Published on March 10, 2014
Welcome back to Standing the Test of Time! From where I’ve left off, Vlastimir settled down in life and married Selena, and the two of them have twin daughters Ana and Jelena, who just became children. However, something sinister against the family is rising. Let’s start this chapter now, shall we?
“Girls!” Selena called her daughters as loudly as possible. “The taxi’s about to arrive, so make sure you’re all packed up!” “OK, mom!” they replied in unison.
“Ready for some adventure?” asked Vlastimir once the girls arrived at the hallway. “What will we see there?” asked Jelena. “And are there gonna be any exciting stuff there?” added Ana. “We’ll see once you get there,” assured Selena. “When we get home, there will be a surprise for you girls.” “Cool!” they exclaimed. The mention of surprises made the girls excited, primarily because that meant getting something new.
As the taxi arrived, the entire family packed their suitcases and walked inside the vehicle. A vacation to Twikkii Island is what they needed to refresh themselves before the parents go back to work and the kids start school.
Once they arrived at the resort, Vlastimir went to the receptionist’s desk to check in to a bungalow his family will stay in for the duration of their stay. Twikkii Island’s warm weather made wearing outerwear unbearable, in stark contrast to the cold spring air back in Verdant Cliffs, so Vlastimir found himself in desperate need to change clothes as soon as possible.
After checking in to one of the bungalows in the hotel, the entire family quickly took off their winter coats and changed to lighter clothing to prevent themselves from overheating. They also felt relieved to enjoy the warm weather as a break from the cold weather back at home. Vlastimir and Ana proceeded to play a little game together by throwing a ball to each other. Nothing could hurt more than a little time between a father and his daughter.
“Excuse me,” interjected Selena as she walked towards her husband and daughter. “I don’t mean to interrupt you, but I have to ask you something.” “What is it, mom?” asked Ana as she tossed the ball to her father. “Has any of you seen Jelena?” “Umm…”murmured Vlastimir.
“She’s at the beach combing for some seashells,” replied Ana. “I asked her to join us, but she refused, so I just let her do her own thing while dad and I play catch the ball together.” “Well, why don’t you go accompany her back there? I don’t want to see her all by herself.” “But she seems content to just play all by herself.” “I understand, but I also don’t want any one of you to feel lonely. And I need to talk to your dad about the places to go to around here.” “Alright, fine. But don’t be long, OK?” “I promise.”
Ana walked to the beach near their bungalow, where she spotted her twin scooping a bucket of sand and dumping them into a pile to make a sandcastle. It looked like what she was doing might be fun, and hopefully it won’t hurt if they build it together. “Hey, Jelena,” she walked towards her sister. Jelena looked up to see her sister standing right beside her. “What is it?” “Mind if I join you build the sandcastle?” “I can do it all by myself.” “But you look lonely, and mom doesn’t want you to feel lonely.” “Okay, okay. Let’s do this together, then.”
As the two sisters built the sandcastle together, they shaped the sand into what looks like the foundation of a castle. “I have an idea,” Jelena turned toward Ana. “How about we use the shells I found earlier in the beach?’ “That’s a good idea!” she replied. “That way, our sandcastle will be the prettiest we’ve ever seen!” After a few minutes of building their sandcastle, they suddenly heard their mother calling them. They groaned in response because they hadn’t finished building the sandcastle. Nevertheless, they still obeyed her and walked to the front of the resort. Perhaps an adventure awaits them.
The Vidić family went to a local marketplace, where they ate at a local food bar serving local cuisine. Selena ordered three pineapple surprises for her and the girls to eat. Vlastimir, however, told them that he wasn’t very hungry at the moment, so he didn’t join them. Instead, he looked around the area to see if there were any souvenirs for the journey. “So we’re gonna eat some sort of fried pineapple?” exclaimed Ana. “That sounds gross! Who in their right mind would deep fry fruits?” “I really don’t like the thought of eating fried fruit either,” added Jelena. “I can’t imagine having to eat those kind of stuff everyday.” “Trust me, girls,” assured Selena. “These are some of the most delicious things I have ever tried when your dad and I went to our honeymoon.
When the pineapple surprises were finally served to them, Selena picked her fork up and started eating hers. Ana and Jelena slowly grabbed theirs and looked at their meal. Judging by their texture, they looked crunchy enough for them to try one bite from them. They slowly chewed them and tasted them in their tongues in order to capture its taste. When they were done, their eyes widened. “Wow!” they cried as they promptly at their meal. “This has to be one of the tastiest foods we have ever eaten!” Selena turned toward her daughters and smiled. She was glad that her daughters were staring to admire foreign customs and foods, yet she was also keen to preserve their tastes on familiar surroundings.
Meanwhile, Vlastimir couldn’t find any souvenirs that catch his attention, but after seeing a tour guide calling for island tours, he found an opportunity for him and his family to enjoy some of the local tours. “Excuse me,” he said as he approached the tour guide, “Do you have any available tours at the moment by any chance?” “That we do, sir,” answered the tour guide. “We have open space for four people to go on a tour to see tropical fish in a glass-bottomed tour, which costs $100 per person. Do you want to try it out?” “Sure. I’m bringing my wife and two daughters together, so that should be enough for us.” “Excellent. I’ll make the reservations, and the taxi will arrive to pick you up shortly.” “Thank you.”
