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Bogen County Farewell

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by WebMistressGina, Nov 26, 2015.

  1. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    Happy Turkey Day Mupps!

    And in the gift of being thankful, I'm giving you this Miss Piggy Mupp Adventure early! I'm at a good point where I can start posting, but expect it to be a bit slow as I work to finish both 2 Ball and Deadly Delay.

    Before we get to the story, here is your obligatory trigger warning and other admin stuff -

    So this story is NOT going to be like the previous or even following Mupp Adventures. This is actually a lot more dramatic, however because this is, really, a character study in the Divine Miss P, I decided her adventure serial made it a better place than that of, say the Monday series. So why so serious, Gina? And what's up with the warnings?

    Long story short - not really - this idea came from another series I thought up, called 3 Funerals and a Wedding, with this being one of the stories. In recent weeks, this became the forefront so I decided to make it an actual story. As you may see from the former title, this story was going to be about one of the funerals, which is not funny for anyone there. Usually.

    So there's that. As I went further into Piggy's family, mostly from the sometimes conflicting stories from Piggy herself, I came to the conclusion that her family life was more dysfunctional than fun, so I went that route. Against some of our starring Mupps - Kermit, Fozzie, Rowlf, Gonzo, and Scooter - Piggy has been very closed mouth on her family and is, in a way, very standoffish when it comes to the others. So I ran with that.

    While dysfunctional, there's nothing traumatic involved here - other than maybe her father's death - but you're gonna hopefully learn some things about Piggy and her family that are of course just coming from my mind and will be Jossed should the new show (or any new movie) change anything. Um...what else?

    Oh! You guys should know by now that I leave nothing to chance, so I totally did the research from characteristics of dysfunctional families, roles both children and parents play in these types of families, signs of grief, types of funerals, types of cemeteries, yadda yadda. As an only child, I of course have no biological reference for siblings other than what movies and television have told me, so those of you with bros and sis', do let me know if I'm on track.

    As always, while Piggy's got her neighborhood sidekicks - Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo - this is all Piggy, with a focus on her immediate family, including her siblings, her parents, and a couple others. Obviously, questions and answers along the way. Okay, I think that was it.

    Oh, of course, Happy Thanksgiving to my US homies celebrating today. Please have a good time, be safe, and enjoy your fam and friends! Also, be sure to root for your teams today if you're football fans. Go Wildcats! and Go Packers!
     
  2. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    Okay, so that was a long admin post, but here's what you've been waiting for!



    Miss Piggy Muppet Adventures Presents

    Miss Piggy

    In

    Bogen County Farewell

    Featuring

    Nate Hogglesworth | Hamilton Pig | Ida Rose Maline






    The end of the week on the set of Up Late with Miss Piggy was like any other work week, though the idea of getting out for three days was always a highlight. Up Late usually ran Monday thru Thursday, allowing for three day weekends, four during a holiday weekend, but it also meant that Thursdays had a focus of not only that night’s show, but the following week’s show start.

    This Thursday was already shaping up to be…well, unproductive.

    The Mayhem weren’t actually rehearsing, more like playing a very drawn out set that started with some blues song and escalated into a now growing hour of riffs and solos.

    In the writer’s room, Gonzo, Pepe, and Rizzo had somehow gotten into some Nerf shoot-out that had all but demolished their own office.

    Warm up comic and announcer Fozzie Bear was – still – trying to convince his girlfriend’s parents to love him and was currently in the midst of building the largest care basket in the world.

    And the talent manager and the star of Up Late had seemingly disappeared.

    The first three didn’t really concern Kermit the Frog as much as the last one did. Anytime Scooter and Piggy were together, it never boded well, usually for him. Especially for him. However, in the recent weeks, their team ups had resulted in having to bail Piggy out of county lock up and keeping her from killing Scooter, who had pretty much dug himself into Christina Applegate’s house, refusing to come out as long as Piggy was outside and angry.

    “He’s pretty much dug in there like a tick,” the television and movie star had replied, speaking to Kermit outside the front door of her own home.

    Stepping outside to try and calm the diva down had been a huge mistake, as Scooter took that opportunity to not only lock himself inside, but locked the star out.

    “I am so…” Kermit begin, shaking his head and trying to block out the argument that was happening to his left. “Normally, I try to keep them as far away from each other as possible, because any time they get together, they’re usually out to destroy me. And they never listen to anything I say because the next week, they’re back to trying to drive me insane. Do you know how close I’ve been to just committing myself to Hollywood Mental? I tried committing them once, but the hospital refused to take them.”

    “I can’t imagine why.”

    “Either can I!”

    At that point, both Kermit and Christina had to prevent Piggy from throwing a large rock at the window Scooter was standing at.

    And like the Twilight Zone, everything went back to the way it always was, with the two of them completely forgetting that they had literally held a siege at Christina Applegate’s house a while ago. No, having Scooter and Piggy together was never a good combination, especially when he couldn’t find them anywhere in the studio or on the lot. And of course, no one ever worried about the two of them together, so no one had noticed they were missing.

    A little before ten o’clock, the Destructo Twins finally made their appearance, laughing and joking as though they hadn’t been planning his demise over breakfast. “Whatever the two of you have planned for my demise,” Kermit began, not even waiting for them to say their greetings, and pointing at them both. “Put it right out of your heads.”

    “Always the tone of suspicion,” Scooter replied, a small smirk on his lips.

    “Some may call it paranoia, Frog,” Piggy joked. The strains of a pop song rang, signaling that one of Piggy’s many suitors were probably calling. Answering quickly, the diva replied with “Vote for Piggy.” A few minutes passed as Piggy listened to the person on the other end, while Kermit and Scooter could only hear her side of the conversation.

    “Hey. Really. Huh. Uh…yeah, Moi doesn’t think that’s gonna happen, but hey thanks for calling. Ciao!” Placing her phone back in her pocket, she replied, “Well, that’s over with.”

    “What was that about?” Kermit asked.

    “Hmm?” Piggy questioned, now clearly distracted. “Oh, nothing. Nothing! It was…it was just Nate. Anyways, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, your paranoia.”

    “Wait, wait,” Kermit interrupted. “Nate? As in your brother, Nate?”

    “I didn’t know you had a brother,” Scooter commented. The red head had always thought he was the closest thing the diva would consider a best friend; certainly he considered her his best friend.

    “It’s nothing,” Piggy said, her voice now louder than before. “Now, if vous will excuse me, Moi has things to do.”

    If Kermit could count the number of times his brain and his heart warred against each other when it came to Miss Piggy, he would literally be a billionaire at this point, probably five times over by now. But, as in most cases, his heart won over any objection his brain had, and decided that he needed to find out about this phone call.

    Knocking once, Kermit made his way inside, only hearing the tail end of Piggy’s call to come in. She was sitting in front of her vanity, her make up person having not come in before him or being dismissed by Piggy, which was more likely.

    “Need something, Frog?”

    “Yeah,” he said, walking over and leaning against the table. “You alright?”

    “Would I not be?”

    “Well,” the producer began, slowly. “You said Nate called. You hardly ever have any contact with him or the rest of your family and usually when he calls, he’s calling for a reason.”

    That was certainly true – Piggy never liked talking about her past, not even to Kermit, who probably knew more about Piggy than anyone. From the various tales, the clear message he got was that Piggy was nearly estranged from the entire family, with exception to her older brother Nate, whom she clearly had some affection for, as he was the only family member who actually had her personal cell number, something she never gave out. Even in their own group, there was probably seven people who could directly reach her. Huffing in annoyance, Piggy asked, “You’re just not gonna let this go, are you?”

    “Despite popular belief,” he retorted. “I actually do care about you and I can tell when you’re upset.”

    “Moi is not upset.”

    “Distracted then.”

    “Not that either.”

    “Alright, fine,” he huffed, throwing his hands up. Why did he never just wash his hands of her, he didn’t know. Pushing himself away from the vanity, he began to march himself towards the door. “I don’t care then.”

    “Don’t let the door hit you.”

    “Sometimes Piggy…”

    “Yes, yes,” she said, waving him off. “Drive you insane, can’t understand me, can be such a pain, blah blah. Thank you for visiting.”

    “Living end, Piggy,” Kermit sighed. “Just the living end, with no irony intended.”

    “Kermit…”

    The heavy sigh was the only thing that stopped him from walking out the door he had just opened. In times past, nothing would have stopped him from storming out, stewing over the fact that she would never listen to anything he would ever say and he would ask himself, for the millionth time, what it was that he saw in her. It took arguments, pretty bad ones, and a painful break-up before they could actually be friends, something that had seemingly alluded them when they had been dating.

    It also helped that they had dated other people for a while before they reached…whatever this was. It didn’t escape Kermit’s notice that they seemed to be a lot closer than ever before and not for the first time, the frog wondered exactly what could be going on between them. It had to be something big, because Piggy never would have given in as quickly as she did.

    “My mother died.”

    Well. That was completely unexpected.

    Closing the door quickly, he swallowed hard. “What?”

    Turning in her chair so she could face him, she whispered, “That’s…that’s why Nate called.”

    “Aw, Piggy,” he whispered, walking over and putting his arm around her. “Sweetheart, I’m sorry.”

    “There’s nothing…” she started, before sighing again. “It doesn’t matter.”

    “Of course it matters!” he insisted. “What’re you gonna do? Are you going back?”

    “What?” she sputtered. “No! That’s…that’s…no, of course not.”

    “Piggy.”

    “Kermit, I’m not…why would I want to go back?” she asked, clearly agitated. “The last time Moi was in Bogen County, was the last time Moi was going to be in Bogen County.”

    “Piggy,” Kermit replied. “She was your mother. Besides, it’s not like you left on good terms, so…maybe you can put some things to rest.”

    “That won’t help.”

    “It won’t hurt either,” he retorted.

    It wasn’t an easy decision, that was obvious, but this wasn’t an easy situation either. Piggy hadn’t been back since she left decades ago and that leaving hadn’t been good at all, for anyone involved and quite frankly, Piggy never wanted to go back.

    “I’ll think about it,” she sighed.

    “That’s all I ask,” he said, giving her a kiss to the side of her head. “Get some work done, please.”

    “Could’ve phrased that better.”


    [hr]


    Lunch time on a studio set could be anything from catered lunch to pick up. Kermit, who in most cases forgot to eat, was actually ahead of the curve today, hitting the cafeteria and grabbing a sandwich and a salad before heading back to his office. He was already halfway through his sandwich, with his salad seemingly being forgotten on his desk, when the diva entered with a hot cup of coffee and some iced thing that was probably full of sugar and less on coffee.

    “So a little managerial birdie told me I had plane tickets to Cedar Rapids later today,” she announced, setting down the coffee.

    “Aw sweets, how did you know I wanted a coffee with my sandwich?”

    “It’s decaf.”

    The horrid look on his face was almost satisfying for whatever underhandedness he had done to get plane tickets to Iowa for that day and leaving later in the afternoon.

    “And after I got you a lovely salad,” he retorted, pointing to the salad on the desk.

    Pulling said salad towards her after taking her spot in the chair across from him, she asked, “Did you really get Scooter to book tickets to Iowa today?”

    Shrugging, Kermit smiled slightly. “I figured you’d change your mind.”

    “Know me so well, do you, Frog?”

    His face softened for a moment before saying, “I’d like to think so.”

    “You may not think that when we get there.”

    “Please,” he huffed. “We’ve seen the best and worst of each other. Heck, we bring out the best and the worst of each other, so I’m counting this as a regular day.”

    Shaking her head in mirth, Piggy couldn’t deny that. Very few people could get her as angry as Kermit could at times, however he had also never met her younger brother, whom she had on occasions literally wanted to kill. “Okay,” she sighed. “Far be it for me to try and dissuade you, you never listen to me anyway.”

    “Isn’t that my line?”

    “One question though.”

    “Hmmm?”

    “Scooter said he bought four tickets,” she replied. “Obviously, two of those are for us, so who are the other two for?”

    The answer to that question wouldn’t come until after lunch, when Piggy and Kermit headed out of the studio to catch a plane and she saw Fozzie and Gonzo standing by their rented car. “What’re Heckle and Jeckle doing here?”

    “We’re what you would call, ‘le moral support’ in French.” Gonzo replied.

    “Not French,” Piggy said, before being engulfed into a tight hug by Fozzie. Ever since losing his own mother a few years ago, Fozzie seemed to take extra care for anyone who went through what he had; they actually weren’t sure just how well he had moved past it. “Fozzie…” the diva huffed, waiting for him to get off, but not wanting to upset him anymore than he clearly was. “Alright, alright. Thank you for your emotional support, Moi is fine, now get off me.”

    Untangled from the comic, Piggy looked at the three of them. “Okay,” she said. “Two problems with this whole plan. One, if the four of us are leaving, who’s going to be running the asylum? And two, we have a show tonight; if I’m gone, who’s going to be hosting?”

    “Firstly,” Kermit said, opening the door and pointing inside. “Everyone in the car, we do have a plane to catch after all. Second, I’ve got the boy and Rowlfie looking after the place while we’re gone. Third, I’ve already talked to the network, letting them know there’s a death in the family and thus we have the leeway of having a guest host.”

    Piggy was not amused.

    “Who’s hosting my show, Kermit?”

    “C’mon,” he said, gently pushing Piggy into the car before following her in. If he could get the car moving, there was a less likely chance for the diva to actually get out. There was of course the 50% chance that she would throw them out while the car was moving…

    “It’s me. Of course I got you a good guest host.”

    “Who. Is it.”

    “So Fozzie, I heard you finally found that book you wrote?”

    “Kermit…”

    “Piggy, I’m trying to ask Fozzie about his book.”

    “Do you really have no consideration for your safety?” she growled. “Or the safety of others?”

    “Kermit,” Fozzie said, throwing a look at Piggy. “I don’t want to die.”

    “Oh c’mon,” Gonzo replied. “She has to get through the frog first.”

    “Look at him!” the bear pointed. “He’s like the size of a twig! She’ll roll right over him and then I’d be next! Gonzo, switch seats with me.”

    “No,” replied the head writer. “For Pete’s sakes, you’re a bear! I’m sure you could take her.”

    Fozzie stared at the weirdo before turning to look at Piggy, who was equally looking at him before raising an eyebrow in silent challenge. Turning back to Gonzo, Fozzie shook the weirdo. “Gonzo, switch seats with me right now!”

    “Piggy, go after him first,” Gonzo grumbled, pushing the bear away. “The frog is useless to you when you can catch the bigger fish.”

    “Please tell me this isn’t a preview of our flight,” Kermit muttered.


    [hr]


    Flying to Bogen County was a little like flying out to Leland; both were small towns, set back from the main cities that may surround them, meaning that major airports were usually nowhere near the city. When Kermit went home to Leland, MS – assuming he didn’t take Fozzie up on his long haul drive to New York to visit when his mother was still alive – he usually had to fly in to the closest major airport and then make the hour and a half drive down to his parents’ house.

    As much as Kermit thought he knew his ex-girlfriend, he had never met her family, only learning about her brother when he answered her dressing room phone once, a long time ago. Piggy had gone with him to Leland a few times, easily winning over his parents and siblings, to the point where the frog was convinced his mother had been upset when he not only told her that they had broken up, but that he was seeing someone else. In fact, when he thought about it, he thought his mother seemed a little too happy to hear about his break up with Denise.

    Despite being a couple for an eternity, this was the first time Kermit had met her family proper; he never counted the time her nephews had been working on one of their shows. The idea had been hers, but even when she had pitched it to him, she hadn’t exactly been enthusiastic about having them around; it was only now he knew it was because they were her younger brother’s children.

    Gonzo and Fozzie, who had known Piggy for just as long, had at least known she was from a big family, but they didn’t know how big or if she even kept in contact; they had both looked at each other when Kermit had told them he needed them to come with, knowing Piggy might need all the help she could get. But because they had known her for so long, they also knew the subject of her past was a sore subject, so for them to even be going meant Kermit had put her in a good mood or the situation was worse than they thought.

    Bogen County was set in the rural farming lands of Iowa, set to the east of Keota and to the north of Washington; it would take a little over an hour to reach from Cedar Rapids. It was clear, before they even boarded the plane, this was something Piggy absolutely did not want to do; Kermit was actually surprised they managed to make it onboard without her trying to run off. Of course, now that they were sitting in a rental and were about the drive off, that flight or fight reflex seemed to be kicking in and unlike her other times, flight was gaining the upper hand.

    Kermit had very much put his foot down on them getting anything that was labeled under the signature series (including the Maserati, the BMW, and the Corvette) going against a trio of protests and picked the Prius, even when he heard Piggy’s muttered, “Ugh! My brother drives a Prius. Never gonna let me hear the end of it.”

    Piggy had immediately taken the keys and made her way angrily to the driver’s side, running a hand over her face before turning to the others once they got into the car. “Okay,” she said. “Moi has a thought, just hear me out. What if…we didn’t go to Bogen? Okay, with me? Instead, we…go…to…Chicago. Chicago! Right? It’s three hours from here, in fact, I totally know a shortcut and I could probably cut it down under that. Huh? Huh?”

    Getting an unamused stare from Kermit, she amended, “Okay, Moi can see the frog’s not onboard. No Chicago. Instead…why don’t we go to Wisconsin and get a cheese head for the bear?” Fozzie’s excited gasp had sealed a vote for at least two for and one against; Piggy just needed to get Gonzo on her side. “Yeah,” she cooed, smiling at the bear. “Someone wants a cheese head.”

    The comic turned his hopeful gaze towards the frog, but was immediately shot down by the irritated look on his face. “Oh come on!” Piggy insisted, looking between them. “Fozzie, don’t let him cheat you out of a cheese head!”

    “Piggy,” Kermit replied, sternly. “You are going to your mother’s funeral.”

    “Kermit,” she said, a near plea in her voice. “I will drive anywhere in the Midwest; we can go to Omaha, if you want. There’s nothing in Omaha, but we can go! Heck, I will drive down to Nashville, just…please don’t make me drive back.”

    It was on the tip of his tongue to just demand the keys and let him drive, but that would not only be rude, but incredibly insensitive. Fozzie had dropped everything when he had heard his mother was sick and Kermit knew he would’ve done the same thing, but Piggy was not a bear or a frog. The strong familial ties the two of them had, even with the others, was not something Piggy had; in fact, she was still rather stand-offish to most of them, which was why Kermit was always surprised when he learned Piggy had gone and done something nice.

    “Piggy, we wouldn’t do this if we thought the outcome would be a bad one.”

    It was supposed to be a hopeful and helpful push to get her moving. It got her moving, because she did start the car, but she wasn’t happy, not at all, not with the way she huffed that they were going to regret this. Of course the silent hour of driving didn’t help either, even with the various streams of music being played in the background; the two backseat passengers were used to the silent treatment of both the driver and front passenger, so they amused themselves – Gonzo finally settling down and reading a book on his phone, while Fozzie was the victim of the smooth rolling motion of the car and dozed off.
     
  3. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Will come back to read after eating, thanks for posting and have a good time with the rest of your family.
    :hungry: :insatiable: :fanatic: :batty: :halo:
     
    WebMistressGina likes this.
  4. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    And happy post-Thanksgiving everyone! Here's a little something while we're still recovering from all that turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and more stuffing. I really like stuffing. :D



    Kiwi Ave was a two-way dirt road, with a mix of farm land and dirt lots scattered on either side of the road. 4981 S Kiwi Ave was situated on the grassier plot of land, with a dirt driveway that sat outside a two story home that looked long lived, with some modern adjustments having been made in the last few years. Painted white, there was a surrounding porch, with wooden structures on the left and a more solid white painted post and side on the right.

    There was already a large SUV sitting in the driveway when they pulled up, causing a low growl from Piggy.

    “Bet that’s Ham’s car,” she muttered. “Told you we should have gone with the Maserati.” Sending a sharp smack to the wheel, she let out a frustrated sigh, gazing at the house, blue eyes narrowed behind her shades. “Home sweet home.”

    “Looks like they put out the welcoming committee,” Gonzo replied, nodding to the figure that was leaning against the post to the left. He looked an imposing figure, built like a brick wall, though he was leaning casually and chewing on what looked like a toothpick or a piece of straw. It was obvious he had to be a relative of Piggy’s - same brunette mop that matched a same colored thin beard around his chin and the same baby blues shining in the sun as he took in their car.

    “Terrific,” came the mutter before she turned off the car and got out.

    “Not too often we get starlets out this way, Hollywood,” the elder pig replied, watching as the group came forward.

    “Well, I thought I’d come and class the place up a bit,” came Piggy’s retort, walking up the steps and facing the brawly pig. “How’s it hanging, Slick?”

    “It hangs.”

    Nodding her head towards Kermit, she asked, “You remember the frog, don’t you?”

    Nodding, the other pig replied, “Nice to finally meet you, Mitt.”

    “Likewise,” Kermit replied, smiling slightly. There were only a handful of people who actually called him that, mostly some of his younger siblings, so it went a long way to show that at least one member of Piggy’s family liked him enough to use the nickname.

    “Oh uh, that’s Gonzo and Fozzie; Gonzo, Fozzie, my brother Nate.” Indicating her head towards the door, Piggy continued with, “So what’s the situation?”

    “Well,” Nate replied, looking inside the front window. “Hattie and Millie are here, so are Ricky Lane, John…oh, cousin BlackJack...”

    “You have a cousin named BlackJack?” Gonzo asked.

    “Yeah.”

    “Why do they call him BlackJack?” Fozzie asked, nervously.

    “You don’t want to know,” Piggy responded.

    “Oh, and Grandma’s here.”

    “Grandma’s here?” Piggy asked, a grin lighting her face for the first time since leaving California and arriving in Iowa. “How is the old battle-axe?”

    “Old, obstinate, cranky…” Nate began. “You know…Grandma.”

    Piggy nodded, before looking over at the SUV she parked next to. Most of her family still lived in the area, but she couldn’t remember any of them owning that large of a vehicle. “Who owns that monstrosity?” she asked, thumbing at the larger car behind them.

    Nate smiled, though it was more playful than anything else. “Oh, that’s baby Hammy’s.”

    Rolling her eyes, Piggy muttered, “Of course it is, because this day has been going so well. I bet he brought the ‘smart’ twins with him, too.”

    “Now, now, darling sister,” Nate chuckled. “Those are our nephews and it is our duty to love, honor, cherish, blah blah. Yeah, dumb and dumberer are here.”

    “And my day gets better,” she sighed. “You didn’t happen to mention that I planned to be here, did you?”

    Nate outright laughed. “What?” he sputtered. “Of course not! Why ruin the surprise?”

    Glaring at him, Piggy deadpanned, “You’re all heart, big brother.”

    “In case you forgot,” he retorted. “There’s nothing to do around here. Watching you and Hammy go at it will pick up a slow day.”

    “Ugh, let’s get this over with.”

    The quintet headed inside, being announced with Nate’s, “Look who the gypsies left on the doorstep!”

    The living room held a number of different pigs – their aunts, Hattie and Millie, who were the younger sisters of Piggy’s mother Hortense; Millie’s husband John and their son, the aforementioned BlackJack; and their uncle and Hortense’s only brother Ricky Lane. Introductions were made all around, along with the standard condolences and apologies for meeting during such a sad event. It only took five minutes before the group heard, “What’re you doing here?”

    “Hamilton,” Piggy sighed, turning around to face a younger and shorter pig, this one dressed in what had been a suit, just without the jacket and his shirt sleeves rolled up. He had the same brown hair he shared with the other family members, except his eyes were a chocolate brown versus those of his older siblings’ blue. “Because my life wouldn’t be complete until I saw you.”

    Throwing a look at his older brother, the younger pig growled, “You could’ve warned me, Nate.”

    “Again,” the eldest smirked. “Why ruin the surprise?”

    “There was a reason we called him ‘the instigator’ as children,” Piggy huffed. Pointing outside to the SUV, she asked, “Who’d you scam to get large marge out there?”

    “Unlike you,” Ham replied. “I drove here when I heard Mother was sick.” Looking out the same window, the younger pig smirked before glancing back at his sister. “Aw, did you drive your little put-put car up from the airport?”

    Crossing her arms, Piggy glared at him. “Not my choice.”

    Kermit wasn’t completely sure she was just talking about the choice of car, but the reason she was there in the first place.

    “Oh I see,” Ham said, smiling widely. “And what was your first choice, sister dear? A BMW? Caddy? Corvette?”

    “A Maserati!” Fozzie supplied, unhelpfully.

    Throwing a look at the comic, Ham’s smile grew larger before turning back to his sister. “A Maserati. Kudos. You know, some would say that was a desperate cry for attention.”

    “So glad to see that psychology degree has come in handy.”

    “Well,” Ham retorted, leaning in towards her. “It is a real profession.”

    Not even ten minutes inside and already there was trouble from the way the diva took a few steps towards her brother, brandishing her fist at him. “You know, baby Hammy,” she snarled. “It would be a great disservice if I let you head back to New York without prettying up that face of yours.”

    “Piggy…” Kermit warned, blocking her path.

    From behind him, Kermit could feel the younger pig stepping up towards his sister. “Do not call me ‘baby Hammy’,” came his warning.

    “Hey, Grandma, look who’s here!” Nate shouted, causing a total stand down process for Piggy and Ham – the raised fist from Piggy suddenly became a wave, while Ham turned around sharply to smile at the smaller, older pig who was walking towards them.

    “Is that my little diva?” the elderly matron asked, as she came over. Ida Rose Maline, mother to Hattie, Millie, and Ricky Lane, grandmother to Nate, Piggy, Ham, and BlackJack, and great-grandmother to Ham’s sons, was on the short side, easily being dwarfed by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Her greying curls sat on top her head in a tight bun and while her movements were slightly slow, she seemed to carry herself as an elder you should and had better respect.

    “Even as a child,” Kermit whispered, throwing a look towards Gonzo and Fozzie, who smirked.

    “Don’t start with me,” came the retort before said diva greeted her grandmother. “Yes, yes. It is Moi, here in the flesh.”

    Looking at three of her twelve grandchildren, Ida smiled widely. “Look at my little piglets, gathered together again,” she cooed, causing a round of scandalized “Grandma!” from the trio.

    “We’re not kids anymore,” Ham groused.

    “Well, you’re still old enough to cut your own switch, aren’t you, Hamilton Lee?”

    Piggy’s snicker didn’t go unnoticed either. “Something funny, Pigathia?”

