to mention that he has a serious alcohol problem that you exacerbate by only sending him to country club rehab centers that allow him to do whatever he pleases. No wonder he has not been sober for more than three days at a time when his own mother does not bother to make sure that he is being properly treated for a serious health issue.

I may not have been born into a wealthy family, but I would not trade the ones I have for all the money in the world if your family is what I would have had to grow up with. It's a wonder than Justine is not as arrogant, stuck-up and plagued with substance abuse problems in order to cope with your *PARENTING,* or that Ariel is not more traumatized than she is. If I had wonderful and loving child as Ariel I would bend over backwards to encourage her to be the person she wants to be. Not what I want her to be.

As for my relationship with Justine if I could I'd commission huge xenoliths to be placed on Mount Rushmore declaring my love for her I would do it in a heartbeat. I am not ashamed of her or our love. What I would be ashamed of is if I hated people simply because they cannot help who they fall in love with, or using blind faith as an excuse to believe in a God that condones hate rather than love. Your xenophobia is going to cause you to turn into a bitter, old, recluse that everyone hates because they are so spiteful. Look at you now you're halfway there. If you don't make some drastic changes you're going to lose your youngest daughter because she is the one suffering the brunt of your animosity toward life in general.

Melissa took a deep breath. "Now I'm done." She turned around and walked out the front door.

"I have never been so ashamed of you in my life Mother. Melissa, that commoner, that so-called low-life is the main reason Ariel is doing so well in school now. After Daddy died you know she was depressed and locked herself in her own little world. Melissa is the one who brought her back to us. She brought me out of my grief and made me realize that Ariel needed me. She never pulls a vanishing act when Ariel wants to swim in the pool, or when she wants to go see the newest movie, or even when Ariel likes to have pizza with nothing but cheese and anchovies delivered to the house. Even though she hates anchovies. Makes an effort to show Ariel that she is wanted and loved.

Did you know that when the Indian Ocean Tsunami struck she didn't just send money for the relief effort to assuage her feelings of inadequacy, or to use it as a tax write off, she actually went down there to actually help the survivors, and lend a hand in rebuilding. She also did that when Hurricane Katrina hit. She cares more for strangers than you care for the well-being of your own family.

She may not be from our social circle, but she has more dignity, class, and compassion than your high society cronies and you combined. I'm ashamed to be part of this family, and I can only hope that she will still love me and Ariel despite our blood relatives.

Here's Ariel's Christmas present to you. You have Melissa to thank for it even though it's from Ariel because she was afraid you wouldn't approve of it, and she desperately wants your approval. God help her."

Justine handed her mother a 22x28 flat present. "Merry Christmas mother." She turned to find her girlfriend.

"Where are you going? Tomorrow is Christmas. You should be home with your family. Don't you walk out one me young lady. I am still your mother."

"Let go slumming with her dyke girlfriend. Mother she doesn't appreciate the sacrifices you've made for us." Brad soothed.

"Shut up Bradford." His mother sternly warned. "Justine, don't leave me too. Please."

"Are you going to apologize to Melissa Mother?"

"I only want what's best for all of you. Melissa is not…"

The closing of the door cut off her reply as Justine walked out.



 knock on her door pulled Melissa from her stance in front of the window in the dark room. She was unsurprised to see Justine when she answered the door. "Come in."

Justine walked toward her girlfriend and enveloped her in a fierce embrace. Burying her face in the warm chest. "I'm so sorry about what happened sweetheart. I don't know what's gotten into my mother. You know she wasn't always so hateful, but since Father died she hasn't been quite the same, but still that is no excuse for her behavior."

"It's not your fault. You didn't do anything, and couldn't have done anything to stop her. She just let me know how she really feels about me. About us." The brunette shrugged her shoulders. "She didn't say anything I didn't already know."

"Stop right there. None of what she said was true, and you know it."

"You don't know the whole story. I have money because I was a stalker, Justine. I followed a cute blond girl into a store one day while making d delivery, and when someone turned around to ask for change for the soda machine I had to come up with some excuse to be in the store when the manager came up to us because I was not dressed appropriately. So I bought lottery tickets. I don't even remember half the numbers I chose because I was too busy trying to come up with something to say to the beautiful blond before she left. But you left the store before I could come up with anything, and when I went outside you were gone. All I had to show for it was an awful tasting five dollar bottle of  Xenia international mineral water, and a lottery ticket."

"We first met at the hospital."

