Not Quite Over the Rainbow

Author’s Note: So, this is a bit out of context, but since I was posting a piece to Kabobbles Sing Along today, I figured I should go ahead with this scene, as it was the most recent, and the prompt from Liana Mir of Beacan + Leah + Favorite Songs got me this to make a bit more progress on this story.

Not Quite Over the Rainbow

“I think we can find one.”

“Find one what?” Beacan asked, looking up from his can of carrots. He seemed happy enough in them, happy enough to annoy Quinn, and Leah would have said that Quinn was hungover if there had been any alcohol in the store they’d raided. He was grumpy, his eyes red when he opened them, which wasn’t often this morning.

“A library. Quinn suggested we find one last night,” Laria said, picking up a can of green beans and shrugging before she reached for the can opener. Quinn’s head jerked up, and he frowned, swallowing a bit as he watched her open the can.

“You remember last night?”

“I remember discussing libraries. I don’t remember much else,” Laria answered, looking over at him. “What? Did you get me to do something embarrassing? If you did, you had better not tell them. That’s not fair.”

He hesitated, and then he shook his head. “No, it wasn’t anything like that. You just muttered in your sleep a bit. That’s all.”

“Did she say anything about walking on roses? She did that with me once,” Beacan said, and Laria threw a green bean at him, then another. He laughed, throwing a carrot back at her. Quinn rolled his eyes at all of them before walking to the door.

“Wait a minute. We haven’t finished breakfast yet.”

“Advanced scouting, I guess,” he said, pushing open the door, and Leah sighed. She didn’t know what was with him this morning—it wasn’t a hangover, but she still couldn’t explain why he was being a bit more of a jerk and more standoffish than usual.

“What happened last night?”

Laria looked down at her can, apparently having lost her appetite. “I don’t know. I must have done something that upset him, but I don’t remember. I was so tired and he said something about a library, and I think I must have passed out on him after that, so maybe that’s it? I can’t give you more than that, Beacan. I just don’t know.”

“You don’t think it’s that bad, do you?”

“No, he’d be worse if it was,” Beacan said, and Laria tried to nod. She set her can down and started for the door. “Hey! That’s wasting food, you know.”

“It’s not going to go that bad, and I can eat it after we find Quinn again. I just don’t want him wandering around on his own.”

Leah shrugged, following after the others. She always did. She’d rather not be left behind, not when Quinn and Candelaria were her anchors, her safety blankets, and Beacan was great, he really was, but she still wanted to be with everyone, not just him.

Beacan groaned. “Is it just me, or is this place creepier today? It wasn’t so bad at first, but without people, now on our second day here… It’s really creepy, isn’t it?”

Leah reached over to hit him before rubbing her arms, needing to be rid of the chill that came over her with his words. She didn’t like this much, and she didn’t want to be afraid all over again. Laria glared at Beacan, and he winced in apology, but it wasn’t like his words were going away or anything. They wouldn’t. They didn’t. Leah could still hear them echoing a bit, and she was now creeped out.

She closed her eyes, trying to calm herself with a song her mom used to sing to her long before things got real bad. She hadn’t realized she’d started humming and even gone to singing until someone came up behind her.

“Nice choice, Daydreamer,” Quinn said. “You know that’s only the most repeated and stupidest song in history, right?”

“It is not.”

“I think the most repeated song is actually by the Beatles,” Beacan said. “All teenybopper and boyband stuff aside, I think they have had one of the most lasting impacts on music ever.”

“And it is not a stupid song,” Candelaria said, her glare shifting to Quinn this time.

“It’s always been my favorite,” Leah admitted, and Beacan took her hand. “I always wanted that land over the rainbow. Mom did, too. No more troubles, no more clouds, no more tears. You can’t tell me that it’s wrong to hope for that, Quinn. I don’t care how much bad you’ve seen. Blue birds find it, and I’ll find it someday, too.”

“I doubt it’s here,” he told her, his voice quieter than usual. He reached over and tapped her nose. “I suppose it could have been worse, though. You could have been singing ‘twinkle, twinkle little star’ or something.”

“No, we should sing something else from Oz,” Candelaria said, getting a smile from Leah since there was only one song in Oz that she didn’t like—the king of the forest one. “Why don’t you try ‘if I only had a—”

“I have a brain, thank you. And I never lost my nerve.”

“Yeah, but none of us missed how you skipped saying you had a heart.”

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

So I’m going to launch the revival of Kabobbles Sing Along with a song just about everyone knows.

