Laundry mat near me

Why I think this battle is completely one sided.

2023.03.29 02:33 SteveisCh33zy Why I think this battle is completely one sided.

With all of the recent events that have taken place, a common theory throughout the community is a potential Garp vs Blackbeard showdown. I believe this fight is a complete landslide in favor of Garp, even at his old age, and I'll explain why.
Blackbeard is consistently the most overhyped character in the series for me. People make up feats for him justifying that it would make sense "narratively." Although this is true, it hasn't been confirmed at all. Until then, I won't hop on the Blackbeard hype train. I'm not calling him a fraud, but I don't think he has the potential of being the end villain until everything surrounding him is confirmed. I won't be using any anti feats or BIQ statements.
I'll start by going over Blackbeard's feats, strengths, and weaknesses. Blackbeard is in possession of the strongest paramecia, and a top logia fruit. This in itself makes him a top tier. he has the ability to nullify devil fruits, and tilt the world at the same time. He's clashed with Buddha Sengoku pre-timeskip (assuming he did some amount of training with the fruits over timeskip this is a feat), he's clashed with Marco, even beating him, making him minimum YC1 level, he kept up speed wise with Ace, making him not lacking in speed, and tanked a quake bubble to the dome from Marineford WB. During his fight with Ace, he also nearly broke his neck from a single punch, and Rayleigh also stated that he couldn't defeat Blackbeard at his current state, and Rayleigh kept up with/clashed with Kizaru, making Blackbeard minimum Admiral level. (Idk if this counts but he also has Kuzan under him, a formal admiral, so I guess this somewhat attributes to him). Now for his weaknesses. His yami yami no mi makes him incredibly less durable, absorbing excess damage from every attack. In all his fights, we've only seen him take hits once or twice, and they seem to do incredible numbers on him. he does make up with his endurance, but against Yonko level characters, his endurance won't last him the entire fight. he also extremely lacks in Haki, only being stated to use basic Arm and Obs. it's strange to believe he doesn't have Conq, but until it's stated or confirmed, this is a massive minus. With all of the other Yonko level characters having both awakened devil fruits (not all), and advanced Arm, Obs, and Conq, Blackbeard simply can't compete. Kaido stated Haki is what transcends all in this world, and Blackbeard lacks that.
Now Garp. Garp is been shown to destroy mountains for warmup, perception blitz Marco, who's speed is relative to queens, who kept up with pre awakening Sanji, making Garp a monster in strength and speed. Being a non-fruit user, his durability is insane. Now Haki. Garp can only be assumed to have advanced Arm, maybe advanced Obs but that's a stretch. He alongside Roger was able to bring down Rocks D Xebec, an easily pirate king level character, and him doing that without atleast advanced Arm is ridiculous. I know this is assuming, but he's been shown to be prolific with Haki.
Now why I think this fight is so one-sided. Blackbeard's entire battle style revolves around the character he's fighting being heavily reliant on the strengths of their devil fruit. Every fight he's had to date has been against characters with poor haki usage, who rely heavily on their fruits. Marco, Ace, Boa, and Old WB (Old WB didn't use any haki and used only his fruit). The gura gura no mi enhances Blackbeard's physical capabilities ten fold. He has the fruit that can destroy the world. Being lenient, I will say that Blackbeard's physical strength with his fruit out scales that of current Garp, but not by a wide margin. Garp's speed still far surpasses that of Blackbeard's, along with Garp's durability, and Haki. Blackbeard out-haxes Garp on paper, but not when you take into consideration Garp himself. He isn't a fruit user, therefore making the yami yami no mi pretty much useless, he's a walking tank, lowering the effects of the gura gura no mi and Blackbeard's strength, and he is a much better Haki user than Blackbeard. Overall, with Garp's strength and his attributes lining of up against Blackbeard's perfectly, and Blackbeard's lack of Haki, I take Garp over Blackbeard everytime.
submitted by SteveisCh33zy to OnePiece [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:33 goodmorninga Any explanation as to why this occurred?

I have been to a psychiatrist: I have no illness. I went for stress. they said I am very aware at spotting my problems, very coherent.
Once I left the house with my dog to go on a walk, I started thinking about the simulation. While walking down the road we always do close to the train tracks, I looked around me, looked at the trees and the rusted can under the tree, started thinking how high definition everything looked, how augmented. Cloudy day, The wind was very strong and I faced in the direction the wind blew, my dog followed me and we started walking back on the road, while still on the road, there was one crow caw, and then we heard (at the time it sounded like it was coming from across the tracks “Hey!” Me and Honey both looked in the direction and I thought it was someone, but then 5 seconds after that, I heard “HEY!” coming from, right above me, I looked up and it was two crows flying, and the one who I believed said hey flew towards the house on the corner, almost past it, near our house, flying very weird, very smooth and perfect, gliding and drifting in the air at a weirdly slow pace (I understand it was windy) it then turned around to where we were and flew right above us, so slowly. (it was going with the wind, but it was still flying very slow) (the bird from what I could see, looked perfect and clean shiny black) it made no noise after the second “HEY!” it then flew away, across the road (like on the side the store is, flew away into the distance). I spent a long time looking online today if birds were real, in a satirical way, and looking at if others actually believed that birds werent real, or that some of them werent real. Ive never looked up this before, and this has never happened. no past of using LSD or anything. no past of hallucinations.
my questions
-do I come across as a blundering fool?
-was I hearing things? my dog saw and heard and was startled too.
-My brain wasnt particularily "searching" for anything peculiar, or chalking up something to be more than what it was. it happened twice, and thats weird.
-ive had things like this happen (different things that couldnt be disproven nor proven, weird messages, but no auditory things happen ever.)
-i have only a few instances wrote down, but ive been logging for over a month now.
-i tried cracking down on interenet stuff last night, and until then, I never considered simulation thing being real. I just chalked it up to being another 21st century "religion" thing going around that atheists began to consider. me i am agnosticish, although I dont believe in a god, Im just open to reason and hearing things. so anyways after sleeping it felt like i was drugged (i wasnt) i went to grab my vape in the morning (nicotine) and i kept sweeping for it because it was right there to my eyes, yet it was much farther after grasping further, i felt scared.
-no known history of mental illness in my family.
what do you guys think? is there any reason for this?
edited for clarity of meaning
submitted by goodmorninga to AWLIAS [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:33 hulkthrow Viofo Duo A129 failed to record crash footage for the third time

I should state that the prior two fails were near misses which resulted in hard braking but I managed to finally involve myself in a collision earlier today after a truck driver sped up to deny me from a merge despite me having right of way in a non marked merging lane, he was behind me and had been driving aggressively tail gating me and decided to try and cut me off and as I was almost in the lane we side swiped each other, he proceeded to try and flee the scene and I pursued him and got the license plate then broke off the chase after the 911 operator confirmed the make/model of the truck and told me to not pursue.
Amazingly after trying to view the collision on the Viofo app the file was not readily visible, it had the prior days files but only had the files of when I had pulled over into a parking lot to wait for an officer to meet up with me. No idea what the issue is, I checked the locked files and see nothing for todays date, thinking it potentially could be the cigarette port charger coming loose but the fact it was recording just yesterday makes me doubt that. Searching for a micro sd reader to try and look for the file on my computer as the app is super slow with mobile data but feel like I'm just shit out of luck and will be left empty once again.
Is this camera prone to this issue or am I missing something?
submitted by hulkthrow to dashcams [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:33 MochiwSuga My (19 F) crush (21 M) has broken his promise about being friends every time. Is he in love with me?

So I've been dating this guy for a few months (about 3 or so) and we clicked instantly. From the way of thinking, values, sense of humor, team work everything seem to work pretty well for us. Thing is I told him one day I liked him and he kinda turned me down saying we should stay as friends. Well, I respected his decision and decided to not make another move on him. We met four days later after that to hangout for a bit and he kissed me out of the blue.
From that point we started to be more affectionate towards each other, we would kiss and hug and touch ourselves more intimately (although it was discussed several times and there's also a sexual attraction from both of us we haven't had sex) but he would sometimes confuse me because he'd say something and then do the opposite. For example:
Telling me I won't get near his face (in order to kiss him) but kissed me a lot.
Telling me he was still finding out if he liked me or not but then saying how much he liked me when we were face to face.
Giving me sexual innuendos about sleeping together or such things but then telling me I'm getting ahead of myself when asking him about those things.
I asked him what it meant for him when telling me he liked because one day he told me it was pretty obvious at this point that he liked me back, but then another day he said again that he was still finding out. We talked about it and we both came into the conclusion that we both like each other's way of being and enjoy each other's company but that he doesn't want to commit to a relationship so we agreed on staying as friends again.
The thing is he has been breaking his own promise once again and still wants to hold hands, hug and keeps on making sexual innuendos towards me out of nowhere. From that point things started to get complicated. He has become more distant and now we barely talk, now he won't reply to some of my texts and if he does it, is after a long time, he doesn't compliment me anymore, no longer wakes me up with a good morning text and has stopped asking me to hangout (it is important to make clear that I have done all of those things for him several times as well).
So I ask myself: why does he say he wants only a friendship but acts like he wants more than that? We both know we like each other, we're compatible and seem very happy when we're together, I like him for what he is and so does he so I don't understand this situation. Yet, now he became more distant and cold and I feel so confused and hurt.
I like this guy a lot, he's a good man but I feel like he's scared of commitment, I feel like he's afraid of something because I have seen he cares for me but now it feels like we became acquaintances.
For some context, he's more reserved with his feelings than I am, I really like to communicate and let him know my feelings and thoughts. From the beginning he told me it was hard for him to open up to someone and that it's been a long time since he has been in a relationship but at the same time told me he was happy with me because he felt like he could be himself.
What do you think? Am I delusional? Or there's something going on with him?
I'd really appreciate any advice. Thank you.
TL;DR: The guy I like says he only wants a friendship with me but then acts like we're in a relationship.
submitted by MochiwSuga to relationship_advice [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:31 TopTheropod Quick question (end game crisis spoiler)

Will the game warn me to swap away my Sapient AI ship computers before the Contingency exploits them?
Or should I just do it now that end game crisis time is near?
Also if I don't swap them, will the debuffs on my ships be permanent, or is the debuff removed when I deafeat the Contingency?
Thank you all so much! :)
submitted by TopTheropod to Stellaris [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:31 pulltabring Any ideas on how to cut piggies' nails?