A few minutes later, a honking sound could be heard from the front street of the marketplace, causing the Vidić family to turn around to see a taxicab. This must be the taxi I just booked for our glass-bottomed boat tour, thought Vlastimir as he walked towards the car, with his wife and daughters following suit. He stopped to let them in first before getting inside himself. The tour better be a fun and relaxing one, especially for the girls.
The glass-bottomed boat tour was initially fun until the bottom got scraped by coral, causing small holes to form. In desperation, everyone covered it with gum, but the minnows chewed through it all, forcing the captain to ride back to shore, abruptly ending the tour with everyone’s legs and feet drenched in sea water. After that little incident, the Vidić family went back to their villa and promptly showered in order to get the itch off themselves. “Girls,” Selena turned towards the girls after all three of them have finished showering, “Where do you want to go tomorrow? I know there are so many fun things to do here, but I also want your opinion so that I can discuss with your father where we should go.” “I’m thinking of going somewhere that feels like an adventure,” replied Ana. “Like, you know, facing some unknown tribe out to attack us.” “Or maybe something like exploring another island,” added Jelena. “That should be fun.” “Alright, girls,” Selena giggled. “I’ll tell daddy about that."
When Selena left, Ana immediately lied down on the sofa and lounged. “Man, I feel so bored with nothing to do right now.” she groaned. “Yeah, me too,” grumbled Jelena. “I think I’ll just lie down on that other sofa.”
A few minutes later, their father had arrived to see them lying down on the sofas out of boredom. “What’s the matter?” he asked. “We’re just bored and tired because of that stupid boat tour,” replied Jelena. “Stupid coral and stupid fish ruining our fun.” “Well, I’m sorry to hear that.” “Whatever,” she stood up from the sofa. “Ana and I are going outside to play together.” “Umm… sure. Just make sure you two go to bed soon.”
Excited at the permission their father gave to them, Ana and Jelena went outside their bungalow and near the receptionist bungalow to play catch together.
Jelena loved to throw the ball with so much strength that Ana had a bit of trouble catch it. Nevertheless, she managed to grab on hold of it. Not to be outdone by her sister, she in turn threw it with a lot of strength that Jelena also found it nearly hard to catch the ball. Fortunately, she caught the ball before it hit the ground, even though she nearly fell backwards. Both girls managed to have fun with the game without getting themselves hurt, though. After a few throws, Ana let out a small yawn, followed by her sister’s yawn. They finally stopped playing catch together and walked back to the bungalow to sleep. Besides, they didn’t want to miss out on anything their parents may be planning for the vacation.
The next day, the Vidić family had breakfast delivered to them due to how exhausted they feel as a result of the glass-bottomed boat incident. The burgers the hotel chefs cooked tasted delicious and gave them a sense of familiarity with home. “You know, I’ve been wondering about something lately,” Vlastimir turned to Selena as they ate their breakfast. Ana and Jelena turned to their parents to listen to their conversation. “What is it?” she asked. “I got this map that leads to an unknown place in this island. Maybe we should check it out someday.”
“Honey, I’m not sure if that’s a good idea. What if it could be a trap used by frauds just to lure us away from safety? Think of the kids. I don’t want them to get lost as well.” “Right. Maybe that’s something we should reconsider. In that case, I’m thinking of relearning one of their local dances that I learned during our honeymoon.” “As long as the kids remain at a safe distance as they watch you, I think that sounds fine.”
As they talked to each other, however, they didn’t notice Ana and Jelena listening to their conversation attentively. The mention of a map leading to a mysterious place meant adventure to them, and they felt determined to find that out in the end. The question is, will their parents let them explore around the island? Jelena turned toward Ana, who was still listening to their parents. “Hey, Ana,” whispered Jelena. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” “If you’re talking about the map, then yes.” “Let’s ask mommy and daddy about taking us to the place.”
“Mom, dad,” said Jelena, causing her parents to end their conversation and turn to the girls. “Yes?” Selena replied. “Can we go to whatever the map dad talked about just now?” pleaded Ana. “Pretty please?” “Sweetie, I know somewhere better than following daddy’s map,” said Selena, trying to hide her surprise at the girls listening to their conversation. “But we wanna follow daddy’s map! It’s like how they do it in stories and TV!”
“Selena,” interrupted Vlastimir, “You need to relax a bit. Let the girls have a little fun, as long as they stay safe.” “But what about your plans to relearn the fire dance, hmmm? We can move the map date tomorrow if you want.” “I’m not sure if the trainers will appreciate it if I bring the girls over. I don’t want those people to think that they’ll misbehave or something, though I’ll definitely confront them if they ever do that to the girls.”
“We promise we’ll behave, daddy,” interjected Ana. “And then we can all follow the map tomorrow.”
Vlastimir sighed. There was no way he could resist the boundless energy the girls often express. “OK, fine,” he said. “But as long as you behave in the beach when I try out the local fire dance, or else we won’t follow the map trail tomorrow.” “Yay!” the girls shouted in unison.