A while back, I was discussing how many things reference The Wizard of Oz with the cover artist aka my best friend. It’s been a while, so I don’t remember all of what I said, something to the effect that all scifi involving our world mentioned Oz. She pointed out that it was a very easy to relate to story. That it could be adapted to almost every situation but it was more than that, it was something people today got.

I know I’ve made some comments about Oz myself, but this most recent one happened with Quinn, Candelaria, Beacan, and Leah. It came in the form of song and finally gave me something to talk about for the Sunday Sing Along.

The song, of course, is very easy relate to, too. Most people know it. I happen to love it.

Many people have sung this song, but I think I still prefer the original.

If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can’t I?

Kabobbles Sing Along is just what I think when I hear songs. I sometimes see images when I hear lyrics, pictures or movies in my head. Sometimes I relate it to stories. My interpretation of the songs and lyrics are probably nothing like their original intent.

The Joke’s on Beacan

Author’s Note: When I decided to write this story using the template I’d created for another one of my stories where there was so much past that had to go in for the “modern” plot to make sense, I also picked up on one habit from before: as much as the flashbacks went in a more or less chronological order, they also had a tie, if only in the warped definitions of my mind, to the modern scene before it. That is the case here, where I tied them together by Beacan getting teased.

The Joke’s on Beacan

“I don’t want you doing this again.”

Quinn grunted. Candelaria knew that expression. She hated it—that had to be one of the most frustrating things about him. He’d just asked how she thought she’d stop him, and she knew she couldn’t. She couldn’t convince him to change his mind, couldn’t make him hate himself or the world any less than he did, couldn’t make him see that he didn’t always have to fight or push people away.

“I mean it, Quinn. We discussed this last night. We had a plan about the food.”

“And it sucked. We all know that. Just shut up and eat,” he said, pushing the sandwich toward her. She wasn’t sure when he’d managed to steal them, but he’d waited until they were on the train and couldn’t do much about it to give them the sandwiches.

“Maybe you can send them some money later,” Leah said. She bit her lip, and Candelaria sighed, reaching over to help her with the package. Quinn reached into his pocket and pulled out his Swiss army knife, throwing it to Beacan. Her brother smiled, opening the knife and cutting the plastic.

“I didn’t want to steal anything.”

“And you didn’t. You need to eat.”

“What about you?” Candelaria almost cursed when she didn’t see a sandwich in front of him. “Don’t tell me that you stole sandwiches for us and didn’t bother to get one for yourself. I know you have a thing against food you didn’t make yourself, and I understand why, but you can’t starve yourself just because we don’t have a kitchen. The odds of someone having laced these things with anything is like millions to one.”

Quinn glared at her. Beacan distracted him by passing him the knife, and he frowned as he took it back, stashing it away again.

“Here,” Leah said, holding out her sandwich to Quinn. “I already took a bite of mine, and you can see I’m okay. You can eat that one.”

“If he really didn’t get one for himself, he’d better have some from each of ours,” Beacan said, shaking his head. “That way we all get something. You know you have to eat more than a bite, Leah.”

Quinn looked at the sandwiches being held out to him. “You are all nuts.”

“We ran away with you. You honestly think we wouldn’t share our food?”


“Then eat it.”

He shook his head, taking out a package of lunch meat. He settled back against the side of the car, opening it up. “I hate turkey, and that was all they had for the sandwiches. Besides, those ones have that nasty lettuce and stale mayonnaise. Oh, and Swiss cheese. That stuff is disgusting.”

Candelaria blinked. She didn’t know what to think of Quinn’s behavior, but she had a feeling he was lying about the turkey thing like he’d lied about the chocolate. He just wanted to avoid eating a sandwich someone else had made.

“You could just have said you had that,” Beacan said, sitting back with his sandwich, grumbling to himself. Leah just smiled, humming a bit as she returned to eating her sandwich.

Candelaria caught Quinn smiling, but when he saw her looking at him, he made a big deal of putting a slice of ham into his mouth. Times like this, she could see the boy Quinn should be, a playful one without all the hurt and pain and the unjust conviction. He should be able to be like that more often, but she didn’t think that he would.

“Do you think the train will stop again soon?”

Quinn shrugged. “I don’t know. Freight trains don’t have schedules posted for the public. I don’t know where we’re going to end up. We might want to start looking for a good place to get off.”

“It would have to be when it slowed down.”

“None of us here are suicidal.”

Quinn snorted. “You say that, but you’re here with me, so I think someone’s in denial.”

“This is about living,” Candelaria said. She looked down at her sandwich. “The food may not be the best or even legal, but it’s not about that. It’s not about having a fine house or even a bed to sleep in. It’s about being with the people we want to be with.”

“Still nuts.”