First off, I should mention I do cut both my guinea pigs nails as much as possible. It is much easier to do so for my boar piggy as the only thing he requires is lettuce to munch so he doesn't nibble on the scissors (he did the first time round and even munched on my thumb thinking they were scissors) on during nail clipping time and a few cuddles, so it is very easy to do so.
However, with my sow, she is very hard to do. Typically, I can pick her up and give her cuddles, and I also give her some lettuce to munch on, but she. Just. KNOWS. She constantly flicks her feet at me and hides them (this resulted in an injury to myself from the clippers). With arlo, if she doesn't want to do something, she won't, and it's near impossible to go against her adorable little face. Nail clipping time is stressful for both of us, and she definitely doesn't like it, I go pretty quickly trying to cut the nails and then give a cooling period of pets and lettuce so she knows she's safe, I also talk to her during clipping and sometimes have my father give her pets (she loves him) when I'm doing clipping.
But she still freaks out and it is almost impossible to cut her nails in one day, we take about 3 days, any tips on how to make it a smooth process for both of us, and help keep her calm. If she ever starts showing signs of distress, that's when we stop clipping and just give her cuddles and treats. She's a very good but intelligent girlie.
submitted by pulltabring to guineapigs [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:31 ZINX-WITCH my dad is tryna change me.

I do this thing where I walk around the room(usely in circles), because it helps me focus, and is very relaxing to do. he tells me I need to stop, and when I tell him it is incredibly hard for me to do so, he says it's not as if he's me. he doesn't know I think I have autism and adhd,only my mother does. he has a very contorted view of nuerodivergants on the whole, and it's taboo to speak about it with or near him. I tell him it helps me focus and is very relaxing for me. he goes on to say, well it's not relaxing for ME, and I think that YOU shouldn't do it because you can't do that in public. I say then let me do it here,in my house,that I live in. he said,no, learn not to do it from here, I'm sure you don't do that in school. when I don't pace physically,my mind paces within itself and I can't focus on ANYTHINg.whatsoever. he doesn't understand and it's killing me. I can't bring up my suspected autism/adhd around him and it's painful, when he noticed that me and my siblings might have Adhd, he said, but your so smart. like, dude, fuck you. he has this really messed up view point. what do you guys think about this?
submitted by ZINX-WITCH to autism [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:31 jrnaggy Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service is Hiring! (Ocean Rescue)
Sorry in advance for the long post! If any of yall are looking for a badass summer job, the Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service is currently hiring ocean rescue lifeguards and supervisors. VBLS is a USLA-Certified ocean rescue agency that employs over 200 seasonal lifeguards and supervisors. The agency is responsible for 3 miles of resort beach (49 LG stands), patrols 3 miles of residential beaches, and is certified by the Virginia Office of EMS as a BLS non-transport agency. Supervisors utilize eleven ATVs, three vehicles, and a PWC, to support the guards in stand. They are also dispatched regularly to 911 calls on the beach and boardwalk. Lifeguards execute and respond to around 600-800 water rescues per season, provide immediate first aid for medical emergencies, and reunite on average nearly 1,000 lost children each summer. In addition, every member of VBLS is responsible for representing the city as ambassadors as they interact with the vacationing public and local community members. Here is the application link! This is a great job, especially if you are interested in going into public safety/healthcare!
Lifeguard Requirements:
* Minimum Age Requirement: Must be 16 years of age.
* Physical Standard: 500 Meter swim (550 yards) in 10 minutes or less.
* Health: Must provide proof of health.
* Training: Must complete all prescribed USLA training and paperwork prior to working. (Provided in-house)
Lifeguard Supervisor Requirements:
* Minimum of a High School Diploma or GED
* Must be at least 18 years of age at time of hire
* VA EMT-B certification or higher & BLS Provider certification
* Minimum of two seasons experience of surf lifesaving
* Current or extended past non-surf lifesaving emergency medical experience (fire/rescue) &/or other professional medical experience highly recommended.
* Successful completion of a 500 meter or 550 yard swim in 10 Minutes or less.
Pay is slated to start at $15-$16/hr for guards and $18/hr for supervisors
application link again:
Swim testing has already started and will run through May. Surf Rescue Class (rookie school) starts mid-May but we usually run 2-3 classes a season, ending in mid-June. Please do not hesitate to hit me up with any and all questions! DMs are open and I will try to reply to all comments as well! There is also a referral section of the app where you can put my name down. Really looking forward to hearing from y'all!
Sgt. J. Naggy
Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service
submitted by jrnaggy to jmu [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:31 Snipsnapboi What's your personal reason for believing "Lor Lor ay"?

I made this comment on another post, but I'll just past it here as the answer to why I believe Lor Lor ay.
The obsession with food and how good the food actually is in Lahore compared to other cities is addicting to me. During COVID lockdown years, I started freelancing and had a friend who was a freelancer too. We both worked in the morning, had money, and nothing to do for the rest of the day, so for literally every night, we'd go out someplace new to eat to kill boredom and socialize. I tried almost every fast food place there was near Johar Town, Gulberg, and Androon Lahore. The variety and taste of food in Lahore is too much. I never see such food varieties in other cities and neither see people of other cities so much interested in food like Lahories are lol.
Lahories are a bit unhinged, funny and have that "eazz scene hai bawa jee" way of looking at things. Lahories focus on enjoyment a bit more than others imo. No hate for people from other cities but majority of the friends I had from Islamabad were a bit too civilized and it got boring at a point.
Lahore also has that blend of living history especially in Androon Lahore. If you explore Lahore a lot, you feel like you're loving in a mix of modern and old civilization. Like I'm from PUCIT, the old campus in Anarkali is literally a century old building. Same is NCA. Then there are other buildings on Mall road. Buildins aside people near Akbari Mandi are still living in those century old houses, there's masjid Wazir khan and the surrounding area near it like Shahi Hamam is pretty rich in culture, especially Gali Surjan Singh and from there you can go on foot to Lahore fort and there's sooo much culture to be absorbed that you love it.
Being born and raised in Lahore and having had a chance to explore it, I'd say I feel really lucky to be born here.
submitted by Snipsnapboi to Lahore [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:31 PossibleAd8259 I want this damn thing out

I’ve had my copper iud for nearly a year and I have been miserable since about December. Constantly bloated and cramping. I probably have one good week a month of feeling normal. I feel like I’ve gained weight from the bloat and water weight. My ob can not see me for another 6 weeks due to being booked. I’ve even tried other ob’s in the office. I’m about to go to the ER and get it removed but I don’t even know if that’s an option. Has anyone had these symptoms?
submitted by PossibleAd8259 to CopperIUD [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:31 BuddhistX CHICAGO For people who don't live near a temple (CDT timezone) (9 temples with webcast so you can attend virtually)

Many people here don't go to the temple due to a variety of reasons. ("There are no temples near me", "I'm new, I don't know where to go", "I don't know which group is right", "I don't know the culture, I don't want to offend anybody by visiting.", "My life schedule doesn't allow me to visit local temples.")



Tradition: Mahayana/Theravada
Livestream: Yes

Buddhist Temple of Chicago
Tradition: Jodo Shinshu Pureland, Mahayana
Livestream: Yes

Midwest Buddhist Temple
Tradition: Jodo Shinshu Pureland, Mahayana
Livestream: Yes

Jewel Heart
Tradition: Tibetan Vajrayana, Mahayana
Livestream: Yes

Zen Buddhist Chicago
Tradition: Zen, Mahayana
Livestream: Yes

Chicago KTC
Tradition: Tibetan Vajrayana, Mahayana
Livestream: Yes

Chicago Buddhist Vihara
Tradition: Sri Lankan, Theravada
Livestream: Yes

Zen Buddhist Temple of Chicago
Tradition: Zen, Mahayana
Livestream: Yes

Soto Zen Buddhist Meditation
Tradition: Zen, Mahayana
Livestream: Yes

Bodhi Path
Tradition: Tibetan Vajrayana, Mahayana
Livestream: Yes

  1. Attend. Just attend. Don't worry about etiquette.
  2. Try a few temples (or all). Don't worry about tradition.
  3. Try until you find one that 'clicks', until you find your "home".
  4. You want to learn so look (or ask) for teachings/classes for beginners.
  5. Services are always/usually free, but when you find your home, support them with generous donations or become a paying member so you can help them pay their rent/utilities.
submitted by BuddhistX to sangha [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:31 NewToFPV Please critic my purchase plan

Greetings all,
I'm fairly new to FPV, but not new to RC in general. I know from experience that going too cheap on startup usually means buying things over in the near future and I'm hoping to avoid that.
I'm looking for a moderately priced tiny whoop setup that would allow me to reuse some of the equipment for other types of drones (nano LR etc). in the future. I looked into RTF kits, but they all seem to suffer from issues (not the right components)
I'm open to all critics and suggestions.
Mobula 6 1S ELRS (2.4) or Mobula 7 1S ELRS (2.4) - suggestions on where to buy are appreciated.
TX12 Mark II Radio Controller ELRS (mode 2) - Considering the Zorro ELRS
eachine ev800d - open to alternatives that work for someone who wears glasses.
Gnb 650 mah LiPo (battery) - open to alternatives
Vifly whoopster. (Battery charger) - open to alternatives

