Okay, I started this a few weekends ago (after reading fanfics and coming across an ABC one, though I didn't actually read it) and I finally finished it. I didn't work on it probably because of school. But I am finished, though I did want it to be a little better. I am, however, happy with how it turned out. Anyway, read, review, and enjoy! (:
Anthropology: A class taken during the first semester of their sophomore year. He was sitting at the far left of the room and he didn't even know she existed until they found out that they were in the same group. They talked mainly about the project when they saw each other, but then they got more friendly and speaking to each other about things unrelated to school became more frequent. By the end of the semester, they agreed to go on a date together.
Buzzcut: Something she laughed at when he arrived at her dorm. She tried to cover it up, but he could tell what was going on. He ran a hand through his hair, regretting the change.
"Hey, it was a dare," he said, knowing full well that it had been his own idea.
But no matter the embarrassment, it would provide them with something to laugh about through the years.
Crazy: The first adjective he used to describe her. After beautiful, of course. It rained during their fifth date and she spontaneously got up from the table, walked out of the restaurant, and frolicked outside. The other couples—mostly elderly ones—held their forks and spoons in midair, their mouths wide open. The television on the wall announced the possibility of a flood waring, and here was this girl, running around outside. Many people were looking at Eli because he hadn't done anything in response to Clare's actions. He cleared his throat and continued to slowly chew the food that was in his mouth. But, on impulse, he surprised himself and set his fork down on the table, joining Clare outside.
Doze: What she did when he read his fifteen page psychology paper to her. He took it as a hint that he should work on his paper some more, but she assured him that she was just tired. And even if she hadn't been sleepy, his paper wouldn't need any fixing. She was a Mediterranean Studies major and she'd only taken a psychology class during her junior year of high school, so it was understandable if she didn't understand what he was talking about.
"Not yet," he'd responded, vowing to teach her at least a few things about psychology. She would have to deal with hearing about it all of the time if she stuck around.
Expectations: Different from what both of them initially imagined. Neither of them had had a serious relationship in college yet and they didn't really expect to have one until well after graduation. But December eleventh, the day they first went out, was just the first part of a series of unexpected outcomes.
Fetus: Something they'd lost just before the start of their senior year. Eli took care of withdrawing from classes and speaking to advisors for the both of them. Clare wanted to get it done as soon as possible and she swore that she could do it, but Eli knew that she would have trouble with it.
The seasonal events—children with brightly colored book bags and lunchboxes laughing on the playground with their friends before school started; children running around in costumes and asking strangers for candy and snacks; children bringing home homemade turkeys and cornucopias to their parents; the same children composing letters to Santa and asking their parents if they can have just one more cookie before they go to bed—left Clare paralyzed with misery and fear. Who was taking care of her baby now, when she was unable to? Who soothed him or her when they were experiencing discomfort? Who looked out for them when they were about to do something that would end badly? Did they let him or her experience the undesired result? Or, perhaps, did they reach out before anything could be done and warn them about the consequences?
Toward the end of December—when stores began selling noisemakers and plastic champagne flutes and Christmas decorations sat on the shelves behind bright yellow signs that read '75% off!"—Clare's mood took a sharp, rash turn. Before, she would barely speak. And when she did, she wouldn't say very much. Her actions spoke volumes, but Eli didn't always understand how she was feeling. He wanted her to speak, but not if it made her uncomfortable. Sometimes she would try to tell him something and she would have a hard time continuing. Her tears would choke her up and she would have to calm herself down before she began the process again.
Now, she still cried, but she would do it less often and she would usually do it in private. Eli would come home from work and find the apartment seemingly empty. That is, until he walked toward the bedroom. Many a time had he done this and found that the door was locked. He would lightly knock and she would open the door—probably so she wouldn't seem 'weak' from crying alone all of the time. When she'd open the door, he would be able to tell that she spent time wiping her tears away. He knew that she'd been crying, but he would never say anything. He wouldn't say anything until he knew she was okay with him doing so. She would be the one to say something first, if she said anything at all.
When she did finally speak, she would say horrible things, things that sometimes scared Eli. Oh, everyone dies anyway, right? was the latest she'd said.
This process started to become less frequent, and sometime later on, it stopped altogether.
Gazebo: What was always included in the ideal description of their future house. Clare remembered having a neighbor who would let her walk and play underneath her gazebo. She always thought they were pretty.
If she ever got one, she'd like to bury their baby near it. Then, every so often, she would go and sit near the shade and reflect on things in her life—work, school, her relationship, whatever came to mind. She would have everything that was important there with her—Eli, the baby, their memories of trips and of life in general.
Home: The feeling they get when they come home and the other is there waiting. The desire they get to return to their apartment when they're at work, bored, or in an uncomfortable situation. The happiness they receive after flying back from Greece—or Ukraine—or whatever country they were visiting. They'd arrive at the airport and, after a half an hour drive, they'd be home.
An actual house didn't come until Clare was in graduate school for writing, her new found passion. It was only a two bedroom house, but it was theirs, so it didn't matter.
Igloo: They'd gone to Alaska after Clare finished grad school. It was definitely a riveting experience. They'd done the research, so they knew what to expect, but actually being there was very different.
It wasn't the cliché Alaska that everyone pictures, but it was still cold. There weren't, however, random Eskimos building igloos and going ice fishing. Eli laughed every time he heard that one.
When they were in their hotel room—no hostel this time—he started to lift up the sheet, allowing air to go underneath it. Clare, who was sitting on the couch reading a book, asked him what he was doing.
