The Under Series - Moments
Glimpses of a Merfolk Family
Moments is a way of telling the Brookses' life in glimpses, getting to know these characters in situations that wouldn't normally fit within the story.
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Pens on the floor
Toys decorated the entire room, from giant teddy-bears to remote control cars, from little green soldiers to miniature roller coasters. Yet the only thing ten-year-old Christopher wanted was the coloring pencils hidden in one corner. It would always marvel Julian years later, how Chris could be the happiest with the simplest of things.
Quid pro quo (one thing for another)
When Julian reached the surface for the first time, everything was chaotic: The air was too thin, the light too bright, the land too rough. Gone was the City, with its safety, its familiarity—and its predictability. He couldn't love it more.
When Matt came all excited with a parachute class flyer, Julian's first instinct was to say only if you can grow wings. But then, the irony of it hit him like a freight train; this was Matthew growing wings, trying new things, finally looking forward to something. So, he swallowed his words and signed the damn papers.
The first time Chris saw Matt's red-and-orange scales, he wasn't surprised. They were the colors of fire, true, but they were also the colors of new days and sunshine, of unlimited energy, of warmth and growth. Someday, the angry teenager would become a formidable man—if only they could live through his present teenage years.
"God, Chris! I swear, if you give me one more hug, I'm gonna drown you in your sleep!"
By the time Matt finished his first lesson behind the wheel, they had broken a few dozen laws and ran over a few dozen cones, but at least his kid had the decency of stopping at the red light, grinning like a maniac.
Between heaven and earth
Sometimes, the strangest part of this family wasn't that they could turn their legs into tails and their skin into scales, but the fact that against all odds, they had found each other.
The first time Christopher had called him Dad, it had been awkward on so many levels that they had both blushed and let it go. In time, they had settled with Father for public events and Julian for their everyday routine. But every now and then, he still called him Dad, and Julian couldn't be prouder each and every time.
Reading the original The Little Mermaid was some kind of hell reserved for Merfolk, Matt decided; the idea of being soulless and becoming sea foam at death terrified him.
The first time Matt saw a kid bullying Alex, he could've scorched the earth where he stood. Needless to say, there was never a second time.
The next best thing
The best thing in the world was swimming in the open sea. Well, that and teasing the Squid to death.
The bet among the swim team members had been simple: whoever could hold their breath underwater the longest, won. Man, this was his lucky day!
When the Music teacher proclaimed him deaf tone and swiftly kicked him out of the band, Alex shrugged and went his merry way. Merfolk had exceptionally good voices, but he was not about to open his mouth and waste his time when he had so much hacking to do.
The fourth time that month that Julian had been called to the principal's office because Alex had been lost in cyberspace instead of his class, he'd sternly warned his youngest son: if the phone rang one more time for the same reason, he would lose his swimming pool privileges.
Dragonflies and fireflies
Yellow-greens, orange-reds, and all shades of blue zoomed in the swimming pool, his three sons deeply committed to a game of tag. From above, the sun shone brightly off the scales, giving Julian an unexpected show of dizzying acrobatics and iridescent tails.
They couldn't feel the cold, not even of deep waters and in complete darkness, but that only meant that heatwaves were ten times worse for them. Lying at the bottom of the swimming pool, all five Brookses sighed in content.
In the middle of the winter, the deserted frozen lake was all theirs to explore underwater. As long as Julian didn't find out what they were doing, of course.
Reason for existing
For the longest time, Matt had felt completely out of place at the Brooks household. He had no interest in Julian's work and understood little of whatever Christopher did. But that night when Alex came, so thin, and so pale, and so lost, Matthew had finally known what he was supposed to be: a brother.