After breakfast, Ana walked towards Jelena and leaned towards her ear. “You know what,” whispered Ana, “What if we both wear identical clothes in front of other people? They’ll probably think that they’re seeing illusions or something like that.” “Heh, sounds like a good idea,” Jelena whispered back. “But mom and dad will say ‘no’ to identical clothing for us. I think they and other people already have trouble telling which one of us is which whenever we go to school.” “Well, that’s the thing. That way, we can play tricks on people.” “Sounds like a good idea, though I’m not sure people will like it or not.”
Once they were ready, the Vidić family walked around an island until they came across a hut, followed by a large beach full of people.
Ana and Jelena walked towards the beach and started a pillow fight amongst themselves while Selena and the other beachgoers watched them in amusement.
Meanwhile, Vlastimir spotted a fire dancer doing his performance on his mat and walked towards him. “Excuse me, sir,” he said, causing the fire dancer to stop dancing and put the fires on his pole out before laying it down. “Jeez!” groaned the dancer as he turned towards Vlastimir. “Can’t you see that I’m performing at high speed?” “Sorry about that, but can you teach me more about the steps of the fire dance? I learned some of them before, but haven’t fully gotten the hang of it.” The dancer grumbled softly. He hated having to deal with enthusiastic tourists wanting to learn the dance from him, considering the fact that he was relatively new to the job. However, the fire dance job was his sole source of income, and he had to cater to other people even if he didn’t like it. “OK, fine. At least I only have to teach one person.”
“Watch the master and learn,” the dancer grabbed his pole and lit its two edges on fire. A sly grin flashed on his once sour face as he slowly spun his pole at first, but gradually became quicker in his movement. A minute later, he used his neck and shoulders to spin his pole without touching either tip. Vlastimir watched in awe at what he had seen. The graceful way he twirled the pole throughout the entire duration of the show captured his entire attention. If he were to practice it, he could possibly do the same thing in no time.
Once the dancer stopped dancing, he put out the fires on the pole and handed it over to Vlastimir. “Now’s your turn,” he said. “Just do it slowly at first and remember the moves by heart. Also, imagine that the two edges are on fire even if they aren’t at the moment. If you’ve memorized the moves, then try it with fire burning on the edges.” Vlastimir slowly twirled the pole and made twirling moves with it. His right arm shook a bit as he tried to memorize the moves, but as he got the hang of them, he twirled the pole as quickly and gracefully as possible while his confidence rose. He found it possible to do this thing someday in no time.
The girls eventually got tired of the pillow fight and did other activities. In Ana’s case, she went to Selena and slowly danced with her. Jelena, on the other hand, opted to watch the fire dance performance after the sun had set. The fast moves of the dancer, coupled with the fires on both ends of the pole, excited her as she wondered whether or not she could learn the same thing when she grew up. Only time will tell when she would get around to learn such a thing.
After doing all the activities in the beach, it was finally time for the Vidić family to go back to the bungalow and rest. While the girls went to bed, Vlastimir sat on the beach and looked at the sea. As the waves tossed around the sand and receded, causing the sandcastle near him to erode quickly, he let out a deep sigh. If I’m not careful, he thought, My future will end up like that sandcastle.
Soon afterwards, Selena joined him at the beach outside their bungalow. “Hey,” she whispered as they cuddled on the sand and faced towards the sky. “What are you up to now?” “Me? I’m just admiring the night scenery from the beach,” he pulled Selena closer to him. “And now I’m just admiring the beautiful night sky with my darling wife.” “Awww, that’s so sweet of you!” “Gee, thanks!” “No problem. Let’s get ready for tomorrow’s adventure. I think it’s gonna be a big day.” “Right.”
Just as they predicted, tomorrow turned out to a big day. After talking to the locals about the map, the Vidić family learned that it leads to a certain hut in a secluded part of the island, and the only way to get there is to navigate around on a helicopter to find its actual location. However, even riding on a helicopter and finding its whereabouts is still hard because of how well-hidden it is. Fortunately for them, there was an opening for a helicopter tour today, and they promptly seized this opportunity to search around the island from the sky. Additionally, the girls were excited at the opportunity to ride on a helicopter. Surely their classmates back at home will feel jealous of them for going on such an exciting ride.
The helicopter ride was shorter than the family thought because the pilot forgot to fill the gas tank fully when the ride began. When it was discovered that there were rocks inside, everyone dumped them down to a lake. However, that wasn’t enough to continue the ride, as the pilot had to stop by a gas station and refill the gas tank, which will take too long for them to continue the ride. Everyone, especially the kids, were disappointed by it, but they managed to get a glimpse of what looked like a small hut nestled on the base of a mountain. Perhaps that could be the place described by the map. At nighttime, the Vidić family set out for the hut by following the map for the safest route. They finally reached it after about half an hour later. Thrilled with adventure, the girls ran towards the entrance of the hut, where they could only find a variety of household items inside, but with no sight of anyone.