    Clearing her throat, Piggy seemed to stand up straighter and regain her composure. It was probably the first and last time the other Muppets would ever see Piggy cowed by anyone. “No, ma’am,” she said. “I just…nothing. Clearing my throat. Have you met my friends, Grandma?”

    Again, introductions were made before Ida turned her attention back to her three ‘favorite little piglets’, earning another round of embarrassed groaning. “You’re my grandchildren,” the elder pig admonished. “And if I wanna call you piglets, I’m gonna call you piglets until I die. And even then, when we get to heaven, I’m still gonna call you piglets. Unless the three of you want to do something about it?”

    The three piglets did not want to have anything to do with that, with all them shaking their heads, and Nate sending a little, “Piglets forever, Grandma” to appease her. Satisfied her message was heard loud and clear, Ida nodded before clapping her hands together once. “Now,” she announced. “Who’d like to help me with dinner?”

    Immediately, the fuzzy arm of one Fozzie Bear shot up, excitedly. “I would!”

    Smiling, Ida patted the bear on the arm. “What a delightful young man,” she cooed.

    Offering his arm, Fozzie said, “Allow me to escort m’lady to the kitchen fair.”

    “Oh, I like you!” Ida chuckled, taking the arm and letting the comic lead her towards the kitchen, leaving a group of surprised spectators.

    “You see that?” Piggy complained, poking Kermit in the shoulder. “Been here fifteen minutes and your bear absconds with my grandmother!”

    “Rather ironic,” Ham observed. “A bear who’s a Cub.”

    “What?” Gonzo sputtered, a mix between laughter and disgust. “Fozzie!?”

    Kermit turned to look at the younger pig. “What’re you…?” When the term caught up with the frog’s brain, like Gonzo, he also sputtered, though more on the disgust side than anything else. “What!? No! No, he just likes being babied by mothers and grandmothers!” Glaring at the diva behind him, he spat, “Phrasing, Piggy!”

    “Right,” Gonzo replied, sarcastically. “Cause your explanation makes it sound less creepy.”

    “Hey!” Ida called, standing in the kitchen doorway. “Piglets! Frog! Turkey! You all just gonna stand there or you gonna help in the kitchen?”

    Those who were still in the living room were immediately on their feet and heading to the kitchen before Ida could come back out, leaving Kermit to whisper to Piggy, “It’s like looking at a future you.”

    “You know,” the diva said, holding up her right fist. “This is specifically for baby Hammy, but the left one will easily have your name on it if you keep this up.”


    [hr]


    If Kermit had any idea of the tension filled, disastrous dinner that was about to take place, he probably would’ve given Piggy a free pass on her mother’s funeral.

    After decades of trying to pull the smallest hints of her past and family, the little tidbits he did get didn’t paint the picture he could clearly see once arriving at her childhood home. He knew not every family could be his – cheerful, loving, kind, joking - even when they did have flare ups, they usually made up within the same day or by the week’s end; the frog didn’t know anyone who held a grudge longer or with more personal vengeance than Piggy and apparently, it was a shared trait.

    The bits that he had gotten didn’t really pull a red flag – Piggy wasn’t the first person to grow up in a one parent home; Fozzie’s mother had raised him mostly on her own after the death of his father, Scooter’s mother had also died when he was very young and he had never known his father, even now, his own nephew was being raised by his brother after the death of his mother. As sad as it was, it was a normal fact of life. From what Kermit knew, Piggy’s father had basically abandoned the family at one point before dying in tragic tractor accident – that she never went into – thus leaving her mother to raise a liter of six on her own.

    Piggy’s mother was such a taboo subject, the frog was surprised he had even gotten a name out of her, much less a story. Her mother was the reason she had gotten into beauty pageants and as much as they had helped her get to where she was, it was very clear to Kermit that she had hated it as a child. She got along with her brother Nate, only a few minutes older than she was, but she wasn’t as close to her younger siblings; other than Ham. At times, it seemed they had been close, but it was fragile; all it took was one fight and they could be at each other’s throats in no time.

    For the trio that accompanied her, this was actually the first time they had meet or even knew Piggy had relatives outside of her parents and siblings. Ida had even stated that this was the first time in a very long time that a good portion of the family had been gathered in one place, at the same time. The elderly swine also stated they get ready for some excitement –

    “Don’t get worried about any arguments,” she said. “Malines and Hogglesworths are a headstrong bunch, so sometimes a simple conversation can go south pretty quick.” Elbowing Kermit in the side, she said, “You’d know all about that, wouldn’t you, Frog?”

    “More than you know,” Kermit chuckled.

    Okay, so Piggy’s stubbornness and never back down attitude was a family trait. They had pretty much figured that out, after all. They just never imagined that Piggy was probably the tamest when it came to arguing with them.

    It started almost as soon as they had gotten into the kitchen, finding Andy and Randy Pig – Ham’s sons – eagerly looking for something to eat before being admonished to leave and find something else to do. “Like two walking rocks,” Ida muttered, ignorant of the look Ham threw her. “You’re too soft on those boys, Hammy.”

    “Grandma!” the youngest sighed. “They’ve just gone through a huge emotional upheaval, first their mother and now their grandmother…”

    “It’s been twelve years, Hammy!” Piggy exclaimed.

    “Let it go,” his brother added.

    “Let it go?” Ham repeated, incredulously. “‘Let it go’, he says. Like that makes everything alright.”

    “Junior, Piggy Lee, apologize,” Ida said, pulling out items to get dinner started. “It’s ill advised to speak unwell of the dead. And if your brother wants to mourn his wife for the end of time, then you’ll let him.”

    “Sorry.”

    “Sorry, Ham.”

    “Now that you’ve resolved that,” Ida began, clapping her hands together. “What to have for dinner? I’m thinking we should have one of your mother’s favorites.”

    “Roast beef?” Nate supplied.

    “Maybe tomorrow,” Ida said, patting her oldest grandson on the arm. “I think we need something simple. It’s almost dinner now; you saw the scavengers in here earlier. We need something quick and easy.”

    “Steak frites!” Ham suggested, only to get a slap on the back of the head from Piggy.

    “Are you deaf?” she asked. “Grandma just said simple.”

    “Steak frites is simple!” Ham argued. “It’s steak and fries.”

    “Well, unless you’ve got twenty steaks hiding in that fancy suit of yours, I’m pretty sure we can’t have that.”

    “You know,” Ida interrupted. “I had been thinking about making Dutch letters, but obviously…”

    The tone immediately changed in the kitchen, with the two siblings trying to win their grandmother’s favor. The treat must have been something because BlackJack, who had been out in the living was suddenly in the kitchen, asking, “Grandma, did you say you were making Dutch letters?”

    “I might be persuaded,” the elder pig sighed, glancing around at her kitchen helpers. Pointing at each of them, she stated, “No funny business.”

    The group assured her there would totally not be any funny business or shenanigans in her kitchen; however, as with any household that holds siblings, there were shenanigans taking place as soon as the matron’s back had turned. The most audacious was the ‘sword’ fight that took place between Piggy and Ham over, no one was even sure really, and it culminated in Ham blocking a swing from Piggy’s rolling pin with the spatula he had grabbed, which allowed him to punch the diva hard in her shoulder.

    Not that Piggy was to be outdone because her other hand had snaked out towards her brother’s chest, grabbing, and twisting shirt and skin until Ham gave a muffled cry and fell to his knees on the ground besides the kitchen island in the center of the room.

    Ham and Piggy had both wanted to help with the Dutch letters – a delicious pastry treat that had been a staple in the house when they had been especially good – so Ida, perhaps against common sense, paired the two up, stating that if they started anything, they wouldn’t be getting any.

    “What is going on back there?” Ida asked, turning from the stove where she had been making a not simple meal of spaghetti with meatballs, with a homemade sauce that required a team of vegetable and meat cutters.

    “Nothing, Grandma!” Ham wheezed from the floor. “Just dropped the spatula!”

    “Piggy Lee, what’s wrong with your arm?”

    “Nothing,” Piggy whined, grimacing even as she rubbed her shoulder from where her brother punched her. “Pulled a muscle.”

    “You pulled a muscle?”

    “Yes.”

    “From rolling dough?” Ida asked, suspiciously.

    Gulping slightly, Piggy nodded. “Uh huh.”

    “That’s just sad,” Ida replied, shaking her head. “You relay too much on your fancy caterers. The Piggy Lee I knew could whip up dinner in no time flat.”

    “I’m sorry,” Gonzo interrupted. “Are you insinuating that Piggy can cook?”

    “Of course she can cook,” Kermit said, staring at the head writer like he had lost his mind.

    “You’ve been holding out on us, Pig,” Gonzo admonished, turning to the diva. “Why does the frog get a home cooked meal and we don’t?”

    “Okay, because first,” the diva began. “I was dating the frog and the fastest way to a frog’s heart is through his stomach. Why do you think I keep piling him with coffee every day?”

    “Okay,” Kermit retorted. “Not true and a little disturbing.”

    “Second,” she continued. “Why would I cook for you? I’m not dating you.”

    “You could start,” the writer quipped. “Besides, you still cook for Kermit and you’re not dating him anymore.”

    “That’s the rub,” Piggy said. “I like Kermit.”

    “Why stay on a sinking ship?” Ham mumbled, finally coming to stand on his feet. While he knew he had tagged his sister pretty good, she had gotten him equally as well and he could feel the bruise already forming on the right side of his upper chest.

    “Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle?” needled Nate, handing his grandmother all of the ingredients he had been tasked to cut.

    “It sounds like you kids don’t want any Dutch letters.”

    “No, we do!”

    “We’re totally behaving!”


    [hr]


    The incident in the kitchen should have been their warning shot, but they got lulled into a false sense of security by the time they got to the table with food. So used to Piggy’s antics, the trio didn’t even consider this to be out of the ordinary, even when the diva rolled her eyes at Fozzie’s coveted place next to her grandmother’s left.

    The small table that had been cramped when they had been children seemed have enlarged itself, though whether it was because of Hortense’s passing or just a change in tables, they didn’t know. A small table had been placed at the end, to ensure that all of the fifteen people in attendance were able to sit and enjoy their meal. Ida sat at the head of the table, with Fozzie, Kermit, Piggy, Nate, Andy, and Randy to her left and BlackJack, Gonzo, Hattie, Millie, John, and Ham to her right, with Ricky Lane seated at the other end’s head.

    It started out small, a casual question from Hattie in regards to Piggy’s show –

    “Piggy Lee, is your show still going to be on tonight?”

    “I don’t know,” she said, turning to look at Kermit. “Is it?”

    “C’mon,” the frog replied. Turning to speak to Hattie, he said, “I got a guest host to sub for Piggy tonight, as well as next week should she decide to stay on a few days.”

    “You still haven’t answered my earlier question,” Piggy said.

    “Whoopi and Melissa,” the frog stated. “You’re welcome.”

    “You got Whoopi Goldberg to host your show?” Nate asked, a little bit of awe in his voice.

    “Whoopi has been a long time Muppet friend,” his sister smirked. “And of course she would be happy to do a favor for Moi.”

    “And this Melissa?” asked BlackJack.

    “Oh, that’s Melissa Rivers,” Fozzie supplied.

    “You know, Joan’s daughter,” Gonzo added.

    That Piggy was surprised at – after the feud with Joan had flamed and withered out, the diva had been shocked to hear of her fellow diva’s death. The feud had been played up in the media, but the two did have a friendly rivalry that pushed their status to legendary; with Joan’s death, Piggy had sent her daughter Melissa a very lovely letter, stating that Joan was always a pleasure to play off of and she was the only woman Piggy knew who was a ballsy as she was, maybe even more so.

    In thinking back, Joan had been the role model her mother should have been and she wasn’t at all concerned that she just happened to feel more pain at Joan’s death than she did her mother’s. “You got Melissa to host for me?”

    “She was happy to do it,” Kermit shrugged. Leaning over, he whispered, “We’ll have to have to talk some stuff out when we get back. No rush for it now.”

    “Typical Piggy,” came the mutter, though it was clear Ham had definitely meant for that to reach his sister’s ears.

    “What did you say?”

    “You manage to miss out on work,” Ham began. “You get two celebrities to cover for you, and I can almost guarantee everything will be back to normal on Monday. I, on the other hand, had to completely close my office this week.”

    “Does baby Hammy want a medal?” Piggy teased. “Would that make baby Hammy happy?”

    “If you call me baby Hammy one more time…”

    “You’ll do want?” interrupted BlackJack. “Everyone knows your bark is worse than any bite you think you have. You’re always whining about something, you big baby.”

    Ham was obviously seething at his treatment, said something under his breath, but hadn’t exactly been heard by its intended victim, but his brother and sons must have heard it.

    “Dad,” asked Randy – or was it Andy? – “What’s a…”

    “Don’t repeat that,” Nate growled.

    BlackJack managed to slam down his silverware before leaning forward to glance around the others that sat between him and his cousin. “You got something to say to me?”

    “Jackie, sit down,” Ida commanded, giving her grandson a stern glare. She waited until he was firmly back in his seat before she addressed the entire table. “In case you ungrateful sows have forgotten, my daughter died yesterday. So I will thank you to keep a civil tongue in your mouths for this occasion or else I’ll make each of you cut a switch from that oak tree outside. And I know each and every one of you don’t want that.”

    Children and grandchildren shook their heads, knowing full well it wouldn’t matter that they were adults, Ida Maline wouldn’t allow for any more of these low brow hits on a day they should have been grieving. “Hamilton, man up for once in your life; Pigathia, stop antagonizing your brother; Pignatius, stop instigating; Jackson, threaten a member of this family again and your nickname will be Dead Eye Jack. Am I making myself perfectly clear?”

    “Yes, ma’am.”

    Letting out a sigh, Ida whispered, “Hortense would surely be sad to learn that most of her siblings couldn’t bother to show up and pay their respects. And her own children can’t bother to stop their squabbling for two seconds to even think about their poor mother.”

    “I cared, Grandma!” Ham exclaimed. “I was here when mother became sick!”

    “Oh yes,” Ida nodded, sarcastically. “It was such a comfort that you come the two days before she died and not the year she was sick in the first place.”

    The burn was obviously not what the younger pig had hoped to hear and he immediately shrank back into his chair, suitably chastised. His siblings, of course, couldn’t leave well enough alone. “What’s that?” Piggy asked. “Is that the sound of silence coming from Mount St. Hammy?”

    “I believe it is,” Nate said, turning and smiling at his sister. “The danger has passed.”

    “Don’t you two ever give it a rest?” complained Hattie, rolling her eyes.

    “Oh, I’m sorry,” Piggy retorted. “Did you want to listen to Ham go on and on about how he’s the saint to the rest of us?”

    “Why would she bother?” snorted Millie.

    “She’s had that speech down pact since she was a kid,” huffed Ricky Lane. “I used to call her Mount Vesuvius.”

    “Well, if I’m the saint,” Ham huffed. “Nate and Piggy were always the heroes, because nothing they did was ever wrong.”

    “No one wants to hear your psycho-babbling, little brother,” Nate retorted.

    “Gets a fancy degree and now he wants everyone to think he’s a big shot,” BlackJack stated.

    “Well, at least he applied himself, Jackson,” Hattie said, the distain in her voice quite clear.

    “I’ll thank you to keep your opinions on my son to yourself, Hattie,” Millie shot back.

    “Alright, that’s enough,” Ida growled, silencing the combined snickering and huffing that was happening on both sides of the table. “Is it too much, really too much, to ask that we have a civil dinner in this house for once? Especially in light of the death of one of our own? I would think as her siblings, one of you would have something nice to say about her and I would certainly hope that her own children would. But if I have to make you say something nice, then so be it – Ricky Lane, both you and Piggy Lee can say something nice at the funeral.”

    Ricky Lane made an audible groan, which was only covered slightly by Piggy’s annoyed, “Why me?”

    “Because I said so, Pigathia!”

    That answer did nothing to make the diva any happier, if her muttered, “Unbelievable” was heard towards the head of the table. “Fine,” she huffed.

    “Grandma,” Nate piped up. “Why don’t you let me give a eulogy?”

    “Nate, I already said I would do it, so back off.”

    “Hey, I’m trying to be nice. You don’t have to be a brat about it…”

    “You always do this. You’re always trying to take something I get. Six minutes doesn’t mean you’re the boss of me.”

    “It’s seven minutes, thank you very much. And yes it does…”

    “Aw Piggy,” Ham cooed, sarcastically. “Let big brother play the role he’s used to.”

    “Shut up, Ham!”

    Ida rolled eyes, sighing as she stood up from the table, grabbing her plate and glass as she did so. “Mama,” asked Millie. “What’re you doing?”

    “I am obviously done with dinner,” the matriarch said. “For some reason, I seemed to have lost my appetite; I can’t imagine why.” With that, she lumbered into the kitchen, leaving the table silent, if only for the short amount of time it took to make sure she was out of earshot.

    “Well, look at what you all did.”

    With the exception of three non-Hogglesworth or Maline family members (and two confused twins), most eyes turned harsh towards Hattie, who had broken the silence first.

    “Oh put a cork in it, Hattie,” Ricky Lane said, throwing his older sister an annoyed look.

    “Like you weren’t a part of that conversation,” Ham replied.

    “Certainly didn’t stop you from throwing your hat into the ring,” Piggy countered.

    “Well, you certainly weren’t stopping it, Pigathia!”

    “Why would she want to?” Ham smirked. “She’s always liked the attention.”

    “And you don’t?” Nate spat. “You look for any excuse to drop that psych degree in any conversation.”

    “I do not!”

    “Yes, you do,” Piggy said. “We could be talking about anything from astronomy to the menu at McDonald’s and you’d find a way to insert the fact that you have a psych degree before we’d even finish.” Turning on Nate, she said, “And I don’t need you to defend me against Short Round over here…”

    “Um…guys…”

    Before another argument could start, the eyes turned again, this time at Fozzie, who cringed slightly when he noticed he was now the focal point of topic. “Do…do you think we should help Ida in the kitchen?”

    “That,” Hattie began. “Is a very thoughtful gesture, Mr. Bear.”

    Everyone looked around, waiting for the first person to get up.

    “Well, don’t everyone all get up at once,” BlackJack huffed, grabbing both his and his parents’ plates before standing, causing Nate and Piggy to do the same.

    As she reached between Kermit and Fozzie to grab their plates, she made a comment of, “Hope you boys are enjoying the show.”
     
    The Count likes this.
  5. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    We all still recovering from Thanksgiving? Or was it Black Friday that knocked you all out? LOL Get set, cause you've got Cyber Monday tomorrow and another section of this! Hope this will tide you guys over for a bit, as December is gonna be fast moving for me, literally - I move at the end of the month. Luckily, hopefully, we have decided on the next place and now comes the waiting process.

    I've also got another big project that's non-work related, but of course I also have work, so enjoy! Maybe I'll give you guys two. Yeah. We'll consider it a post Thanksgiving/early Christmas gift from me to you :D




    The house on Kiwi Avenue was a two story, five bedroom, two and a half bath that had once been home to a family of eight. Currently, the Great Gonzo – former performance artist and current head writer of Up Late with Miss Piggy – was putting his stuff away in the third bedroom on the first floor. Getting that room and the others on the first floor had started, thankfully, the last argument for the evening –

    “That’s not fair!” Hamilton exclaimed. “We were already here, Piggy!”

    “I have an extra person, Ham!” his sister screamed right back. “There’s no reason why you and the boys can’t go upstairs.”

    If the awkward dinner wasn’t a fine signal to just end things for the night, Piggy and Ham’s current argument pretty much settled it for them. Kermit had known they were most likely walking into a hostile situation – Piggy had warned him that her family could get into arguments at the drop of a hat – but he hadn’t ever imagined this. This wasn’t a drop of a hat; this was ‘the very air you breathe will make me beat you’.

    He had been discussing football with Ricky Lane of all things – The Frogs and Hogglesworths were huge football fans, it being a popular sport in the south and the Midwest – while Gonzo had found another kindred and probably dangerous spirit with BlackJack when they first heard the rumblings of a fight from the hallway.

    “There’s no reason you and your boys can’t go upstairs,” Ham countered.

    “There’s two rooms up there!” Piggy said. “And there are three down here.”

    “Which fits perfectly with a family of three!”

    “We should probably…” Kermit said, making a move to head in that direction, but was stopped by John.

    “Better let Nate handle this,” the pig replied, watching as the elder brother in question stopped whatever conversation he was having with his grandmother. “He’s the only one they’ll listen to at this point.”

    “The two of you make me wish I was an only child,” Nate growled, stomping over to the combatants. “In fact, I’m going to check cause I’ve been convinced for years that I’m adopted and am living in some sick version of the Twilight Zone.”

    “How the heck can you declare you’re adopted when you’re a twin!?”

    “That has never been proven!”

    “Piggy’s a twin?” Gonzo asked, turning to look at Kermit. “Did you know that?”

    “Ham, there’s more than enough room for you and the boys to stay upstairs,” Nate insisted. “Piggy, one of you guys is gonna have to take the couch.” Turning to find the frog still in the living room, he asked, “Mitt, do you mind taking the couch?”

    “No…”

    “There,” the elder huffed. “It’s been decided, it’s done. Now can the rest of us please go back to our quiet conversations or do the two of you have something else to argue about?”

    “Well, it’s still early,” Ham smirked.

    “Hamilton, I don’t want to hear any shenanigans between you two,” Ida replied, sternly. “That goes for you too, Pigathia.”

    Ham, Andy, and Randy had dutifully moved their belongings upstairs, while he, Fozzie, and Piggy picked their rooms downstairs. Gonzo wouldn’t pretend that he wasn’t witnessing a complete meltdown of Piggy’s family or rather, the aftermath of a complete meltdown.

    The head writer knew better than anyone that life was not all sunshine and roses; while he always liked to look on the bright side of life, he knew that sometimes life didn’t have a bright side. He had always known there was more to Piggy than what those good looks and pretty blue eyes looked like on the outside; if he was honest with himself, he had even entertained the idea that their similar backgrounds were the reason he would’ve been the better boyfriend if she had given him the chance.

    But that was a long time ago and Gonzo had gotten over that particular heartbreak, probably making him all the better for it. He loved Piggy and if he knew her – and he did – he could tell her reluctance to coming down here wasn’t because of the family she had here, but because of the family she had in California. Their diva prided herself on the outer appearance and personality she showed them and the world, but those that knew her – a few, but enough – were well aware of just who the real Piggy was.

    Actually, that was probably the reason they all got along so well and worked together well – their mismatched, ragtag bunch all got what they needed – Kermit needed a group that reminded him of his family back home; Rowlf needed to belong to a pack; Scooter needed parental figures and a family that loved and accepted him; Fozzie needed someone to let him stand on his own (and give him a little babying); and Gonzo needed people who accepted him for him.

    The same reason Piggy needed them. And they needed her to be their tough love leader and defender.

    A knock on the doorjamb interrupted his thoughts, causing him to turn to see the very topic of his thoughts entering his room.

    “All set?” she asked, looking around the somewhat familiar surroundings.

    “Just about,” he replied, pulling out his suit for the funeral the next day. He watched her for a moment, observing as her eyes trailed across the walls and the furniture; it was clear the room had been fixed up since its original use, though Gonzo had noticed that a few mementos still remained, such as a few figurines that were placed on the dresser, surrounding a few photographs of what had to be the family and friends of a teenaged girl.

    “Yours?”

    “Hmm?” she asked, startled out of the obvious trip down memory lane. “Oh. Oh no, c’mon! I would never let you stay in my childhood bedroom.”

    “Too many secrets to be explored?” he asked, cheekily, causing her to snort in laughter.

    “Hardly,” she huffed, though there was a grin on her face. “Or maybe, not sure. But I’m in my room; no, this was Virgi’s.” At his look, she clarified, “My sister, Virginia. We called her Virgi, it was a nickname; anyways, you’re in her room, Fozzie’s in what had been Nate’s, and I’m in mine. Nate was the buffer between us. Virgi and I..uh…kinda didn’t get along.”

    “What? No,” he said, giving her a look. “Your family seems so quiet and non-confrontational with each other.”

    To any other person, the joke would have fallen flat and certainly, if it wasn’t between the two standing there, it might have, but Piggy took it for the irony that it was. “Yeah,” she sighed, fidgeting slightly. “About that…”

    Piggy had never been good at apologizing, even when she was a child. It wasn’t that she couldn’t apologize or in some cases, didn’t want to, it was just very hard to admit that she was wrong or worse – a situation she had gotten herself into was wrong. She had known immediately what would happen if she came back and she had tried to steer the others away from seeing what she had lived with until she was 18.

    “Gonzo…”

    “Hey,” he whispered, patting her on the arm. “Don’t sweat it, okay? Besides, that’s why we came down here, remember? Moral support?”

    “That’s supposed to be for tomorrow,” she huffed. “I had no intention of using that for…” Thumbing over her shoulder, she indicated the scenes from earlier.

    “We never described the time or place or situation of the support,” Gonzo said, smiling. “We know who you are, Piggy, but maybe they don’t.”

    “What?” she giggled, nervously. “They’re the family, Gonzo, of course they know me.”

    “Do they?” he asked, raising his eyebrow.

    It was an obvious question, something she hadn’t even considered – even with the deliberate omission of the word my in front of family. Of course they knew who she was; they knew her before anyone else! But she wasn’t that same little piglet, was she? No! She was Miss Piggy, star of stage, screen, and television! She wasn’t that same little girl from the sticks.

    “Have a goodnight, Princess,” he said, giving her a hand a quick squeeze. “Long day tomorrow.”

    “Yeah,” she whispered. “Night, Gonzo.”

    From there, she went next door to check on Fozzie, who was already dressed in his jammies. “Hey Bear.”

    “Piggy!”

    Fozzie Bear was the only person she knew who could be happy in the worst of circumstances. It was actually very comforting, given his upbeat attitude; the only time she had ever really seen him down – really down – was at the death of his mother a few years ago. Ever since, the bear seemed to be inexplicably drawn to the others’ mothers or, in Piggy’s case, grandmothers; Kermit’s mother loved the bear like her own and it was clear that he had already wormed his way into Ida Maline’s heart as well.

    Before she could get further into asking if he was ready and set for bed, there was already a comic surrounding her. “What’re you doing?” she asked, her voice muffled by his shoulder.

    “Hugging you.”