If I've done my research correctly, all of these should work together and provide a reasonable amount of room to grow. Am I missing anything?
submitted by NewToFPV to TinyWhoop [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:30 borahae_artist possible brain damage and lack of life skills from abuse is angering me

just prefacing, a lot of this rant will just sound discombobulated lol, i just have a lot of thoughts/feelings about this that i'm too exhausted to organize right now.
i recently saw how narcissistic abuse damages and shrinks parts of your brain. i've dealt with it for god knows how many years. i struggle so much with memory, both short and long term, learning things quickly, "just doing" things i need to do. the more exposure i have to the abuse would be the worse these symptoms are. i have so many long term memory gaps i don't even know who i am.
this all improved by like 40% as soon as one of the narcissists left. so i refuse to believe it's fucking adhd. just one night with her back and i already felt the brain fog coming back.
i'm not gonna be abused and stressed out 24/7 beyond belief for the majority of my life and then get told there's actually something inherently wrong with my brain because i don't function as a capitalist slave. but i'm also so angry that everyone else has always been able to do that so fucking easily if it achieves their goals.
they just pursue the stuff they want. they don't feel like it's pointless, they don't feel too exhausted, they don't struggle to sit up straight to study, they can simply absorb information in class, they actually don't feel like their minds are full to the brim with stress and can only hold three things at a time. tell me how long i can focus in lecture when i had to manage the dysregulated anger of a thirty two year old woman that morning who is yet again berating and shaming me over something stupid just because she can.
how am i supposed to pay attention in history class when i ate the same amount of food at 9 years old and 14 years old and nobody cared enough to notice? tell me how i'm supposed to succeed when i'd almost faint whenever i stood up but i was told that it's normal and to just suck it up? because the one time i had a bagel (high in calories) during the day in high school i was surprised at how easy it was to focus, let alone physically get through the day.
literally, if someone had cared enough to see i was struggling, and got a then $1-2 bagel from down the street for me for me for the morning, my life trajectory would be so different already. i'm starting to think my constant fatigue since i was 12 and everyone writing it off is part of neglect.
on top of having a barely functioning brain and body (i'm including the rest of my physical body bc i have always been so physically exhausted, and i deal with so many random disorders and ailments that all point to "survival mode"), my parents ran the most chaotic household, nobody and nothing was ever on time, every single thing was the last minute. i never had a routine, i had nobody to talk to, i was just left to watch tv all fucking day (which i hated doing) or draw in a notebook.
i never was given any study habits except "memorize every line of the textbook" and then was shamed and yelled at when i couldn't recite a paragraph word for word. and then i was so confused as to why i struggled with getting through a college level history textbook when i was trying to absorb all the information word for word. everyone else could do it except me. i didn't learn how to properly study for history until the second half of college. literally 6 years behind everyone else.
ive been in a constant dissociative state since like 9-10 years old, missed out on socializing and basic study/life skills, leading to underachievement and then being further stuck in the house with abusive people, just damaging my brain even more.
i'm just so angry, my whole youth has been robbed of me. i feel so robbed. so much potential has gone down the drain. so many people found some success during the pandemic and i was there stressed beyond imaginable by a narcissist, unable to even do the laundry. i'm so creative, there's so much i can do, there's so much i wanted to do. i missed every opportunity to thrive.
submitted by borahae_artist to CPTSD [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:29 thelizziepants Divorced over 1 year. Ex’s family and friends keep reaching out to me. Ex is struggling.

Short version: ex-husband and I split at his request 4 years ago. He started going through a mid-life crisis. We were together for nearly 20 years and have 2 kids.
He has struggled with some mental health issues. In the entire time we were together he had been very reluctant about fully disclosing how bad his issues really were out of fear around how it would impact finishing his education and his career. He goes into manic phases of being a complete workaholic and then crashing into a crippling depression where he could barely care for himself. He would bounce between states of extreme paranoia and extreme social anxiety. He would be fearful of crowds and places being attacked. We weren’t allowed to go to any of his graduations because he was convinced someone was going to “get him”. We couldn’t leave the county for our honeymoon because we would be kidnapped. We couldn’t have a wedding on the beach because we would be held for ransom. He would only bury himself if activities where he could hide from people. For years I was enabling this cycle by filling in the gaps of where he needed and constantly covering our finances and home life. I didn’t realize the extent of how extreme some of the things were until we started living apart.
Our divorce was rough. He drug it out for over 3 years and even then was reluctant to settle it. We have known each other since we were kids and it’s like I am this weird security blanket for him. It is clear he isn’t as happy as he wanted people to think with his attempt to “reinvent” himself.
We limit communication to items around the kids. I do not interact with his family or friends but am not closed to the idea. It just seems to stir up a very sticky situation with him. In a way I am scared for him to see how happy I am now that he is gone. A lot of things that stresses me out were manufactured scenarios by some of his health issues.
Recently I have been contacted about him from his friend. It was clear he is struggling and it is now apparent to other people. Doesn’t sound different than past situations he would get himself into but seems to be the first time they are experiencing signs of this spiraling.
Every time I see him he is depressed, disheveled, and generally stressed out. His girlfriend seems scared and worried for him. I feel bad but this is not my concern. His friend seems to think I need to intervene.
He initiated the breakup. He found his “better” relationship with his girlfriend. She is a nurse and better equipped than I am to deal with whatever is going on. My feeling is that he walked out on our marriage and I don’t have an obligation to support him like I did in the past.
Part of me is nervous though that this could be signs of something serious like him potentially harming himself and I will feel guilty if he does something bad.
He doesn’t live alone - his girlfriend is there full time. My kids are with them 50/50.
I feel like I made so much progress in putting myself first and I don’t want to undo any of that. My kids are so much happier. My life is more peaceful. I am seeing a lot of successes where I need them for me and my kids by not being caught up in the never ending cycle of him needing everyone’s help.
Am I wrong to not do anything to intervene? How much is really “required” of me?
submitted by thelizziepants to Divorce [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:29 TheGavPav I (24M) got ghosted a few days after hooking up with girl (23F) I used to work with

Me and her worked together months ago but we both were in relationships at the time. She ended up leaving that job and I didn't see her for months but recently I started running into her a lot at the gym I go to. We would talk a lot there when we saw each other but she was still with her boyfriend. Last Tuesday I ran into her again and she told me she dumped her boyfriend the previous Friday. I ended up asking her if she'd like to go get drinks that night and she agreed. We met up and had a great night together and got drunk which led to her coming back to my place and we hooked up. She texted me the next morning saying she had a good night with me and that she wants to keep hanging out with me but wanted to clarify she's not looking for anything right now and even tho she's glad we had sex she doesn't want to do it again for awhile because of wanting to not be with a guy since she's going through a lot. I said that's fine and we continued casually texting for the next few days. This past Sunday I asked if she'd like to make plans to hang out again. She agreed and we set up a time for Monday night the next day. I went to bed Sunday night and woke up to a text that she sent me at like 3 am saying how she's sorry but she's not gonna be able to keep hanging out with me, even as just friends since obviously there's more there between us. Also that she's dealing with a lot and really needs to be by herself and not with any guy in the near future and she again proceeded to say how sorry she is. I responded basically saying that it's okay, I understand and that she shouldn't be sorry. She never opened that message and I still havent heard from her. She didn't remove me on social media or anything but still. I don't plan on doing anything else about the situation so I don't really need advice on the whole thing but I want to hear some input from an outside perspective.
submitted by TheGavPav to relationship_advice [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:28 Not_A_Real_Name44 Advice/Feedback: My (M42) marriage with my wife (F39) exploded. Where do I go next?

First, sincere apologies. I do have another reddit acount, but very rarily post using that, let alone what's to follow belows. Mods, if this I'm in violation of any rules, please let me know, so I can edit if needed. I just need to get this into the uiverse.