“Hello,” they hollered as they walked inside to see if there was anyone inside. While Jelena went inside the bathroom to search for signs of life, a shadow of a man approached Ana as she walked around the main room. She turned around and gasped at what she saw: a masked man robed in a green robe. “Siapa kau?!” he asked in a loud voice, scaring Ana as she flinched and tried to suppress a scream. Upon seeing this, the robed man realized that she meant no harm and stretched her hand to her. “Sorry about that,” he said in a much softer voice, causing Ana to stop trying to scream. It seemed that the man was just wary of outsiders, but wanted no harm to her. She slowly stretched her right hand to shake his. “There you go, little girl,” the man gently shook his hand in response as Ana laughed softly at his funny accent. “I am the local witch doctor of the island, and I do not want to do you any harm at all. Are your father and mother here? If so, then tell them that I need them to repair all the broken objects in my house because I do not know how to repair them by myself.” “Okey dokey.”
Minutes later, Vlastimir and Selena finally reached the hut, where Ana was waiting for them. “Ana,” Vlastimir said to his daughter while Selena went into the bathroom to find Jelena, “Remember what your mom and I told you before? Stay close to us or else you’ll get lost.” “But dad,” she replied, “There’s a guy in a mask who wants you and mom to fix his broken stuff.” “Alright, fine. But remember what we said about staying close to us, okay?”
Vlastimir proceeded to repair any broken electronics in the hut while Ana helped by cleaning up a puddle. It took a lot of time and effort, but in the end he succeeded in getting them done. Meanwhile, Selena found Jelena in the bathroom, where she complained to her that the bathtub was broken. In response, Selena told Jelena to go to the living room of the hut and play with Ana while she repaired the tub. It took her quite some time and effort to fix it, as she didn’t have a lot of experience with fixing things, but she managed to succeed in the end. After Vlastimir and Selena were done, they turned on the radio to test it out if it was properly fixed. To their delight, it played some relaxing music that they danced to while the girls watched them with amusement.
There came a time when the witch doctor finally arrived to inspect all the repaired objects while the Vidićes watched in the hopes that they were all properly fixed, just as he had requested. After he was done inspecting, the witch doctor walked towards them with a smile on his face. “Congratulations! You have successfully completed your trial by repairing my objects. As a reward for your perseverance and skill, I shall give you a little present in the form of a voodoo doll that will serve you well in the future, provided that you use it wisely.” He handed it over to Ana, who cheered along with Jelena while their parents kissed each other tenderly. All that team worked really paid off, especially with the little souvenir they got for helping the local witch doctor. The girls couldn’t wait to tell this to their classmates back home.
On one bright and sunny day, while the kids were enjoying their time, Vlastimir’s phone suddenly rang. “Hello?” he picked his phone up. “Oh, thank goodness you’re here!” a familiar voice from the other line quickly replied. “I have something urgent to tell you.”
“Whoa! Slow down and tell me what’s going on, Sanjay.” “Well…”
“When my family and I came back after visiting some relatives, we realized that our house got burnt to the ground! We tried salvaging anything from its smoldering ruins, but with no such luck. I even went to the Swaggy Sari to investigate, only to find out that it got burnt to the ground as well. I think the Jarring Jackals were behind this because there were so many paw-like markings around the rubble, so I thought it should be time that my family move to Verdant Cliffs at once.”
After listening to Sanjay’s talking, Vlastimir stuck his finger out to ponder on those words. The mention of the Jarring Jackals alone made him nervous and angry at the same time, especially when they threatened his friend. He also thought about his wife’s job at the real estate and whether or not there were any new houses in Verdant Cliffs that the Ramaswamis could move into. “You know what,” he said, “I’ll see what I can do. Hang in there, alright?” “Alright, but please be quick.”
“Honey,” Selena’s voice startled Vlastimir, who immediately hung up his phone and turned towards her. “What’s going on?” Vlastimir flinched. He didn’t want to upset his wife, but he also didn’t want to lie as well. Surely there must be some way to explain to her about what happened to Sanjay. “Ummm… Do you happen to have any spare houses for sale by any chance?” “Well, yes. What about it?” “You see, Sanjay just called me, and he needs a new house badly due to some freak incident. If possible, we might need to go back as soon as possible.” “But what about the kids? They need to spend their time here as much as possible, though the thought of new neighbors is a nice thing to hear about. Please tell me more about it.”
Before Vlastimir could say a word, however, the sound of the door swinging open interrupted him, followed by footsteps heading towards their direction. “Mommy, daddy,” the call of their daughters rang in the room as they rushed towards them. “Guess what?” “What is it, girls?” asked Selena. “We found some shiny pebbles on the beach,” answered Jelena, “And we’re wondering whether or not we should bring them back home.” “Well, that’s great, and you’re certainly welcome to bring them back home.” “Besides, we’re gonna have new neighbors too,” interrupted Vlastimir. “It’s gonna be part of the surprise you were expecting back at home.” The mention of new neighbors coming to Verdant Cliffs captured the girls’ attention. For years, it was a very quiet place, with nobody other than their own family living in the place. With new neighbors coming into the place, their lives could never be the same again.
With enough vacation time spent, it was finally time for the Vidićes to go back home. Ana and Jelena moaned that they wanted to stay on Twikkii Island for a little longer, but Selena reminded them of the surprise she promised back home. They mellowed afterwards, but that didn’t change their desire to stay in Twikkii Island for a little longer, though. “I hope you and your family enjoyed your stay here in Twikkii Island, sir,” said the receptionist as Vlastimir checked out of the resort.