    “Why?”

    “You looked like you needed it,” he said. He could feel that she was about to protest and was actually about to release her when he felt her finally wrap her arms around his waist and gave him a slight squeeze.

    “It’s been a long day,” she whispered.

    “Yeah,” he whispered. “Tomorrow will be too.”

    Laying her head on his shoulder, the diva sighed. “I don’t want to do this.”

    “I know.”

    And he did. He had gone through this very thing not two years ago and he still had a big piece of his heart missing and he liked his mother! Piggy and the others had been there for him – in fact, it had been Piggy who had arranged the funeral and everything else.

    “I’m sorry about earlier,” she continued. “Even if you are trying to steal my grandmother.”

    The comic smirked, before releasing her. “I can’t help it if my charms are wowing your grandmother,” he teased. “And don’t worry about earlier. I mean, it was kinda like a normal day at the office, except instead of you and Floyd, it was you and your brother.”

    “None of that should make any sense,” she said, chuckling. “But coming from you…”

    The last person she went to check on was in the first room on the floor, what had previously been her room as a child. Walking in, she could see the silhouette of Kermit coming from the bathroom. Their earlier conversation - which saw the frog switch from sleeping on the couch to sleeping with her - still weighed on her mind, especially after hearing Gonzo nearly repeat the same sentiment.

    She was still spitting mad by the time she had roughly brought her belongings into that first bedroom. It took her nearly fifteen minutes to realize that she had, by rout, picked her childhood bedroom; it had changed, obviously, after her hasty departure at eighteen, but some of her old knickknacks still seemed to be there, using the room as storage most likely.

    She knew this was a bad idea, she knew it. And with everything else, she managed to let Kermit talk her into doing this for…who knew what purpose. No, that wasn’t fair; she knew the reason. One of the many things she loved about the frog was the fact that he was so family orientated – he loved his family in Mississippi and he loved their little family in Hollywood; it was one of the reasons she was convinced Kermit was going to be an excellent father if or when he ever became one.

    But her family was nothing like his or their little ragtag bunch, as demonstrated by dinner. Only six hours in town and already she and Ham had been at each other quicker than a cat went after catnip – the same old tension and rivalry they had as kids reared up as soon as she walked in the door; Nate had been no help, of course, and the addition of her aunts, uncles, and cousin did nothing to alleviate the situation.

    She was still seething, angrily unpacking, when Kermit came to check on her some twenty minutes later. The frog knew the diva, hence why he was smart enough to wait a certain amount of time before he went after her; experience had shown that following after her when she was upset or angry only resulted in him getting hurt. He could tell she was still angry, though that anger had lessened to a steam instead of the inferno as it had been earlier.

    “Hey.”

    Turning, Piggy spared him a glance before she continued unpacking. “Look around, Frog,” she said. “Here are the last vestiges of Piggy Lee Hogglesworth or so I would have thought. Apparently, walking through the front door has rendered me into a fifteen-year-old girl, with two annoying brothers and three even more annoying sisters. Well, maybe not Ro-Ro or Marjie, but definitely Virgi.”

    Sighing, she paused in her packing and whispered, “I thought I left all of this behind when I left and all it took was walking through that door to remind me that obviously I haven’t.”

    “Piggy, I’m sorry,” Kermit said, his first time speaking since entering. “This is all my fault.”

    “No it’s not.”

    “Yes, it is,” he said, taking a few steps towards her. “Piggy, I never meant for this to hurt you. I just…I just thought it would be better to face the bullets then have to regret not doing it when you could.” Taking the final steps so he could physically touch her, he grabbed her hand, tugging on it until she turned and faced him. “Say the word and we’ll pack up and go. We’ll forget the whole thing and we’ll never bring it back up again; just say it and I’ll make sure it gets done.”

    It was a tempting offer, she couldn’t lie. It was the perfect out and the one thing she had been looking – had practically begged for it before they had even left Cedar Rapids – and right here, right now, Kermit was giving it to her.

    All she had to do was take it.

    “No,” she sighed. “You’re right. It would’ve bothered me if we hadn’t come, I just…I never wanted you guys to walk into this. I don’t you guys to think…”

    And that was the heart of the matter. Piggy had buried so much of her past where it belonged and being back in Bogen County had not only dug it back up, but dug it back up in front of three people she hadn’t wanted to show that side of her. It was embarrassing, humbling, and really…devastating. Who knew the kind of damage just a few hours in this house had done to her image?

    “Hey,” Kermit whispered, tugging her hand again. “Piggy, look at me.” As much distance as she had tried to keep most people, Kermit was probably the only person who knew her better than anyone and even now, with a fierce determined look that hung on her face, he could easily see the sadness and fear in those baby blues. “I have always seen past Miss Piggy to the heart of Piggy Lee; that out there, is really nothing to some of things we’ve said to each other. And you know what? It doesn’t matter.

    “This doesn’t change how Gonzo and Fozzie feel about you; they love you. And it’ll never change the way I feel about you, because I have and always will love you, Piggy.”

    Taking a deep breath, the diva nodded, giving his flipper an encouraging squeeze before leaning her forehead against his. “You’re a menace at emotionally guilt tripping me.”

    “It works though,” he said, grinning. “So what’s the word? You wanna go?”

    “No,” she sighed. “We’re staying. I hate when you’re right.”

    “I know,” he said, dropping her hand so he could move his to her waist. “Which is why I try not to be all the time.”

    She smirked, trying her best to hold in the obvious giggle that wanted to be released. “You know,” she whispered, her hand going to play with the fringes of his collar. “If…if you didn’t want to sleep on the couch, you wouldn’t have to.”

    Normally, that kind of request would have been straight forward, with no type of hesitation, but it was obvious Piggy was still bothered by being there or even with the display that had happened earlier. Piggy’s image was everything to her and she cherished it above anything else and it was clear that being in her hometown and her childhood home had started to chip away at that.

    “Do you want me to stay?”

    Eyes downcast, the diva nodded, shyly. “Then I’ll stay,” he whispered, bringing his lips to hers in a sweet kiss. “I’ll get my stuff.”

    Letting out a shaky breath, she said, “I’ll go check on the boys.”

    Piggy had always been grateful to Kermit, not just in the professional sense for his taking a bright eyed, up and coming starlet to Hollywood, but the fact that – even when they hadn’t been together – he still managed to have her back in most cases and probably knew her better than anyone, maybe even the family she’d come to see. Even now, after all this time, she was still so very much in love with him.

    “Guys okay?” he asked, leaving the bathroom and letting her take his place.

    “Gonzo is Gonzo and Fozzie is Fozzie,” she quipped. “So everything is good on that front.”

    “Excellent,” he replied. “I’m gonna call the boy and see how things went today.”

    She nodded her agreement, grabbing her pajamas for the night, as well as her dress suit for tomorrow, while he grabbed his phone and started dialing. The other end only rang once before Scooter’s cheerful voice came on the other end. The two discussed the show, which went over fairly well, even if Piggy wasn’t the host for the night. Whoopi had hit it out of the park, as always, not only explaining to the audience that Piggy was out for the week, but creating a great opening monologue right before going on.

    Overall, the show seemed to be a success, which Kermit already knew it would be, but figured it was better to let the diva hear it herself. Piggy had already changed – a soft maroon t-shirt with a pair of black boy shorts – and was in the process of brushing her teeth when Kermit walked over to lean against the door jam. Putting his phone on speaker, Kermit said, “Say again, Scooter.”

    “The show worked out perfectly,” the manager and acting producer replied. “Whoopi said she was pretty sure she could do Monday’s show, but if not, Melissa’s all set to go. Oh, Rosie called back and she could finish out the week if we needed her.”

    Kermit tossed a look to the diva, a mix of ‘I told you so’ and questioning. “Thank you, dearheart,” she replied, drying her mouth with the nearby towel. “Vous is, as always, one step ahead of the curve.”

    Scooter chuckled, before clearing his throat, nervously. “Piggy, you got a minute?”

    The frog took the phone off speaker, before handing it over. Scooter always did like to check in, especially with the two of them, but in this case, the manager was a little left out; and Scooter hated being left out, especially on something as big as this. Figuring the two would want some privacy, as evident by the way Piggy actually closed the door partway, – which she hadn’t bothered to do earlier – Kermit went about getting ready for bed, including setting the alarm on Piggy’s phone to go off around eight am. He had already set his for 7:30am, though it was likely he’d be up much earlier.

    Kermit had already given in to his curiosity of the room, especially when he had noticed the various photos that had been on the dresser; while he had known she had been a beauty queen, he hadn’t known she had been a cheerleader until he had seen the pictures of her and the cheer squad, with a trophy sitting off to the side. There was a group image that sat the middle of the other two, with what was probably Piggy and her cheerleading squad – a young Piggy sat center stage, her brunette locks tied in a ponytail, blue eyes sparkling in the sun, and a huge smile on her face. Kermit had almost forgotten about Piggy’s natural locks before their arrival; he of course remembered meeting the beautiful brunette for the first time, but he would of course would never forget the day she had arrived to work as a blonde, literally flooring him when he saw her.

    It was a little surprising seeing a younger version of his favorite person, much like walking through a door to the past. Piggy of course kept her past strictly where it belonged – in the part - with only bits and pieces of it coming out at random times. While he knew nothing sinister was hiding in her closet, he couldn’t lie and say that he hadn’t wondered about some of her past, especially when he had been so forthcoming with his own.

    Hearing the door finally open, Kermit turned to hear the end of Piggy’s conversation with Scooter. “Of course,” she was saying, walking out and throwing something in her bag. “Look, you and I both know Cheesy talks more than he actually does anything else. Pay no mind to whatever you think he’s up to.”

    “What’s Cheesy up to?” Kermit asked, turning to face her fully.

    “Nothing, darling,” Piggy replied, smiling at him before going back to her conversation.

    Kermit let it go, for the moment, before turning back to continue getting ready for bed before he turned back to look at Piggy, who had finished her conversation and was in the process of handing back in his phone, when he asked, “Is that my shirt?”

    Looking down, Piggy looked at the maroon shirt, which had Leland Track & Field emblazoned across the front of it. “Oh yeah,” she said, looking back up at him. “I may have borrowed this. Well…I should say, I borrowed it a while ago and then forgot to…give it back. Why? Did you want it back?”

    He couldn’t help it, he chuckled. “Any other time,” he said. “I would absolutely call you on this, but you know I don’t mind if you steal my shirts; you look better in them anyways.”

    “Aw Kermie, you always say the sweetest things.”

    Despite no longer being together and even being apart for quite some time, the two immediately found themselves falling into their previous domestic routine, right down to Kermit setting both of their alarms for the next morning and even Piggy putting his phone within reach, with unimportant notifications and calls blocked so he could sleep through the night. With lights out, the two settled under the covers, though it was clear the diva was anything but - back turned to Kermit, it was unlike her to be so distant from the frog.

    “Hey,” he whispered. “Hey,” he tried again when he got no answer, finally giving a tug on her t-shirt and then the ponytail she had her hair in before she finally turned slightly to him. “C’mere darlin’.”

    Kermit may not have known everything there was to Piggy, but he knew her enough. A Piggy who didn’t want to cuddle with him was a distressed or an angry Piggy; this Piggy just happened to be a stressed one and he could handle a stressed Piggy. Pulling her towards him, she relented, draping her arm across his midsection and resting her head on his shoulder. Dropping a kiss on her forehead, Kermit asked, “What’re you gonna say tomorrow?”

    “What can I say?” she whispered. “Here lies my mother, Hortense Hogglesworth, a beaten down sow who may have been living vicariously through her children; that is, when she bothered to acknowledge she had children. Wife to a philandering boar…” Sighing sadly, she chuckled. “Yeah, that’ll go over great.”

    “It wasn’t all bad, was it?” he asked, nodding towards the dresser. “The teenager in those pictures seemed happy.”

    Piggy waited a moment before answering. He was right – her high school years weren’t horrible; in fact they were very good until the day when she ultimately left. And there had been times in her childhood when her father had been alive that she certainly, now in the aftermath of his death, cherished.

    “No,” she whispered. “It wasn’t all bad. Not all of it.”

    “Well, that’s important, yeah?” Kermit replied. “I know everything wasn’t what you would hope or wanted, but you can’t forget that things were good at a few points.”

    “Yeah.”

    Things had been good, for a time; Piggy had always felt things got worse when her father died, that seemed to be the point where everything just fell apart as far as she was concerned. Her mother had never been the same, despite her husband’s wandering eyes and hands, she had loved him and at some point, he had loved them.

    Tomorrow was going to be a long day.


    [hr]


    Friday morning came with no more than a whimper and the smells of breakfast and fresh coffee. Normally an early riser, Kermit was already awake before his alarm went off, comfortably snug under the covers and with an arm slung across his chest. It never seemed to surprise him that the two of them always seemed to be snuggled together, even when they were angry with each other. “Baby?” he whispered, wondering if she was perhaps awake as well; he doubted it, as she normally wasn’t up at the same time he was.

    Turning over so he could actually look at her, he confirmed that she was indeed still asleep, looking more relaxed than he had seen her that entire week, not to mention yesterday as a whole. Not wanting to disturb her, Kermit eased himself from under her arm before dropping a kiss on her cheek, sliding out of bed, and out of the bedroom to see who else may have been up.

    The house itself was still in shadow, though the rising sun was throwing its rays through the windows; the light in the kitchen was on and Kermit was actually surprised to find Nate at the sink, washing a few dishes, while behind him, was the sound of food cooking on the stove. “There you are,” replied the pig, turning when he heard someone enter.

    “Looking for me?” asked the frog, taking a seat on the first bar stool at the kitchen island.

    “Well, I was under the impression that you were sleeping on the couch,” Nate said, turning from the sink and heading back to the stove. Throwing a look back at him, he continued with, “So you’ll imagine my surprise when I don’t see you on the couch this morning.”

    Kermit cleared his throat and tried to keep the blush off his face. He should’ve seen this coming and maybe subconsciously he did, but he wasn’t about to ignore or downplay the fact that Piggy had needed him and he had been there for her, just as he planned to there for her today. “Piggy needed me,” he said, honestly. “And I’m always there when she needs me, regardless of where she is.”

    Nate nodded, his concentration back on the breakfast he was making. He almost asked if the two were back together, but refrained, not wanting to cause any issues between him and Kermit or worse – between himself and his sister. Out of all of them, Nate probably knew more about his sister’s relationship with the frog, even when that relationship had ended and it had hit all the papers. He was sure – or so he thought – he was the only besides the parties involved that was aware of how painful that breakup had been, but he was also sure he was the only one who thought it was a long time coming.

    Not that he didn’t like Kermit – this was the first, actual physical time the two of them had met, but he had heard about him and had even spoken to him on occasion when he just happened to be the one to grab the phone instead of her. He hadn’t been sure about him at first – the constant denials that he was even dating his sister had rubbed him the wrong way – but he could tell, even over the phone, that the frog actually cared about his sister. When he had walked in that morning and didn’t see Kermit on the couch, he had gotten slightly worried – his twin would indeed murder him if he reported they managed to lose her ex-boyfriend and producer – but the frank answer he had gotten left no doubt that Piggy, like them all, was an emotional wreck and whatever the frog was to her now, it still meant he would come to her aid if called.

    “Need any help?”

    Nate shook his head, the question pulling him from his own. “Actually,” he said. “If you wanted to start the coffee maker, that would be great.”

    “You had me at coffee,” the frog chuckled, sliding off the stool and heading for the machine. All the necessary ingredients were at his fingertips, though he did suggest they actually keep the coffee in the refrigerator for continued freshness, and made a full pot. Looking up at the wall clock and seeing the time nearing the half hour mark, he made a mental note that on his second cup, he’d start making Piggy’s.

    “What’re you doing here so early?” he asked, pulling down an extra mug so he wouldn’t forget. He didn’t remember Nate staying in the house overnight, in fact he was sure the older pig had gone home.

    “Figured I’d make breakfast,” he said. Glancing at the frog’s look, he chuckled. “I used to make breakfast in the morning when we were kids after...” Nate interrupted his own thought before changing it to, “Old habits, as they say. No worries, Frog, the wife and kids should be here soon.”

    Kermit nodded, filing that piece of information away. Was Piggy aware that she had more nieces or nephews or that her older brother was married? Come to think of it, he actually hadn’t known Nate was Piggy’s twin until yesterday; he didn’t think that was something so awful she couldn’t admit. Was it? The two went about their duties, with Nate continuing to make breakfast and Kermit retreating back to the kitchen island, picking up the paper that rested near him to read the day’s headlines.

    At ten till eight, Kermit made his second cup of coffee, while also preparing Piggy’s for when she awoke, putting in the required amount of sugar when he couldn’t find any creamer. Five minutes later, the diva – dressed in a lavender robe – made her entrance, running a hand along the frog’s shoulders in greeting before saying ‘Good morning’ to her brother. Seeing the mug of coffee coming towards her, Piggy made a grateful sigh before taking the stool next to Kermit.

    “You are an angel.”

    “Oh I know that.”

    “Junior,” she asked, turning to watch her brother. “What’re you making over there?”

    “Pancakes.”

    “I love pancakes.”

    “I know that,” he smirked. “Also thought you’d like a little bit of home. Check out the fruit basket.”

    Piggy turned back to the island and observed the fruit basket that was now in the center, holding several different green fruits. “Paw paws?” she asked, excitedly, grabbing one and the cutting knife that had been inside along with them. Paw paws had been a favorite within the Hogglesworth home, with the mango like fruit a natural resource in the state and growing wild within the Midwest. The taste could range from a sweet banana to that of a cantaloupe depending on its ripeness; for the Hogglesworths, the sweet banana version had been the favorite and was the type Nate had managed to pick up from the store that morning.

    Cutting it open, Piggy used the knife to snag a piece before spooning out a portion for Kermit and holding it out to him. “Right?” she asked, seeing the surprised but delighted expression on the frog’s face. “Nate, you are the bestest of brothers.”

    “Now, now, sister dear,” the eldest said, walking over with a plate full of pancakes and holding it out of reach. “You know that’s not what I want to hear.”

    “Oh c’mon,” she whined. “It’s early and I’m hungry.”

    “Do you want pancakes and paw paws?”

    Huffing, the diva rolled her eyes and said, “You are and have always been the good twin.” Turning to Kermit, she groused, “Do you see what I had to live with? I envy Scooter for being an only child; I bet it was a wonderful experience.”

    “Then where would you have gotten your good looks and personality from?” joked the good twin.

    “Don’t you have a home?” she retorted. “And a wife who would willingly make you breakfast?”

    “Fear not, she’s coming,” he said, glancing at the wall clock. “Give or take five minutes.”

    It was less than that when the sounds of a car driving up could be heard, complete with what sounded like an adult trying to herd several children out of the car and into the house. “Daddy? DADDY?” A little piglet walked in, before running over to Nate with a loud “Daddy!” before he reached over to hoist her in his arms.

    “Hi,” he said, a large smile on his face. “What have we said about inside voices?”

    “It’s quiet,” she said, with a playful look on her face.

    “Uh huh. And where are we?”

    “Inside!”

    “Shhh,” Nate cooed. “Inside, remember?”

    “Shhh,” the toddler repeated. “Inside.”

    While father and daughter were going over the difference of inside and outside, a teenager had started in the kitchen before he stopped to stare at Piggy. “Oh my god, you do exist!” he exclaimed.

    “And good morning to you, too,” the diva deadpanned.

    “Hey,” the teen said, walking over to stand next to her. “I haven’t seen you since I was five. I thought you were like a mythical figure, like a unicorn or a yeti. I was convinced you were a figment of my imagination.”

    “See, I wasn’t sure,” Piggy began. “But clearly you’re insane, so you must be Nate’s child. Hello, Eli.”

    The teen, Eli, covered his heart with his hands. “Gasp!” he said. “She remembers my name! I think I’m gonna cry!”

    “I think I’m gonna cry,” Piggy retorted, giving him a look. “You’re a horrible actor.”

    “She wounds me,” he cried, staggering slightly. “With intent to kill.”

    “No honestly,” she insisted. “What are they teaching you at school?”

    “Oh terrible, horrible things!” Eli cried. “Math, science, history…dogs and cats living together! Pigs, frogs…” His comical rant seemed to stop once he saw the person to his aunt’s right. “And speaking of, you’re the frog. I mean, you’re him! You’re Kermit the Frog!”

    “I am.”

    “Can I hug you?” the teen blurted, before reeling back as though he was dismissing the idea. “Wait, what? No, that’s not…I meant, could I shake your hand in a totally manly way. Why would I say hug? I don’t even know. I totally meant shake your hand.”

    Kermit couldn’t help but smile. He was used to people wanting to hug him and even more, he was used to people pretending that they didn’t want to hug him due to their age, but they were too shy or embarrassed to actually want to request it. “You can hug me.”

    “Really?” Eli asked, his voice excited and cracking slightly when it went higher. Clearing his throat, he amended that with the more adult, “I mean, yeah. Okay, that’s cool.”

    “I’m so glad those manners we taught him have not sunk in,” replied another pig. She was around Piggy’s height with dark hair hanging just above her shoulders and steel grey eyes. It was clear she was Eli’s mother, as he had the same coloring, though he did have some of his father’s features.

    “You probably got a hug,” Piggy huffed, taking a sip from her coffee. “I’m related and I didn’t even get a hug.”

    Correcting his blunder, Eli threw his arms around his aunt’s shoulders, delivering a sloppy kiss to her cheek while doing so. “Hello, my darling Aunt Piggy,” he said. “Whom the angels have blessed with my presence.”

    “Mitt,” Nate called. “This is my wife, Sarah, and you’ve already met Heckle. And that, is Ellie Mae.”

    Ellie Mae, the toddler that was still learning about inside voices, had left her father’s side in order to see the new people who were sitting in the kitchen. She had immediately made a beeline to the frog and had been patting him on the leg since her brother had turned to their aunt. “Hi!”

    “Hi,” he said, smiling down at her. Like her brother, Ellie Mae was very much her mother’s child, though her hair was slightly lighter most likely due to her father’s own brown locks and her eyes held a mix of her parents.

    “Up?” she asked, holding her arms up. “Up! Up up up up up!”

    “Ellie, what do we say when want something?” her mother chided.

    “Peas!”

    Never able to resist a child’s request, Kermit did her bidding and picked up the child and placed her on his lap. Pointing at his plate, Ellie looked back at him and asked, “Some? I some?”

    “Ellie,” Sarah said. “Why don’t you let Daddy make you your own plate?”

    “Nooo,” the child whined. “Sharing!” Patting the frog on the arm that was holding her, she said, “Mitt share. Share, Mitt! Share!”

    “We can share.”

    “Kermit,” Sarah replied, shaking her head. “You don’t have to do that. I promise you those manners we taught them have obviously gone to waste.”

    “I don’t mind,” the frog said, smiling and cutting a piece of his pancake to give to the toddler. “This isn’t the first time I’ve had one of my nieces steal breakfast from me. Or nephews. Or younger siblings. Or friends. Or anyone really, now that I think of it.”

    “Well sharing is caring, Kermie.”

    The small group started in on breakfast, only interrupted by the arrival of Ham and the younger twins. Andy and Randy quickly said hello to their cousins before being distracted by the growing food on the table, while Ham went to get a cup of coffee. “You look like death, Hammy,” his sister replied. “Rough night?”

    “Only in thinking of the coming destruction you plan to deliver to Tokyo, Pigzilla,” he snapped back, coming to a stop in between her and Kermit.

    “Hey, here’s a thought,” Nate started, walking to the sink to drop dishes off before having his own breakfast. “How about, for once, we cease and desist with the constant arguing as to not upset our poor grandmother who has lost her daughter?”

    “And with respect to the three of you, seeing as you’ve just lost your mother,” Sarah added, throwing a look at her husband.

    Appropriately chastised, Nate nodded. “That too.”

    Sarah shot Kermit a look, one of concern that they seemed to share. There seemed to be a healthy amount of denial where it came to the three accepting that their mother was dead, though it shouldn’t have been a surprise – people grieved differently, in different ways, and certainly with the seemingly amount of animosity the siblings had not only for both of their parents but for themselves, this was not going to be an easy day.
     
  6. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    Holland Creek Cemetery was a little out of the way location, set with a modest church to the west and the cemetery to the east, just to the side. It was established by one Hollis Concorde, starting with the church before the creation of the cemetery in order to have a place to bury its founder when he died. Two hundred years later, the area was maintained by a few of the Concorde family, though it was mostly non-family that worked there.

    Holland Creek was the resting place for many a family within Bogen County and surrounding areas, including the Malines and Hogglesworths. Ida’s husband Alan and his brother were buried here and today, she would add her eldest daughter to that list. The childhood home was the starting place for the majority of family to meet and would be the setting for the memorial after Hortense was buried, culminating in most of the family and friends having lunch in the home.

    Ida had gone with Piggy, Kermit, Gonzo, and Fozzie after the diva and Nate had gotten into an argument on who would drive which family member to the service. Ida had made the decision herself, stating that she wasn’t about to step in Nate’s beast of a truck nor was she riding around in Ham’s large marge mobile and she certainly wasn’t going to be privy to another conversation with Hattie. The atmosphere in their car was actually pretty jovial, well as jovial as one could be when heading to a funeral. They made one stop on the way, a nearby store so Piggy could stop; it was only when she returned that the reason was obvious – she had purchased a small bouquet of flowers, which the others had assumed would be for her mother.

    The stop managed to put some distance between them and the rest of their caravan, with their Prius pulling up next to Nate’s blue F-150 in the church parking lot. “Grandma,” Piggy whispered. “Can I make a stop before heading into the church?”

    “Of course, sweets,” Ida replied, patting her eldest granddaughter on the arm. “You know, I think a little walk would be good, don’t you boys agree?”

    Holland Creek was categorized as a lawn cemetery, with a lush, green lawn that posed a scenic environment for loved ones both above and below ground. The group followed their diva, who even decades later knew exactly where she needed to go – through the parking lot and past the church to the official gate entrance to the cemetery; her walk continued forward, seven rows in before heading back west towards the church.

    In the middle of the area, it was clear they were working on a burial for the day – a hole had been dug between two of the present graves and it confirmed this would be Hortense Maline Hogglesworth’s final resting place when Piggy stopped at the grave to the right of the open area. Kermit’s arm immediately found its way around her waist upon reading the name on the headstone.