My wife and I have been together since the summer of 2006. We were married a handful of years later, and have been each other’s strongest supporters and partners in life from our first date up until, what feels like, today.
Through that time, it certainly hasn’t always been easy, and we’ve both had our own internal struggles and demons to face. I’d argue that we’re still trying to address those demons, which is certainly a contributing factor here. We both deal with feelings of depression and anxiety, those previously mentioned demons, and we’ve both been in and out of therapy through companies’ employee assistance programs but we’ve never found therapists that we’ve stuck with. To clarify: these have been our own individual therapists, not a couple’s. We have no children, but two nieces, each of our siblings have daughters around the same age. I had never been thrilled with the idea of having kids, and my wife had always echoed something similar, indicating that babysitting nieces was more her speed.
I can provide more context should anyone ask, but want to drill to the specific timing of things over the last few years. We had just entered a contract to sell our old ancient house in an area of town that didn’t have the best reputation when COVID-19 shut everything down. We continued with the process, and closed on a house in summer of 2020 that we both loved. It was a stressful process, with many sleepless nights and all the stresses that normally go along with moving but with COVID on top of all that. The new place offered plenty of space for her to start a massive flower garden in the backyard, crafts in her office during the winter months, and a lawn just big enough to keep me occupied for a few hours in the summer on a Saturday to mow, clip, trim and keep up appearances. On the surface, everything seemed fine for a double-income, no kids household.
Behind the scenes, we were both struggling. I was dealing with constant depression and imposter syndrome that plagued my every decision, personally and professionally. Physically, I had never felt more unattractive in my life. Intimacy between my wife and I struggled, to the point where making love, or having sex, completely stopped. We’d talk about it – about how it made her feel undesirable and she needed some kind of physical connection, but I still struggled with my own self-image and feelings of doubts. On top of that, I had openly begun thinking that I was dealing with low testosterone because any kind of sexual activity, even solo, felt more like a chore than a fun release. On the nights where she initiated, things would start great, but like clockwork, the blood would stop flowing and what started as something steamy ended with what felt like a bucket of cold water. This is self-diagnosis – as of right now – is just that. As of today, no testing has been done to confirm my thoughts. So we’d have these conversations, promise to talk more, but never did.
As the world started to open back up, my wife took up new hobbies, painting and star-gazing, and she met new friends who were married and had children. The conversation of kids would pop-up from time to time, but to me, it was nothing anything that serious. Certainly nothing that we end up calling “State of the Union” important. More like, “Maybe one day?” Or, “would adoption ever be an option?” To which I would say, "maybe one day." If these conversations were meant to be a trigger-point to a deeper talk, I never interpreted them as such. I never shut these ideas down, I never said “absolutely not” but I never pressed further.
In the past month, I had started to feel better – about a lot of things in life. Work was getting better for me – I actually don’t mind going into the office and conversing with people. My co-workers have even started saying, “Where has this version of Mr Not_A_Real_Name. been all this time? He’s a riot!” I’m in the middle of trying to figure out my career and the next steps there. My wife and I had a wonderful breakfast at a restaurant where we talked about what options and opportunities are available to someone with my skill level (no college but 10+ years in corporate America). I left that breakfast feeling so energized and so loved. As cliche as it sounded, it felt like the sun coming up after a long dark winter.
Last weekend, my wife and some of her girlfriends took a two hour trip from home for a girl’s weekend with several friends. Nothing out of the ordinary here, she’ll do that with her crew of friends every 6 months or so. We’ll exchange texts back and forth – she’d send me overly priced menu options at the steakhouse they found, I’d reply with a picture of our goofy dog’s underbite. She was coming home Monday afternoon, so I took Monday off so we could just spend the day together – sharing stories of our weekends. She came home, unpacked a little, and started to do some of her weekend laundry. I ran to the grocery store to get some provisions for dinner as the sun was staring to set.
When I got home, I noticed the atmosphere had changed. My wife’s face red, fighting back tears. She said, “you need to sit down, we need to have a talk.” I asked her what was going on, expecting the worst, but secretly hoping I had done something really stupid like leaving the toilet seat up. What transpired for the next 30 minutes was a rollercoaster of emotions, a definitive State of The Union.
The girl’s weekend ended up becoming a self-help session for my wife. Where she came to the conclusion that she was no longer happy with our relationship, that somehow I wasn’t happy with our relationship, and that she wanted to have a family, but couldn’t see that happening between the two of us. In hindsight, I knew this conversation could and, well, would happen, and now we were in the middle of it. Still, I was dumbstruck, flabbergasted, and initially very quiet. I was still processing the words she had said. I remember saying, “What does this mean? Are you saying we’re our marriage is over? Don’t I get a say in this?” She kept coming back to “I know you don’t want kids; you’ve said as much in the past.” We went around in circle for a bit, before she decided that she was going to leave for her friend’s house – one of the same ladies that she had spent the weekend with. I wanted to respect her wishes, didn’t want to force any hard discussion at such a heated point, so I told her that if she felt that was what was best in that moment, I wouldn’t stop her. As the garage door closed, the house never felt as cold or empty as it did in that moment. As I watched her drive down the street, I turned the front porch/garage lights on. If she wanted to come home, there would be a light on for her.
She sent me a text an hour later. She felt terrible, alone, and scared. She asked if she could come home and talk. Again, I said I’d be more than willing to if that was what we both thought was best. She came home – we hugged, we ugly cried, we talked for hours. She said that she came because she wanted to put in the effort to make us work – to make us WHOLE again. We made plans for the following morning: 1) we both take PTO from work. 2) We both reach out to our employers EPA program to arrange individual counseling as well as couples counseling. 3) We continue to have open dialogue, knowing that a nerve had been exposed and was very raw and real.
We were up early on Tuesday actioning these tasks. By noon, we had appointments locked-up and I had even completed my intake paperwork for therapy. I took it a step further and booked a doctor’s appointment for annual work and to discuss depression, low testosterone, and overall physical health. Our couple appointment was scheduled for March 28, her personal appointment the following week, mine the week after. The rest of last week was a delicate balance of sharing our feelings and trying to maintain a shred of normal life. I confided into someone at work the struggles we had been having, just to have some perspective and because I desperately needed a release valve. I told this person, “This is what I know: there’s a small sliver of thread here, and my wife and I are going to put in the work and spin this into GOLD.” I knew there was a long road ahead of us, but I knew we could tackle it together.
I woke up this morning with an anxious pit in my stomach. I worked from home today, know we had an afternoon tele-therapy appointment scheduled and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t worried about leaving an office at a specific time or fighting traffic. This was Priority 1 for me. About 30 minutes before the session was to kick-off, I went into my wife’s office to ask if we should log in to the session on separate devices. She turned from her desk, face once again red, eyes shimmering with tears. She said, “I’ll send you the link, but…I just don’t think this is going to work.” I slumped into the doorframe of her office. She said she had been writing and wanted to share some of her thoughts. She said that, to her, our love had become a plutonic kind of love, it had changed from a romantic relationship over the years and that she just didn’t see it changing. Again, I was floored. To have such a devastating just barely a week ago, to having that thin ray of hope, to having nothing. I tried to speak, but couldn’t really find the words. What would I say? What could I say that wouldn’t just sound like a man pleading for the world not to end on the checklist of grief? She said, more than once, “you’re a great man and I’m sorry I hurt you.”
We had our session, as planned. We both did some preliminary paperwork with the therapist, we both took a depression assessment, and made some brief introductions. That’s when I heard my wife say that she had just informed me that she wanted to proceed with pursuing a divorce prior to joining this call. There it was. In the open. The session continued for another 45 minutes. I ended up saying that I wanted us to work, but not at the expense of my wife’s happiness. At the end of the day, we both need to be happy. It’s unclear if we’ll even have a follow-up session. We ended the session. I put my head down on my desk, and after holding back tears for the last hour, finally cried. My wife made her way downstairs, came over to my desk and asked for a hug. I couldn’t even make eye contact. I couldn’t utter a sound. I didn’t move from my chair for what felt like forever. She asked if we could sit on the couch across the room and talk. At this point, shock took over, I went cold as ice and even started shivering. Once again, my wife said she was going to a friend’s house for the night. Once again, the same friend she went to last Monday night. The therapist did say that trying to talk in the here and now, with the one of us using the word “divorce” may not result in a productive conversation. My wife said, “maybe I come back tomorrow and we can talk more…or Thursday. I don’t know.” Again, I repeated that she needs to do what is best for her. As she left, she asked again for a hug, at this point I obliged. As she turned to the door she said, “you can text or call me if you need to talk.” After a brief pause, I was able to choke out, “what I want to talk about, and what you want to talk about no longer appear to be aligned.” She nodded, tearing up again, and she left. As before, I turned the outside light on. It’s been over 2 hours now. Aside from letting me know she had arrived safe at her destination, she hasn’t sent any other texts. I’ve sent nothing to her.
So I sit again in an empty house that feels very cold and suddenly very foreign. A pit in my stomach, my head spinning, my fingers numb. I don’t know what tomorrow brings. I don’t know what the next 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 60 minutes brings. My soulmate, my partner in crime, my everything is gone and I don’t know where to go or what to do next. If I could fix it, I would in a heartbeat. But it’s too late for that. It now feels like a very one-sided battle to keep our relationship alive. And that is what will keep me up tonight.
submitted by Not_A_Real_Name44 to AskMenRelationships [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:28 GoldCarry Adenomyosis is seriously kicking my ass this week

Question for you guys. I don’t typically experience urinary symptoms outside of increased urination around ovulation time or around my period, and a feeling of incomplete peeing? About 2-3 years ago I had a random majorly painful episode where it felt like I was peeing razor blades. I was screaming on the toilet & rushed to the urgent care. I thought it might be a stone I was passing and felt like I was going to pass out.
They found nothing. No infection and no blood in my urine, but they still gave me antibiotics which I took. At the time I thought it was just a weird fluke because this was before my adenomyosis symptoms got bad and before I was diagnosed. Fast forward to last night. I had a slightly painful & oddly uncomfortable feeling when urinating and my urethra seemed irritated. I also felt pressure in my bladder when laying down.
I also saw a small spot of blood in the toilet, but really became concerned when I woke up 2 hours after going to bed with an even worse weird feeling in my bladder, pressure, increased pain, & I couldn’t find relief when peeing. I almost had to push on my stomach to get it all out. I think my uterus is pushing on my bladder.. I’ve also been experiencing crushing back pain, some abdominal pain (on the side near my ovaries), and nausea this week. Worse than it’s been in a while. I’m so fatigued too!
Also TMI, but I’ve been struggling with BV lately which I’ve been treating recently with metro gel, so I thought maybe I had a UTI from that bacteria. I’m trying to figure out who else might also be dealing with this. I did an online doctor consult at like 4 am (CallonDoc) and was prescribed Macrobid and the brown pee numbing pills (I forget the name), but you know what I mean. The brown pills I already had on hand last night & took. They helped me get back to sleep by calming things down.
If you also experience similar pain or urinary symptoms what do you typically do for treatment? Any tips? What helps you & what doesn’t? I checked Google and apparently this all can be common with adenomyosis… ugh.
submitted by GoldCarry to adenomyosis [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:26 jrnaggy Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service is Hiring! (Ocean Rescue)