At the same time, Selena and the girls packed their suitcases and put them on the trunk to get ready to go back. Despite the girls’ initial hesitation, the did so without question. Besides, they couldn’t wait for the surprise back home. “What kind of surprise would they give to us back home?” Jelena asked her sister. “I dunno,” replied Ana, “But it better be cool.”
Upon arriving back to their house, the girls were amazed to see how different it looked compared to how it looked before. Not only was it bigger, but it was more spacious as well. It even has a garage, a bigger yard, and even specific rooms for various activities. They were so excited at the surprise that they couldn’t wait to try them all at once. Most of all, however, they couldn’t wait for the presence of new neighbors moving to Verdant Cliffs. They were told that the new neighbors were people who’ve met their parents before and even have children as well. This means that they’ll make close friends.
The Vidić family went to visit their new neighbors’ home a few blocks across their house. It was a white house with a tan roof situated on a road called Chalcedony Drive. Their new neighbors stood in front of their new home looking at them. “Vlastimir!” greeted Sanjay as he shook his friend’s hand. “I’m so glad you and your family could make it here!” “No problem,” replied Vlastimir. “Though it’s more thanks to my wife for arranging the house for you.”
Selena walked forward and shook his hand while their kids watched. “Thanks for the house you’ve provided for us. It looks nice and cozy as well.” “No problem, sir,” she graciously replied. “After all, a friend in need is a friend indeed. I hope the house suits you and your family well.” --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In no time, the Vidićes got back to their regular routines. In Ana’s case, she even befriended the new neighbor’s kid Parvati. She even invited her friend over after school. “You know what?” Parvati said, “This house is so cool! I wish my house has a finished yard to play in with my brother Mowgli, just like my old house.” “Well, what happened to your old house?” Upon hearing those words, Parvati flinched and stopped smiling, causing a slight confusion for Ana. “What’s the matter?” “Ummm… Nothing, really. It’s just that I missed my old home at times, that’s all.”
In her spare time, Ana would play the violin or practice some ballet. She felt her energy and passion being put into good use whenever she did those activities, and got membership card from Noelle Dennis from My Muse II as a result.
Jelena, on the other hand, often played in the playground, sometimes even when she felt unable to sleep at night. Her parents were understandably frustrated at her tendency to stay awake overnight, often trying to put her to bed when it was past bedtime, but she would often tease that she’s too “energetic” to be in bed whenever that happened.
Meanwhile, Selena regained her interest in music, as she can be often found playing the violin or the electric guitar from her husband’s victory over the battle of the bands a few seasons ago.
However, that hasn’t diminished her love for her children. She would often take the time to hug her daughters whenever she goes home from work, as she saw them as a nice relief from work. Speaking of work, Selena couldn’t believe her eyes that her boss had to retire due to age issues, but not before choosing her as his successor. In other words, she was put in charge of the real estate company from now on, and she would do anything in her position to finance the construction of new homes and public buildings in Verdant Cliffs.
As a way to celebrate it, she played Don’t Wake the Llama with Ana, who asked her to play with her. Seeing this as an opportunity to bond with her daughter, Selena gladly obliged. As they played, she realized that it was a tough game to play because you have to place the sticks in a way so that they won’t fall down or else you lose.
As for Vlastimir, he and Sanjay continued to work together in the band by traveling around. Fortunately, their victory years ago managed to boost their popularity to the point that Vlastimir became a rock god of sorts. To him, it was a dream come true, leaving him more time to devote to other things.
Like Selena, he couldn’t bear to neglect the kids. At one time, he listened to Jelena’s account on how she and her sister found some colorful stones during the Twikkii Island vacation. “When Ana and I were digging for some stuff for our sandcastle, we found a weird-looking stone. We kept digging and found a few more. Ana wanted to put them on our sandcastle, but I told her that we should keep it for us all to serve as a reminder of the best vacation we’ve had.”
Speaking of other pastimes, Vlastimir bought a robotics workbench and started using it to build robots. He may not have any experience on robotics, but thanks to some practice from the blueprints that came with it, he slowly improved his robot-making skill. As he was building his first toy robot, he pondered about the entire meaning of being on top of his career. For years, he worked hard to get to the top, yet once there he found himself feeling aimless in life despite the fame he got as a rock star. Was it really worth it to stay on top of his career, or should he find another career? Another thought that crossed his mind was Sanjay. Granted, he can’t possibly leave him all by himself, though talking to him about it might as well work. As for his reputation, well, perhaps he could direct it to another career. It’s not like being a rock god is the only ticket to fame, and other career paths can give him different kinds of it.
He subsequently found a job listing on the Internet, and one of its openings was for a tap dance club. It was something he couldn’t resist taking, especially with the current sense of aimlessness he was subject to once he reached the top of his career. However, he also wanted to talk to Sanjay about his desire to find another job now that he had become a rock star. If all goes well, the new job will be his.
“Hello?” he called Sanjay on the phone. “Hi, Vlastimir,” replied Sanjay from the other line. ”How are you?” “Can we talk about something right now, please?” “Sure.” “So, I know I haven’t told you about this, but I need you to remain as calm as possible, okay?” “What do you mean?”
