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Garden Growth

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It was 2:37 pm, on a breezy Saturday afternoon, when the car pulled up to the gate at McDuck Manor. The metalic ‘ding’ sounding as whoever the guest was pulled into the pressure plate was standard. The way granny’s eyebrows rose when she answered the screen to address the visitor, Webby noted, was not. The conversation was short and quiet, and Webby couldn’t make out the voice coming through the screen from where she hung on the stairs banister. However it was only seconds before granny chuckled and tapped the button to open the gate, shaking her head as she turned of the tablet. Looking up, and catching Webby’s eyes, she only shrugged. “It may get a little loud in here”, she offered, before walking off towards the living room. Left confused and intrigued, Webby simply followed.

It was about a minute and a half drive up the hill from the gate, so Webby’s concern only grew when just seconds after entering the living room she heard a car engine pull up and shut off. The triplets, engaged in the tv, didn’t pay it any mind, but Donald looked up from his paper to shoot Mrs. B a questioning look. She only shrugged again, stepping out of the doorway to sit on the couch, as the loud ‘THUMP’ of the front doors being thrown open was heard, followed by fast footsteps until a figure appeared in the doorway.

The figure, a young duck woman no older than Donald, threw out her arms and shrieked ‘DONALD!’, and Donald’s whole face lit up. He flew off the couch and met the young woman with a hug so hard the ‘thump’ of them hitting one another was audible. They laughed, both excited, before Donald turned to the boys and Webby. “Kids, this is Daisy, one of my best friends,” he introduced, unable to keep the smile of his face. Webby was relieved, at least, to see the boys seemed as confused as she felt, Dewey letting out a small “buh?”. Daisy just laughed, a full body affair that threw her head back. “We grew up together, I dated your uncle back in high school.” This, immediately, roused a “Buh?” from the four of them, and Daisy only laughed harder. “Jeez Don, you haven’t told em anything about the old gang? Don’t worry, I’ve got stories.” She nodded to Dewey, before throwing herself down on the couch next to Mrs. B.

Webby half-listened as they began the arduous adult task of ‘catching up’, but she couldn’t bring herself to focus. ‘How was Madagascar’ and ‘Where’s the houseboat?’ floated past her, but Webby found herself studying Daisy more than anything. She hadn’t had the chance to pay attention, the duck moved fast and loud and it had all overwhelmed Webby. But now, with her sitting still, Webby could finally pay attention to the new guest. Daisy was a taller figure with broad shoulders. She had short hair cut in a choppy style, tied out of her face with a bandana. She seemed like the kind of person who could handle just about anything.
It hit Webby like a freight train that she looked an awful lot like Lena might have when she got older.

It’s a revelation Webby didn’t want, didn’t ask for, and couldn’t really handle, so Webby found herself sneaking out of the living room. On her way out, she heard the voice of grandmother state ‘Of course you’re staying here while you’re in town. It’s certainly not the first time.’ And Webby moved a little faster to quarantine her emotions off to her room.

It was maybe a half hour later when she heard a light knock and her door creak open. She had herself wrapped in about 7 comforters, and doesn’t bother popping her head out from under her bundle to see who it is. From the sound of the footsteps, it was Dewey, anyways, and she felt the bed creak as he scales up her loft and plops himself next to her. “Are you alright? You scooted out of there kind of fast.” He asked softly, concerned. “M’fine. Just don’t feel good.” She lied, poorly, and she could tell. She didn’t pop out of her blankets either, and she could hear how the fabric muffled her voice. “Are you sure? I mean, if we can help at all, we want to…” She could hear Dewey not buying her fib, but he’s kind enough not to mention it. “No,” she lied again, because how does she broach that topic? ‘Hey, guys, remember my best friend who nearly killed us all? I still miss her and I think I loved her, and everything around me reminds me of her and it hurts?’ It’s a bit much, and not something she wanted to start trying to tackle. She could feel the doubt radiating off Dewey, could almost hear all the sentences start and stop, before he patted what he must have thought was her leg, but was just a spot besides her. “Okay,” he allowed, “but let us know if there’s anything we can do to help, okay?” She nodded under the blankets, though she didn’t know if he could see the fabric move under all the layers. He must get it anyways, as the bed rocked as he climbs back down and pads out, the door shutting softly behind him. After a moment, Webby popped her head out from her blankets, mostly to escape the stale air underneath. She stared at the door for a moment, debating for a moment whether to leave her room, before turning over to her other side and curling up into a ball. And finally, finally, Webby let herself cry.

It’s now, roughly, 3:48ish.