Beacan smiled. “Well, not all of us are here for you, Quinn. Some of us would rather be here because of someone else.”

“It’ll be a few years before Leah’s legal, you know.”

Beacan choked on his sandwich, coughing. Leah turned red, and Quinn smirked, finishing off his ham. Candelaria shook her head. “Quinn, sometimes—”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Completely inappropriate.”

“Can I stay in here for a while?”

Quinn gave Beacan a look, and he figured he was out the door in another second, but he didn’t want to get kicked out. He didn’t know where else to go, and he knew that everyone would just laugh if they knew why he was trying to hide. Candelaria already did, and staying in her room wasn’t an option. He’d tried the Howells’ room, not thinking anyone would dare follow him in there, but he’d been wrong.

“Beacan, one of the things that has been clear from the beginning around here is that my room is off-limits to all of you. I don’t want you here. I don’t want the maid in here. You are not staying.”

“You know Leah’s friends are all here, right? Big huge slumber party—”

“I know. I already did the bogeyman act and made sure they were all going to stay far away from me and my room for the duration of the night. Then Mrs. Howell tried to ground me again, which was its usual stupidity. I considered leaving, but your sister was watching last I knew, so there’s not much point yet. I’ll go if I need to.”

“I need to.”

Quinn frowned. “Can’t stand the sight of a bunch of girls in pink running around giggling? Does that go against some secret Beacan code of ethics? They’re just girls. No cooties. Hmm. I wonder if cooties is like the child form of an STD—”

“That’s disgusting.”

Quinn smiled, enjoying Beacan’s discomfort. He’d ruined that word for him now, and he was probably proud of it. “Go away, Beacan.”

“I can’t.”

“I can make you leave.”

Beacan let out a breath. “You don’t understand. They’re playing truth or dare. Apparently, no one is brave enough to take the dare to come close to you, but for me… I think every single one of those girls has tried to kiss me tonight. One of them even professed her ‘undying love’ for me. She used her tongue.”

Quinn burst out laughing, rolling back on his bed and thoroughly enjoying himself at Beacan’s expense. Beacan glared at the older boy, wanting to hate him, but if he got in a fight with Quinn, he’d have to go back out there and face the girls. He’d have to get lip gloss or maybe even lipstick on him, and he could still smell that cherry stuff. The glitter hadn’t come off when he washed his face, and he was going to be a laughingstock at school on Monday.

“It’s not that funny.”

“Oh, no, Beacan, it’s hilarious,” Quinn said, sitting up again. “You’re afraid of all the pretty little girls who are in love with you. I’d almost say something about your future there, but I’m not sure I want to know that about you.”

“Quinn, I like girls. I like them a lot. There’s this girl, Meghan, she’s in my math class and she has this habit of chewing on her pencil that always makes me stare at her lips and I think I’d like to kiss her, but Leah’s friends are… They’re younger than me, and I keep thinking one of them is going to remind her that we’re not related by blood and have her do that.”

“That could be awkward.”

“Awkward? She’s supposed to be my sister.”

“In case you haven’t realized it yet, supposed to doesn’t mean crap. Supposed to is a word you throw out there when you made some kind of mistake. ‘It was supposed to happen like this.’ ‘No one was supposed to get hurt.’ ‘We were supposed to be a family.’ It’s not about what you’re supposed to do. It’s about what you really think. I’ve told you—you’re not my brother. They’re not my sisters. Now, I wouldn’t want to kiss Leah, she’s way too young for me—”

“Don’t tell me you’d kiss Candelaria.”

Quinn laughed again. “There you go—reacting just like a brother. For the record, no. I don’t want to kiss your annoying sister. She just pisses me off, and I would sooner push her into oncoming traffic than make out with her. My point was that I don’t see either of them that way, so I wouldn’t have to trip over that thought if I did want to kiss them. Your problem isn’t that you’re afraid of kissing someone who’s your ‘sister.’ You’re afraid of it because she’s not your sister.”

“What?” Beacan’s head hurt, and he had a terrible feeling that all of Quinn’s logic worked this way, as screwed up as possible.

“I’m saying you don’t want to think about Leah or kissing her because you haven’t put her into the sister category. We may have been living in the same house for a while, but it hasn’t made it true, not for me and not for you. You haven’t accepted her as your sister or me as your brother. I don’t want you to bother seeing me that way, but what worries you so much about kissing Leah is that in the back of your head, you know she’s not blood. So you could do things with her that you’ve been told you’re too young to think of. You need to box her away as a sister and make her off-limits.”

Beacan sat down on the bed, looking over at him. “Can you be lying? I really want you to be lying.”