Sorry in advance for the long post! If any fellow hokies are looking for a badass summer job, Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service is currently hiring ocean rescue lifeguards and supervisors. VBLS is a USLA-Certified ocean rescue agency that employs over 200 seasonal lifeguards and supervisors. The agency is responsible for 3 miles of resort beach (49 LG stands), patrols 3 miles of residential beaches, and is certified by the Virginia Office of EMS as a BLS non-transport agency. Supervisors utilize eleven ATVs, three vehicles, and a PWC, to support the guards in stand. They are also dispatched regularly to 911 calls on the beach and boardwalk. Lifeguards execute and respond to around 600-800 water rescues per season, provide immediate first aid for medical emergencies, and reunite on average nearly 1,000 lost children each summer. In addition, every member of VBLS is responsible for representing the city as ambassadors as they interact with the vacationing public and local community members. Here is the application link! This is a great job, especially if you are interested in going into public safety/healthcare!
Lifeguard Requirements:
* Minimum Age Requirement: Must be 16 years of age.
* Physical Standard: 500 Meter swim (550 yards) in 10 minutes or less.
* Health: Must provide proof of health.
* Training: Must complete all prescribed USLA training and paperwork prior to working. (Provided in-house)
Lifeguard Supervisor Requirements:
* Minimum of a High School Diploma or GED
* Must be at least 18 years of age at time of hire
* VA EMT-B certification or higher & BLS Provider certification
* Minimum of two seasons experience of surf lifesaving
* Current or extended past non-surf lifesaving emergency medical experience (fire/rescue) &/or other professional medical experience highly recommended.
* Successful completion of a 500 meter or 550 yard swim in 10 Minutes or less.
Pay is slated to start at $15-$16/hr for guards and $18/hr for supervisors
application link again:
Swim testing has already started and will run through May. Surf Rescue Class (rookie school) starts mid-May but we usually run 2-3 classes a season, ending in mid-June. Please do not hesitate to hit me up with any and all questions! DMs are open and I will try to reply to all comments as well! There is also a referral section of the app where you can put my name down. Really looking forward to hearing from y'all!
Sgt. J. Naggy
Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service
submitted by jrnaggy to VirginiaTech [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:26 SistaSaline Is anyone else really bad at/have really bad luck with getting new jobs?

I feel like I’m really bad at this. I have seen people pull new jobs out of their asses. I’ve seen people who are so unafraid to quit a job and can land a new one within two weeks. But I’ve been searching for a new job on and off for like 2 years. My current one is a toxic, low paying trash heap that I had to take because I was in a beggars can’t be choosers situation.
But now I want more. I have nearly two years of experience and I don’t want to settle and end up with another toxic job. That’s the one reason I haven’t done the spray and pray method. But so far, the only companies that have reached out to me have been ones with horrific Glassdoor reviews. Otherwise, I keep getting rejection after rejection - even though I’ve revamped my resume tons of times.
Honestly, it gets hard to stay consistent with job searching when this is the situation. It’s demoralizing. And combined with my job getting worse and worse in terms of micromanagement, I am completely drained of energy. I’m honestly feeling suicidal over staying at my current job. I have 6-7 months of savings, but I don’t want to drain that before I find something new.
People who are good at this, what’s your secret?
submitted by SistaSaline to jobs [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:25 bootsmw My cat is biting and wakes me up in middle of night for food

Help! Behavior issues!
Hi all! Just joined- I’m desperate! I have a 2 year old male fixed cat who I am having a tiny bit of behavior isssues with. Both food related
Firstly- he wakes me up at 2 am every day to feed him and usually it’s just meowing but sometimes it’s biting and I wish I could sleep through it to feed him at an appropriate time but I’m an extremely light sleeper
Second- When it’s the evening and he starts getting hungry he will bite me on the back of my legs when I’m not even near him he will just walk over while I’m not looking at bite me. It’s really frustrating and I’m not sure how to discipline or react to it me just saying OUCH don’t do that doesn’t seem to do the trick lol.
Any advice?? I have tried so much to get him on a timed feeding schedule but him harassing me for food is making it so difficult!!
TYI for any help!!
submitted by bootsmw to CatAdvice [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:25 unluckyaimbot Summon signs not appearing anymore.

Trying to summon people for a boss fight and not one summon sign appears near the summoning pool, also, I am unable to summon anyone who is sharing the same password with me. Tried discarding finger remedies and crafting new ones to no avail. Very confused.
submitted by unluckyaimbot to Eldenring [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 02:22 Trash_Tia I’ve been talking to the boy next door through my window for a while. Update: The thing is… I don’t think he’s alive?