    “Pignatius Hamilton Lee Hogglesworth,” Gonzo read once the group had stopped. “That’s a name to conjure with.”

    Piggy smirked, removing the shades she’d been wearing ever since they had left the house. “Hammy and I lucked out,” she said, smiling down at the headstone. “It’s Nate who has to go through life with a junior attached to that.” Kneeling down, she placed the purchased flowers on the grave, brushing a few leaves off the marker. “Hello, Daddy.” Standing upright, she took a deep breath before glancing at the open grave next to him.

    “You’re getting a new neighbor today,” she continued. “At least it’s someone you know. It’s Mama.”

    “Maybe he’ll treat her better in death than he did in life,” Ida snarked.

    “Not now, Grandma.”

    Piggy liked to think she had a decent amount of control when it came to her emotions, but there were times – usually involving one Kermit the Frog – when they threatened to overwhelm her. This was one of those times that not only didn’t involve Kermit, but seemed to heighten by ten thousand. Her father’s grave had been the last thing she had seen of her family before she left Bogen County for good all those years ago; back then, there had only been her grandfather and great uncle to visit.

    There was a reason Piggy hated funerals and cemeteries. Besides being desperately depressing, they always brought up that day she had stood in this very cemetery and buried her beloved father. And now here she was, decades later and about to bury her mother.

    The universe sure thought it was funny.

    And today it must have felt extremely hilarious.

    Glancing over at the open grave that would soon be the resting place for her mother, Piggy’s eye got the last name of the grave on the other side, a last name that was shared with her siblings. Taking a step back to actually see the name clearer, Piggy felt her heart lurch before it dropped to her stomach.

    “Piggy?” asked Kermit, hearing the startled gasp before she made her way over to it.

    Confirming the name only caused the diva more distress, even when Nate quickly made his way over to console her. The others, other than Ida, were completely confused over the problem and had to look at the headstone to try and figure out why Piggy had startled so suddenly.

    MARJORIE HELLESE HOGGLESWORTH

    “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men” ~ W. Wonka

    “Did you know about this?”

    “I…” Nate began, but was unable to come up with the words. He was able to come up with some as soon as Piggy hit him, exclaiming, “How could you not tell me about this!?”

    “I didn’t know!” he shouted. “I only found about it today. And I am telling you! Why do you think I’ve been looking for you?”

    Taking a breath, the diva tried calming her heart, but it wasn’t working as well as she hoped. Looking at the headstone again, her eyes darted to the dates. “That can’t be right,” she whispered.

    “What?”

    Pointing, she indicated the date of death. “That,” she said. “That was two years ago. How the heck do we not know of our sister’s death for two years?”

    Nate was also at a loss for words, equally surprised and devastated at discovering one of their sisters had died and neither one of them had known about it.

    “Does Ham know?” she asked, quietly.

    “I don’t know,” he whispered. “I don’t think so.”

    “Oh god, we’ll have to tell him.”

    “I’ll tell him,” Ida said, making her way towards the church. “Now certainly isn’t a time for an argument. Fozzie, dear, would you walk with me up to the church?”

    “Of course, Miss Ida.”

    “Gonzo, go with them,” Kermit whispered, watching as the head writer nodded before catching up to the duo. Once he saw the trio further down, he replaced his arm back around the diva, rubbing her back as she regained her composure.

    “You should’ve told me,” she whispered.

    “I’m sorry,” Nate repeated. “And I did tell you.”

    Before I arrived at her grave, Nate.”

    “She was my baby sister, too, Piggy.”

    “Guys,” Kermit interjected, hoping to stop an argument before it started, especially here. “I don’t think your sister or father would appreciate you arguing in front of them, do you?”

    Both seemed to be equally chastised, nodding at his reasoning. “Come on,” Nate whispered, tugging on his twin’s hand. “They’re gonna start looking for us soon and we should probably be in there for Hammy.”

    “This day has just gotten worse,” Piggy muttered, following her brother as he headed towards the church.


    [hr]


    The church ceremony was what you would expect for a funeral – it was open casket, however Piggy had been adamant that she didn’t want to view her mother and no matter how many family members went up there, she was content to sit in the first row pew and wait for the service to start. Apparently Andy felt the same way because he joined her and the two waited for the others to finish.

    “You alright, kid?” she whispered to him.

    Looking around, Andy leaned over and said, “There’s a lot of people here. I don’t…I don’t know a lot of them.”

    Piggy took a good look at her nephew and she felt a pang in her heart. Like her, Ham obviously had left home and hadn’t returned until he heard their mother was sick; while that would’ve been fine for her, the difference with her brother was he had children. Children who obviously hadn’t known their relatives outside of her and even then, she had only spent a few months with them before insisting Ham take them back.

    She hadn’t realized just how much the boys were missing until now. She had even missed the very existence of her only niece, that she knew of at least. She was so disconnected from her family she didn’t even know her youngest sister had died and apparently no one else had been aware of it either. Robin the Frog could catch a cold and the whole set of Up Late would not only know about it, but would start the process of sending soup and get well cards.

    When Fozzie had gotten the call that his mother had died, she, Kermit, Gonzo, Rowlf, and Scooter had been at his apartment within five minutes; she had even arranged the funeral service for him because he had been so distressed and depressed.

    Her mother had died and it took three people to get her to come back home. She didn’t even know about her sister until she happened to see the headstone. “Yeah,” she said, looking at family members who had changed while she had been gone. “I don’t know some of them either.”

    “I wish I knew them,” Andy admitted, a small grimace on his face. “I don’t think Dad likes coming out here. He wasn’t happy about coming. He always gets upset when I mention Mom, too.”

    “Do you miss her?”

    Andy shrugged. “Sometimes,” he whispered. “I don’t remember a lot about her; I think Randy does though. Dad doesn’t like to talk about her.” The twin waited a beat before asking, “Do you miss your mom?”

    That was the question, wasn’t it? She hadn’t wanted to even come here and now her nephew, whom she hadn’t seen in at least five years and whom she hadn’t even met until eight years before that, was asking if she missed the very woman she had hated for decades. “I don’t know,” she answered, honestly. “I really don’t know.”

    The viewing took longer than the diva would have liked, but soon Pastor Dean had the congregation sitting in their seats as he got the service started. It was the standard funeral fare, with the pastor acknowledging the passing of Hortense and the kind of person that she was; Bogen County was a fairly small community, meaning that most people knew each other and therefore were aware of both the Malines and the Hogglesworths. There was a decent turnout, with at least fifty people in attendance.

    When it was time for anyone to speak up, Ricky Lane fulfilled his deal from the night before, reluctantly standing from his seat before taking his place at the podium. Despite all of his bravado the night before, the actual impact of his sister’s death seemed to have hit him between last night and this moment. “Well,” he began, clearing his throat. “I can honestly say that I never expected to be up here any time soon, especially for my older sister.

    “Being the only boy in the family was hard, especially when you’re surrounded by girls. It seems like I’m always mad at my sister or maybe it was vice versa. I always stole her toys, well we all did, cause she got the better toys. ‘Sissy’ we used to call her that, you know? ‘Sissy’s got the better toys!’.” Looking over at his sister, he continued with, “It’s been a while, Sissy, and for once, this is the one thing I don’t want from you. If I had to trade, I’d trade for you to come back.”

    Nodding, Ricky Lane stepped down and retook his seat. The pastor continued, directing everyone for the burial that would take place in a few moments; Nate, Ham, Ricky Lane, and John were going to be the pall bearers so they stood to take their places, with Ida leading the pack as they headed outside to the plot that was designated for Hortense. The procession was quiet, with the family following out first before the others.

    There was small service once the casket had been brought to the grave, with Pastor Dean stating that Hortense would be remembered by her mother, her sisters and brothers, and her children. After finding out about their youngest sister the way they had, Ida decided to dismiss Piggy and Nate from any speeches, her own guilt at knowing about Marjorie’s death, as well as her own sadness about the loss of her own daughter kept her reserved throughout the service.

    The rest of the family, at least Hortense’s siblings seemed as reserved as their mother; Hortense’s children were anything but. Kermit had been holding onto Piggy’s hand since they walked out of the church and he could literally feel the tension within her; Nate, he noticed, also seemed to be very stoic with his arms crossed against his chest. Sarah had to literally pull one of those massive arms towards her to get him to relax, but only slightly.

    Both twins had their eyes covered with their shades, Piggy having extra cover with a stylish black hat she wore on her head. Even Ham didn’t seem to be completely at the funeral, his eyes focused forward, though it was clear he wasn’t exactly focused on anything at the moment.

    The pastor continued the service, with a few more words, citing the spirit of Hortense and that she was now reunited with both her husband and her youngest daughter before lowering the casket into the ground.

    And like that, Hortense Roseleen Maline Hogglesworth was no more.

    Mourners started to leave, whether it be to their own homes or back to the Hogglesworths’ for the memorial; the family of course were stragglers, with Ricky Lane finally saying they needed to get back before the others beat them to the house. John agreed, getting BlackJack to help get his mother and aunt to head off with them, while the others stayed with Ida. “Piggy?” Kermit whispered, giving her hand a squeeze. “Sweetheart, why don’t you give me the keys?”

    It took a moment before Piggy answered him. “What?”

    “The keys, baby,” he repeated. “To the car.”

    “Oh,” she said, shaking her head slightly. “Pocket, I think.”

    Kermit didn’t hesitate to reach a hand into her jacket pockets before he ended up finding them in one of her pants’ pockets. “Guys,” he whispered, standing in front of both Fozzie and Gonzo. “Do you think you could find your way back to the house?”

    “I can, Kermit,” Fozzie volunteered, holding out his paw for the keys.

    “Go get it started,” he said. “And I’ll get the others gathered up.”

    “You got it, Frog,” Gonzo replied, turning and heading after Fozzie as he headed back down to the car. They both climbed in, as driver and passenger, and waited for the other three members of their party to join them.

    “This is going to be a long day,” the comic sighed.

    “Yeah,” Gonzo whispered. “I’ve never seen Piggy so shaken before.”

    “Even at the height of their worst arguments,” Fozzie agreed.

    They had known the couple for decades and while they had known just about everything about Kermit and his family, Piggy was still a mystery to them. It wasn’t to say they told each other everything – they all had a past and sometimes the past was best left where it needed to stay, but with being friends for so long, they had expected her to maybe let lose some things about herself. But Piggy was a tough cookie and maybe that was what concerned them above all – Gonzo had been right.

    They had never seen her so out of sorts before and they were worried.

    “Do you think she’ll be alright?”

    “If anyone can handle Piggy, it’s Kermit,” Gonzo replied. “So it’s our job to make things easier on her and everyone else.” Giving the bear a look, he joked, “You seem to have already started on Ida.”

    Fozzie cracked a smile, chuckling to himself. “She’s alright,” he said, with a wistful look in his eye. “She reminds of Ma, don’t you think?”

    Gonzo had to nod at that. Ida Maline was a straight shooter, that was for sure and Gonzo could see where Piggy got some of that moxy of hers. And she did remind him a bit of Fozzie’s mother, the same no nonsense attitude and straight forwardness that seemed to crop up in most of their female cast members and family. “She does at that.”

    The two didn’t need to wait any longer, as the rest of the family came from the church, obviously ending a conversation with the pastor there. Nate and his family were finishing a chat, while Piggy was walking with her grandmother towards them, Kermit only two steps behind. Their walk was silent until Kermit opened the backdoor, as Ida was telling him she would get in first, so that Piggy could sit in between them.

    “Fozzie dear,” Ida whispered. “You can follow Nate so you won’t get lost.”

    The comic nodded, starting the car just as Nate started to back out of the parking lot. The ride back was nearly as silent at the ride there, complete with Piggy asking a question of her grandmother as they drove. “Grandma? Did you know about Marjie?”

    Ida sighed before taking her granddaughter’s other hand in hers. “I did, sweets,” she said. “But only this week when Hortense told me. I hadn’t even known she knew until she told me. I wouldn’t be surprised if that lead to her eventual downfall. No parent ever wants to outlive their child.”

    Piggy held her tongue, not wanting to upset her grandmother any more than she was, but she couldn’t help the anger that seemed to be growing within her. Of course her mother hadn’t managed to spare a thought to her other children to let them know their sister had died, even if it meant they at least had a head’s up before her own funeral. The anger was a good mask for the sorrow that had pierced her heart – much with the rest of the family, Piggy hadn’t talked to her baby sister in years and now, she would never talk to her again.

    The diva knew her older brother tried his best to keep tabs on all of them and then became the messenger for telling everyone how they were all doing; even then, Piggy only spoke to Nate a few times in the year, maybe four at the very most. Obviously less than that if she had gone so long she didn’t even know he had had a second child. So lost in her thoughts, Piggy hadn’t even been aware they arrived back to the house until Fozzie stopped and turned off the car.

    “Hey Ida,” Gonzo said, turning slightly so he could view the people in the back. “Why don’t you take a break, relax, and sit down? Fozzie and I can handle anything in the kitchen, including any hungry guests.”

    “Are you sure?”

    “Oh yeah,” Gonzo said, nodding to Kermit. “The frog will vouch for us; we tend to do this a lot. I mean not…parties, I meant.”

    Kermit leaned forward to look at the matriarch. “They’re good at what they do,” he said, sending a soft smile her way.

    “That’s very nice of you, boys.”

    “You guys don’t have to do that,” Piggy protested, though her voice didn’t hold any malice.

    “Moral support, remember?” Gonzo asked, smiling gently at her.

    “Yeah.” No one mentioned the fact that her voice hitched when she said it.

    Leaving the car, the quintet headed into the house, which was now much fuller than it had been when they had arrived the day before. Most were there to offer their condolences to the family, with some of them not really knowing Hortense herself, but knew of Ida or her other children. As promised, Fozzie and Gonzo made themselves at home within the kitchen, helping John kick out both his wife and sister-in-law, stating nearly the same things the former had been telling their niece only minutes ago.

    “Expect to see those two back in here again,” the pig chuckled, shaking his head at them both. John Gillespie had been largely silent during this whole ordeal, mostly sticking to his wife while the family went through this tragedy. The elder pig was slightly taller than that of Nate, though it was clear at one point he may have had the same wall like physique his nephew managed to maintain.

    His raven hair was thinning slightly, with a few strands of grey sprinkled throughout, and dark green eyes that made him stand apart from the brown that his in-laws held. “Bet you boys weren’t expecting to enter into the lion’s den when you came in, did ya?”

    “How’s that?” Gonzo asked, setting out plates for the lunch and snacks that would be served.

    John chuckled. “The cat and dog atmosphere between every single one of these guys,” he said. “This family’s mired in conflict, starting all the way back to Alan and Conrad Maline.”

    “Who’re Alan and Conrad?” asked Fozzie.

    “Alan is or rather was Ida’s husband,” he continued. “My departed father-in-law, so to speak. And his brother.”

    “What happened to them?” Gonzo inquired.

    “Stopped talking to each other,” John said, bringing out some glasses from the cabinet and placing them on the kitchen island. “Fifteen years, not a word between them until…I think their father died? May have been their mother, one of their parents. Anyway, this is the first time Hattie and Millie have spoken to each other and have been in the same place in five years and this is Ricky’s first time in seven.”

    Gonzo and Fozzie looked at each other in surprised shock. “So what happened?” the bear asked, wondering what could possibly keep siblings away for seven years.

    John shrugged. “Not sure actually,” he admitted. “Something stupid, most likely, between Hortense and Ricky; and you saw how the three of them can get in it with just a sentence. Apples don’t fall far from the tree, do they?” Turning, he began to pull out silverware, but continued his commentary. “Anyway, I’m not surprised the other girls aren’t here. Hortense had three younger sisters no one has seen in like…I don’t know, twenty years maybe? Heck, you notice that two of her own daughters aren’t here.

    “And I bet it took you fellas a down right heck of a time convincing Piggy to come along.” Placing the silverware on the island, John joked, “I’d avoid the water if I were you; brings out something fierce in everyone.”

    “I hope you aren’t telling tales out of school, John.”

    All three turned and watched as Sarah walked through the kitchen, two glasses in her hands. Sarah, much like Kermit, was trying to do her best to gauge her husband’s grief, which seemed stuck on none for the moment. Almost as through unspoken word, the in-laws and friends had taken it upon themselves to play hostess for the house, allowing for the Hogglesworth family to accept condolences and comfort each other.

    Well…the first part of that at least.

    Again, John chuckled. “I’m just giving them a crash course, that’s all,” he said. “You know well as I do, newcomers don’t come in with any warning with that bunch; you show up at the pool and you get thrown into the deep end, no life vest, no nothing.”

    Sarah smiled kindly at her uncle before looking at the friends to her sister-in-law. “You get used to one Hogglesworth, you’re used to them all,” she said, refilling the two glasses and heading back towards the living room, but stopped to throw the comic and writer a parting word. “It goes without saying of course that this is something entirely different.”

    “And volatile,” Gonzo said. “I can tell you from experience, the last thing anyone wants is to get Piggy mad enough that she starts swinging.” Rubbing his nose slightly, he said, “No one wants to be on the receiving end of one of her karate chops.”

    “Or her right hook,” Fozzie added. Luckily, the comic only needed to be told – or chopped, in this case – once before he got the message. Others – like Gonzo and Kermit – needed to be told several times and even then, they would sometimes forget; Rowlf, by mistake, had been on the receiving end of that right hook once, when the person the diva was aiming for ducked and her fist had landed on the tavern owner’s jaw.

    “Well, keep Ham in your prayers,” she said, drolly. “Cause he’s put a target on his face.”
     
    The Count likes this.
  7. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    *:sigh: Family drama, it's the one thing that makes our lives, *draws in breath like Long John, "interestin'".

    Always a sad time when a parent or other loved one in the family dies.
    Nice little bit between Piggy and Andy there. And the devastation/private indignation at finding out her younger sister passed away are all good touches helping further the story along.

    Thanks for posting.
     
  8. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    Mupps! What it is! So here's the continuing section from where I left you last time, with of course some admin stuff.

    So, after thinking about it for a while, I've gone ahead and decided that Andy and Randy are teenagers, around 13, so about two years younger than Eli or Robin. I came to that decision based on their characteristics here and maybe in a follow up story and some of their traits from MT. It just didn't seem to make sense to me for them to be older, so I decided to go younger.

    Along with this, I'm also referencing a quote another member posted in one of the episode threads -

    And of course I have now forgotten which post and which thread, however it was Piggy's response that I wanted to explore. After I wrote the following section, I realized I had read her line wrong - I thought she was saying she couldn't believe that Andy and Randy were her brother's not that she couldn't believe they were her brothers. Basically, I inserted an apostrophe where there wasn't one.

    However, that point was kinda essential in this, so I went with it. Of course, now it's been established in Muppety canon that Andy and Randy are her nephews, so yeah.

    Anyway, just wanted to explain that before we get our start. Let's check in on this, shall we?




    Sarah left the kitchen, carrying the glasses for the two guests that she had offered to get them for. She had left in the middle of a not at all interesting conversation between Ida and Mrs. Gloria Nader, the former neighbor to the Hogglesworths. It had started out about a story involving her deceased husband before it got to the point where, if the raven haired swine hadn’t stood up and left, she would have no doubt fallen asleep from boredom.

    The conversation in the kitchen rang true enough – if one didn’t know how the Malines and Hogglesworths worked and interacted with each other, it could be a bit disconcerting when the first argument started. And while Sarah was used to Nate and even the Gillespies, she had to admit that she hadn’t ever encountered the clear animosity his siblings not only brought out in him, but each other. Certainly, as she mentioned, the death of their mother was hard enough, but the added shock of discovering their sister was dead just added more weight on an already stressful and distressing day.

    The tension had been rising since that morning and it almost felt like a powder keg once they had arrived back home from the service. She was sure Kermit noticed it too, with the way the frog kept his eye on his not at all girlfriend –

    “Have you noticed that when Piggy is upset, she tends to start an argument just for the sake of starting an argument?”

    “I’ve known Piggy to start an argument because it was Wednesday,” he joked. “I take it you’re worried?”

    “This is the most agitated I’ve seen him,” she whispered. “I know the situation calls for it, but…since we’ve been married, it’s very rare for him to shut down like this. And I’m sure you’ve noticed Piggy and Ham seem to be circling each other, like a bunch of buzzards.”

    “How much do you know about Hamilton?”

    “Not a lot,” she said. “Other than he’s the baby, he’s raising his twin boys by himself – his wife died a decade ago – and he’s a therapist in New York. If you’re asking if I know what’s between him and Piggy or between him and Nate, I don’t. What I do know is, Nate has never forgiven their father for whatever slight it was that he did.”

    That was surprising to Kermit, at least to the point that Nate hadn’t told his own wife about his father’s infidelity; actually, even Piggy didn’t speak about her father, despite the fact that she had more positive feelings towards him than she did her mother.

    “You didn’t know, did you?” she asked, giving him a side look. “That Piggy and Nate were twins?”

    Kermit shook his head, failing to hide his disappointment.

    “Don’t feel so bad,” she said. “I didn’t know until last week. It would also explain why my OB/G thought Ellie Mae was going to be a twin.” Giving him a knowing look, she smirked, “They apparently run in the family.”

    Ham would’ve preferred being able to have a quiet moment to himself, just him, his thoughts, and his drink. Professionally, he was well aware that he had become very anti-social with the death of his wife twelve years ago and that maybe the seeds of that had started sometime in his youth, but at this particular moment, he wasn’t a professional. He was just Hamilton Hogglesworth, abandoned younger son of a cheating father and a rather domineering mother, with two elder siblings who never did anything wrong, a vain older sister who thought looks were more important than anything, a know-it-all middle who thought she was the smartest person in the whole family, and then…

    Then there was Marjie.

    Marjie was the class clown, the humorist who used comedy to try and keep their fledging family together. Ham had always thought she was the closest to him, but maybe that wasn’t true; they hadn’t spoken in years, decades, the same amount of time that had passed between his speaking with the other girls. And now she was dead. Gone and buried.

    “It’s a bit early to be drinking, isn’t it, Ham?”

    The reprimand from his eldest sister brought him out of his thoughts, but only just. Eyes narrowed, he took a deliberate drink from the whiskey glass before saying, “It’s five o’clock somewhere.”

    “Hamilton, you’re a psychiatrist, aren’t you?”

    The question came from Mrs. Nader, who was still discussing her dead husband – regardless on how very boring the story was – which Ida, quite frankly, was happy for. Her daughter-in-law and future son-in-law weren’t the only ones to notice the heightened tension between the siblings; she could just tell from their postures the two were itching for a fight and she was hoping they would have better sense than to bring up family skeletons in front of company.

    “Is it normal to still feel so sad after all this time?”

    Tearing his eyes away from his judging sister, Ham looked at the elder woman. “I’m a psychologist, Mrs. Nader,” he corrected, jumping in before she could ask what the difference was. “But I essentially have the same role as a psychiatrist, I just don’t prescribe anything. As to your question, yes, it is normal for you to still feel grief or…or still be in a period of mourning.

    “Everyone deals with grief in a variety of different ways, it just depends on the person or the situation. For example -” Here, his eyes moved back to Piggy. “Some people lash out at others.”

    The diva smirked. Nodding to the drink in his hand, she asked, “Doesn’t drinking also go up?”

    Ham chuckled before downing the rest of his drink. Intellectually, he knew she was right; professionally, of course she was right. Grief took many forms for many people – sadness, anger, depression, denial – he knew all of this, had trained in all of this in order to get his license to practice. In fact, once he had heard about his mother, he had expected this; he knew he would need to battle sadness (this was his mother!), anger (how dare she wait until now to see him!?), and of course guilt (why hadn’t he come sooner? Years wasted when he could have made amends with her and the others).

    What he hadn’t expected was seeing his sister – any of his sisters – again and even he was surprised Nate had bothered to come as well. He hadn’t expected that and he hadn’t expected those latent feelings of betrayal, jealousy, and envy to pop up either.

    “I didn’t realize that sharing a lot with Dr. Phil qualified you in family psychology and behavior.”

    “Well,” she said. “He makes it look easy. I’m guessing you don’t have to be that smart to be a therapist.”

    Oh, she wants a fight, does she? All right. Let’s dance.

    “Well,” he countered. “It takes less thought to work in Hollywood. More beauty than brains, as they say.”

    “Ham, that’s enough,” Kermit warned. He was sure he didn’t mean it and he had said it in order to get a rise out of Piggy, but that didn’t mean the frog was going to let it continue.

    “Oh no, Kermie,” Piggy replied, smoothly. “Let baby Hammy talk. He brings up a very good and interesting point on smarts. Tell me, Hammy, how far from the tree do you think your boys fell? Assuming of course they fell from your tree.”

    “Children,” Ida growled. “Do you really think this is an appropriate topic to be discussing at your mother’s funeral?”

    Of course, they ignored her because they had been looking for an excuse to rile each other up; Ham had thrown down the gauntlet and not only had Piggy picked it up, she had smacked him in the face with it. “You trying to insinuate something?” Ham snarled.

    “No insinuation necessary,” Piggy replied, brazenly. “I thought it was perfectly obvious. In fact, let’s test that theory, shall we?” Turning to her right, she noticed one of Ham’s boys passing through the hallway and headed towards the kitchen. “Hey Andy!” she called, causing the twin to turn.

    “It’s Randy, actually,” replied the youngster.

    “Whatever,” the diva dismissed. “How’d you like to make a nice, shiny dollar?”

    “Would I!?”

    “That’s the ticket,” she said, smiling widely at him. “All you have to do – very simple! All you have to do…is…tell us what state we’re in. And I mean, actual, physical United States state; as in, the name of the state, that we’re currently residing in. The state that you came to, from New York.”

    There was an immediate blank look on the younger pig’s face before he asked, “Can I think about it?”

    “Take your time,” Piggy smirked. “No rush. Though sometime today or in our lifetimes would be nice.”

    Randy and his twin brother Andy Pig were not known for their intelligent conversations, despite being old enough to have intelligent conversations. Ever since meeting them, Piggy had been hard pressed to equate her nephews with her baby brother, who was probably the smartest person she knew, aside from their sister Ro. How two dumb as a rock kids came from her intelligent brother and supposedly intelligent former sister-in-law, she wasn’t sure.