Quinn shrugged. “You don’t have to listen to me. I’m probably wrong. That’s the story of my life. Now, if you think you’re going to stay in here and hide from all the scary girls, you should know that there is a price to pay…”

Beacan groaned.

Four Kids on the Run

Author’s Note: After enjoying every bit of the moments that were just Quinn and Candelaria, I reread this scene with all the kids, and I liked bits and pieces of this, but it does seem to lack something with the others in it.

Maybe I just like the other two too much. Or maybe Beacan and Leah aren’t… strong enough characters in comparison. Maybe it’s that whole “the opening part has to be perfect” thing. I don’t know.

I don’t know if I could post this one as serial or not, either.

Four Kids on the Run

“I would have thought I’d have it memorized by now. It was on the back of every book, and there were so many in that series—I read them all, over and over—so why can’t I remember it? I should know what it is. I could recite it before.”

Quinn grunted. He knew the words, and he knew the books, but he would never admit that to any of them. They weren’t the type of books a loser kid like him ever read, and he would never let himself believe in any of the ones that had happy endings. Those were for kids that hadn’t spent their entire lives in foster care. “I swear, if any of you suggests hiding out in a boxcar, I will leave you behind.”

Candelaria caught up to him, grabbing his arm. He looked at her, and she winced when he did. She always did these days. She couldn’t hide that guilt, and he was sick of seeing it. “You can’t keep going like this, and you know it.”

Quinn grunted. Most of his injuries had healed before the trial—the only exception was the wrist that got broken again in lockup—and he’d never been a wimp. He wouldn’t have survived this long if he was. He could stand plenty, and he had over the years. The last doctor had said he had the body of a broken down athlete in his thirties, not someone who still wasn’t quite legal. “I’m fine, and none of you had to come with me. You know that.”

She glanced toward the others. Maybe they were the ones that needed a break. They were younger, all of them bookworms and not the sort that had the stamina for a cross country trek. If they’d had the money for a car, he could have traded drive shifts with her, but they didn’t have that kind of money, and he doubted they would unless they broke one of her precious principles. He didn’t have them, but he knew that any crime he committed would draw too much attention to where they were. They couldn’t let anyone track them, not that easily.

“We haven’t had a real meal in days,” she said, her voice dropping to a whisper. “I don’t think any of us is sleeping well, either. I know we have to put some distance between us and where we were, but this can’t continue.”

“None of you have to go on. Don’t look at me like that. I told you a dozen times already—I don’t blame you. Go back. None of you have to ruin your lives for my sake, and you know it. I’d already thrown mine away long before we shared that house, so don’t start thinking that you owe me anything. I told you years ago—we’re not family. Never have been, never will be.”

Candelaria closed her eyes, taking a breath. “I know that, but we agreed to do this together. I know you’re used to pushing past the pain, ignoring the hunger, and next to you, we’re all spoiled. We need time that you wouldn’t take and don’t think you need.”

Beacan came up and touched his sister’s shoulder, worry in the eyes that matched hers. He always had that in them same as his sister had guilt. Quinn had never seen the light their mother supposedly had when she picked those names, but then he was good at finding the darkness wherever he was. He always had been. “What’s going on?”

“I was trying to talk Quinn into a break.”

“We shouldn’t stop,” Leah said, looking back. She shivered despite the bright sun and lack of breeze. “I don’t like walking during the daytime. If it wasn’t so hard to walk at night, I’d say we should always do that.”

“Yeah, and we’ll get a car while we’re at it.”

“A boxcar?” Leah asked, her lips curving into a wide smile. Quinn frowned at her. “You have to admit—they made a good home out of one. We could do it.”

“Yeah, because this is really going to end in a rich grandfather finding us or that I’d be able to work odd jobs like the one boy did. I’m a wanted felon now, remember? You want to live in a fantasy, go back. Find another Mrs. Howell, another big house with rich people who aren’t pretending when they care about you, and live the dream.”

“There isn’t going to be another Mrs. Howell,” Candelaria said, yanking the ribbon out of her hair. She twisted it in her hands, looking more like she was Leah’s age than her own. “Our fairy tale ended when they died, and our unhappily ever after has just begun.”

Beacan shook his head. “We left that behind. That was the point of leaving. We’re not going out back to another foster home where we’re helpless, not again. None of us are going to be stuck sitting around waiting for the people who are supposed to be taking care of us to turn on us. That is never happening again.”

Quinn shook his head. Sometimes they acted too much like the children they were. “You do realize that the outcome for kids on the streets isn’t much better. Hell, it’s worse.”

“Not for us,” Leah told him. “We have you.”