The boy next door is no longer an enigma.
No longer a mystery.
For the last few days, I have been laying low after Mrs Wilder kidnapped and threatened me in my own home. I’ve had barely any sleep and my lack of it has definitely disrupted my ability to write. I’m sorry if this update is messy or full of typos. I just don’t know what to do.
I’ve been a mess. I’ve been jumping at every movement. Every time there’s a knock on the door I feel part of myself splinter into pieces I can’t put back together. I did something crazy stupid two days ago. And that stupid mistake has fully exposed me to Mrs Wilder’s secret. What she is hiding behind her walls—and just how fucked I truly am if I disobey her again. Like I said, over the last several days I have been keeping my head down.
I went to school and did my homework and went to bed. That was it. When mom asked if I was talking to any Wilder kids, I shook my head. I had quickly grown afraid of Casper Wilder’s window. I knew something was wrong with him.
Something is wrong with his head.
He had told me. At least, the part of him which was bleeding between consciousness and a submissive state not being controlled by his psychotic mother. I saw him. I saw who he really was. I saw the boy next door crying out to me for help through bloodied fingers and cryptic messages splattered in scarlet. If he had intentionally hurt himself to get messages across to me, there was something he was fighting.
Mrs Wilder’s words were haunting me. The paper-doll rendition of me, blackened and smouldering orange between her nimble fingers-- I couldn’t get it out of my head.
So, I grabbed all the paper I could find and taped up my window, blocking him out. It sounds ridiculous. And it was. Because once I had spent over an hour feverishly taping pieces of paper over my window, I tore them down with a knot in my gut. When I clawed away the last piece of paper, I got a glimpse of Casper. His curtains were open, allowing me to see inside his room once more.
I saw a normal guy’s bedroom once again, guitars leaning against the walls, clothes strewn over the floor and sketchpads littering the bed. Warm light illuminated the window, and I wished what I was seeing was normal.
I wished I had seen nothing bad, and this was just the boy next door.
My completely normal neighbor.
But I couldn’t deny what I’d seen two nights ago. Casper Wilder wasn’t standing at his window with a twisted expression, a cocktail of pain and anger and confusion burning in mismatched eyes I was sure glinted with something metallic. Something man-made—which had been inserted, no, forced inside him.
I expected him to be awake. Even if it was just a single look in his eye which told me he was still there—still holding on. No. It was like nothing had ever happened. The window had been cleaned of blood, and there were no traces of the boy who had cried out for help. In his place was the Wilder son I had found friendship with. Before he cracked, and something inside him, something buried deep, deep, down, ignited. I missed that version of him. Who he used to be.
Because this guy was not Casper Wilder. I didn’t know who he was—and neither did he from the way he’d reacted days before. Underneath this name being forced onto him, there was nothing.
Just a broken kid with no name. No memory, except ones filled with her. I missed the personality Mrs Wilder was trying to hide. Who had told me she wasn’t his fucking mother, and sworn at me, his writing erratic and confusing, clawing into his head with this desperation to be let go.
Seeing him through the window at that moment, I realised, a sickly paste crawling up my throat, that all of that had been erased. He had returned to default. Casper was sitting on his bed playing guitar with a look of content, bed hair falling in sleepy eyes. He was wearing his glasses this time. His fingers moved up and down, feet bouncing to a beat I couldn’t hear.
Stumbling back, I tripped over my backpack with a shriek, which caught Casper’s attention.
When his head twisted around, empty eyes floating towards the window, I ducked. I couldn’t stop myself. After counting to ten, I slowly lifted my gaze.
He was still staring at me, and I noticed he’d stopped playing the guitar, fingers entangled in the strings. Casper’s smile had dimmed slightly. I wondered if seeing me brought something back. Maybe he remembered writing his own bloody messages on the window and trying and failing to speak through his mother’s control. The boy blinked at me before slowly getting to his feet. I didn’t see the chord thing this time. Casper strode over to the window, a giddy smile curling on the edges of his lips.
He pressed his palm against the glass, and I was already grabbing my notepad and a pen. But then his mother’s words sliced through my thoughts. I was back inside my lounge, foggy headed, the stink of pool cleaner still thick at the back of my nose and throat.
Mrs Wilder loomed over me, my paper-doll she had ravaged sticking from the doll-house on mom’s coffee table constructed from our letters. “I hope you understand that if you talk to, or even breathe the same air as my children again, I will rip you apart too.”
Her breath was heavy in my face. I couldn’t help looking at Mrs Becker for help, but her eyes were equally as cruel. I watched perfectly manicured nails pick up one of the four Wilder dolls, making it dance around in circles.
“Do you understand me, Phoebe?”
“Yes.” I said, my words twisted on my tongue.
“I… I understand.”
The memory was painful enough to feel physical knives digging into my gut. Mrs Wilder had made it clear that if I pursued her children, she was going to hurt me. Mom, too. I dropped my notepad and pen. Casper was still smiling at me. His eyes were vacant. He had no idea who I was after months of us talking. Mrs Wilder had taken all of it away. Including him breaking apart and waking up as a confused shell with no name. “Hello.” Casper’s lips mouthed the words, and I took several steps back, my heart in my throat.
He didn’t even blink. I watched his expression fail to flicker and wondered just how the fuck had I never noticed there was something wrong with him in the months I knew him. I watched him search his desk for a notepad and pen. Maybe seeing me was unravelling something inside him, I thought. Maybe I could try and wake him up again. At the back of my mind, however, I could still see my little paper doll’s head being torn off, its body ripped apart.
“What’s your name?” Casper had written in bubble writing. It’s like everything had been reset. His frenzied and wild eyes, that desperation to escape. Gone.
His handwriting was boiling my blood. Just looking at this perfect calligraphy which wasn’t even his. It had been forced onto him. Because Mrs Wilder expected this boy to be the perfect son, a creative prodigy like his siblings. I looked for a splinter in his eyes, just a glimpse that he was still in there. Still fighting whatever his ‘mother’ had done to him. But I saw nothing. I saw a blank fucking slate.
“Phoebe.” I mouthed.
Inclining his head, he scribbled a follow up message. “Can you write it down?”
Swallowing a lump in my throat, I shut my curtains, blocking him and his message out. Then I jumped into bed, turned off my light, and dreamed I was that paper-doll with no mouth to scream with, as Mrs Wilder slowly tore me limb from limb. The next day felt like a blur. I don’t think I snapped out of it until mom poked me with the prongs of her fork, tearing me from a scenario I was going over in my head.
If Casper was a prisoner, were his siblings too? I’d only caught a glimpse of Issac and Freddie Wilder. Mrs Wilder talked of being pregnant with four children. But she spoke like she had lost them. So, my guess was that she had kidnapped four teenager’s in their place—and was raising them as her dead children. “Are you okay, honey?”
Mom’s voice slid through my thoughts, and I realised I had been pushing my pasta around my plate. I wasn’t really hungry.
Mom had made this sort of red pepper spaghetti, but every time I tried to take a mouthful, I was seeing spatters of scarlet running from Casper’s temples, dripping down his face and smudged on the glass of his window. THUD. The image of him slamming his head into the pane, wild eyes and twisted lips, an agonising panic bringing him to the edge of hysteria caught me off guard, and my fork slipped through my fingers, tomato sauce slowly creeping its way back up my throat.
Fuck. I couldn’t forget about him. I couldn’t leave him and block him out after his mother had threatened me. Because if I didn’t help him, who would? It was my word against the town.
Mom cleared her throat
“Phoebe, are you listening to me?”
“I said, have you been abiding by the rules?” Mom twirled pasta around her fork and took a dainty bite. Since joining Mrs Becker’s book club I had noticed a certain gleam in her eye. Like she was looking through me. “You haven’t been talking to the Wilder children, have you?”
After three mouthfuls of spaghetti, I ended up with half of my dinner dripping down my face.
Mom grabbed a napkin, handing it to me. “Clean yourself up. You are seventeen, not seven.” Her expression softened. “Sweetie, are you okay?”
“Yes.” I said, struggling to appear it. I knew she could see my sleep circles.
“Have you been talking to the Wilder kids? I’ll know if you have.”
Technically, I had been communicating with him. But it was one-sided.
Still though, paranoia turned my thoughts against me. Shovelling down spaghetti, I spoke through a mouthful. “No.”
She handed me another napkin. “So, if I talk to Mrs Wilder…”
“Mom.” I grabbed her hand, squeezing it for dear life. Mrs Wilder knew, I thought dizzily. She must have known Casper’s attempt to talk to me, even if he was exactly who she wanted him to be. Still under her demented control. But it was confusing me just how she had that control. This wasn’t a movie or a TV show.
Mind control didn’t exist, right? And if it did, it was barely even a thing—induced by cocktails of drugs and torture. Casper didn’t look like he’d been tortured.
Except that thing inside his head… my thoughts grew foggy, and I was suddenly overcome with emotion. What I meant to tell her was all about what I had seen, and what Mrs Wilder had done to me. Though knowing what the woman was capable of, and thinking about that chord-like thing which surely had been forced into the back of Casper Wilder’s skull… “Can we just…move?” I choked out. “I want to move. I hate it here.” I gestured around.
“I hate this house. It’s too big, I feel like I’m lost every time I go upstairs. I hate school. The kids there freak me out.” Holding her gaze, I curled my lip. “And I hate our stupid neighbors.”
“Phoebe.” Mom’s tone darkened. “What did I tell you about being respectful?”
“It’s not like they can hear us!” I spat. “Did they fit cameras in here, mom? I wouldn’t be surprised! We’re under draconian rules!”
“Young lady, you are acting like a child.” She said stiffly. “Take several deep breaths and tell me what is wrong.”
“I’m fine.” I whispered.
“No, you are not.” Mom sipped red wine. “I know when there is something wrong with my daughter, and you cannot look me in the eye.”
I took a sharp breath and forced myself to stay calm. “Mom.” I sputtered through a sob. “It’s Mrs Wilder. She… she did something to me.”
Mom’s expression twisted. “What?”
“The other night,” I forced out. The images were flooding my head. Smouldering orange tearing its way through paper white. “She knocked me out, and she had this… dollhouse. And four paper dolls.”
I heaved out a breath. “She threatened me, mom. Mrs Wilder threatened me, and I need you to believe me.” I grabbed for her hand again, my own trembling. “Casper Wilder is not her son.” I said. The words felt foreign on my tongue. Wrong. They felt like a time bomb. “I think she kidnapped him. All of them. And she’s brainwashed them into thinking they’re her real kids.” There was a pause, and my mom’s expression didn’t change. So, I continued. “We need to call the police.” I reiterated. “Okay? You’re listening to me, aren’t you?” I swallowed sobs wracking my chest. “Because… you’re my mom. And you’re supposed to believe me.”
She surprised me with an eye-roll. “You are being ridiculous.”
It felt like the walls were suddenly closing in. I could smell the stink of pool cleaner and Mrs Wilder’s perfume intoxicating my senses.
I was seeing Casper slamming his head into his window once again, his eyes alive with a light I couldn’t understand. Like something was entwined inside his pupil.
“Help me.”
God, it wouldn’t stop.
His voice. It was driving me crazy.
“I don’t know who I am.” Casper’s sobs echoed. “I don’t… I don’t fucking know who I am! I can’t remember… I can’t remember who I am!”
I could see his words clear in my mind, red scrawled against white until they were barely readable.
I was going to be sick.