    In hindsight, this was a poor exercise, especially when done with a house full of people that were not family, and it exposed a possible ghost or skeleton in the room that maybe hadn’t been dealt with or at least, not with the rest of the family. But in the moment, Piggy hadn’t been thinking about that – she had been thinking about knocking her baby brother down a few rungs and the best way she knew how was to hit him in his heart.

    “Could I get a hint?” Randy asked, still unable to come up with the answer.

    Tossing a knowing look towards Ham, who had his own murderous look on his face, Piggy turned back to her nephew. “Sure,” she said. “So, football’s kinda big around here; we watch it, we love it, we live it, right? And we Hogglesworths are a Panther nation; we are all fans of the University of Northern Iowa sports teams. So at heart, we are UNI – the I standing for Iowa – Panthers.”

    Randy continued to think, his brow furled in concentration. Snapping his fingers, he exclaimed, “I got it! China!”

    Snapping her own fingers, Piggy feigned a disappointed sigh. “So close.”

    “Darn,” the twin said, turning away to head back towards his original destination. However, he did stop and turned back around to look at his aunt. “Narnia!”

    Even the other guests privy to the conversation looked at the teenager in surprise and incredulousness. “Not a real place,” Piggy said, holding in a sigh of annoyance. “But I do like your determination.”

    Knowing when he was defeated and really not wanting to play anymore, Randy turned back around towards to kitchen to get something to hold him until lunch.

    Piggy, for her part, turned back around to her brother. “I think that proves my point,” she replied, smugly. “You should owe me that dollar.”

    “I should owe you a dollar?” Ham asked, putting his empty glass on the mantle above the fireplace. Taking a few steps towards his sister, he growled, “Yeah, okay. I’ll give you a dollar. I have the perfect place where you can stick it.”

    Truly the only thing that stopped the two, other than Kermit who was trying his best to keep the two apart, was the coffee table; though, knowing Piggy as well as he did, the frog was aware that it wouldn’t take much for her to just rid herself of the obstacle if it meant she could get at her brother easier.

    Ida didn’t think she’d ever been so embarrassed in her life, with the way her grandchildren were acting. Poor Kermit was a slight little thing, barely able to handle Piggy, much less Ham, as the two were more than happy to knock each other around in a house full of people. BlackJack and Nate were trying to intervene, but the elderly swine had had it.

    “Stop it, both of you!” she exclaimed, standing from her spot on the couch and pushing her way through the crowd. “At this point, I don’t care if the two of you beat the stuffing out of each other at your own mother’s funeral, but I’m not about to have you do it in a house full of people. You take this outside and don’t come back in here until you’re done. Nate, go out there with them.”

    “Why me?”

    “Pignatius Hamilton Lee, the second,” she growled. “If I want back sass, I will ask for it. Now take your brother and sister outside right this minute!”

    “Great,” the oldest muttered, shoving both of his siblings towards the kitchen and thus the backdoor. “I told you idiots to not start anything. I said it not more than four hours ago!”

    “This isn’t my fault, Nate!” Ham whined. “Piggy’s always picking at me…”

    “Me!?” the diva exclaimed. “You’ve been riding me since I walked through the door!”

    “If fate had any sense of fairness, the two of you would kill each other and I could knock off two more siblings from my list.”

    It was a completely crass statement, everyone who heard it knew it, and Nate knew it as soon as it left his mouth. But he was just as upset as they were and, like always, he had to be the responsible one, the one that had to pick up the slack and save everyone else because no one else could or would do it. Always Nate to the rescue.

    Both his younger siblings stopped short, turning wide eyed stares on him. “That’s not funny,” Ham whispered.

    “That’s not at all funny,” Piggy stressed.

    “It’s hysterical,” he growled, shoving them both through the kitchen door. “Outside. Move!”

    It was a long time in coming, they knew that before they had stepped outside. Had they been so hostile to each other as children? It was honestly so hard to remember, especially when grief and anger were clouding their judgements, that it felt like they were always walking around on eggshells with each other. Actually, they had the opposite problem – there were no eggshells because they had gone stomping on each and every one of them until there was a huge mess on the floor.

    Nate must have thought that even the outside air and area couldn’t contain the explosion that was coming because he immediately led the other two into the barn that had been on the property, but had been hardly used. There were still hay bales that littered the floor, when the house had been on a farm; they had tried turning the barn into their own little playground, putting in a dartboard in order to past the time.

    There had been a table in there at one point, allowing them to play board games when they were there. More often than not, each of them at some point had found the seclusion of the barn a haven to get away from the issues that plagued their mother and siblings. Today, however, this was not going to be a place of happiness, not if the three of them had anything to say about it.

    “Insolent brats, the both of you!” Nate screamed as soon as they stepped inside the barn.

    “This is not my fault!” Ham cried in retaliation. Pointing to Piggy, he said, “She’s been busting my chops since she arrived!”

    “Oh don’t try to flip this on me!” Piggy retorted, pointing right back at him.

    “Idiots!” Nate exclaimed. “I gave you one simple thing to do, one! All you had to do was keep your cool so we could give Grandma a break and you couldn’t even do that. And like always, I’m the one who has to come to your rescue and save you from your own stupidity! And I’m sick of it! I’ve been doing this since I was six years old. I wish I was an only child, then I wouldn’t have to have you five as a permanent burden!”

    “Oh stop acting like you’re only here to save us from ourselves,” Ham spat.

    “Cause that’s your job?” Piggy needled.

    “Well I’ve certainly done a better job than the two of you.”

    “And what do you mean by that?” the diva challenged.

    “If the two of you really cared,” Ham shot back. “You would’ve known about Marjie before today. How the heck do the two of you go through life for two years and not know your own sister’s dead and buried?”

    That was enough for Nate and if it wasn’t from some manner of the control he kept, his fist would’ve found its way to his brother’s face. That didn’t stop him from pushing the younger pig hard though, causing Ham to stumble backwards. “I raised you,” he said. “You don’t get to talk to me like that.”

    Pushing his brother back, though with less force than the older and bigger brother had, Ham snarled, “You are not my father.”

    “You’re lucky I’m not,” Nate said, his voice low and probably a bit dangerous. “And you’re lucky you didn’t have to know the piece of dirt that he was.”

    “Don’t say that,” Piggy said, hurt evident in her voice.

    “Stop defending him!”

    “I’m not!”

    You are!” Nate growled, swinging his anger towards his twin. “You’re always defending him! Well, here’s a news flash for you, little sister – he didn’t love you. And he didn’t love us.”

    “That’s not true.”

    “It is!” Nate shouted. “Because if he did, he would’ve stayed! Defend that!”

    “God, the two of you are pathetic,” Ham groaned.

    Despite the shock from her twin’s statement, leave it to Ham to bring her back to the present. “We’re pathetic!?” she exclaimed. “I don’t suppose you want to discuss our previous conversation topic?”

    “No, actually, I don’t,” Ham replied, taking a few steps towards her. “And by the way, thank you very much for insinuating that I may not be my sons’ biological father! Because that’s just the thing I wanted the neighborhood to know!”

    “Oh, so it is true?”

    Ham lunged at Piggy, only to be stopped by Nate. Not that it helped, because that just made Ham a non-moving target, which made Piggy’s punch to his face not only easy, but rewarding. It of course did nothing to make Nate happy because he turned and shoved Piggy back.

    “What is wrong with you?”

    “What is wrong with you!?” she echoed. “He deserved that! You were gonna do it yourself!”

    “Worst siblings ever,” Ham muttered, wiping away from of the blood that now oozed from his split lip. “Why mother thought you were the best things since bread, I’ll never know.”

    “Get off your ‘woe is me’ routine,” Nate spat. “It’s always ‘oh, I’m the baby’ or ‘oh, I can’t do the stuff the older kids can cause I’m underage’ blah, blah. You aren’t the only person in the world who has older siblings, you know.”

    “I made sacrifices…”

    “We all made sacrifices, Ham,” Piggy shot back. “Do not think for one moment you’re all alone in that.”

    “At least during your sacrifices, you got praised for them,” Ham continued.

    “You know what?” Piggy snarled. “I think you’re mostly mad about the fact that Mommy Dearest didn’t bother to tell you about Marjie, even when you made the supposed ‘effort’ to see her before she died.”

    “I’m mad, Piggy, because nothing I ever did was ever good enough compared to what the two of you could do! You were the prince and princess of the block and everyone knows that Mother loved you the most!”

    Mother never loved me!”

    The clearing of a throat, coupled with the sound of a knock caused the three to turn towards the doorway, shocked to see Gonzo standing there. The weirdo had been asked by Ida to see if her three grandchildren had managed to kill each other, though he hoped she had been joking about that, and if they were still alive to let them know lunch was being served. He hadn’t thought anything about it until he heard the shouting coming from the barn, causing him to quickly hurry towards the commotion.

    From all appearances, it didn’t look like anyone was dead – all three were still standing - however Ham was holding a bloody handkerchief to his bottom lip. He had caught Piggy’s last statement, it was rather hard to miss when it was being screamed with such ferocity, and it was clear his arrival had stopped whatever conversation had been going on before he got there.

    “Your grandmother wanted you guys to know lunch was being served,” he said, glancing around at all three, though his eyes settled on Ham. “What happened to you?”

    “Nothing,” Ham said, making the first move by walking out past Gonzo and heading to the house, with Nate and Piggy following in his wake.

    Gonzo stopped the diva as she passed, grabbing her arm to ask, “You alright?”

    “I’m fine,” she said, pulling her arm from his grasp and continuing on her path, heedless to whether or not the head writer was behind her.

    Walking in, the family and those that had stayed for lunch were already seated around one table, with a few using the couch and coffee table. Conversation seemed to stop when the quartet entered from the kitchen, though Ida was able to pick up the previous thread of topic. “The three of you are just in time,” she said, gesturing to those around the table. “I’m sure beating the fluff out of each other has given you an appetite, food’s in the kitchen.

    “But in other news,” she continued. “We’re just going over some stories about Hortense. I figured you three might have some good ones about your mother.”

    “No.”

    “I don’t have any at this time, Grandma.”

    “I can’t think of anything.”

    “The three of you don’t have any stories about your mother?” Hattie asked, incredulously.

    “No Hattie, we don’t,” Piggy spat, giving her aunt a glare. “Why don’t you share a story?”

    “I’ve already shared my story,” Hattie huffed.

    “Well good for you,” Nate muttered.

    “Hamilton, what happened to your lip?” asked Millie.

    “Ran into a door,” came the sour reply.

    And lunch began and ended much like dinner the night before.


    [hr]


    Grief takes on many different forms, from anger, to sadness, to denial; when a family loses one of their members, it’s hard on everyone. When a parent loses a child, it may be the most horrible thing they can imagine; the same could be said for a child losing their parent. What’s usually not talked about is the grief that people experience when they lose a sibling.

    While the thought is to speak to children about their loss, adults can also experience overwhelming despair when they lose their brother or sister. Loss of history and future occasions are now changed – bonds are shattered, both from past experiences and new ones that would have been created. As with many other aspects of grief, guilt is a heavy burden for the sibling that’s left, for the time lost and the inability to overcome any issues between them.

    Hamilton Pig, nee Hogglesworth, knew all about overcoming familial issues and conflicts – as a psychologist, his very business was about helping people discover the root cause of their issues, to try and understand why these things were manifesting themselves in a particular way, and how they could move past these in order to maintain or pursue a healthy life and healthy relationships.

    He knew just about everything there was to know about how the mind, body, and soul worked in terms of expressing emotion and how holding in negative feelings can affect more than just the person dealing with the issue. He knew this, he went to school for this, and had gotten a license to practice in order to help people and their families.

    So why then, when dealing with his own family, did he feel so out of his depth?

    Whatever he had expected, was not what had happened. When his brother had called him, nearly four years to the day of his last call, he certainly didn’t think he’d actually see his brother or sister at all when he returned. And even if some part of him considered the thought that maybe his older siblings would be there, he didn’t really think they would show up; so imagine his surprise when not only did his brother show, but his eldest sister as well. And he certainly wasn’t expecting to discover that his older sister had died two years previously.

    Sibling grief was still something that surprised many therapists, doctors, family members, and others - an interesting concept - though why it seemed so unheard of, Ham didn’t know. What he did know was that he was obviously suffering from a double bout of grief – losing his mother was one thing, but to discover that his sister was gone hurt his heart. His family certainly put the ‘fun’ in ‘dysfunctional’ – he counseled families like his on a daily basis, telling them the solution to their problems was to talk with their loved ones and to be honest about what was actually troubling them.

    Ironic then, that the very advice he gave his own patients was advice he didn’t bother to take himself.

    He had driven from New York to Iowa in a little under sixteen hours, setting everything up before his departure so that his patients could at least get a hold of one of his colleagues while he was out, though it did mean he had to close his office for the week most likely. He had immediately taken the boys out of school, packed them in the rental car he had gotten to replace his Prius, and he’d taken off for Bogen County. He’d managed to reach the house while his mother was sick, slowly dying from he wasn’t sure, seeing as she refused to see their family doctor.

    He hadn’t been with her when she took her last breath – that had been his grandmother – but he had seen her beforehand and at no time had she told him about his sister. If anything, there was a bit of disappointment when he corrected her, telling her that he hadn’t gotten his doctorate yet, so he couldn’t be called a doctor, even though he was licensed to practice. Her smile had dropped a little and he was convinced there had been a sigh when she had said, “Oh.” When she had asked after his siblings – if Nate was still farming, if Piggy was still doing her show, if Virgi was still reporting, and if Ro was still doing science – he should’ve realized something was wrong when she didn’t mention Marjie, however the last he had heard from her she was on some skiing trip.

    Marjie had really been the adventurous one, doing several different sports in school, though basketball was apparently her specialty. After high school, she had gone out of state to ‘see the world’ as she said; from there, they had each gotten postcards from all over – Maine, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and even London and Germany. She had done what the others had been hoping to do, though to his knowledge, it sounded as everyone had done fine. To their own achievements.

    Not that Hortense Hogglesworth seemed to care about that.

    He had suffered from insomnia since his college days, when he studied until his brain couldn’t remember his own name at times. He had gotten over it, at least until his wife had died and then it startled all over again; from experience, he knew this recent bout was just his body and mind reacting to the changes and stress he was faced it. He was also well aware that drinking alcohol wasn’t going to help his situation, however he was already disregarding most of his training in other areas, so why should this be any different?

    He was on his second glass, staring at the fire that was roaring across from him when he heard his name being called. “Ham? What’re you doing up?”

    Turning, he saw Piggy standing in the room, obviously having woken up from her own sleep. Shaking his head, whether it was the whiskey kicking in or the lack of sleep, the psychologist sighed. “Couldn’t sleep.”

    Piggy nodded, slowly, seeing the glass sitting on the coffee table. “I was hoping to get a snack,” she whispered. “You in?”

    Ham looked between his sister and his glass, before deciding it might be better to have the conversation over the drink. “Yeah,” he said, nodding and standing to follow her into the kitchen. From the darkness outside, it was still in the middle of the night; according to the wall clock, it was just a little after two in the morning. Ham took a seat at the kitchen island while Piggy rummaged around in the fridge, looking for a snack.

    There was plenty of food, both from their earlier lunch and dinner, as well as food for tomorrow. As was seemingly custom, many of the mourners had brought over some dishes, like a morbid potluck; pushing past actual food, Piggy was able to pull one of the three pies that were sitting on the bottom rank. Just looking at the saran wrap, the diva knew this was their grandmother’s prized rhubarb pie, something she hadn’t eaten in decades. Grabbing the pie, she went to reach for the carton of juice, before casting a look at her brother.

    “How much have you had, Ham?”

    The younger pig took a moment to figure out what exactly what his sister meant before his brain caught up to the question. “Two,” he said, shaking his head clear again. “Just the two.”

    Nodding, Piggy took out both the juice and the pie, placing them on the kitchen island, while Ham stood and reached for two glasses, two forks, and the pie cutter. He began to pour juice in both glasses before Piggy stopped him, instead taking his glass and filling it with water. “Trust me when I say you’ll need this instead of the juice,” she replied.

    Taking the glass with a scowl on his lips, he muttered, “I do know how to handle a hangover, you know?”

    “I didn’t,” the blonde replied, starting to slice into the pie. “But you can never be too careful. How’s the lip?”

    Shrugging, Ham fingered the still bruised and a bit puffy left side of his bottom lip. “Not too bad,” he said. “A little puffy, but nothing a bag of ice can’t handle.” Here he chuckled, saying, “You’d think I’d know better, after seeing you go toe to toe with BlackJack.”

    Piggy chuckled in spite of herself. BlackJack was pretty much built the same way Nate was, both of them being on the same football team in high school. While she wasn’t exactly clear on why Nate hadn’t taken his skills with him to college, she knew that BlackJack had blown out some ligament in his knee his senior year of high school, effectively ending any football dreams he may have had.

    Piggy went through the process of cutting a slim piece from the pie, knowing that any bigger, their grandmother would know someone – most likely one or more of them – had gotten into her pie. “Share a piece?” her younger brother asked, getting a nod of confirmation. “Good idea.”

    “Figured why make the ole battle-axe any angrier than she is now,” replied the diva, setting the plate in the middle and taking her own seat.

    Shaking his head in mirth, he said, “We really f-ed up. Really badly. I’m honestly surprised she didn’t send us out to break off a switch.” The two were silent for a few moments, the silence broken only by the sounds of chewing, before Ham whispered, “Did you know? About Marjie?”

    Shaking her head, Piggy responded, “No. Grandma did though; apparently Mama told her before she died.”

    Ham let out a defeated sighed. Why would their mother not tell them about their sister? And worse, why didn’t any of them know? “I always thought we were close,” he whispered. “We were the babies, close in age, the only ones left at home really. I thought…I thought a lot of things.” Pausing to take a drink, he asked, “What is wrong with us?”

    “You’re the psychologist,” Piggy replied, looking over at him. “I was hoping you would know.”

    Chuckling, Ham said, “I talk to families like ours every day, telling them how they can better speak and relate to each other. I came down here, knowing for sure that I would experience all the standard effects of grief – sadness, anger, denial, guilt – I knew it and I was ready for it. And you know what?” Looking at his sister, his concluded his statement. “As soon as I walked through that front door, I was back to being ten – fighting with five other people to get my mother’s attention, doing anything I could to make her happy so she’d see me. And for what?”

    It was strange hearing her brother be so open, especially about their mother and their childhood. Had he always felt this way? That he had been lost in the sea of five older siblings? She had always thought he and Marjie had it all; their mother wasn’t nearly as hard on them as she had been on her and Nate and to a lesser degree, her sisters Virgi and Ro. Maybe it was time to ask some questions of her own.

    “Is that why you hate me so?”

    “I don’t hate you, Piggy,” he said, turning to look at her. “I don’t! I just…” Sighing again, he whispered, “You didn’t say goodbye. You said goodbye to Nate, but not to us. You just left.”

    It was shocking and startling to hear what she had thought was just a blip in her life. “Ham, I did,” she insisted. “I…you were asleep. I would’ve left clean if Nate hadn’t been waiting for me. You were…you got tangled up in your sheets. You’d knocked that weird duck of yours to the floor; what was its name?”

    “Mr. Quackers.”

    “Right,” she chuckled, her downcast at the tabletop. “I put you back under the covers, tugged Mr. Quackers back under your arm, and kissed you goodbye…”
     
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  9. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    Apparently, the previous post was too long, so here's the continuation of THAT -





    She was sure he was going to wake up once she kissed his forehead. Piggy hated leaving like this, but it was the only way; no one would stop her, not this late at night. But she couldn’t find it in her heart to just take off; she just couldn’t. As much as her younger siblings could drive her insane, she loved them and leaving them here – especially with their mother – didn’t seem right, but she had barely put together an idea for herself, what could she do with siblings ranging from 12 to 16?


    She had been packing for a week, making sure she could fit what she would need into her backpack. She had grabbed some of their non-perishable food and stuffed it in there, which had caused her to remove her good makeup kit from the supply. Luckily, she had a smaller one that she took with her when her mother had her do those pageants, though they were far and few these days, thanks to being in high school and being head cheerleader. It was hard to believe that she was a high school grad, only a month had gone by since she had walked down that aisle to get her diploma.

    This had been a plan two years in the making, however her more studious side had wanted to ensure that she was a high school graduate before she ran away from home. That and she had just made head cheerleader and she wasn’t about to give that up without a fight. But now that the day had arrived, it was a lot harder than she imagined. Around two-thirty in the morning, Piggy made her move, opening her door before going across the hall, turning on the light in the bathroom across the way and closing the door.

    Now she had an alibi.

    Starting with her sister Virgi’s room, Piggy was able to peek in, seeing the outline of her sister before she walked in. Virgi was sleeping on her side, with her back to the door; that made it easy for Piggy to place her favorite makeup kit on the bedside dresser. She and Virgi were teenage girls who fought over just about any and everything, whether it be makeup, bathroom time, food, etc. But Virgi was her kid sister and as much as they fought, she still loved the little beast; giving her shoulder a squeeze, Piggy departed from the room before reaching her older brother’s, the room in between hers and Virgi’s.

    Nate was deep in sleep, lying on his stomach and head buried in his pillow. Oh all of her siblings, Nate was probably the person she was closest to; they were twins and shared a lot of similarities that weren’t just based on their physical appearance. They shared eye color, hair color, and were named after their father, but they also shared other things – they were shoot first, ask questions later, both of them tending to hide their deeper emotions, despite having them clearly visible to anyone else; they were both outgoing, while their younger siblings only tended to be so if called upon for it; they were achievers, though whether it was due to their own personalities or their environment, they weren’t sure. Staring at him now, that familiar pang of hurt hit her heart – she wouldn’t admit it, but her twin was her favorite sibling; she couldn’t help it. He was her first friend, her first confidante, her first rival, and more – it was going to be very strange going through life without him.

    Backing out of the room quietly, Piggy had headed upstairs to say goodbye to her younger siblings, starting with her baby brother Ham. They didn’t fight as much as she and Virgi, but they did argue from time to time, but she loved him. She was his protector, his bodyguard, even if he didn’t think he needed it anymore. Tucking him back in with his favorite duck doll, she went next door to say goodbye to her younger sisters. Due to the size of their home and their large family, the five bedrooms had gone to the kids, though Ro and Marjie had to share a room, while their mother slept on the fold out couch downstairs.

    That of course would be the true test – while Piggy had managed to get around without her siblings taking notice, she was going to have to get past her mother in the living room in order to reach the kitchen and head out the backdoor. It didn’t even cover how she was going to manage to get her beat-up-mobile to start without waking the entire house; actually, she was pretty sure she would have to leave that.

    Shame, she really liked that piece of junk.

    Coming down the stairs, Piggy made her way into the living room and stood watching as her mother slept. Fury, rage, hurt…too many emotions roared within her as she looked at the sow – a part of her, a large part, wanted her mother to be devastated upon waking up and seeing her note, wanted her to wish that she had been better mother, that she had given Piggy and the others the love they needed instead of trying to control their actions and their lives, that she had accepted their hopes and dreams instead of imparting her own; but she knew the real reaction.

    Hortense would be sad, yes, but only because her favorite source of attention and cash was gone; if Hortense had her way, Piggy would never leave, but it didn’t matter – Virgi loved being the center of attention as much as her eldest daughter did and she had been asking about trying the pageant circuit for a year now and it wasn’t too hard to imagine that Hortense would turn her second daughter into the star she wanted her first daughter to be.

    Placing the note she had written on the coffee table in the center of the room, Piggy made her way quietly through the kitchen and out the backdoor.

    “Going somewhere?”

    Spinning around in fright, Piggy placed her hand on her heart, trying to calm it down. If the sudden fright didn’t get her, the surprise at seeing her twin standing outside by the side of the door did. “Are you trying to give me a heart attack!?” she whispered, hurriedly. “What’re you doing up?”

    “Shouldn’t I be asking you that?” came the retort. “You’re the one dressed and with a backpack. So again, I ask little sister, are you going somewhere?”

    It would have been so easy to just straight out lie, tell Nate that she was meeting up with one of the cute boys she had known in school; it wouldn’t be completely untrue. She was popular, head of the cheer squad, and she had attracted the eye of several of her classmates and while she was known as a flirt, she’d only had three boyfriends in the four years she attended Bogen County High School. “I’m leaving.”

    “I can see that.”

    “No Nate,” she said, sighing. “I’m leaving. I’m…I’m not coming back. Probably never.”

    If she was expecting her brother to stop her, tell her she couldn’t possibly do this, she was surprised. Instead, Nate just nodded, though she could easily see the disappointed look on his face. “Okay,” he whispered. “Do you…do you have everything?”

    Shrugging, she said, “I have what I need.”

    “Food?”

    “yeah.”

    “Clothes?”

    “Of course.”

    “Money?”

    “I’ve been saving up.”

    “Where you going?”

    Again she shrugged. “I’m not sure, to be honest,” she whispered.

    Nate nodded. “You should take a car.”

    “If I take my car,” Piggy reasoned. “I’m going to wake everyone up. I’d like to avoid more of these heartfelt talks if I could; pushes me off my schedule, you know.”

    “Then take my car.”

    Piggy immediately shook her head. Nate had spent his junior year working and saving up money for his first car, getting a very nice 1959 Alfa Romeo Giulietta spider, in greenish blue hue; it had belonged to one of their neighbors who had wanted to sell it but didn’t want to just sell it to anyone. Piggy, in contrast, had gotten a rather beat up 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt; her mother had found it while they had been at the spring fair, the very last pageant she would ever be a part of, thank you very much! Despite any protests on her part, her mother had presented her with the car, a discount thanks to the former owner being one of the judges who had liked her in the lineup that day.

    Nate and Ham had plans on turning that car into something you could actually enjoy, something that had included Piggy, except that she was running away before they could actually start.

    “Nate, you love your car,” she sputtered.

    The elder pig shrugged. “I love you more,” he stated. Putting his hand in his pants pocket, he pulled out the keys to his car and held them out to her. “But you have to come get them.”

    Holding back a sob, Piggy went over to take the keys, not at all surprised when her brother pulled her into a hug as she did so, dropping a brotherly kiss on the side of her head. “I can’t talk you out of this, can I?” he asked, receiving a shake of her head. “Okay.”

    Sometimes, having a twin was great, kinda like now. Piggy didn’t need to tell him why she was doing this or what had lead her down this path, he knew. Folding her hand over his keys, Nate pulled back to look at her. “If you run into trouble…”

    “I know.”

