A/N: Point of views will be in the header for each entry. I only have a quote for this first chapter because I mean for it to be the quote of the book. When I found it during a random rose quotation search it just struck me as being perfect for the themes I intend to convey. Enjoy reading! ;)


Happily Ever Altered

Book I

Beauty and Payne

You are responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Mina Entry 1

2nd Mo.—4th D.

Beauty solves nothing. If it did solve a thing, I wouldn't be using this ten inch digital diary to make my life entries in. Nor would I be sitting in a cheap transport without proper air conditioning on my way to the lower end of the city because Appa's gone into debt and we can't afford our house anymore.

People—and this is people in general, no one in particular, though I've felt the effects of people's assumptions all my life—think that having sunshine hair that waves just right and creamy skin that makes all the high end reworks look like botched jobs gives you an advantage over the rest of the world. It doesn't, and I have the experience to prove it.

Hey, I'm not complaining. There's enough of that coming from Shae and Charish to last the whole twenty minute ride.

I'm not upset about the move at all, really. Only on the same level of upset as Charish was the last time she flushed a dead fish down the crank. More oops than aw there.

If I had more friends—meaning any—in Havadera maybe I would be upset. If we were ever so much as wealthy, I might be disappointed. If we were traveling to a homeless facility, I might shed a tear or two. Instead, I'm feeling excited about a new scene and a fresh start.

I actually feel like thanking Oliver Ryker for wanting his money back and forcing our move. I never liked the way our house was divided with all the long echo-friendly hallways between each bedroom. It made me feel cut off and isolated, like an outdated android in a shop full of new tech, just making noise for the sake of being heard.

I didn't expect to be leaving it like this, though. Who would have thought that a few slips and a big loan would put Appa into steep debt with the most prestigious man in the city? Dazzling, how you can owe so much to a person you've never seen. Okay, so we've seen Mr. Ryker all over the news feeds and street screens like everyone else has, but you know what I'm saying.

One parsec; the girls are in dispute over fruity goos, and I'm reduced to splitting up fights between my two older sisters. At least they don't squabble like kiddos. They have the dignity to keep it down on a public tran. Who said being nineteen made you mature? Oh, of course. That was my sister; the one who's nineteen. Nutty of me to forget.

Can you believe that? Shae says I get last pick of the rooms since I'm the youngest. I meekly submitted to her greater wisdom and let it go. She doesn't know yet that we're all sharing a room. I'm biting my tongue for fear an evil cackle will escape me.

I think our stop is coming up. I don't feel like tapping anymore, and we'll be seeing the house soon.

It's a tin can compared to our old place, but I like it. We have two houses above us with one floor apiece, accessible to their owners by a tube lift running up and down the sides of the complex. Appa's going out to activate it right now in order to find out how much of a problem noise pollution might be. I've seen houses via Newsnet crammed together in all directions until you can barely tell where one stops and the next one begins. Two neighbors sitting on top of us shouldn't be half bad.

Our doors retract to show a nice sized front room, empty now but for a rectangular café table left by the last owners, and six crates that hold all of our possessions.

The kitchen's to the left of the entry room, built alongside it like a slidewalk to a supply store. The biggest shelf is right up against the carpet. I'm thinking if we can get a few swivel stools, maybe we won't need to use the little square excuse of a dining area for meals. A wall of shelves for flicks and digis would fit nicely in there.

Shae and Charish took the news about our room pretty well. Charish wasted no time in counting the bedrooms, (which hardly took more than a blink to the back of the house) and her unspoken question about sleeping arrangements was answered with as much optimism as Pap could muster.

"Oh," Shae replied with a smile when Charish failed to make comment, "Let's go pick our beds, then," and off they trotted, hand in hand.

They really are nicer girls than I give them credit for. I just like to pester the dizzies. But what youngest child doesn't consider that their chief duty?

Appa wondered aloud where we would put all our stuff.

"What stuff?" I said.

"Too true." He eyed the silver crates taking up their sad space in the corner of the room in the same way he sometimes looks at screens of Marma—like he's hopelessly lost.

"We'll be okay, Pap. A smaller house means less work to keep it clean."

"Shae can't even argue that," he said with the smallest flicker of a smile. I left him alone not long after.

Charish was bemoaning the invention of wallbeds when I got to our room. She said anything that had to be pulled out of the wall couldn't be sturdy enough to hold a human.

I asked if I could help set beds up, but as usual the girls had everything done already. A pair in this house is infinitely more useful than a trio. Two can get the job done quickly and efficiently. A third set of hands ends up being in the way.

My bed is on the left wall, dead center of the other two girls' across from me. Charish made Shae give her the lower bunk since she was afraid of falling out of the top from breaking it in the middle of the night. After they swapped, she still went on complaining.

"Scrap it, Char." Shae warned as she cranked up the firmness of her own mattress, "Or are you worried your wide, ugly hips might not fit it?"

"Oh!" Charish squealed angrily, but I could see her grinning over the jab. "That's some big talk for a woman who's obviously too old and wrinkly to attract a man, Miss Twenty Whole Minutes Older."

I laughed at them both. "Don't worry girls; you know they have surgery for that."

"Pills too," Charish added.

"Mina, sometimes I want to take your smuggy little face, and uber glue it to the wall."

"Ruining my face won't make yours any better, Shae, and sooner or later you're going to need that glue to plug Char's ears up. I'm stunned that her brain hasn't oozed out of them yet."

I think the full scale girl-war that initiated helped us break the new house in. I hope we'll all be happy here.