“Mom,” The words were choking from my mouth before I could stop them. I didn’t mean to sound so childlike, but that is exactly what I felt like. A child. I was alone. Drowning.
Looking at my mother’s curled lips, her eyes burning right through me, I felt myself start to come apart.
Like that stupid doll.
“Mom, please—”
She cut me off with a snort. “What? Is this because you're not allowed to talk to the boy next door? You’re creating your own narrative, and it’s… endearing. Childlike, but you are a child after all." Mom chuckled. “Sweetie, I know you love your mysteries, and sure, I can understand the cliché Romeo and Juliet thing going on, but really, there are plenty more fish in the sea. You don’t have to make up ridiculous scenarios.”
I let go of her hand, my toes curling. They didn’t sound like her words. They were someone else’s.
What was she talking about, ridiculous scenarios? Did my mother really think I was capable of imagining all of this shit?
I couldn’t reply. Not when part of me wondered if these were even her words. I had a strong suspicion my mom was just a puppet.
Like someone was talking through her.
“Do you like him?” Mom pressed. In her eyes, I could see Mrs Wilder was asking that question. “Is that why you’re being so… “ She trailed off with a sigh, and I glimpsed her fingers tighten around her wine glass, pressing enough pressure to leave marks on the rim. “Difficult?”
Mom’s lips splintered into a grin which wasn’t hers, and something inside me snapped. She was joking around.
When Casper was suffering, a prisoner of his own mind, my mother was treating me like I was fucking love-sick.
"No!" I shook my head. “No, I want to move.” I whispered. “I want to go back to our old house.”
“That’s not going to happen, sweetie. You know I can’t just leave my job. Phoebe, you’re a senior at school. You have SAT’S.”
Her expression softened. “You’ll grow to like it. Don’t worry.” She said, before standing up and carrying our plates to the faucet. “I have a late shift tonight, so I expect your best behaviour.” I barely felt mom press a kiss to my forehead.
Her presence felt strange, like I wasn’t even seeing my mother. After what she said, I was sure her words were being pupiteered. When mom went to work, after yelling that there were leftovers on the counter, I was left with the soundtrack of a stupid dripping tap, and our humming refrigerator. I made several promises to myself in the time I was in the kitchen.
I would save Casper and his siblings, and then I’d force mom to drive all of us out of town. There were logistics I didn’t want to think about. These were feverish thoughts which controlled me. I had to get them out of that house. Time seemed to go by slowly. When I lifted my head from where I’d been staring at leftover meatballs I dropped onto the table, my phone vibrated in my jeans. Pulling it out, there was a DM regarding my post I wrote on here.
I read it. Then I read it again and again until I could process it.
“Film it. Literally get evidence of what is going on with Casper. You need people to believe you. And if people are going to believe you, you need to make a scene. If you want that house stormed, make as much noise as possible. I know it sounds stupid, but think about it like this. All you need is attention. Mrs Wilder can’t hide from the world if you show the world what’s going on. Good luck, Phoebe. Please be safe.”
-- A friend.
I was shaking when I knocked on the Wilder’s door fifteen minutes later. I knew exactly how to cause a scene.
Mrs Wilder answered, her expression cross between frustrated and bewildered. But I could barely focus on her, or the fact that she was holding a ladle like a weapon. The second the door opened revealing Casper’s mom drowning in a homely golden light, something slammed into me. Nothing physical, though it might as well have been. I forced myself to breathe through the stink which hit me like a brick to the face, suffocating my nose and mouth. Lavender. Not just lavender. The expensive flowers mom would get grocery shopping.
The ones which made me sneeze when I leaned too close. The house stunk of flowers—and that was just from standing on the threshold. But I knew better. I knew, once sweet smelling salts and flowers entwined in my senses, that the stink was to cover something up. And the more I edged closer over the threshold, the true smell of the Wilder house began to snake into my nose. Rot. I had once left a donut under my bed as a kid as an experiment to see if I could grow a whole new species. But this wasn’t mouldy food. It was far more potent. More like a decaying animal.
“Phoebe!” Mrs Wilder folded her arms across her apron. “I’m sorry, were my instructions not clear?” She cocked her head, an amused smile curving on her lips. She was triumphant, knowing exactly how to get under my skin. “Are you aware of what a restraining order is?”
Ignoring the smell choking the air, I held up my phone. “I’m live on Instagram.” I said. “Can I come in?”
I’m not sure why, but seeing her cheeks turn white made me feel like I was the one in control. “I’m sorry, what?”
“Live.” I repeated with a cheery wave. “On Instagram.”
I expected her to shove me back, or call out my bluff (yes, I was bluffing). Instead though, the women’s resolve seemed to crumble, her expression twisting, fear igniting in her eyes. She stammered for a moment, her gaze flashing to my phone before she wrapped her arms around herself and seemed to force a nod. “This is my house.” Her voice came out in a hiss.
Mrs Wilder was talking straight to the camera, and clearly faking terror. “Phoebe Daly, this is far past your usual games. This is… this is trespassing! Do you hear me? I’m calling the police!” Mrs Wilder didn’t call the police.
She held her phone to her ear but didn’t dare dial a number. I could see her options flitting across her eyes.
Was she going to attack me, or play it cool? Playing it cool, it was. With a face like thunder, she stumbled aside when I took a step forward and asked to be let inside. I wasn’t live on Instagram. I had barely 10 followers.
But she didn’t know that. Instead of being live, I was filming everything with my normal phone camera, angled at a height so she couldn’t slap it out of my hands. Watching her stumble back, panic twisting her expression into fury and frustration filled me with satisfaction. I had her. The crazy witch really thought I was streaming. I used that to my advantage, making sure to commentate to my imaginary audience as she led me down the main hallway, and I made sure to point the camera at everything I could see. Kids photographs covered neat paintwork.
But they were all different young children taken from a distance. Towards the end of the hall, what I saw did send my heart into my gut. And for a moment—just a brief second—I actually felt sympathy for Casper’s mom.
Four ultrasound’s.
I didn’t let the camera linger on them, instead going to the woman herself, who was following me, trying and failing to stall my effort to delve further inside the house. She stepped in front of me with a huff. “Phoebe. That is enough! You have terrorised me to no end!” her voice rose into a whine. “Whoever you are, Phoebe’s friends! This brat is targeting my children!”
“Casper!” I yelled, ignoring her. “Are you there?”
No answer.
My heart dropped into my gut, though I wasn’t giving up. I had the advantage, and I had to play to it.
I ran up the first few steps leading upstairs, but Mrs Wilder seemed far too focused on shielding the door at the end of the hall.
“What’s in the kitchen?” I asked with a lump in my throat. Backing down the stairs, I made my way towards her.
“Nothing is in the kitchen!” she spat back, feigning innocence. “We’re having dinner if you must know. And you are ruining it!”
I shook my head. “This is Mrs Wilder,” I announced, pointing the phone at her. “She is holding four teenagers against their will and claiming them as her own children.” I said smoothly. When we reached a sliding glass door leading into the kitchen, I grabbed the handle with force.
Her rough hand slammed over mine, claw-like fingernails slicing my flesh. “Get out of my house,” she said stiffly. “Young lady, you are trespassing on my property.” Every word came out in globules of saliva hitting me in the face. “I have never met such a disruptive and outright disrespectful child without discipline. Your mother should be ashamed of herself.” She shot a nervous look at my phone camera.
“Where’s Mrs Becker?” I asked.
Mrs Becker.” I repeated. “She helped you kidnap and scare me into staying quiet the other day. So, where is she?”
She spluttered, clearly caught off guard. “You are delusional!”
“Then show me them.” I said, pointing the camera at the door. “Your children, Mrs Wilder. I want you to show me Issac, Matilda, Freddie, and…” I swallowed hard. “And Casper.” Ignoring her steel grasp on the door handle, I pulled it open, trying to ignore the sudden squawking noise which had escaped her mouth, slamming into my ears. I can’t describe it. Mom has spoken about a mother instinct, and I wonder if it truly was that. This was animalistic. Feral.
Immediately, Mrs Wilder was behind me like a beast, her trembling arms trying to grasp hold of me and drag me back violently. But I was stronger, and desperate. I had to know the Wilder's secret. Stepping over the threshold, I was first aware of a far dimmer light. And when I fully focused on the room, I realised I was seeing candlelight. In front of me was a hardwood dining room table, and five chairs—four of which were occupied. The kitchen was a copy of our own. Except ours had always been lit up and bright.
It felt more like I was stepping inside a cave. An orangeade blur illuminated each face. Three out of four bodies sat stiff, almost… doll like. Mechanical. The way the three were facing me. Their expressions matched perfectly. Wide eyes and wider grins splitting lips apart. I drank each Wilder kid in slowly, as my brain struggled to take in the real horror of the room. What I was failing to fully take in. I couldn’t. I don’t think I could physically understand what I was seeing. I was aware my phone had slipped from my fingers, that I was paralysed to the spot.
The smell of stink and rot, I thought.
It was them.
I couldn’t move. There were three boys, and one girl. Matilda Wilder was a mousey redhead while her brothers were all brunettes. She wore a purple dress which fit her perfectly, her hair tied into pigtails with red ribbons. Issac and Freddie Wilder sat shoulder to shoulder.
They were the twins, I thought dizzily. They were identical twins in Mrs Wilder’s eyes, but these guys looked nothing like each other—one of them sporting a handsome face and razor jawline, while the other had an odd looking nose and jutting chin. Still though, I could tell Mrs Wilder had made an effort to make them look… beautiful. Perfect. I could see her attempt at stitching their lips together.
It wasn’t their appearance that was gluing me to the ground, however. Because looking closer, past the made-up faces on both the boys and the girls, the ribbons and fancy clothes and empty eyes staring right through me, soft candlelight was slowly bringing them to life in front of me. These kids had been hidden away for so long, and I was finally seeing them for who they were. My gaze flicked to each of them. I was seeing… stitches. I was seeing rugged stitches and gashes in their flesh, patchwork skin making up fingers and elbows and cheeks. They had been taken apart over and over again and put back together.
Matilda’s neck was a collage of flesh, rugged markings where a marker pen had clumsily sliced into her skin and pieced her like a jigsaw through mangled body parts and anything left over. Freddie and Isaac’s heads were cocked at an angle, and looking closer I glimpsed the bad stitch-job which had knitted them together.
I could see it in all of them. None of these kids were their original selves. They reminded me of dolls built through old doll pieces. I didn’t know I was screaming until the gravity of the situation hit me, and I realised I was suffocating on dead skin which made them up, their bodies stitched and knitted together, transforming them into her ideal children. Flickering candlelight revealed the last Wilder kid.
There were two significant things which were different about Casper.
The first, was that he must have been her most recent. He was her most… original—and the second? Unlike the others, he was awake.
Until that moment, Casper had been sitting amongst his siblings, head cocked to the side like the others, catatonic.
His dazed eyes slowly found mine—and I glimpsed recognition flickering in his expression, his rigid body starting to contort back to life. He was her paper-doll.
But Casper wasn’t finished.
“Phoebe?” When the boy spoke, his voice was barely a whimper. Frenzied eyes flicked from Matilda to Issac and Freddie, all of which were still wearing their perfect smiles. I noticed the rugged skin of his neck, and my heart sank.