    “If you run into trouble,” Nate repeated, his narrowed at the interruption. “Call me. Regards where you are, call me and I’ll come, I’ll be there.”

    Nodding her understanding, she whispered, “I will. I promise I will.”

    Giving his sister one last look, he said, “I love you, Sweets.”

    “I love you too, Junior.”

    “Then I left,” Piggy concluded, a faraway look in her eye as she remembered that night. She hadn’t talked to Nate until after the first season of the Muppet Show had been running on TV, which was the first time her older brother had seen her in nearly a decade. After the show one night, she had a letter waiting for her in her dressing room; it was from Nate, telling her that he had met someone and that they had been speaking about getting married. He wished her well and kept her up to date and what everyone was doing. That was the start of their correspondence, then as both of their lives continued to grow and as technology grew, their correspondence went from letters to phone calls to texts to emails.

    Looking at her younger brother, Piggy whispered, “I’m sorry, Ham. I should’ve…”

    “No,” he interrupted, shaking his head. “I know why you left. Isn’t that why we all left? I don’t blame you for leaving, I don’t…”

    Whatever Ham was going to say was interrupted with the arrival of Nate, who looked just as surprised to see people up and about at two in the morning. “Again,” Piggy smirked. “Don’t you have a home?”

    “As I told your frog,” Nate began, pulling out a stool. “Force of habit. And sometimes I can’t sleep.”

    “Obviously,” chuckled Ham, causing his brother to roll his eyes.

    “What’re you two yahoos doing up?”

    “Obviously, we’re having a snack,” Piggy answered, holding up a piece of pie that was sitting on the end of her fork.

    Looking at the pie on the kitchen island, with one slice removed showing the delicious, gooey insides. “Is that Grandma’s pie?”

    “We’ve only had one piece,” Ham insisted, quickly shoving the piece on his fork in his mouth.

    Looking at the pie before looking at his siblings, Nate asked, “Grandma wouldn’t be upset if there were two pieces missing, right?”

    “Well…” Ham began, glancing between his older brother and sister. “We only took a small piece, so…”

    “If you also took a small piece,” Piggy concluded, a familiar look in her eyes. “Then we could claim we only had one piece, ya dig?”

    Pointing at his twin, Nate nodded before turning and grabbing himself a fork, while Ham went to work at slicing up another piece for his brother. Maybe they wouldn’t admit it just at the moment, but this took them back, though they were missing three other pieces; sneaking out at night into the kitchen, finding some forbidden treat either in the fridge or the cabinets, and doing their best to eat it all before being found out.

    It was the first time in years, decades literally, that the siblings had been together in this kitchen, talking and laughing; back then, they had used that time as part catch up and confessional – it was where Ro had first announced she wanted to go into science, that Virgi shyly had admitted to having a crush on the captain of the debate team, where Ham stated he wanted to be a musician or maybe a director, and where Margi had announced she was going to travel all around the world. Nate and Piggy had big dreams that were too big for Bogen County – Piggy was going to go to Hollywood one day, while Nate had plans to play college football, but that his major was going to history or social something, he hadn’t quite decided yet.

    In the present, despite having been at each other’s throats most of the weekend, the three siblings were actually able to have not only a friendly conversation, but one that closely resembled how much of a close knit group they had been as children. Piggy and Nate apologized for their callous comments, both about Ham’s mourning and the biology of his twin boys; that’s when their confessional began. Ham admitted the idea that Piggy had proposed – that he might not be Andy and Randy’s birth father – had entered his mind on occasion, more than one actually, which had lead him to file for divorce; it was during that beginning when his wife had ultimately died.

    “Ironic, isn’t it?” he laughed, bitterly. “That I should end up marrying the female version of our father?”

    “Isn’t that typical behavior though?” Nate asked, taking a bite of his pie. “Isn’t it…genetics or environment that would dictate you go with what you know?”

    Ham nodded, impressed with his brother’s insightful thought. “Exactly.”

    “It doesn’t matter, Hammy,” Piggy said. “Family is what you make it. Those boys love you and as far as they’re concerned, you’re their father – you raised them, you taught them everything they needed to know, and you’ve been with them from start to now. And that’s all that matters, regardless of what anyone says. And if anyone says anything about it, you can tell them to talk to me and I’ll settle the matter for them.”

    Ham couldn’t help but chuckle at that. Leave it to his family to bring him down the lowest and then turn around to defeat him should anyone say the same thing.

    Their conversation went from there, with the reasons for Nate’s need to stay behind when everyone had left, to the fact that they would need to contact Virgi and Ro to tell about Marjie, to the fact that Piggy had brought moral support. The diva laughed, saying that if Kermit had his way, the whole crew of Up Late would have been there giving her moral support.

    “He’s in love with you, you know,” Ham mentioned, giving his sister a look. He had only heard about her relationship with the frog thanks to the media and news outlets and to be honest, he wasn’t really sure where the two of them stood now, given that the last reports he had read stated that Kermit was dating some other pig at their company. He’d have to ask Nate, as his older brother seemed to know more.

    “I know,” Piggy said, blushing. She had never had trouble admitting to her on again, off again relationship with Kermit, however now that they were – well, on the beginnings of something that was familiar, but not quite what they had been, hopefully – and she was in front of her brothers, the thought of discussing her relationship was…well…weird.

    “Really don’t want to discuss my love life with my brothers.”

    “Fair enough,” Nate said, finishing off his first whole piece before cutting himself another. “Just know that if he hurts you again…”

    “We’ll hurt him,” Ham finished.

    Like her baby brother before her, Piggy giggled at the prospect of her family coming to her defense. “I’ll try moving you up to the front of the line,” she joked. “But you’ve already got at least seven other people ahead of you who’ve offered to do the frog in should anything like last time happen again.”

    Though they weren’t sure who she was talking about exactly, but it seemed clear that her friends were more than willing to throw their boss under the bus if he acted up a second time. “You got good friends there, little sister.”

    “I know.”
     
    The Count likes this.
  10. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    And here are your examples -

    This is Nate's car, with the top up (below is top down)

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    And this is Piggy's car -

    [​IMG]
     
  11. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    I is up late with partial insomnia or not being able to fall asleep when I want to or whatever you call that. And I is also lacking in the midnight snacks category, will ask that in the next groceries run.

    But thanks for posting this, there's a lot there that explains the family past and present dynamic between the various clashes of the main a-trio. *Gives points for knowing the difference between a p-sychiatrist and psychologist.

    Look forward to whatever's next. Thanks for posting as always.
     
  12. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    *Hands Counters some midnight snacks*

    That was pretty much my point with this. It's been proven that what you experience in your childhood directly affects you in your adult life, especially when you experience dysfuntionality or trauma in childhood.

    Of course Muppet "canon" is fast and loose, but it's been shown that Piggy is pretty much tightlipped on her past and family, with little pieces coming out on occasion. She's gone back and forth between really a love/hate relationship with her mother, which would make sense considering if Hortense was making at least two of her daughters go through pageants (I had/have an idea that this was a 'living vicariously' from a past failure).

    I've only seen the 'hate' conflict on Piggy's father, so it was all me that was thinking she viewed him a lot more favorably. But again, I think all of the Hogglesworths have a love/hate relationship with their parents - they love them, but hate the choices they made that have lead them to this point.

    I think Nate has more of a 'hate' relationship with his father, as he essentially ended up being the 'man of the house', which colored his young adult years. We'll go into the 'sacrifice' Ham made in the next section, section after.

    This whole thing of course gave me spin off ideas, so there may be a Miss Piggy's Family Adventures, which would bring in her sisters Virgi and Ro, showing that remaining siblings and their relationships with each other; as stated, they had use to be close, but time, rivalry, jealousy, and others have kept them apart until now.

    We'll see with that.
     
  13. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Yeah... And it doesn't get any better when you're older, always new daily dramas to keep family life "interesting" (if that's even the word for it).
    Thanks for the snacks. :insatiable:

    Not surprised if that's why Hortense was putting two of her girls through the pageant life, reminds me of Amy's mom from Buffy, the former cheerleader using witchcraft to force her daughter down the same path.

    Intrigued to read what's next from you, LMK if you need ideas for 2-Ball as well. ;)
     
  14. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    Okay gang! Let's do another section here. I have a few more, but then we can cross a Mupp Adventure off; we're actually coming to the near end for 2 Ball and we can cross that off; AND there's maybe one more section on Desert Delay and I can cross THAT one off!

    I still have Wedding Day Blues part I to finish, however it means we can head into the holidays (or next year) with a new Monday fic, which IIRC is...a Monday Marriage? Would you like to see that next? For the moment, let's get this puppy up and running! We have now caught up to where I'm at in writing!




    Saturday morning, Kermit was surprised to wake up alone, especially seeing as it was still a little before 7:30am in the morning. Stretching, he sat up in bed, fully expecting to see the light on in the bathroom, but not seeing anything; he tried not to be worried, but of course he was. The last few days had proven Piggy was not acting like herself and the longer they stayed, the worse it seemed to be getting; he had always tried to get the diva to confide in him, with varying success, and she always seemed to want to hold things in rather than let them out.

    Not that he could say anything – there were times he felt it was better for him to shoulder whatever doubts, stresses, or issues he came across so he wouldn’t be a burden; that of course never worked out well.

    Kermit was afraid Piggy hadn’t truly accepted not only her mother’s death, but the sudden and surprising death of her youngest sister. He couldn’t imagine what might be going through her mind, but he just hoped she knew he – and the others – were there for her. That was why they were here in the first place.

    Figuring he needed to find out where she was exactly, he left the warmth of the sheets and room and went to go find the diva. He didn’t need to look far because as soon as he walked out into the hallway, he could hear the muted voices and laughter coming from the kitchen, proving that at least a few of the house’s occupants were awake and moving around. Pushing open the door, Kermit was surprised, happily though, at the scene before him –

    Nate, Ham, and Piggy were seated around the kitchen island, laughing at something the younger pig had said; there were plates sitting in front of each of them, with forks and the remnants of pie, if what the foil tin sitting there was any indication. “Hey Mitt,” came the greeting, coming from Ham who had seen him walk into the kitchen first.

    “Morning,” he replied, sending them each a smile. “You three are up early.”

    The trio looked at each other, small smiles on their faces. The hours had gone by so quickly it seemed, they hadn’t really thought to head back to bed after they were up; it had been several years since they had spent the night up with each other.

    “Are we having pie for breakfast then?”

    The siblings looked at the frog, who was in the midst of brewing a pot of coffee, before they looked down at their plates. That’s when the fun, jovial feeling in the kitchen turned to horror and dread.

    “Oh no.”

    Nate cursed.

    “What?” Kermit asked, slightly alarmed at the way the group was acting. Seemingly going from laughing and joking with each other, the peace and calm of the morning had clearly been broken and it was distressing because the frog had no idea why or what had happened.

    “Oh my God,” Ham moaned, as he quickly went to clean up their mess. “This is so bad.”

    “Don’t panic, don’t panic,” Piggy was saying, helping her brothers clean up.

    “What is going on!?”

    “We just sat here and ate most…” Nate began, showing Kermit the near empty pie pan. “All of Grandma’s prize winning rhubarb pie.”

    “She’s gonna kill us,” Ham said, grabbing the pie pan and heading to the trash can in order to dump it out. Piggy immediately stopped him, however.

    “Are you crazy?” she asked, snatching the pan back. “You can’t throw this away. We have to take this with us, we have to destroy evidence!”

    “How?”

    Here, Piggy was at a loss for words, turning to look at her twin in panic. “Okay, okay, listen,” he told them. “We can fix this. We take the pan, we take my truck, and we head down to Roshenbach’s and we get a new pie.”

    “Grandma is totally going to know that’s not her pie,” Ham said, giving his brother a look.

    “But no one else will,” Nate commented. "And you’re assuming Grandma’s gonna have some pie. We’ll just pile her up with food and drink and she’ll be too stuffed to eat to pie. Everyone else is gonna rave about the pie and she’ll never know the difference. Or OR…we tell her everyone ate the pie yesterday and as her three favorite grandchildren, we went out and bought a new one.”

    Pointing at her brother, Piggy replied, “I like that. Let’s go with that one.” Turning to look at the frog, she said, “Kermit, Kermit, I’m about to ask a really big favor from you.”

    “You want me to cover for you,” he answered immediately.

    “Please?” she asked, a desperate look on her face. “I’ll love you forever.”

    “You’re gonna love me forever anyways,” he said, with a smile on his face. “Go and do your operative thing. I don’t know anything about this; I got up, made coffee, and was reading the paper. I know nothing about a pie.”

    “You are the awesome!” Ham exclaimed, finishing up the dish cleaning with Nate and following his brother out of the kitchen. Piggy was right behind them, though she did pause to give the frog a kiss on the cheek as she passed him. The three quickly went about trying to get out of the house, even with Piggy grabbing some jeans and being told to just put them on in the car.

    They would be having more company over that morning, with the idea that they might start to pack up some of Hortense’s belongings, as well as giving out the items she had left people in their will. The official reading wouldn’t be until much later, but Ida had already seen most of what would go to whom and in the time, she felt it was better to just address it when emotions weren’t so raw.

    It was already near 8am when the three left, knowing that people would start arriving around ten, though they weren’t planning on serving anyone breakfast; it was to be the same time of gathering they had held yesterday, with a few snacks and treats, including that of Ida’s pie, which was the reason that eating the entirety of it was a very bad thing.

    Within the time of the three siblings leaving, activity in the house began, with various members of the family returning. Sarah had asked Kermit if he had happened to have seen her husband, which he replied that yes, he had seen him and that he and his younger siblings had gone out to get a pie, which he knew nothing about.

    “Which means to say, you know something about it,” she deduced, sending a smirk his way.

    The frog went back to his paper, though he couldn’t lose the smile on his lips. “I don’t know anything about it.”

    Just when the first hints of people were starting to show, around 9:30, the trio returned, walking through the door as though they hadn’t been planning on deceiving their grandmother about her pie. Piggy, who had only left in her sleepwear and with a pair of jeans, was now decked out in those jeans, as well as a University of Iowa Panthers sweatshirt that she had stolen from the back seat of Nate’s truck.

    Ida saw them almost immediately and with grandmother-fu skills, knew instantly that something was up. “Where’ve you three been?” she asked, eyes narrowing as she took in their appearance. It was clear that Ham was still wearing the suit he had worn yesterday, while at least Nate looked as though he had gone home and changed. Maybe.

    “And what’re you up to?”

    “Nothing!” the three of them chorused.

    “We just wanted to enjoy the crisp morning air, Grandma,” Nate replied, sending the elder pig a huge smile.

    “Bull,” she retorted. “None of you have ever liked the cold and I know for sure you aren’t getting snow storms in that sunny state of yours, Piggy Lee.”

    “Don’t you know the cold is good for your skin, Grandmama?” the diva said. “I was merely just introducing the concept to the boys, I figured…I dunno. Couldn’t hurt. It wouldn’t help, but it couldn’t hurt.”

    “Ha, she’s all laughs, folks,” Ham said, chuckling while also giving his sister a slight elbow in the ribs. “Well, I think I’ll go into the kitchen and get some coffee. Why don’t you two come with me and I’ll make you each a cup.”

    “Capital idea, little brother,” Nate said, hurrying both siblings into the kitchen. “Coffee is just what is needed on this cold, blistery day.”

    Ida kept her eyes narrowed as she watched three of her grandchildren hurry into the kitchen, obviously hiding something between them. If she knew her grandchildren – and regardless of age, she definitely knew them – they’d manage to tip their hand before or during lunch; all she had to do was wait.

    Saturday’s lunch was much more jovial than the day before, now that whatever issues were between the trio had seemingly been resolved. Some of the same guests from the day before came for lunch that day – these were mostly people who had been friends or who had known for Hortense and the family for a long time. For such a small town, it was surprising to see just how many people managed to come to both the funeral and both of these memorials and it seemed the Malines and Hogglesworths weren’t as tinged with the rage and anger that had been apparent the day before.

    The crowd wasn’t as big this morning as it was yesterday, with at most twelve to fifteen people, along with the added seventeen family members. As before, the group discussed Hortense and what she had meant to them, with sympathies for those she had left behind, especially her children. It was clear that most knew Nate, who knew most of those assembled, while Piggy and Ham tried to remember some of the people that were coming up to them.

    For the non-members of the family – not counting those who had known the sow before her death – it was interesting to learn more about this Hortense Maline Hogglesworth that wasn’t tinged with anger or resentment.

    Hortense was the oldest of seven, the oldest girl out of six; unbeknownst to apparently her children, especially Piggy, Hortense had been a beauty queen in her past, winning several local pageants before becoming the runner up to Miss Iowa. Afterwards, she had met Pignatius Hogglesworth and the rest seemed to be history. However, it didn’t seem that was the complete history. Despite any animosity the elder Maline had between her siblings or children, her friends regarded her as a wonderful and giving woman.

    Even Ida had nothing but praise for her eldest, though that did seem to ruffle the feathers of her other three children. But never let it be said that the elderly Maline didn’t see the reactions of her children, because for every praise she had for Hortense, she had an equal one for Hattie, Millie, and Ricky Lane. Lunch was spent laughing and trading stories about Hortense, though none of her children still couldn’t come up with any stories they wanted to share.

    Of course lunch wouldn’t have been complete without Ida’s award winning pie, which unknown to her, was actually a replacement from her grandchildren. No one else seemed to notice the difference, but the pie’s original maker did and she was pretty sure she knew who the culprits were. After taking a bite, she turned her gaze on three of her eldest daughter’s children and asked, “Did you three eat my prize winning rhubarb pie?”

    “No!”

    “Cause this pie tastes like something you’d get from Roshenbach’s.”

    Kermit had known Piggy had some acting ability, but he had always assumed she had taken classes; over the years he had known her, it was clear she had internal talent right from the beginning and now, he knew where she had gotten the training. Despite the fact that he himself had seen the aftermath of whatever late night snack meeting had happened between her and her brothers, the three of them actually looked as though they literally had no idea what Ida was talking about.

    All three of their faces were blank, clearly stating that they neither of the pie or this place in which they thought a pie may have come. In fact, Ham even asked, “What is that?”

    “Like a store or something, Grandma?” Piggy added.

    Pointing her fork at each of them, Ida growled, “I can’t prove it, but when I do, you three aren’t gonna be able to sit down for a week. Mark my words.”

    Maybe it was because they were adults or perhaps they didn’t think their grandmother had the ability or speed to catch all three of them, but the siblings continued to pretend they knew nothing about it and as far as they were concerned, there was nothing to trace anything back to them; they had even recreated the wrapping so it would look exactly as Piggy had found it earlier that morning.

    The mystery of the missing pie notwithstanding, Saturday was a very quiet time within the home. Mourners made their way home in small chunks, with some staying to help with the clean up or to continue reminiscing; at some point, Ida had pulled out one of the photo albums that sat under the coffee table and began showing off some of their past photos. The intrigue of getting a look at their diva’s past was too much to ignore, so Gonzo, Kermit, and Fozzie found themselves on either side of Ida as she sat on the couch, looking over at the pictures from Piggy’s past.

    Nate sat in the arm in the corner to their right, holding a now asleep Ellie, who had been the belle of the ball in terms of having most of the attention towards her. Sarah sat in the accompanying chair, listening to a story that Ricky Lane and John were in the middle of telling, while Eli was doing what most teens did when the excitement settled down; he had taken a seat on the floor and was currently either playing a video game or chatting with someone on his phone.

    Piggy, who had been playing hostess towards the end, had finally settled herself to leaning on the back of the couch, looking over her grandmother’s shoulder.

    Ham had occupied himself by gathering up some of the knickknacks that he had been his mother’s and were packing some things for both of his aunts and grandmother; he had set up a little area on the coffee table in front of Ida, seemingly trying not to pay attention to the walk down memory lane. “I haven’t seen some of these in years,” Ida replied, taking out a few images, glancing at them, and placing them back. “Oh, look at this!”

    Handing the picture over to Gonzo, who sat next to her left, she pointed to the six younger piglets who stood in a variety of poses.

    The image had been taken during the day, on the front porch, though it was clear that the house had been fairly new back then. Starting on the left, there was a teenaged pig who sat on the railing, brownish locks hung about her shoulders as she smiled at the camera; the next teen was clearly Nate, – sans beard - as he leaned against the rail post, dressed in a light blue football jersey; a younger Piggy was next, dressed in a light blue cheerleading uniform, her then brownish curls tied in a ponytail and also with a charming smile for the camera; another teen girl, though obviously younger than the previous two, stood next to her with a rather sweet and shy glance outward; Ham was next, though he stood on the porch proper, dressed up with a light blue bow tie and matching vest, and what appeared to be a tenor saxophone hanging from his neck; last was another brown eyed girl, this time dressed in the familiar light blue uniform for basketball, even holding one under her arm.

    “That’s Virginia,” Ida continued, pointing to the girl on the far left. “There’s Nate in his football uniform. What did you play again, Junior?”

    “I was the quarterback, Grandma,” came the response.

    “That’s right,” Ida nodded. “And there’s Piggy -” Leaning over to look past Gonzo to Kermit, who sat on his other side, the matron tossed out, “Get a chance to see the cheerleader uniform, Frog?”

    Attempting to hold down a blush at such a direct question, Kermit quipped, “I didn’t even know there was a uniform.”

    “I don’t have it,” Piggy retorted, giving the frog – and weirdo – a look. “Before you ask.”

    “More’s the pity.”

    “That’s Roseleen,” Ida continued, pointing to the shy sister that stood in the middle with Piggy. “There’s Hammy. You always did look so good in your little concert suit.”

    “I didn’t know you played,” Kermit said, looking at the younger male Hogglesworth, causing him to look up.

    Startled by the comment, Ham awkwardly shrugged. “It was a long time ago,” he said. “I was okay at it.”

    “Ham, I remember you being very good at it,” Piggy insisted. “In fact, didn’t you go to Des Moines for the state competition or something? In like, two different bands?”

    “I…I did do the regional competition…”

    “And state,” Nate piped up. “You were one of the best jazz sax players in the state, little brother.”

    “Dude,” Gonzo chuckled. “How the heck do you go from brilliant musician to psychologist?”

    It was a seemingly simple question but it just went about unsettling Ham, who began to fidget with the items he was going through. “Just…” he stumbled. “Just did.”

    “Yeah but…”

    Seeing her younger brother’s distress, Piggy laid a hand on Gonzo’s shoulder, preventing him from finishing his question. “Leave it,” she whispered.

    “Sorry Ham,” the writer apologized. “Didn’t mean to get so personal on you.”

    Sending him an embarrassed smile, the psychologist shook his head. “No worries.”

    Hoping to bring the conversation back on track, though it wouldn’t be a happy one, Kermit pointed to the last figure in the picture. “I take it that’s Marjorie then?” he asked.

    Ida smiled, sadly. “Yes,” she whispered. “Always full of energy, that girl. Loved her sports. Do you kids remember how many she did?”

    It took a moment for the siblings to think, with Piggy coming up with, “Three? She had softball in the spring and then basketball in the fall…”

    “And track,” Nate provided.

    “That replaced tennis,” Ham added. “But that was during the summer, wasn’t it?”

    “Hortense always complained she could barely keep up with you kids,” Ida chuckled, taking the picture and placing it back in its previous spot. “Between Nate’s football, Piggy’s cheerleading, Virgi’s own pageant wishes, Ro Ro’s science fairs, Marjie’s sports, and Ham’s music, it was a wonder she found any time to herself. Help would have been nice…”

    The warmth that was there cooled by ten degrees as all three siblings turned annoyed or seething looks to their grandmother. It seemed clear that Ida Maline held no love for one Pignatius Hogglesworth, however it was unclear as to which sibling fell in to which camp on the matter. Ida suddenly made an amused snort before pulling out another image. “Speak of the devil…”

    This image was in black and white, but the attractiveness of the male pig that looked back at them was undeniable - suave smile, with dark hair, and bright eyes staring back. The resemblance to the current Hogglesworth children was clear, though more with the boys in facial structure, such as the jaw, but that smile was one Kermit had seen nearly every day for several decades previously and saw on a daily basis now.

    “Is that Pignatius, Senior?” Fozzie asked, leaning over to get a closer look.

    “That’s Lee alright,” Ida said. “Everyone called him Lee; you can see we love our nicknames around here. Hold on, let me see if there’s a color one in here. Ah, here we are!”

    Pulling out another image, this one in color, the three Muppets on the couch could better see the resemblance between father and children, especially with this particular picture. Lee was sitting down, handsome smile for the camera, while familiar blue eyes twinkled back; those same blue eyes were showcased in a younger, smaller Piggy, who stood by her father’s side. Both were dressed well, Lee in a dark suit with blue tie that matched his eyes, while Piggy was dressed in an adorable pink skirt.

    “You can see where Nate and Piggy get those baby blues from,” Ida was saying, throwing another knowing look at Kermit. “I’d say beware those eyes, Mitt, but I got a feeling you know the trouble they cause.”

    “There’s a reason she’s our entire marketing department,” Gonzo quipped.

    “She’s the person we send in when we have executive meetings,” Fozzie added.

    Piggy smirked at the joking, but her eyes were glued to that image. She had nearly forgotten how handsome her father had been; no wonder he always got attention from the opposite sex and those looks had certainly been inherited by her and the rest of her siblings. It wasn’t to say that Hortense hadn’t been a looker in her day – because she was! - and those genes had combined to produce attractive and probably deeply insecure children.

    “You certainly were his little girl,” Ida sighed, glancing at the image. “You two were pretty young when he died, weren’t you?” The question was supposed to encompass the older set of twins, but it was noticeable by the set of Nate’s jaw and dark look on his face that he didn’t want to be a part of this conversation.

    Clearing her throat, Piggy whispered, “We were seven, Grandma.”

    Ham, whose interest had turned once the topic had turned to his father, reached over to view the image everyone was looking at. While he vaguely recognized his eldest sister, the man in the photo was a near stranger to him. “I don’t remember him,” he whispered, staring intently at the pig that was said to be his father.

    “That’s because you were little more than a baby when he died,” Nate stated, though he didn’t make a move to take a look at the photo.

    “You don’t have many pictures of your father, do you, Piggy Lee?”