“Basically, I wanna get a new job.” “You WHAT?! But what about the band? And isn’t this the life you’ve always wanted to have?” “Listen carefully. Ever since I became a rock star, I found myself wondering what I should do next with my career. Sure I have a good house and plenty of pastimes, but they don’t feel as satisfying as something I found myself missing.” “Fine, then,” Sanjay sighed. “But we’re still friends, aren’t we?” “Of course. After all, I can’t let it ruin our friendship.”
After the phone conversation, Vlastimir immediately took the job offer at the tap dance club. That proved to be much less tense than he expected, but it still was something he remained cautious about. As he walked to his daughters’ room, he found that sparks were flying from the toy robot’s mouth. Grabbing a screwdriver, he picked up the malfunctioned toy and began fixing it. “Well,” he said as he repaired the contraption, “Looks like I have to get used to the changing times.”
Later that night, Jelena cried out for joy that the toy robot her father had made for her and her sister was finally fixed. It was great to be able to play with it again!
Vlastimir was slowly adjusting to his new career as a tap dancer, especially with the new work schedule and the loss of stardom he cherished in his former career. Despite all this, however, it was comforting to know that his family still loved him no matter the changes.
As he sat down to eat the salmon the butler cooked for dinner, Selena, who had finished hers before Vlastimir came home, sat down to accompany him. “Selena,” he turned towards her after chewing one piece of the salmon, “Have you ever thought of how far we’ve come?” “What do you mean?” she asked. “I mean, look at all this stuff. I couldn’t believe my eyes at how things have changed in my life since I graduated from Académie Le Tour. When I first came here, this house was a cabin in the middle of nowhere, but now it’s a villa fit for the wealthy. And just look at how much money we’ve made as well. We have pretty much moved up in terms of our status in society.”
“Sounds interesting, and don’t forget the fact that we have two lovely daughters to raise as well. They’ve grown bigger as time passed, and it won’t be long when they grow up to teens.” “Yeah, and that too.” “Let’s get ready to plan for the birthday party, shall we?” --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
As Selena had predicted, it was only a matter of time when the girls grow up and transition to the next stage in life. Their parents had invited close friends to attend the party to see them getting bigger. They also can’t wait to be big enough to try out some grown-up stuff, even though their ages meant that they were limited to some things. Nevertheless, it was a time they had long anticipated.
Both girls grew up into beautiful teens like the way they and their parents had expected. Becoming taller was also something they loved as well, since it meant that they could reach higher places than never before. On top of that, they also get to wear identical clothes, but with different colors to help others identify them. “You know, sis,” said Jelena as they ate some salad during the party, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” “What is it?” asked Ana. “Now that we’re older, that means we can go everywhere without having either mom or dad to accompany us. We can even have our own cell phones, handheld games, and music players. This is gonna be a blast!” “You said it. Let’s buy those someday.”
Getting older, however, didn’t mean that the girls no longer enjoyed the things they enjoyed when they were younger. In fact, they still enjoyed talking about the funny things that happened at school and the top trends of the day. There were even times when the girls would occasionally give each other noogies simply for fun, though it felt humiliating in the short run.
Meanwhile, Vlastimir worked hard in his new career to the point that he became a world class ballet dancer. This time, however, he felt fully satisfied with his new job, especially with the fact that he could put his ballet skills to good use. Besides, he also managed to rise to stardom again.
Because of his new career, Vlastimir had to hone his ballet skills on a daily basis in order to get ready for upcoming performances. He didn’t want one small mistake to ruin his entire performance, which could even put his career at stake.
As time went by, the Vidićes slowly accumulated enough wealth to buy more items. For instance, the bubble blower became a popular item for household members and guests alike.
Another addition to the house was a bass guitar that both Vlastimir and Selena often played to spend much of their spare time on. It gradually replaced the violin and electric guitar as their instrument of choice.
Additionally, Selena was rewarded a mini-golf course for her efforts in managing her company efficiently. Playing a relaxing game like golf nay not provide the same amount of physical benefits as opposed to ballet, but it sill help improve the concentration of one’s mind.
Meanwhile, the girls are shown to have different interests and approaches in life. Ana had a fondness for cheese to the point that she would often grill cheese sandwiches simply for the sake of eating them. The savory taste of cheese, coupled with its gooey goodness, was so irresistible to her that she couldn’t help but serve it for everyone else.
Moreover, she was also dating Sanjay and Priya’s son Mowgli. At one point, he had taken her to The Hub on a date, which she considered one of the best moments in her life. During the date, Mowgli pushed his lip up against Ana’s, marking the very first time she has ever kissed a person. It felt like a strong part of her was finally out in the open, but in a calm and gradual way rather than a sudden one. Their date continued to the night, where they danced to the DJ inside the club. Mowgli may be no dancer, but at least he had moments where he got some moves.
Jelena, on the other hand, prioritized knowledge and learning, and can be seen reading various sorts of books to sate her appetite for learning.
Aside from studying and reading widely, she also took an interest in video games, and would take the time to play some of her favorite ones whenever she has the time. One particular game she enjoyed playing is Might and Magic: Heroes VI. She was thrilled by its ability to play with other players online, usually on some sort of tournament. She also enjoyed playing the campaign mode, which also provided her with the opportunity to play an interactive story of sorts.