"No, you first saw me at the hospital while I was delivering bouquets to the adult patients who never had visitors, and you needed a deputy for the play you were putting on for the kids.. I first saw you when you ran into a store to buy something about a month before. So your mom is right about me not belonging in your world. If I hadn't been obsessed with trying to meet you and found out you visited the children's ward on occasion I would not have been anywhere near the children's playroom that day, or bought that ticket the month before, and wouldn't be trying to fit into your world."

"You weren't a stalker. I know for a fact you would never intentionally harm me. Thousands of people meet in similar circumstances all the time. A chance metting. If you think about it the play's the thing that brought us together that day, and your kindness in delivering bouquets to lonely patients put you in the right place at the right time. It was fate that we finally met face to face, and when fates collide everyone better stand back because for us it's been a wonderful and wild ride ever since.

There's no your world or my world that we need to fit into. Just our world that we build together."

The blond licked her lips nervously. Frequently repeating the process each time she spoke. "I had planned to do this in a more romantic setting, and preferably in a relaxed state of post-coital bliss to swing things in my favor, but after tonight, seeing you stand up to my mother for Ariel and for me… well I couldn't be more sure of what I want. I haven't had time to practice my speech, but here goes."

Justine  pulled out a ring from her pocket and slowly lifted Melissa's hand. She slid the ring on the trembling finger. Stuttering she addressed her girlfriend. "I want to wake up with you every day. Share the good times and the crappy ones, and with my mother we're sure to have lots more of those," she quipped to settle her nerves, "and to build a life together. Will you promise to share the rest of your life with me? Will you agree to be manacled, locked up and tied down, get fitted for a ball and chain, and agree to be called my old lady?", The blond smiled up at the watery blue eyes.

"Melissa Evans, will you marry me?"

Melissa placed her hands on either side of the hopeful face, and drew the liberally moistened lips for an extended heartfelt kiss. Justine placed her hands on the taller woman's hips as she was led toward the bedroom.

Once in the room Melissa began to sensuously undress the blond as she led them to the bed. Her brain finally registering what was happening Justine began the quest to return the favor. By the time they reached the bed the were clothed in only their undergarments. Their lips finally parted and they stared into each other's eyes for long moments.

Justine took the initiative and removed her bra and panties while Melissa watched before slowly scooting back on the bed. She reached her hand out in invitation. Melissa stared into Justine's eyes while she removed the last barriers between them. Once the brunette was completely undressed Justine broke eye contact and slowly caressed the exquisite body before her. She again raised her hand in invitation.

Melissa climbed on the bed and hovered over Justine on her hands and knees. She placed butterfly kisses along the neck beneath her. The blond ran her hands along the strong back as Melissa followed an imaginary trail up to a sensitive ear.  "I'm not really sure what to do," she  timidly confessed.

"Just love me."

"I can do that," she whispered and settled her body down continuing to rest most of her weight on her elbows.

Melissa worshipped the form writhing beneath her in heavenly bliss for a long period of time. Relishing the feel of the sinuous muscles and soft skin as they shifted in ecstasy. She had to chuckle briefly when she encountered Justine's paradise found tattoo on her lower belly. When the brunette's hand finally made intimate contact stroking first excruciatingly slow, and then with more pace she forgot all about the tattoo and was thrown headlong into orgasmic bliss. Soon followed by her lover. Quasars continually flashed before her eyes as she climaxed, because she was foggily able to comprehend that flashing stars could not possibly compare. She fell tonelessly atop the still quaking body beneath her then slid to the side to catch her breath.

Several minutes passed before the silence was disturbed by a still breathless voice. "That's not fair. I never got my chance to actually touch you,' the blond weakly pouted.

"The brunette quietly laughed still catching her breath.  She took a deep breath. "Then I guess you'll have to make restitution forthwith woman!" Her boisterous laughter filled the room. At least until a nipple was brought to immediate attention by a hot mouth. Then the room was filled with the moans of erotic pleasure.



he exhausted couple was awakened the following morning by the ringing phone.

The brunette reached back over her shoulder to answer the phone. "H'lo. It's for you," a sleep deprived voice mumbled while handing the phone to the blond cuddled to her chest. She wrapped her arms snugly around the waist  of her bedmate and buried her face into the back of the neck in front of her.

"'Lo." Pause. "Yes." Pause. "Are you going to apologize?" Another longer pause. "Then I am already home, but *WE'LL* be there for Ariel. Good-bye mother." She torqued her body to allow Melissa to return the phone to its cradle.

"You okay?"

"Yep. She just wanted to know when I was coming home for Ariel's birthday. I told her I was already home, and that *WE'D* be there for the party tonight."