    She didn’t have any images of her father, but the diva was hard pressed to admit that. She wasn’t going to admit that after her father’s death, her mother had been so devastated that any picture of him at all had been taken down and put away. This was actually the first time in a very long time, probably since she was a child, that Piggy had seen her father’s face. “No I don’t,” she said, inwardly praising herself for keeping her voice as steady as it was.

    Taking that very image back from Ham, Ida handed it over to her granddaughter. “Now you do,” she stated. “Nate, do you want one? I’m sure there’s in one in here of the two of you…”

    “No,” came the reply and it was only tempered with a “No thank you, Grandma” after Sarah gave his hand a harsh squeeze.

    Holding it up, Piggy announced, “I’m going to go put this away.” before heading towards the hall to her room.

    She wasn’t sure what was happening, only that she needed to get out of there and she needed to get out of there fast. The sight of her father’s face, after so long, seemed to squeeze her heart like a vice and her grandmother’s comment just kept coming to mind – You certainly were his little girl.

    With Mother gone, I’m no one’s little girl anymore.

    And that’s when she started to cry. And not the crocodile tears she would sometimes use to get Kermit to agree to something nor was it the minimal crying when something hit her, but she was able to overcome it; no, these were tears of sorrow, which quickly turned into body wracking sobs. With both of her parents dead, she was quite literally an orphan; despite all the heartache they had caused, they were still her parents and she had loved them as much as any daughter could.

    They were gone. And there was so much left unsaid between them. Piggy had only been a child when her father left and then was shortly killed in that ‘tractor incident’ that no one ever talked about or wanted to remember; even now, her adult mind could handle the actual story – her father had been run over by a tractor because of his inability to keep his hands off sows and piglets who weren’t his wife – but it didn’t mean she wanted to handle the actual story. The actual story meant her father was dead and never coming back.

    What was the last thing she had said to him? Had it been something nice? Had it been “I love you, Daddy”? She couldn’t remember.

    She knew the last words to her mother were said in anger; said being a relative term, as they had been shouted as she was storming off to her room. Her note, her runaway note, hadn’t been any been any better, calling Hortense a ‘conniving, uncaring, unfeeling manipulator who had driven her eldest daughter away the way she had driven away her husband’. In hindsight, that had been cruel, really really cruel, but she was eighteen and she had spent eleven years blaming her mother in part not only for her father leaving, but for his death too.

    And now she would never have the chance to apologize, to say all the things she wanted, to try and understand why her mother did some of the things she did.

    And then there was Marjie.

    She had younger sisters, yes, but she only had one baby sister and that had been Marjie. Marjie had been energy and sun and laughter; if Marjie had been here, things might not have been so contentious, but she wasn’t and she wouldn’t ever. Just like her father, Piggy couldn’t remember the last conversation she had even had with her; had it been a positive or negative one? Had her baby sister felt the same way her baby brother did? Had she been hiding the pain of their childhood and other issues behind an outward mask?

    What about Virgi and Ro? Were they even aware of their mother’s death, much less their sister’s? Piggy had just assumed they hadn’t wanted to be there, but she hadn’t exactly gotten a straight answer from Nate. What if, God forbid, something had happened to the two of them and next year, she would be summoned back here to stand over the grave of another sister?

    It was very much her custom to keep everything bottled up and on occasion, lash out at the nearest target - usually Kermit - but she had never been so emotionally taxed like this before! Not even in the aftermath of breaking up with the frog and watching him date another woman so soon after; until this moment, she was sure that had been the worse things could possibly get, but this.

    This was torture.

    She didn’t know how long she had just stood by her bed, sobbing uncontrollably by herself, before she felt the familiar, slim arms of Kermit slip around her middle and just hold her while she cried.
     
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  15. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    Happy New Year, Mupps!

    Totally sorry for the lack of updates, especially when I actually had something to post here and apparently, did not post it for you. So, let's start your new year right with more of this and hopefully in the next coming week (or weeks), we'll get some conclusions here so I can give you more stories, yes?

    Your summary so far - Piggy, at the behest of Kermit, has traveled back to Bogen County, Iowa to attend her mother's funeral. While there, she is confronted with the pains of the past, not only with her parents, but her siblings as well. When we last left off, things seemed to have finally settled down between our diva and her brothers until a picture trip down memory lane finally breaks the dam brewing inside.




    She didn’t know how long she had just stood by her bed, sobbing uncontrollably by herself, before she felt the familiar, slim arms of Kermit slip around her middle and just hold her while she cried. When her tears started to subside, Kermit gently directed her to sit down on the bed, while he fetched some tissues from the bathroom. She was at least coherent when he returned, calming herself down slightly, entirely embarrassed for the breakdown that came out of nowhere.

    “I’m okay,” she said, blowing her nose and wiping her tears away. “I’m okay now.”

    “No, you’re not,” Kermit insisted, putting his arm around her. “Oh sweetheart, it’s okay if you’re not.”

    Kermit had been expecting – hoping – that something like this would happen. Not that he looked forward to seeing Piggy cry, he’d done enough of that in their time together, only that he wanted her to finally come to terms with the deaths of her mother and sister; and it was clear, from her reaction, she may not have actually dealt with the death of her father all those years ago.

    While it was certainly interesting to hear more about Piggy’s parents, especially when she pretty much knew all there was to know about his, it was apparent that there was still lingering pain that the diva hadn’t clearly addressed. He could tell by the way she had cleared her throat and seemed to take a moment to respond to her grandmother’s question about her father’s image; as he had done earlier in their trip, Kermit gave her a five-minute head start before he excused himself to go check on her.

    He wasn’t sure what he was going to find, though finding her sobbing in the middle of the room was something he hadn’t considered.

    Piggy was probably the strongest woman he knew, it was one of the things that had – and still did – attracted him to her from the start, and while he knew she could handle anything she put her mind to, there were some things even Miss Piggy couldn’t handle. He may have joked, said that she was an emotional powder keg just waiting for a spark, but the truth was when something hurt Piggy deeply, she felt it deeply. She may have tried to act as though she was tough as nails, but his diva wore her emotions on her sleeve like a jacket.

    Another round of crying and Piggy felt she was much calmer, probably calm enough to rejoin the others in the living room. Giving the frog a squeeze around his middle where she had wrapped her arms, Piggy sat up straight and took a deep breath, settling herself. “I’m alright,” she whispered. “I’m fine now, Kermit. I’m fine. I’m okay.”

    “Piggy…”

    “No, I mean it this time,” she said, giving him a watery smile. Wiping her face quickly, she gave a rough chuckle. “I must look a fright.”

    “You’re gorgeous,” Kermit whispered, wiping a few more tears from the corner of her eye. “Even when a fright.”

    That elicited a chuckle. “Always a charmer, Frog,” she sniffed.

    “Takes one to know one.” Giving her a look of concern, he asked, “Sure you’re okay?”

    “That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it?” she asked, sadly. “I don’t know, Kermit. I don’t…do you think I ever will be?”

    “Aw honey,” Kermit sighed, giving her arm a sympathetic squeeze. “Eventually. But not now; now you just have to…you have to do what you think and feel is best. Just know that I’m with you whatever you decide.”

    It was times like this that Piggy fell more in love with this frog than she ever had before. Taking his face in her hands, she brought him close to deliver a kiss to his lips. “Never doubt that I love you,” she whispered.

    “Never,” he responded, kissing her again. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

    “No,” she chuckled. “But I…I think I will be. Tonight at least; we’ll have to see for the rest.” Giving him a friendly pat on the cheek, she said, “I’m okay, Kermit, honestly. You can go back out, I’ll be there in a minute.”

    Nodding, the frog gave her cheek one last kiss before heading back out into the living room.

    Piggy gave herself another ten minutes, calming herself down and reflecting on her outburst. She certainly understood why her younger brother had picked up drinking, in fact the very idea sounded great right now. Taking a deep breath, the diva stood and made herself presentable, opening the door and heading out into the hallway.

    Ida still sat on the couch, looking over more pictures of times past, while Fozzie and Gonzo held on to every word; Ham had taken a seat on the coffee table, splitting his time between organizing and listening to his grandmother’s stories. At Piggy’s return, Ida looked up briefly before going back to the album. “Wondered where you were,” she said, not bothering to mention her granddaughter’s hasty retreat. She didn’t have to – with Nate’s cold shoulder and Ham’s innocent declaration, the matron didn’t need to shine a spotlight on one of her eldest grandchildren.

    Piggy had her cry and she was back, which highlighted just how strong that line of Maline women were.

    “Hey! That was our premiere!”

    Fozzie’s exclamation caused Gonzo to look over to see what he was talking about.

    “Oh,” Ida smiled. “We must be in the awards and stuff. Hortense always liked keeping all of her children’s achievements in one place.”

    “Say what now?” asked Piggy, looking at her grandmother in confusion.

    Interrupting the elder Maline, Fozzie pointed down at the album. “She’s got all our clippings in here!”

    “What?” the diva asked, looking at the group incredulously. “Gimme that.”

    Reaching for the photo album, Piggy began to flip through the pages, stunned at what she was seeing; it was true. There were news clippings and other highlight moments not only of The Muppets and Piggy in particular, but of all her siblings. Her sister Virgi had actually managed to win a few of the local pageants, while there was a clipping about Ro receiving a prestigious award during college; actually, it seemed that Ham had also received the same award when he went to college, being the youngest member to do so. “You received the Hyelman award as a freshman?” she asked, looking at her younger brother, who was also looking at the album.

    “You have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?” was his return question. He had to admit that he didn’t put much stock into his sister’s career, but even he knew that having a star was the highest pinnacle an actor or actress could reach.

    Piggy huffed. “It’s not like it’s my star,” she said. “I have to share it with these yahoos.”

    Despite the comment, there was a slight smile on her face when she said it, an indication that she wasn’t all that upset with having to share a star on the boulevard; even if she went out on her own – again – she would always be a Muppet and that meant that she would always be a part of the group that earned the honor.

    “You may have had your problems,” Ida whispered, glancing at the two before her. “But your mother loved you kids and she was proud of everything you ever did. I know it was wrong of her to never have said, but she was proud and she did love you. All of you.”

    It was a heartfelt sentiment and yes, one that should have come from Hortense herself, but if the sentiment was true, it might make it easier to forgive. The pain was too raw now – Piggy just having spent twenty minutes crying, Ham was trying to keep his mind occupied, and Nate, whom all the world thought wasn’t paying a bit of attention to anything by the couch, still had his ear tuned to what his grandmother was saying. It was too little, too late for the three of them and maybe the same could be said for the sisters that weren’t there, but perhaps, at some point, the children of Hortense Hogglesworth would need to let go of their hurt that was so deeply ingrained.


    [hr]


    Sunday morning dawned like the others in the house, with the sun starting to shine brightly through the open windows and the smell of breakfast starting to waft from the kitchen to the rest of the house. Nate, as was his custom, had taken it upon himself to arrive early and make breakfast; it had been something he had done when they were smaller, after their father had officially left and then had died.

    It had started out as his way to help his mother, now a single parent with six young children, with two of them just babies recently weened. After a time, it became clear that this was now something that Nate was tasked with, just as Piggy was tasked with official caretaker of the younger children, while the others were allowed to pretty much be their typical child selves; it wasn’t to say that the younger children didn’t have their own roles.

    Ham would have – and had done on numerous occasions – classified his older brother as the hero type, the child who came to the rescue whenever the family was in crisis and perhaps that was true. It helped explain a lot of the reasons Nate stayed in Bogen County, despite having plans on attending UNI after high school and playing football for their beloved Panthers. His eldest sister was also a hero, taking on the role of caretaker, before finally rebelling to the point of being the brunt of everything that could go wrong.

    Virgi, being the manipulator and doer, discovered ways that could take attention away from her older sister and on to herself, often painting it as though she was the angel while Piggy was the reason their family was in such constraints. Marjie, the typical baby of the family, got her attention with comedy, keeping everyone laughing at the class clown; ironic in that the clown is always the saddest member of the bunch. Then Ham himself, the self-professed saint and lonely child, who would do anything – even give up his choice career and dreams – to make his mother happy.

    Out of all of them, Ro was the only one who avoided confrontations as much as possible, burying herself in her love of science; she was literally the only family member that hated any aspect of an argument.

    Nate would never – out loud at least – admit that anything his shrink brother proposed was spot on, but he knew there was some truth in his statements. For a long time, he hadn’t stepped anywhere near this house, despite still living in the same town, not until BlackJack had called him to say that his mother was sick. Even then, Nate had purposely stayed away; his children had never known their grandmother and now, they would only have stories to tide them over to adulthood. The elder male Hogglesworth would be lying if there was a part, a strong part, of him that didn’t want that same thing to happen to the rest of his family.

    Despite being the one family member she actually talked to, he didn’t actually speak to his sister – his own twin! – more than a few times every few years; arriving here was the first time she had even met or known about his wife and it was only the power of technology that she’d be able to meet Sarah by phone, much in the same way he had met Mitt. The night before had reminded him that they hadn’t always been so polarized, that they had been a very close group at one time; he wasn’t sure when it shattered or when their inner resentments and jealousies had started to come between them, but he had wondered if maybe…if maybe they were just too broken, too jaded to be the siblings he remembered.

    The real reason he liked going back, especially recently, was to clear the troubled thoughts and try and bury himself in the good memories he could remember – the six of them sitting around the island together, having breakfast; rare times in which their mother would bring home paws paws and they could sit around to eat them.

    A touch on his arm brought him back to the present, where he was about one second from burning the steak he was trying to prepare. Turning to his side, he was met by the smiling face of his wife – Nate would never in a million years understand how someone so screwed up as he was could land someone so understanding and compassionate as Sarah. Oh, she had her moments – she certainly didn’t put up with his brooding or petty arguments, oh no! Despite being a few heads shorter, she had no problems getting right up in his face if she thought he was on the wrong side of an argument.

    He had fallen in love with her on first sight.

    This time Sarah had been insistent on getting both children up and out the door along with her husband, not taking no for an answer. How long she had been aware of his late night and early morning wanderings he didn’t know, but the fact that she wanted to join him this time – and maybe any other times – seemed to warm him instead of causing him to retreat away like he wanted to.

    Speaking of children, Eli had decided not to waste the comfort of the couch, falling upon it and falling right back to sleep before the rest of his family had even gotten inside; Ellie Mae had been content to watch her parents for a while before she had gotten bored and decided to explore. Exploring for a three-year-old consisted of entering closed rooms and seeing what was in there; she had gotten in trouble for that before, so now, she only went into rooms that had people she would most likely know.

    The first room was the one by the stairs and she knew that room was where her Aunt Piggy was, however she was equally excited at seeing Mitt there with her. Her cousins, Andy and Randy, had told her the frog was like her uncle cause he loved Piggy and one day, they would probably get married; she had also heard her Grammy saying these two were as good as married and that they probably were and were just hiding it very well. Well, for a three-year-old, it didn’t really matter the relationship because they were her Aunt Piggy and Uncle Mitt and that was how it was going to be!

    From her vantage point, it looked like the two were still sleeping, her aunt laying on her back while her uncle was draped across her. It took a bit of time before she was able to get on the bed, but once she was there, she investigated whether or not they were actually sleeping. Sometimes, when she went to see Mama and Daddy, Daddy would play being asleep so he could tickle her. Crawling on the frog, she whispered, “Mitt? Unca’ Mitt, you sleepin’?”

    Kermit had been having a wonderful dream, if he did say so himself – he and Piggy were on a honeymoon in Paris, finishing off a European tour that had included England, Germany, and Spain. It had been Piggy’s suggestion and he had been hard pressed to tell her no. She had been shopping in the city and was about to show him some of the colorful underthings he had caught a small glimpse of when he heard the voice of a child. Still in the midst of dream land, the frog ultimately assumed this was Christmas 1986 again, where his own nephew had woken him at four in the morning, wondering if it was time to open presents.

    “Robin,” the frog sighed, sleepily. “I told you it was too early to open presents.”

    “Presents?” the toddler asked, now interested more than ever in her sleeping relatives. “Mitt, you has presents?”

    Something in Kermit’s brain told him this wasn’t his nephew, especially when his nephew was now a teenager and the voice was that of a little girl, but for the life of him, he could not remember why exactly he was in Leland or why one of his nieces would be in Hollywood. Finally, when wakefulness took a hold of him, the frog remembered that he wasn’t in Leland, but in Bogen County and the voice wasn’t from his niece, though this toddler had no issues with pegging the frog as her uncle.

    Rolling over slightly, Kermit was surprised to see the grey-blue eyes of Ellie Mae looking closely at him, a wide smile on her face for the great accomplishment of waking up her unofficial uncle. “Ellie?” he asked. “Sweetie, what’re you doing here?”

    Sitting up and throwing her arms in the air, the child proudly announced, “I wake myself!”

    Chuckling, Kermit replied, “I can see that.”

    Throwing herself back onto the frog, she again asked, “You wake? You n’ Piggy wake?”

    “We are now,” came the low murmur from Piggy.

    Never let it be said a sleeping adult would deter a child because as soon as the sentence left her mouth, Ellie was climbing over Kermit to get to Piggy, kneeing the frog in the lower back before nearly crushing his arm once she was on top of the diva, and planting her knee in said diva’s stomach. “Sorry!” the little girl exclaimed, throwing all of her weight and then some into a hug. “Kay? Piggy, you kay?”

    “Yes, darling girl,” the diva grimaced, cracking one of her eyes in order to look at her niece. “Sweetling, where is your father?”

    “He cooking.”

    Taking pity on both his sleeping diva and excitable toddler, Kermit sat up before grabbing the toddler about the waist, tickling her before setting her on his lap. “Would you tell him we’re awake now?” he asked, keeping his own thoughts to himself. A change of eye color and the frog felt he could be looking at his future…

    “Yay!” the girl cried, throwing her arms around the frog’s neck. “Mitt, Mitt…”

    “Yes?”

    “Can…can I wake Fozzie and Zo?”

    Of all the new people Ellie had met that weekend, by far her favorite people had to be the three Muppets her aunt Piggy had brought with her. It didn’t help that the three already had a fondness for children, but being Piggy’s adorable relation didn’t hurt either; she had pretty much adopted Fozzie as her larger and more alive teddy bear, even going as far as insisting he come live with her so she could go to sleep at night. Hearing no had been hard and created a tantrum that luckily, only the comic had been able to solve.

    Gonzo, being the daredevil that he was, of course gave in to her demands to be swung around or showed her basic magic tricks that would entice anyone under the age of seven – with exception to Fozzie, who had been just as in awe.

    From his side, Kermit heard Piggy chuckle at the request. “Oh, please do,” she said, giving the child her next happy mission.

    “Kay!”

    Given permission to basically wake the bear and weirdo up in the same manner she did the previous bedroom, Ellie slid off the bed and hurried to the next room in order to wake the comic. Still under some of the effects from sleep, Kermit yawned and stretched, before feeling a familiar arm drape itself along his waist.

    “You should come back to bed.”

    “Firstly,” the frog replied. “I’m still in bed and secondly, I’m already awake.”

    “But I need my cuddle bunny,” came the whine, causing her to snuggle closer to his side.

    “Buddy,” he corrected. “It’s cuddle buddy. It is not my fault you misinterpret what I say in my sleep.”

    Smiling against him, she said, “I like cuddle bunny” before nipping him playfully on his side, causing his surprised gasp.

    “If you’re biting me,” he said, sliding away from her and out of bed. “It means you’re awake and in a good mood.”

    “I haven’t heard any complaints so far,” she retorted, commenting on the love bite she was trying to give him and not the fact that she was, at this point, awake and alert.

    “Why would I complain?” he asked, as he leaned over to deliver a kiss to her exposed neck before dropping one on her cheek. “You gonna join me?”

    “So many ways to take that,” she smirked. Opening her eyes fully to view him, she whispered, “I’ll be up in a minute.”

    Nodding in acquiescence, Kermit rose and headed out into the hallway. It was clear someone was up and moving around in the kitchen, as he could hear the sounds of faint laughter, as well as smell the deliciousness of breakfast. Hearing a familiar laugh and giggle coming from his left, Kermit turned to see Fozzie and Ellie leaving Gonzo’s room at the back of the hall, the bear carrying the little piglet in his arms, as they shared in whatever mischief had befallen the head writer.

    The duo passed him, with a ‘good morning’ from the bear and a little wave from the piglet as they headed towards the kitchen. Gonzo appeared soon after, obviously having been awoken and still in his t-shirt and plaid sleep pants, as he stumbled down the hall to the frog.

    “We’ve given him a cohort,” came the complaint. “Why did we give him a cohort?”

    “Rough morning, hot shot?” quipped Piggy, coming out of the room behind them to see what the holdup was. “You don’t look too out of sorts.”

    “Says the girl who looks great morning, noon, and night,” was the retort.

    “Aw, thank you, Gonzie,” the diva cooed. “That’s actually very sweet.”

    Giving the pig a smile, Gonzo turned to the frog and smirked. “See that?” he asked. “Awesome boyfriend material, says I.”

    Returning the smirk, Kermit crossed his arms. This was a reoccurring argument that had luckily gone from hostile to hilarious – the two always had an unofficial rivalry when it came to Piggy, though it didn’t really seem to take on realistic proportions until the power couple had broken up. There actually had been a point where Gonzo did take the initiative and pursued the star on a serious level, which had a gotten a surprising and positive response. It hadn’t been the whirlwind that literally defined Kermit and Piggy, but it had been a casual and fun affair that seemed to bring the two together better as friends than anything else.

    “Is that right?”

    “That’s right.”

    “So how come you slept way down there,” Kermit began, pointing to the location of Gonzo’s room before pointing behind himself to the room he was sharing with Piggy. “And I slept in there?”

    Smiling playfully, the writer answered, “Because the two of you refuse to be adventurous.”

    “Alright, that’s enough,” Piggy replied, pushing her way past both. “While Moi enjoys you fighting over me, there’s not enough caffeine for me to go down that road, this early in the morning.”
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 2, 2016
    TheWeirdoGirl and The Count like this.
  16. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Thank you. Finally, I get to post something that's not a spambot alert.

    Really good stuff going on with this fic, what with the elder trio of pigs coming to terms with the after-effects of their mother's death. Hope to read more from you for this as well as your other fics.

    Oh, and a small FLI update, your fics when finished will go into a new second bookcase post cause the original from two years ago has gotten overcrowded. ;)
     
  17. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    You're quite welcome! In fact, I has ANOTHER section that just came out of nowhere just now.
     
  18. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    The second half of this literally came out of nowhere just now and I will freely admit that it hit a little too close to home for me, so that means it'll hit you guys too. Should probably issue the tissue warning cause it's gonna be teary.



    Chuckling at her retreat, the two playfully nudged each other forward, with Gonzo finally gripping the frog in a bear hug from behind before letting him go as they headed towards the kitchen. Just as Ellie had announced, Nate stood at the stove making breakfast, while Sarah was setting up plates on the kitchen island, much to the excitement of Fozzie and Ellie, who was sitting patiently – for a three-year-old – on the comic’s lap until a plate of steak, eggs, and toast appeared before them.

    “Zo!” the toddler shouted, seeing the target of her wake up alarm walk in. Patting the stool next to her, she said, “Here! Here!”

    “You want me to sit there?” he asked.

    “Right here,” she insisted, patting the stool awkwardly and barely being able to stay on Fozzie’s lap.

    “It’s almost like we don’t exist anymore,” Sarah chuckled, handing a plate to Piggy.

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if she managed to kidnap them both,” the diva joked. “Normally I’d say ‘go ahead’, but I actually do need them for the show. I could replace them though…”

    “No, you can’t,” Kermit shot back, taking his own plate and taking a seat next to Gonzo at the island.

    “He says that, but…”

    “You always seem to forget who the boss is,” he said, turning to look at his comic and writer. They of course both pointed to Piggy, as if they had been asked who the actual boss was. “No loyalty,” came the mutter, though Kermit was hard pressed to wipe the smirk off his face. Getting his own plate, the frog couldn’t help to ask, “So, what’s the plan for today?”

    “The plan…” Nate began, slowly, making a stop at the kitchen island to drop off the main dish of steak and eggs to the group. “Is probably going through our mother’s things. I’m sure Grandma has some idea of what stuff is going where, assuming Mama actually made a will.”

    “Even if she had,” Ham replied, coming in during Nate’s last sentence. His twins followed behind, though they immediately made a beeline for seats closest to the food. “There’s a probable guarantee that none of it is for us.”

    “Still,” Nate amended. “Let’s be somewhat helpful and give the others a hand; you know, make up for our stellar behavior this weekend.”

    Both of his younger siblings nodded at that, inwardly knowing that any blowback was due to their own behavior. “Where do you think we should start?” Piggy asked.

    Here, Nate shrugged. “I dunno,” he whispered. “The others will be here soon, so maybe they can direct or supervise. Hey, I mean it this time – let’s give Grandma a break, okay? We’re one mark away from getting our own switches and I don’t know about you, but being spanked by my grandmother, as an adult, and in front of my own family is not on my list of life choices.”

    “Oh, I don’t know,” Sarah smirked. “I’m sure I’d be amused to see that.”

    Though that did get the adults the chuckle, it didn’t alleviate some of the tension in the kitchen. “We’ll fly right, Nate,” Piggy stated.

    “You have our word,” Ham added.

    It was on Nate’s tongue to state that he wouldn’t take their word for anything today, but they had all been at fault and he wouldn’t be very good of a brother if he didn’t show some trust in his younger siblings. Instead, he nodded, knowing that they would at least try this time around, some of the harshness from earlier seemingly dissipating during their all night pie feast.

    As predicted, within the hour, the house was again full, this time with the Maline family. The stresses of the weekend seemed to have finally drained out of everyone, even Ida, who seemed to be even more frail and withered than anyone had seen. As executor of her daughter’s will, Ida had the sad task of gathering the family together to state her daughter’s last wishes – in normal times, this would have been done within their lawyer’s office, with only immediate family being involved.

    However, these were not normal times as far as Ida was concerned.

    She hadn’t shown it or even said it, but being there for the last moments of her daughter’s life had literally drained her of her own. While the matriarch had preached solidarity to the other members of the family, she herself held the most guilt – like the others, it had been years since she had spoken to her children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren and in this time, she wasn’t proud of the fact.

    Who was she to tell the others to come together, when she hadn’t been there when her own daughter needed her?