On one Friday night, she was invited by a group of online friends led by someone who goes by the username RJeeves. Thrilled at the prospect of playing a tournament, especially with a lot of free time in her hands, Jelena couldn’t resist the offer. After all, it was much more fun playing together than alone.
The tournament took two to three hours, but it was so much fun to do that she felt like time went so quickly. The town management, combat tactics, and level building was so engrossing that she could play the game for hours without taking a break, aside from having to go to the toilet. In the end, she couldn’t believe her eyes that by beating the other players, she finally won against them. That was the first time she had ever done that. Having a lot of experience with the game as well as some failures at first finally paid off. Thrilled at her victory, she couldn’t help but cheer at her achievement.
On one night, Selena spotted Vlastimir sitting on the sofa with a seemingly solemn expression on his face. “What’s the matter, honey?” she joined him at the sofa. “I’ve been pondering about stuff lately,” he turned towards her. “What is it?”
“I’ve been thinking about my life ever since I came to Académie Le Tour and my post-graduation life afterwards, what I’ve been through, and all the changes I’ve witnessed in my life. One of the things I’m wondering about is how to keep the memory of our lives for future generations.” “Wait, didn’t you mention that before?” “Actually, this is a different one. Do you remember our wedding? Priya told me about how she sees a great future in our family and the legacy I might leave behind. Looking at how much you’ve meant to me and what you’ve done as well as what I’ve done, I think it’s time for us to start planning for our family’s future in earnest.”
“But how are we supposed to do that?” Selena looked at her husband with a questioning face. “This place is still in development, and I’ve managed to get only two houses built and sold so far despite my efforts. I really need to get a more reliable construction firm to work with.” “Ever since I quit working as a musician and switched to dancing in order to hone my ballet, I’ve been feeling how quickly time passes by and the changing trends around us. I mean, even though I found satisfaction being a world class ballet dancer, I still wonder whether or not breaking up from my band was for the best. Yet here I am alive and well. As for the legacy I’m bound to leave behind, I’m thinking of having one of the girls to continue living in this very house for generations once she graduates from Académie Le Tour and tell her to do the same thing to one of her kids.” “Would that mean that she’ll take over your role as something like a leader of sorts for this still-empty town?”
“I guess so. But just because she’ll take over my position when she grows up doesn’t mean that the other girl and her family has no say in what’s to be done here. In fact, I want to see our legacy live on in all of our descendants regardless of whether or not they’re the one in charge of our town. The only difference is that the direct heir after me has the added responsibility of keeping things in check and being the first to face against any kind of crisis that might befall on us.” “That sounds… rather extreme. Are you sure this is all necessary?” “I know that this seems too early for any of us to face some sort of crisis, but I still think it’s better for us to plan ahead even if this means being looked down by society in the process.” “But people’s opinion matter on how they perceive us in the long run. If we make ourselves look bad to them, then they’ll hesitate seeing all of us in positive light, and our reputation will be ruined over time. That is why we need to interact with them as much as possible.”
As they continued to talk to each other about their family’s future, the girls leaned downward from the second floor to listen to their parents’ conversation. The continued mention of the family’s future and desire to maintain their reputation among other people captured their interest in the subject.
Once they felt that they had heard enough, they headed back to their room and sat on the floor. “You know,” Ana started to talk, “From what we listened to just now, I think I probably won’t be moving back here after I graduate from college.” “Why not?” asked Jelena. “You’ve always been the one who seems to care about all of us the most.” “Because…”
“I find myself wondering how it would be like to just cook grilled cheese sandwiches without having the butler do all the cooking for most of the time. I mean, you know that cheese is my favorite flavor, and I’ve gotten rather bored with the food the butler often serves us. Maybe it’s time for me to change that once I graduate from college to start a new life with Mowgli.” “Whoa! Ever since when did you start planning about your family? You two have been dating fairly recently.” “Sorry, but I can’t help it. It’s just that with whatever responsibilities he and Parvati seem to face from their parents, maybe I should give them a little helping hand. Parvati can move to a new house around here so that she’ll get some sort of break from her parents. She once complained to me about having to take care of three younger siblings, leaving her with little free time, let alone find someone to date until a few days ago.”
“Right. So that leaves me with more post-college responsibility, then. Including whatever danger might happen to us.” “Oh, come on! Mom, dad, and I will be with you for all times.” “Alright, fine. Besides, Verdant Cliffs gives me the creeps at times because of its silence. I’m dreaming of becoming a city planner to make this town more secure in the long run. Hopefully, that will minimize the danger of whatever freaky might happen to us all.”
“Will we tell mom and dad about this little conversation and our decisions?” asked Jelena as they stood up. “Nah. Keep it zipped until we’re about to go to college. Or whenever they decide to tell us about it.” “Sounds fine to me. Best not make them suspicious or anything.” --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On one evening, when Ana was composting an old newspaper at a compost bin, her phone suddenly rang. “Hello?” she picked it up. “Hey, Ana,” replied Mowgli from the other line. “Guess what?” “Mowgli! What is it?” “My friend Andy invited me to go to his house for a party, and he wanted more people to come, so I thought it would be a good idea if you and your sister come with me and Parvati to his house. We’ll pick both of you up by taxi soon.” “Sounds like a great idea! I’ll go talk to my parents and Jelena about it. Alright, see you later!”