Sometime in the process Webby falls asleep- she only knows this as she’s jolted awake by a knock on the door. The lighting outside hadn’t changed, but her internal clock is now off. She lays there for a moment, hoping whoever was there would get the hint and leave. After a moment, she hears Daisy’s voice through the door softly inquire ‘Webby?’ And something tight in her throat coils up, something mean and guilty and viscous. Who was she to take this out on Daisy? Her own stupid fault for not having her emotions under control, how could she let that affect others? “Come in,” Webby allowed, scrubbing at her face to remove the residue of her earlier tears. The door cracked open, and Daisy popped her head through, not fully entering yet. “Hey kiddo,” she said softly, “I was about to order pizza. I wanted to know what toppings you wanted.”

Webby shrugged, “Pepperoni’s fine. I don’t really care.” She was aiming for nonchalance, but apparently it didn’t work like she had wanted, as Daisy studied her for a beat. “Do you wanna talk?” She asked softly, and when Webby shrugged again she stepped fully into the room, letting the door fall closed behind her. “Is it okay if I come up?” She asked, waiting for Webby to nod before climbing up the ladder. She sat there, at the end of ye bed, waiting for Webby to find her words. Finally, finally, Webby found her tongue. “You just… remind me of somebody.” Webby finally spat out, choking on the admission, hating that even saying it out loud hurt this bad. She couldn’t look at Daisy, couldn’t look at anything, but when she heard Daisy’s “oh, dear” she couldn’t help but look over. Daisy’s whole face had gone soft and wistful, and she shook her head. “I know what you mean. I’m sorry.” She sighed a moment, looking old and tired. “I don’t know what happened, but you’re too young to have to deal with that. I’m sorry.”

Webby didn’t know how to respond. She sat there, unsure, stewing in the chaos of her thoughts. “How are you supposed to move on, when they’re gone?” She finally asked, turning to Daisy. If Daisy noticed her crying, she didn’t mention it, chuckling sadly. “Honestly, Webby? I don’t know.” She looked forward. “I still hurt too. In the end, I just live like she’s still there. I live, and I hope one day the little things that remind me of her hurt less. And little by little they do.”
Daisy chuckled again, still wistful. “It’s a little ironic, you know? You remind me of someone too.” She stared up at the ceiling, leaning against the wall. “I loved her and I never told her, and it still tears me up that I didn’t.” At that, Webby felt the ground drop from underneath her, and desperately scrambled to pull it back together. “What was she like?” She asked, praying that her tears didn’t make her voice warble. Daisy wasn’t in much position to judge, however. “She was stupid, and brilliant, and wonderful. She kept getting into fights bigger than she could handle, kept coming out on top anyways.” Daisy looked down at her feet, smiling and teary eyed. “She hated mushrooms and loved bad 80’s pop and was so aggressively herself that it hurt. And there’s not a day I don’t miss her.”
Webby found herself a little lost, like some had dumped three puzzles out and she couldn’t figure out which pieces belonged to what. “What about Uncle Donald?” She asked, and at Daisy’s confusion, clarified, “Didn’t you date him?”
Daisy chuckled, wiping at her eyes with the back of her hand. “You did seem a little absent when we talked about that. We…” she sighed, slumping a bit. “When I was your age, the world was a little backwards. I grew up thinking I wasn’t allowed to be who I am. I spent most of my childhood hiding from myself. Donald did too. We dated to try and pretend we were something we weren’t, to try and convince ourselves more than anything. It didn’t work out.”

“Don’t get me wrong,” she turned to Webby, “I love Donald. I do! But more like a brother. I learned that the hard way.”

“How’d you realize you didn’t like him?” Webby asked.

“Well I always knew,” Daisy allowed, “but I wouldn’t admit it. Donald actually realized first, when he went to college. Met folks that he actually liked, that weren’t afraid of being who they were. He tried to explain that to me, and I… I was awful.” She sighed. “You pretend to be something long enough you get mad when folks call your bluff. It took me a long time to admit he was right, and even longer to apologize. But we got there in the end.”

The conversation lulled, Webby confused yet comforted. She started a little when Daisy shifted to face her more. “You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to,” Daisy began, “but what was she like?”

Daisy didn’t specify who, but Webby didn’t need her to. “She was…” a traitor, a monster, a liar, the dark little parts of her mind supplied. But that was no way to start the story. “My best friend,” she finally settled on, “and she died protecting me.” Daisy nodded, somber. “She has a purple streak in her hair, and always wore this oversized sweater, and lived under the amphitheater. She always acted like she didn’t care, but she cared so much, and she had so many little ways of showing it.” Webby cuts herself off to compose herself. “She betrayed my family. She nearly got us all killed. She wasn’t even real. And I’m supposed to hate her for that, but. I don’t. I can’t. And I don’t know what to do.” Webby starts, feeling Daisy hug her, and it’s then she realizes how much she’d been crying. It feels like the final crack in the dam, and it all comes crashing down- every part of her composure breaks and she sobs into Daisy’s flannel. And Daisy hugs her, rocking her gently as she cries, whispering “I know” as she shakes. And for once, for once, Webby feels as though she’s allowed to grieve.