Something was moving behind him, and I forced myself to step forwards. I glimpsed that same chord-like thing. This time it was fully attacked to him. No, it was buried directly inside his head. A sour paste crept up my throat when I saw the carnivorous hole burrowing deeper inside his head. I could glimpse the intense white of chipped skull and a strange looking fluid leaking out —but it looked… wrong. I’ve always imagined the internals of someone’s brain to be pinkish grey. Though what I was seeing was more like a black ooze sliding down the back of his neck. It reminded me of squid-ink. Definitely not blood.
It looked like he had been shot in the head, or had been pulled out of the operating theatre mid-surgery. And somehow, he was still alive. Just like the description, the chord-thing seemed to be attached in two places—to the back of the head, directly on the brain, and stapled to his spine. The device was humming, but I don’t think it was working.
Casper was looking directly at me, and the way his body was angled was different to his siblings. Instead of sitting straight, he was trying and failing to jump to his feet, his eyes wide, almost unseeing. I could see that frustration and anger, that pain from the other night alive in his face. I opened my mouth to speak, though Casper was already lifting a trembling hand, his fingers twining around the chord and giving a pathetic tug. A thin line of dark red, almost black, slid from his nostril.
I knew it was him. “Can you… can you get… it… out?” His hand found the chord again, and his grasp slipped. “Please.” He whispered, squeezing his eyes shut. “There’s something… in my… my head, and I need you to… I need you to fucking get it out…. right now.”
“Casper.” I couldn’t resist a relieved hiss. “This woman.” I twisted and pointed at Mrs Wilder.
“Who is she to you?”
The kid blinked, his eyes narrowing. He jolted, twisting around to try and see the thing attached to him. “Why would I know her? Get this shit out of my head!”
He let out a hysterical yell. His cry was more of a demand, and that nameless boy underneath splintered doll pieces began to unravel.
“Get it out.” He kept repeating. “Fucking get it out! There’s something inside my head!”
I nodded, choking back a cry.
He slammed his hands down, but seemingly couldn’t move from the chair. “What the fuck.” He side eyed the others. “What the fuck is this?”
I struggled to answer without screaming myself. “Stuff.” I managed to get out through a sputter. “Can you stand up?”
“What?” He blinked rapidly at me, I was seeing it again. That odd light flickering in his pupils.
“No. I can’t move!”
The humming grew louder, and at the corner of my eye, that thing seemed to dig deeper inside his head.
More blood spurted from his nose, and I could tell that he was fighting it.
The boy’s eyes found mine, his words tangling into an almost slur. “Get it out! I can’t… I can’t fucking think straight. I…. I….”
His eyes rolled back for a moment before he shook his head, lunging against the chair. His head twitched. “I don’t know I am.”
I couldn’t move. Watching this thing take control in real time, it was both fascinating and horrifying, sending my knees buckling.
“Who… who am I?”
His whole head twitched, like he was glitching.
“I know her. I… I know her. I’m her… I’m her son… I’m her s—son.”
Casper hummed, his twitching lips pricking into a demented smile. “I’ll always know her. She’s the one who… who s---saved me.”
Choking on a shade too vivid and dark to be blood, he sputtered, his head drooping.
“Mom?” Casper spoke through mouthfuls of pooling black. He lifted his head, unseeing eyes blinking in dim candlelight. The chord-like thing sounded more like it was drilling into his brain, and I knew I was fucked when his lips spread out into a childlike smile, and he swayed to the left and then the right, the light in his eyes burning. “There’s… water.” He whispered. “So… so cold. I’m so cold.” His voice broke.
“I don’t… want to be cold.”
“You won’t be cold.” Mrs Wilder’s voice was a sharp cry behind me. “Ever again. Your mom is here.”
“Promise? You n… need to… prom…promise me.” His teeth chattered. “You need to… tell me… I won’t… be cold. That my mom… is coming.”
“I promise, darling.”
“No,” I swallowed back frustrated tears. “Casper, she’s not your mother!”
His next words split into a guttural screech which almost sent him toppling off of the chair. He grabbed at his head, clawing at face.
But the more he was tugging, the machine fought against him. I could see metallic clamp-like legs stubbornly holding on.
His next words were mangled between cries from his conscious self, and whatever the fuck his ‘mother’ was forcing into his head.
And yet it barely grazed my ears. I was trying to figure out how to get that monumental THING out of his brain. There was no way I could just pull it out. That could kill him, right?
I started forwards to grab him, to try and pry the clamp off his spine, before I was being smothered with the stink of rich lavender. I hadn’t noticed Mrs Wilder swipe up my phone. She was holding it up in the air. “Live? You were never filming anything, you stupid girl! Do you understand what you have done?” She laughed—and I mean cackled like a witch. “I warned you, didn’t I?”
I got one last glimpse of Casper. His whole body was jerking under the chord inside his head, but he wasn’t crying out anymore.
Before I knew what was happening, I was being dragged back, and in front of me a Wilder boy shoving his struggling brother back into the chair. I didn’t have time to cry out.
With strength I had no idea the crazy bitch had, I was being violently yanked by my hair. And while I was flailing, I saw the ultrasound’s once again. Looking closer though, each one had a different name. A different mother. My head spun. That couldn’t be right. Mrs Wilder told me she was pregnant with four children, so who’s ultrasound’s were these? And why had she framed them? I didn’t have time to check it out.
I was dumped on my ass and the door was slammed straight in my face. I tried to get back in, throwing my fists into the door, until my own mother’s arms were pulling me back. I was hysterical. I couldn’t breathe, and mom wasn’t getting through to me. I’d kicked and thrown myself into the door, attracting the attention of our neighbours. That’s what I wanted. I wanted one of them to call the police, and when I picked up a brick, struggling against mom’s attempt to restrain me, and throwing it through the Wilder’s front window, I finally got it.
Two cops arrived, and I was so relieved I almost sobbed into one officer's chest. While my mom was trying and failing to explain my “breakdown” I begged them to take a look inside. And I was loud. I was screaming.
Which they couldn’t ignore.
“Phoebe!” I was partially aware of mom’s voice trying to calm me down, but I all I could see was that thing in Casper’s head, and his siblings made from knitted flesh. When the officer’s exited the Wilder’s house after five painful minutes waiting, I stumbled over to the two.
“Well?” I demanded, shoving away my mom. “Did you see them?” I yelled. “She’s turned them into… into dolls!” I was already going on a tangent, hysteria plunging me further into my own insanity.
“They’re not her children.” I gritted out. “She kidnapped and.. and stitched them up like… like Frankenstein! Mrs Wilder likes dolls! She had this paper-doll of me when she kidnapped me and lit it on fire to threaten me because I was talking to Casper. And he… he’s one of them, and not even her son! She’s controlling his mind with this thing stuck inside—"
“That’s enough!” Mom snapped.
The officer in front of me chuckled. “Breathe, kid!” He said. “Jeez. You’re not even giving us time to talk.”
Instead of speaking to me directly, the officer turned to mom. “There’s nothing out of the ordinary, ma’am.” He said. “The Wilder’s were enjoying a family dinner, and…” his gaze flashed to me. “Well. It appears someone ruined it. There are no current reports of child abduction.”
I couldn’t resist a laugh. “Are you serious? Did you not… did you not see—”
He cut me off. “There they are!” He chuckled. “The Wilder siblings!” The officer saluted the four of them who had wandered outside trailing their mother. Ignoring the other three, I made my way over to Casper. But he looked… I don’t know, he looked like he usually did through his window? There were no stitches or patchwork skin. He was wearing a beanie, and I reached to yank it off, when his hand caught mine.
He was freezing cold.
His skin felt almost slimy, like I was touching the skin of a dead fish. I wanted to hold on, to force the cops to believe me, but he was already speaking—his voice was different, a lot deeper than the hysterical cry of the boy underneath. “Mom?” Casper’s eyes were cold. He shoved my hand away before taking a shaky step back. Like I was crazy. He quickly joined his siblings.
“Who is this girl?”
“We’re going home.” Mom said, grasping my arm. “Can’t you see you’ve embarrassed me enough?”
“Phoebe, huh?”
I turned to find the other Wilder kids. The guy with the jawline still had that doll-like smile. “Please leave our brother alone.”
I couldn’t resist spitting at him. “He’s not your brother. You’re brainwashed.”
Something in his expression seemed to twitch suddenly. Mom tried to pull me back, but I stubbornly stayed where I was.
Issac or Freddie cocked his head. “Brain... washed?"
He started to speak, before Mrs Wilder ushered them all away. But I did notice him turn back to frown at me.
Needless to say, I was grounded—and threatened with a restraining order.
That didn’t stop me peeking through the gap in Casper’s curtains that night. I caught him stumbling around, struggling to get the chord-thing out of his head with manic hands. He came over to the window several times, his bloody hands slamming into the window before slipping away. I'm not sure, but I don't think he knew why his legs kept drawing him to the window.
Mrs Wilder joined him soon after, forcing him to bite into something plastic, as she led him to sit on the bed, her fingers wrapping around the chord, and yanking it out. I didn't hear his scream, but his reaction to it, body writhing, eyes squeezing shut, I knew he could feel it. And part of him was awake. Just part of him.
Not the parts who knew our window sessions and his horrifying reality.
Casper came to his window all bandaged up. He didn’t hold up a message, and his eyes were vacant.
Though his expression told me everything I needed to know.
Engines woke me up several hours later. It was midnight. Sliding out of bed, my gaze went straight to Casper’s window. But it was dark. I pressed my face against my own window and glimpsed Mrs Wilder standing on her lawn in her robe.
A car pulled up, and the cop from earlier jumped out. In his arms was what looked like a body bag. He dropped it on the ground. “Freshly dead.” He said, when I opened my window to hear what was being said. “Car crash. Victim is male. Eighteen years old.” He folded his arms with a light laugh. “I got him straight from the morgue. His parents think there’s no body.” Both of them knelt next to the bag, and Mrs Wilder zipped it open with a hiss.
When the bag jolted suddenly, I realised the body was still alive.
The officer stumbled back. “Jesus. I didn’t even use that much. You said a single shot, right?”
Mrs Wilder pulled out a carving knife from her robe, and I felt my entire body turn to ice.
The cop raised a brow. “You came prepared.”
She sighed, her hands on her hips. “He’s spare parts. The expiry is approaching which is why they’re… acting out.”
With startling precision, she aimed the knife above what I guessed was the body’s head, before bringing it down with a sickening crunch. The bag stopped squirming.
I can’t remember anything else from that night.
My mother was gone the next morning. A paper doll replica of her was sitting next to a note and a plate of freshly baked cookies.

“Dearest, Phoebe.
I baked these thinking of you! And my, you should be grateful I have even bothered to do this after playing your games last night. Honestly, I am not the monster you think I am. Your mom asked me to let you know she will be busy with me for a few hours.
I’ve been asked to take care of you, so here are some chocolate cookies! Please maintain the rule I set in place and do not go near or talk to my children. I’m sure you know what will happen if you happen to slip up. I took the liberty of asking your mother to fit specialised devices in your room so I know when you are talking to my son. Writing equipment has been taken away. I hope we can be friends and I can start calling you my daughter. If something were to happen to your mom, do not worry. I will take you in. I want you to remember that.
Mrs Wilder.
PS: I can’t wait for you to (not) meet my newest son!
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