Justine brought their entwined hands up to her mouth for a quick kiss, and eyed the ring glittering in the encroaching sunlight through the blinds. Caressing the middling one carat diamond with her thumb.

 "Just in case you weren't sure about my response to your proposal, yes I'll get hitched to ya." Melissa clarified.

"Unexpected periods are a wonderful thing."

"Where did that thought come from, and how could you possibly believe that?"

"That day I ran into the store where you first saw me, I ran in there because I needed some tampons. That's why I was in and out so fast. I got what I needed and went back to the fundraiser for the children's hospital."

Melissa blinked at her fiancé. "I owe the rest of my life to tampons. How romantic."



he couple returned to the main house in time for the family evening Christmas gathering. A string quartet was playing although the dance floor was empty. As soon as they entered Justine headed straight for the buffet table to ensure she had the best spot for the ease of selecting her favorite foods to replenish her spent energy. She headed straight for the deserts. In particular the Rhubarb pie she had purchased for the gathering.

"Haven't you read between the lines yet? We couldn't have been more direct than last night. You're not wanted, nor do you fit in here. This is a family affair so show some dignity and leave before you make a fool of yourself. Again. We don't serve tater tots, or beer like common folk so you won't find anything that your palate can handle."

Melissa made sure her voice carried across the room. "And a Merry Christmas to you too Brad. No I'm afraid I'll have to pass on your offer to show these old fogies how to really Waltz. Justine has my dance card filled. I'm sure your girlfriend would love to join you though. Where is Sinclair by the way?"

"She had a family emergency," he stiffly replied. "Family is the most important thing to a person. Then need to stick together."

"I couldn't agree more with a truism like that." She toasted Brad and brought her drink up to her lips. Brad's eyes widened in shock at the new jewelry displayed on her ring finger.

"Jurisprudence prevents you from making a mockery of the institution of marriage," he sputtered.

"Ah, but slowly but surely the States are making unions legally binding. It is only a matter of time before we're allowed the same rights. Just like the laws making slavery legal were abolished so will laws making homosexual marriages illegal be repealed one day when the bible-thumpers no longer are able to legally force their beliefs on others. There's a kind of governmental revolution sweeping the nation with regards to politicians actually trying to listen to what their constituents want. The voters have spoken. I'm on top of the world right now, and with Justine by my side I can wait." Melissa winked at him as she walked off toward the buffet table.

Ariel ran up and clasped her arms around Melissa's leg. "You came back!"

"Of course munchkin. We wouldn't miss your birthday for anything. Justine's here too."

"I thought I would never see you again," she sobbed.

The brunette squatted to eye level, and hugged the upset child. "Ariel, sometimes adults act like kids and say or do things they later regret, but I promise you that I will never leave you if I have any control over it. I love you and want to see you grow up into the smart, beautiful, caring, kind, talented, and sensitive woman you will become. No matter what happens with your mom, or with your sister. Okay?"

The child nodded against her idol's chest.

"Okay. Besides I'm going to be your sister-in-law soon so you're stuck with me kiddo. Let's wipe your face so you can charm everybody here."

An elderly gentleman dressed in a naval uniform approached Melissa while she waited outside the bathroom. He had a debutante on his right arm. When he introduced himself as great uncle Thomas she was pleased to finally make his acquaintance. The opaque cataract that covered his left eye was the only feature that marred his distinguished appearance, and made him readily identifiable. Though it gave him an air of mystery for some reason as well.

"So my dear, how has your Christmas holidays been?" He inquired politely.

Thinking about the numerous misadventures, her cantankerous relationship with Brad, her differing and argumentative opinions and fights with her future mother-in-law, her inability to relate to her fiancé's social circle, the army of gnomes greeting the guests as they entered the mansion, her inadvertent bad linguistic influence on Ariel. She took a deep breath and then thought about the loving little girl who shared her innermost thoughts without hesitation, her public relationship with a wonderful partner, her wondrous intimate evening the night before, the future.

A beatific smile spread across the beautiful face. "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Sir. It's been supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!"

'Oh yes Great Willy, I have finally got a story for you.' She thought.

She watched in devilment as Ariel asked her mother a question. "Mother what does it mean that Melissa is going to be my sister-in-law soon?"


Thanks for reading. All 120 words were used from The Great Willy's… er Oz's list. Some more than once.

Additional note. There be Xena Warrior Princess episode titles sprinkled throughout this story as well. How many did ya spot? 10, 15, 20? I'm not telling ya here.


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