Ana walked back inside after her conversation, where she spotted Jelena looking at her with a stern face. “What’s going on?” she asked. “Mowgli just called, and he invited both of us to a party his friend is holding at his house.” “That sounds weird. We never knew nor saw this friend of his, and he decided to throw a party for us?”
“Oh, come on!” Ana nudged her sister. “Don’t be such a party pooper.” “But we’ve never met this friend of his, so how are we supposed to know that we can trust that guy?” “Just because we don’t know him doesn’t mean that he’s a naturally bad person. Besides, it’s been a while since we have a party of sorts, and it wouldn’t hurt if we ask mom and dad for permission.” Jelena nearly opened her mouth in response, but she was interrupted by the sound of footsteps walking towards their direction.
“What’s going on?” they turned around to see their parents walking towards them. “Mowgli called,” answered Ana, “And he told me that his friend was throwing a party over at his house. Can Jelena and I go? We won’t be too long, though.” Jelena turned towards her sister confusedly. She never said that she wanted to go in the first place, but she found herself interrupted again. “Sounds interesting,” said Selena. The mention of a party hosted by someone she didn’t know in the first place intrigued her. But judging from the person’s supposed connection to someone her daughter knows, perhaps she may have less reason to worry. “It better not involve various kinds of questionable stuff,” added Vlastimir. While he wanted his daughters to have some fun, he also wanted to make sure that they play safe and not get into trouble from the authorities. “Relax, dad!” replied Ana. “We’re old enough to know that kind of stuff.”
“Look,” Vlastimir walked towards Ana and Jelena with a stern look on his face, “Just because your mother and I have raised you to avoid questionable stuff doesn’t mean that we want to restrict your freedom. In fact, we just want to protect you from harm. Also, young girls like you two should never overestimate yourselves. This is the time you two should be prudent.” “Dad, I never said that I wanted to go in the first place,” Jelena finally spoke out. “I see,” Selena replied, turning towards Jelena, “But does that mean that you’ll go as well?” “I… think so. I can’t go without Ana, and I thought it would be nice to keep her company throughout the time.” Seeing his more cautious, less sociable daughter deciding to go shocked him. He knew that from her reserved attitude, he had found someone to take over him as future head of the clan once she becomes an adult. Her decision to go somehow worried him, but seeing that she felt content even under certain constraints, perhaps she could help remind her twin to get back as soon as possible.
Seconds later, a honking sound could be heard outside the house. This should be the taxi that’s taking the girls with their friends. “Alright, you two,” he kissed them lightly on their cheeks. “I’m giving you permission to go, but don’t blame me when something goes wrong.” “Take care of yourselves,” added Selena. “And please be back around 9:30 at the latest.” “Alright, mom and dad,” the girls responded in unison as they walked outside and waved to their parents. “We promise we’ll be back soon.”
“This is it,” cried Mowgli after the four teens stepped out from the taxi. “Are you guys ready for the party?” “Are you really sure this is the place?” asked Jelena skeptically. “Oh, come on, Jelena. Don’t be a party pooper.”
“But what’s with the owl statues at the front? They don’t look welcoming, you know.” “Who cares about them,” assured Ana. “They’re just statues that won’t move or hurt us at all. Besides, you have all of us by your side, so don’t fret.” “Right,” Parvati spoke up. “Now with all that said, let’s step inside, shall we? We can’t miss out on this thing.”
As they stepped inside the house, they saw the decorations all decked out in the living room, yet there was no sight of any single person. “Hello?” Mowgli cried out, hoping that Andy will come down to greet them. “We’re here now!” “Great,” exclaimed Parvati. “Are you sure we’re not too early or too late?” “Shut up! Who knows if he’s still upstairs doing something important.”
“I don’t like the feel of this place,” Jelena turned to her sister. “It feels so quiet, as if we’re being watched.” “Don’t be scared. You still have all of us, and we’re here to watch one another’s backs in case something happens.” “Are you sure on that?” “Yeah, I’m sure. After all, we’re family, so we’re meant to look out for one another, right?”
After the twins finished the conversation, they smelled something funny and turned around to find themselves presented with an unexpected surprise.
Both Parvati and Mowgli were lying on the floor unconscious. Ana and Jelena tried to wake them up, but to no avail. “How could this happen?” asked a panicked Ana. “I thought we’re gonna have fun in the first place!” “I don’t know,” Jelena replied in between coughs, “But one thing that’s certain…”
“…is that this is no party.”
So… that ends Chapter 3 of Standing the Test of Time. I know it’s a cliffhanger, but I thought it would be exciting to leave it there. For those of you who are eager to know the girls’ aspirations and LTWs, go ahead and proceed to the next slide.
Now that Ana and Jelena are teens, I’m revealing their aspirations and LTWs. Ana Vidić Aspiration: Grilled Cheese/Family (the Grilled Cheese part was rolled, I swear) LTW: Eat 200 Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Jelena Vidić Aspiration: Knowledge/Pleasure LTW: Become City Planner I hope you enjoy the update, and I can’t wait to get Chapter 4 out as soon as possible!
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