    As with everything else, Ida had let Hortense’s one life decision color their relationship. Ida had been wary of Lee Hogglesworth since the word go and it didn’t matter his slick words or big blue eyes, nothing he would ever do would change her mind about him. And it only got worse the more he seemed to not only break Hortense’s heart, but break her down as well. Hortense had been a beautiful girl, lovely, and something seemed to snap and die after she married that braggart.

    Finally, Ida couldn’t take hearing the pain in her eldest daughter’s voice anymore, so she gave her a choice – Lee or them. And she had chosen Lee and it had all gone down from there. Just as Ida let her children slip away, so did Hortense slip away from hers; Ida’s last three daughters had been no shows at just about every family event for the last twenty-seven years and Ida would probably never know what it was she had done to cause that rift. Oh, she knew the seven of them had their own issues with each other, but she had hoped – really hoped – that learning about their sister’s death would cause them to bury whatever issues there were.

    That wasn’t to be the case. Ida had personally called, only to have Vivian hang up on her as soon as she spoke, Mimi offering indifference to her elder sister’s death, and Faye Raye empathically stating that it would be a cold day in **** before she would ever step foot in the state of Iowa again.

    The elder swine didn’t want to believe in the finality of this, but it was clear that her three youngest were lost to her and to the family. Letters written were either sent back or never answered and it hurt more than she could say; the worse was she could see the same happening to her other children and her grandchildren. This was the first time Hattie and Millie had talked and seen each other in years and even her son – her only son, her little boy – had been away from home for just as long.

    She had meant what she had said in the car – no parent should ever outlive their children and as long as she was still living, Ida would make sure that she made the best of her life. And that meant getting her fractured family back together again.

    So she had gone to see her eldest daughter, had sat with her for that last year and watched as the life drained from her body. Hortense hadn’t said what was killing her, but she had been more honest in her last moments than she probably ever had been – she cried with her mother in telling her about Marjie, how the rest of her children hated her and that she was sure they wouldn’t come. She had been surprised to see Ham, looking so much like Lee it startled her upon seeing him since the last time she had.

    Hortense had made a modest will, nothing fancy and nothing elaborate. She had known her time was coming and even more, she had known that nothing she could give her children would make up for the years that she hadn’t been there for them; Ida had listened, keeping her own sorrow inside as Hortense read her the letter Piggy had left all those years ago, striking her to the core when the then teen had stated that Hortense had driven her away, the same way she had driven away Lee and the same way she was driving away her other children.

    Only then could she see that in her wish to push and yes, protect her little brood, she had made choices that were what she had wanted for them – she didn’t want Nate to go off to college and return with a broken neck or worse because of football; she didn’t want Piggy to think that only her beauty would get her ahead in life; she didn’t want Virgi to see the harshness that pageants could do to a girl her age; she hadn’t wanted Rosie to bury herself in her books and miss out on life; she hadn’t wanted Marjie to take so many risks, especially not with her own life.

    And she hadn’t wanted Ham to get hurt in a business that was known for the growing undercurrents of dangerous behavior.

    But she had gone about it wrong. Hortense thought she was showing them the dark sides of their pursuits, but instead – in their effort to get as far away from her as they could – they had thrown themselves even deeper into their own rabbit holes. Oh, Nate had given up his dream of going to UNI only because Hortense needed him, especially after Piggy’s sudden departure; he hadn’t seen his mother’s sadness or fear or even depression, only that he had done what he always had – been the man of the house and taken care of things at the expense of his own hopes.

    Even Ham, who had so wanted to go into music, had declared he would go into psychology and become a doctor, all because Hortense had asked. She had never said she didn’t want him to stop playing, only that he have something to fall back on, that he didn’t get caught up in the drugs, sex, and rock and roll that the music industry was growing to stand for. She didn’t want that kind of life for him, her talented little boy, but he had only heard her unhappiness at his dream and in order to make her happy, he took her suggestion of doctor.

    “I’ve made a mess of things,” she had sobbed. “And now…now, I don’t have any way to change it.”

    “Sweetheart, don’t say that,” Ida stressed, hating to see such sorrow in the eyes of her oldest. “Things will turn out for the best. I know it will.”

    Hortense smiled sadly at her mother, shaking her head as she did. “No,” she whispered. “It won’t. Not for me. I lost my children a long time ago and now, I’ve lost my baby girl. They won’t come, Mama, they won’t. If they do, it’s only to make sure I’m not around to interfere anymore. I love them and I lost them.”

    That last conversation still tore at Ida and even as she gathered everyone together, it still rang in her ears and head. She had called everyone into the living room, even non-family members because, as she put it “You’re family to those here, so you’re family to us.” That of course had been mainly addressed to Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo, but she had included Sarah in that as well.

    “Ordinarily,” she began, taking one of the dining chairs and sitting, that way she was able to face the others in the living room. “This would be done at a lawyer’s office or the like, however I think this is more important, more…personal. Hortense…Hortense only had a modest will, nothing fancy, basically stating what’s originally yours is yours, if you want it. She left it up to me on how to divide everything, if there’s gonna be a fight over it…”

    “No more fighting, Grandma,” Nate spoke up, looking at his grandmother earnestly.

    “We’re done,” Ricky Lane added. “We’re settled.” The others nodded in agreement.

    Ida smiled, slightly, nodding at this new show of togetherness. “Good,” she whispered. “I’m glad. Mind, I know we’re fighters – we’re Malines, after all and no one picks a better fight than us – but it’s important we know who we’re fighting and that we’re not fighting each other every chance we get. Hortense didn’t want that and she wouldn’t want it now; despite everything, she loved us -” Here, she looked directly at three of her grandchildren. “All of us, even if she didn’t or couldn’t show it; too much of her father in her sometimes.” Ida trailed off, seemingly thinking of something else.

    “And maybe a little too much of me,” she finally whispered. “Her mother’s daughter, all right.” Soberly, she turned steely eyes upon those assembled before her. “I’ve lost one of my daughters and one of my granddaughters; I don’t intend to lose anymore, through separation or otherwise. And that goes for my son and grandsons. And my great-grandchildren.”

    For the first time since they had arrived and maybe the first time ever, Ida Maline looked her age, maybe older and her words, which always had a reason and an affect, were not lost on the others. They had broken apart from each other, in more ways than one, and it had taken a death to bring them all back again, only to reveal another death underneath. There was hurt on all sides, every side, for everyone and maybe it would take years to get over it, but it was something they at least wanted to approach; they could never get their time with Hortense or Marjie back, but they had now and that couldn’t be wasted.

    Not again.

    “You won’t, Grandma,” Piggy said, doing what she did best and that was picking up the pieces when the leader was down.

    “You have our word,” echoed Hattie, looking expectantly at her mother.

    Again, Ida nodded. “So I do,” she whispered, wiping a few tears from her eyes. Taking a deep breath, the brick that was Ida Rose Maline settled back into place and she said, “Alright, enough with the tears. We all have work to do.”
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 2, 2016
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  19. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Already said my piece, it's tough on the rest of the family when a parent or fellow loved one dies. Rully powerful stuff you're writing here, keep it coming, we'll be here till the end.
    *Leaves mug of hot chocolate cause it sounds like Gina could use it, instead of the tinsel or mistletoe that other Muppets prefer to chew on at this time of year.
     
  20. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    OMG, this took FOREVER! I literally had the next section started and then just couldn't execute. Even this section, despite having it mapped out, took way longer to put on paper for some reason. You get an abridged section here, but we are coming to a close on this and that's another one down, and another one down!



    With a house load of people, going through a house full of memories was extremely easy, despite the fact that those memories belonged to a recently deceased family member. The quiet of the process pretty much dictated how everyone felt about needing to do this – they had split up, with Hortense’s siblings taking the living room, dining room, and kitchen, while her children took to their former rooms to take any mementos they wanted. Piggy had started to tell her cohorts that they didn’t need to help in this effort, only to get three identical looks for her suggestion.

    “You guys don’t need to -” Seeing their look, the diva held up her hands in surrender. “Right. Moral support.”

    “By jove!” Fozzie exclaimed. “I think she’s got it.”

    The peace and quiet of the house allowed for reflection for the majority of the family, which was a good thing. As Ida had alluded earlier, there were many past hurts and indiscretions that hurt those involved and now was as good a time as any for them to confront and make peace with it. Fozzie had taken a quick snack break, making his way to the kitchen, and was in the midst of making a sandwich when he heard the muffled sounds coming from the back porch. Curious, and a bit worried, the comic had taken a look out the window to investigate.

    He couldn’t hear the words being said, but it was clear that Ricky Lane was upset, very upset. Luckily, however it seemed as though both of his sisters were there to comfort him, standing on either side of him and consoling him as he continued to cry. Realizing he was intruding on a private moment, the comic took a step back and went about his business; he didn’t even bother to tell anyone else what he saw.

    It wasn’t his place to do so.

    While the others were downstairs, Ham took it upon himself to start going through his own things, before thinking it was better to start with the room Andy and Randy were in first. He was actually just starting to go through the trunk that sat at the end of one of the beds, when he came upon his older sister’s belongings, suddenly realizing that he had put them in his sisters’ room. It had never dawned on him that his sons were staying in the room of his departed sister – at the time, he had been so incensed with Piggy that he had stormed off to his own childhood room and had put the boys in the room next to him.

    When they had been kids, his sisters Ro and Marjie had shared the room next door, having two twin sized beds in the room and pretty much being separated into two sides dedicated to each individual girl accordingly. Once Piggy, then Virgi, and finally Nate had left the house to go on their own, the ultimate idea had been for the younger three children to move downstairs into their own rooms, however that had never come about.

    By the time Ham was entering college, he had really been the only child left and that didn’t last long – as soon as he had gotten his acceptance letter from UNI, he quickly moved out without even a ‘by your leave’ to his mother.

    And now, standing in a room that not only held memories but probably the last remnants of his sister, a wave of emotions seemed to hit Ham harder than he expected. Most of the objects in the room were mostly hers – various sports trophies, pictures of herself and friends, stuffed animals; a few of Ro’s items seemed to be left, like a few beakers she used for some of her science fairs, but from Ham’s memory, Ro had taken most of her belongings when she left.

    There wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to stop Ham in his tracks as he began to examine items slowly.

    His attention once again turned towards the trunk, now knowing what this room could possibly hold. There were several notebooks in the trunk, many of them from her classes – mostly English – but there at least two that showcased the younger pig’s thoughts and mindset, each labeled by the subject matter; one was called ‘Happy Home’ and as he flipped through, these were the thoughts of a baby girl growing up in a home with four older siblings and a younger brother. As titled, these were the happy moments Marjie had – whether it be getting ice cream with Nate or getting make up lessons from her older sisters, Marjie had described the happiness that seemed to be so fickle in her brother’s memory.

    The second notebook was titled ‘Sad Clown’ and though much of it was just drawings, there were a few thoughts scattered throughout, thoughts that Ham had never sensed or knew had been in his older sister’s heart. As with all of them, Marjie had kept her inner feelings to herself, projecting the outward image of a happy teenager, when in reality, Marjie seemed to be turmoil. She had written that she often felt invisible until she did something that caused a laugh, whether it was a joke or prat fall; she’d been envious of her eldest sisters’ beauty and her older sister’s intelligence, leaving her insecure and taking the only other option left for her – sports. It was something she shared with her older brother and Ham was surprised to discover that Marjie felt that she was closer to Nate because of their shared interest.

    Many of her ‘Happy Home’ entries were about Nate helping her learn how to throw a football – something the other girls, other than Piggy, had a remote interest in – and how he had been her protector whenever she had a nightmare. Her relationship with her other siblings seemed to mired in respect, admiration, envy, and jealousy - while she had fond memories of Piggy and Virgi helping her pick out a dress for her first dance, she also felt that their mother loved them more because of their looks and ultimately, their pageant participations. Ro had always been helpful when it came to teaching her things and helping explain the world to her, but her older sister’s intelligence and non-confrontational attitude irked the younger girl, especially when that intelligence overshadowed Marjie’s own accomplishments.

    Ham was happy to learn that Marjie had taken it upon herself to be the older sister he needed after Piggy’s departure and Virgi’s subsequent indifference to anything and everyone around her afterwards, but she also resented his natural musical abilities and that she had taken on a role that should have been shared with the other three girls. Even Nate, whom it seemed Marjie adored, wasn’t spared – his athletic talents in football seemed natural, while she had struggled to find her talent, shifting from one sport to another.

    This was more about his sister than Ham had ever known and he was ashamed to realize and admit that he had no idea his sister had felt this way.

    Ham wasn’t sure how long he’d been sitting there, going over both journals, but the point when he realized he had started to cry was the point he knew he couldn’t continue do this by himself, he couldn’t keep this side of his sister to himself. Getting shakily to his feet - he hadn’t even been aware that he had taken a seat on the ground as he went through the trunk - Ham stumbled his way to the cracked door, taking a step on the landing. He opened his mouth in order to call out to his brother when he surprised himself with a sob.

    Whether it was the sob or the fact that his older siblings were just in proximity, Ham immediately had their attention as they started heading back to their own rooms. “Hammy?” Nate questioned, catching sight of his younger brother. A little under an hour had gone by, with both siblings going through their own rooms, with Kermit and Fozzie giving Piggy a hand in her room, while Gonzo had volunteered to help Nate.

    Both siblings had also been going through Virgi’s room, deciding to leave her things in the hopes that one day she would return to choose what she wanted to keep or get rid of, when they decided to take a break, both heading and returning back from the kitchen when Nate saw Ham on the landing.

    Alarm bells suddenly went off for both older siblings, easily seeing that something didn’t seem to adding up. “Ham,” Piggy asked, sharing a look of concern with her twin before turning back to their younger brother. “What is it?”

    The younger pig hadn’t realized just how upset he had gotten until he realized he wasn’t able to actually tell his siblings what was wrong. Shaking his head, he gulped, saying, “Just come up here.”

    Again, his older siblings glanced at each other in concern, however it didn’t stop the two of them from heading upstairs and entering the room he had started on. Much like the rest of the house, the twins were a little taken aback at the familiar feelings that came when walking through the door – Ro working on homework or some science project, while Marjie was bouncing a basketball or a tennis ball around the room, driving those on the first floor crazy.

    If the two had thought their brother would explain his behavior once they arrived upstairs, they were sorely disappointed; instead, Ham had taken a seat on the nearest bed – which had been Marjie’s – grabbed one of the notebooks he had been reading and held it out to both of them. Piggy took the initiative, taking a hold of the journal and flipping through a few pages; as luck would have it, the journal happened to be the ‘happy home’ and Piggy had ended up stopping on an entry that described one of their few family trips.

    It had been a trip when Marjie had been very young, two years old at the very least, but it was a memory she apparently remembered vividly. It had been a state fair trip, one of those treats that Piggy, Nate, and Virgi had gotten to do with their father from time to time and the entry did spark a memory of a family trip before the births of Marjie and Ham; in Marjie’s recollection, it was the first and sadly, the last time, they had gone out together as a family. They had split up into ‘teams’ as their father had coined it – Lee had taken her, Piggy, and Virgi to one side of the fair, while Hortense had taken Nate, Ro, and then baby Ham on the other side.

    Lee, like many of fathers of daughters, had spoiled them rotten – each of the girls had gotten to share a large cotton candy, while their father had played all the games they wanted so he could win them prizes. Piggy remembered that trip and was surprised to discover that she actually still had that stuffed purple panda, in fact, she had recently seen it sitting on the dresser in her room. It was also one of the rare times that she and Virgi hadn’t been at each other’s throats; there hadn’t always been such animosity between the two, however things are never harmonious when dealing with four teen and pre-teen girls in one house.

    Nate had taken the other notebook and was heartsick to learn about his baby sister’s feelings, especially in the aftermath of her older siblings leaving. From the looks of it, home life had gotten worse, with Ro retreating deeper into her interests, Ham’s personality changing once he switched from music to psychology, and Marjie’s ultimate defeat at trying to keep everyone together. The further along he went, the darker his sister got, with a few entries admitting that perhaps she would be better off not being around, at all.

    That hurt, knowing that his sister felt her life was forfeit and that none of them would twice about not having her in their lives. He still didn’t know what had caused her death, but the very thought that she may have taken it herself or done something that would crushed him. Keeping his rolling emotions in check, he hastily tossed the notebook back into the trunk, before turning on his heel and heading for the door.

    “Come on,” he said.

    “Where’re we going?” Piggy asked, placing the notebook on the bed next to Ham.

    Turning to glance at his siblings, saying, “You know where” before walking out and heading down the stairs. Nate was nearly at the front door before the other two had finished coming down the stairs, tossing Piggy the sweatshirt she had borrowed earlier and had taken off.

    “Piggy?”

    The sudden departure of the trio, for the second time that day, drew eyebrows, especially when there was no explanation given as to why they were leaving and where they were going. It was clear, however, that the three were upset about something – though it seemed Nate was the one more affected than the other two; had there been a fight or disagreement? Since breakfast, the house had been quiet as each person began to sort through household items; the tell-tale sounds of an argument hadn’t been heard, at least not since yesterday afternoon, so to see the three newly aligned siblings just head out left the others with a bit of head scratching.

    The siblings didn’t say anything, only followed the eldest as quickly as they could as he stormed off and got into the truck. As soon as the doors closed, Nate was pulling out of the driveway and down the road, leaving a cloud of dust in his wake. The drive was silent, with Ham and Piggy still not exactly sure where their brother was headed and he wasn’t offering up any ideas as he drove with tightly controlled and unnerving determination.

    It wasn’t until they were turning to the corner and heading into Holland Creek Ceremony, before pulling into the parking lot. Only when they reached their destination did Nate seem to come to himself, almost surprising himself as well as his siblings. “This made more sense in my head earlier,” he mumbled, turning off the ignition and leaning back against the seat.

    “Well…” Piggy sighed. “As long as we’re here…”

    That seemed to motivate the three to leave the car and take the familiar path to where a growing number of their family members seemed to be gathering. Five members, that they were aware of, were buried in this area, however it was the three headstones that sat together which drew the trio’s attention. Mother, father, and sister were here, while their grandfather and great uncle rested in the row behind them; it still seemed very unreal to be standing here and looking down at the newest additions that now graced the ground.

    “It doesn’t seem real,” Ham murmured, his eyes moving from the graves of his sister and mother. “I don’t think I’ve ever imagined myself standing here like this, not with Mama and especially not over Marjie.”

    Throwing a quick glance towards her brother, Piggy asked, “Is it true? Did you really give up music to be a doctor?”

    The younger pig shuffled his feet a bit, before putting his hands in his pockets. “It was what she wanted,” he whispered, nodding his head towards their mother’s grave. “After you, Nate, and Virgi left…it was easier to do what she wanted than what she didn’t. Don’t get me wrong!” he insisted, turning to look at them both. “I love being a psychologist, I do! Ironically, it’s very therapeutic; it’s…been helpful.”

    “But are you happy?”

    Ham thought about it for a second before responding, “I’m as happy as I can be. For now, that’s enough.”

    “Is it?” Nate whispered, causing his siblings to look over at him. He had been the last one out of the car and now he stood in front of their father’s grave, glaring at it as though it was the boar himself. “Is this the life you saw yourself having? Was this the way things were supposed to be?”

    “Nate?”

    “This all started,” he growled, before pointing at the grave. “With that pig’s death. Before that even.” Again, glaring at the name on the headstone, hating the fact that he had to share it with someone who had never thought twice about him or them or anyone but himself.

    Nate had never outwardly stated – at least until their confrontation in the barn – that he held such animosity towards their father, resentment and anger only building as the years continued to roll by and then combining into the bitterness that he began to hold for their mother. Worse yet, after reading what he had in Marjie’s journal, his feelings on the matter were boiling. Their parents had a duty to them, a duty to make sure they were loved and cherished and…and that was not what Lee and Hortense Hogglesworth had done for their children.

    “I hate you, Daddy,” he spat, not even aware he had said anything until he heard the groan from his sister.

    “Nate,” she replied. “You don’t mean that.”

    “Yes, I do,” he said, glaring at her. Turning back to the graves of his parents, he said, “I hate you both. You were the worst excuses for parents ever and in a few short years, I’ve proven that I’m better than both of you. I am a good father, Daddy; seventeen years later and I’m still with the woman I married. Unlike you, I’ve never felt the need to hitch my cart to the first moving thing that comes my way.”

    “Nate!” his siblings exclaimed, both of them looking around the cemetery as though a horde of mourners or worse, pastors and priests, were just sitting around and waiting for someone to say something blasphemous.

    “I have always strived to be the good son,” he continued, heedless of his siblings’ comments. He seemed to be in his own moment, decades of hurt and pain bubbling to the surface without his permission. “I did everything you wanted me to and for what? I gave up my childhood for you, I gave up football for you, and not once did I ever ask for anything in return. I was the parent to you two should’ve been and I wasn’t the brother my siblings needed.”

    “That’s not true,” Piggy defended, looking at Ham in surprise. Out of all of them, Nate was the person she considered to have the healthier mindset, only topping Ro and only because she managed to bury herself in school work.

    “You’ve always been a good brother,” Ham added.

    “Have I?” he asked, turning to face them both. “A better brother would’ve kept in better touch with each of his siblings. A better brother would’ve been able to keep his family together, not apart. A better brother would’ve known about the death of his baby sister before her name in the family plot! If I had been a better brother, Marjie wouldn’t have done something to cause her own death!”

    “What’re you talking about?” Piggy gasped.

    “Is that true?” Ham asked, shocked.

    Nate shook his head, sadly. “I don’t know,” he whispered, his voice hitching on the last syllable. “God, I hope not,” he moaned. “How could I have not known? Not see what was going on? I did everything I could…”

    Watching her twin brother break down and cry was like watching her father cry – it was a scene she had truly never witnessed in her life and quite frankly, it was disturbing. After her father, Nate was the strongest male influence she knew – before she had met Kermit and the others – so to see him so broken, in both heart and spirit, hurt her heart and spirit. Like Ham, she had no idea Nate had felt such a weight on his shoulders after their father’s departure; they had both stepped up to watch and take care of their younger siblings, effectively taking on parental roles that they had been ill equipped to take on at such a young age.

    It wasn’t to say that Hortense just let her children run around without supervision or that anything sinister had happened, however it had been very clear that the oldest were responsible for the youngest, a clear chain of command that continued until their teens when their sense of rebellion had kicked in and started the shift they now found themselves.

    Nate had done everything he could, even give up his own dreams, to ensure his siblings were able to achieve theirs; Piggy had cut all ties when she left, putting her past in a locked trunk, before sticking it in a locked closet and burying it deep down into another locked around that she wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. She suspected Virgi and Ro had done the same thing, seeing as she hadn’t had any contact with them since her leave and it was clear that Ham had given up his own dreams in order to make their mother happy.

    They really did put dysfunction into ‘dysfunctional’, didn’t they?


    [hr]


    Kermit the Frog was a worrier.

    Maybe it was born out of being the eldest of so many younger siblings or overseeing the antics of a troupe of troublemakers, but Kermit had the innate sense of concern whenever he couldn’t pinpoint where someone was. That sense was especially attuned to one Miss Piggy.

    It had been nearly lunch when Piggy and her brothers had quickly stormed out the front door and drove off. While he was worried, he knew at some point Piggy would just send him a message or call to let him know that the three of them were alright; that is, she would have if she had bothered to take her phone. Sometimes, he thought she was glued to the thing, so when she would leave it behind, his worry scale would move from zero to ten in the blink of an eye.

    His worrying had started getting on the nerves of Gonzo and Fozzie that they had kicked him out of Piggy’s room, relegating him to the kitchen while they helped Ida and Millie go through items in the living room. Kermit was at least happy to not be alone in the kitchen – Hattie and Sarah had been making lunch for everyone and afterwards, he had volunteered to help the two go through kitchen items. By the time Hattie had begun to gather ingredients for dinner, Kermit’s worry meter was at an all-time high of 18, which was increasingly to 20 within the next few minutes if Piggy didn’t walk through the door.

    “I’m sure she’s fine,” Hattie replied, preparing pots and pans for dinner. “The boys wouldn’t let anything happen to her.”

    Kermit smirked. “I’d be more afraid for the boys, actually,” he joked. Looking at the nearby window, he murmured, “I wouldn’t be worried if she hadn’t forgotten her phone. She never goes anywhere without it.”

    Hattie hummed an agreement. She only had a cell phone to keep in touch with people when she traveled, however she wasn’t like her nieces or nephews when it came to being connected at all times, but she could understand the worry that had taken the frog. She had of course heard about Kermit the Frog, was aware that her niece had been involved with him at some point and had then broken up. Hattie enjoyed her gossip rags, but she instinctively knew that those stories were just that, stories. So it was interesting to see that the stories about the frog weren’t true – he didn’t seem to be the uncaring sort, in fact it was the complete opposite.

    His restlessness and anxiety clearly showed he cared enough about her niece to wonder where she and her brothers could be and where they had held up for several hours.

    “You really care about her, don’t you?”

    Kermit looked up in surprise. “Of course I do,” he said. “Why wouldn’t I?”

    Hattie turned to gaze at him from the corner of her eye. “From what I understand,” she said, turning to actually look at him. “You two aren’t exactly involved anymore.”

    A slight blush rose to his green cheeks, but he had the good grace to look at her when he answered her. “Does that matter?” he asked. “She’s still my friend and I’d be concerned either way.”

    “I bet it’s a little different when you’re in love with that person.”

    The frog actually smirked. “That does go without saying,” he admitted. “I won’t lie; we’ve discussed about trying it again, making sure we don’t do the same things we did before.”

    “I’m sure this experience hasn’t exactly made things easy,” she mentioned, facing him head on.

    What seemed like a simple question didn’t seem as such to the frog; in fact, it almost sounded as though Hattie though his opinion of her niece had suddenly changed. “I’ve always known who Piggy was,” he said, matter of factly. “I wouldn’t be a good friend, or otherwise, if I let something as simple as this change the way I feel about her.”

    Hattie couldn’t help the small smile that lit her face. Most men, in all honesty, couldn’t handle the very frank nature of a Maline woman and it was only worse when their various skeletons came out of the closet unannounced, but it seemed clear – and hopeful – that Kermit’s feelings on the matter were genuine. “Just how many arguments do you get into where you think this is simple?” she questioned, though that familiar twinkle in her eye signaled she was teasing him.

    “Have you never watched anything we’ve ever done?” was his response.
     
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