"Making an igloo," he replied. "Come on." He gestured to the sheet.
She rolled her eyes, shut her book, and put it on the coffee table before joining him in his little fort.
Jack-o'-lantern: The first pumpkin they carved together after moving into their new house was a disaster. The face didn't look like anything like the actor it was modeled after and Clare had accidentally sliced her finger when she was cutting out the mouth.
They also carved their own. Clare's was very generic, but Eli decided to surprised Clare with his. He picked it up and showed it to her and, although it was sloppy, she noticed that the lines formed what looked like a gazebo.
"Because we don't have one?" she asked.
He nodded, about to say something, but she cut him short by kissing him. "Hey," he said when she broke away from him. "you didn't see the back."
She looked confused, but she turned the pumpkin around. Just like the other side, this one was messy, but she could tell that he'd drawn a ring and a question mark. She nodded. "But how am I supposed to keep this as a memory? It'll rot."
He rolled his eyes. "We'll take a picture of it."
Klutz: Eli was one of the most accident prone people she knew. She swore that if guys were the ones to get engagement rings, he'd lose his. She wondered what the wedding would be like. Of course, she would be the one to walk down the aisle, but when both of them would walk back down the aisle, there'd be a possibly that he could trip. It surprised her that he was clumsy, considering all the traveling they did. They'd climbed mountains before and gone on hikes. Maybe it was just flat land that he had a problem with. But whatever the circumstances, she loved him and she'd take him either way, clumsiness and all.
Laryngitis: Near the end of November, she had a bad cold. It turned out to be the flu and she eventually got laryngitis. Luckily Eli could get some time off of work to stay home and take care of her.
She'd never really gotten sick often, so she was a bit scared when she went to the doctor. She worried about a lot of things, so when she found out that she could potentially die, she felt very nervous. But Eli calmed her down quite a bit and he assured her that she would be fine as long as she got a lot of rest.
When she was back to normal, she was very thankful. She could have had laryngitis for much longer and it could have interfered with the wedding.
Music: They'd bonded over music since the start of their relationship. He'd opened her up to a lot of alternative bands and she made him some playlists of indie songs she liked. From then on, music had become a big part of their lives together. They'd try to go to concerts often and they were big supporters of local bands. At one point, they even tried to start a band with a few friends, but it did not work out so well. He could play a little bit of guitar and she took piano as a little girl, but neither of them felt like they would be able to perform in front of people unless they had a lot of practice.
But they still had traveling, which they both loved.
Neck: What he could have broken during a dare. He and some friends were climbing trees, but it somehow turned into a bet. Eli and his friend, Seth, were neck and neck—no pun intended—when they both started to have a little trouble. They'd climbed very high and it would be hard for them to get back down.
Clare had no knowledge of what was going on until she walked into the backyard with Seth's fiancee and her sister, the three of them carrying glasses of lemonade. She didn't understand why someone his age still did childish things, but it kept him feeling youthful. She hoped that thirty would bring some more maturity.
Oval: The shape Clare's stomach used to be. Sitting out in the yard on a sunny summer evening, Eli thinks about this. Had she carried the baby to full term, they would have a six or seven year old running around the yard and playing with Darcy's son. There might even be a young sibling to keep them company. But if they tried again and received similar results, they would have to face the same thing all over again.
Eli stopped before his brain could go any further. He didn't want to revisit his twenty-two year old self.
Pacific: His favorite ocean. They would sometimes get into playful arguments over which ocean was the best. He would visit some family members in Yuba City, California every few years and he loved going to the beach while he was there.
Clare always sided with the Indian Ocean, despite Eli's promises to coerce her into "living the Pacific life."
"I'll just be a person living the Pacific life who's really into the Indian life," she would say with a smile.
This usually ended the discussion because Eli realized that he wouldn't have any luck in getting her to join his side.
Queasy: How he felt on the wedding day. But not in a bad way. He was always shy as a child, but it was never a very serious problem for him. But on the twenty-third of March, he felt a little...unusual. His alarm clock rang, he showered, and then he started to make breakfast. As his oatmeal was cooking, the silence in the air got to him and he was finally hit by the anxiety he'd failed to be affected by the night before. A chill ran down his spine and he could feel goose bumps on his arms.
"No, I just got out of the shower. That's why I have these," he whispered to himself. He rubbed one of his arms with the other.
When his oatmeal was finally done, he could smell it. That was the reason he knew it was done. He hadn't been paying attention to it for the last few minutes. He glanced into the pot and then set it back down on the stove. He wasn't feeling hungry anymore. He stomach felt strange actually.
He almost laughed at the idea of himself being nervous. But then he realized that if he couldn't laugh it off, he would have to be nervous in front of about 150 people.
His dad and his best friend would be over in less than an hour, and luckily they were able to make him feel a bit better.
Rosie: What they would have named their child. If Clare ended up having a girl, that is. She wanted a girl and she had a strong feeling that a girl was what they would get.
Eli's grandmother's was named Rosa and he would have loved to have named his daughter after her.
Sphinx: What they saw during their honeymoon in Egypt. Some friends and family helped them fund a trip to Egypt. Mummies and pyramids always interested Clare when she was a child. She could remember being in her sixth grade social studies class. The teacher showed everyone how to write their name in hieroglyphics. Clare had gone to the library after school that day, keen on trying to find a book that would teach her how to read more symbols. The books she found about hieroglyphics were not adequate enough, so she only learned a few things, but she loved seeing new symbols that she could practice copying over and over again.
She would have never imagined that she would visit Egypt close to twenty years later. Inside, though, her twelve-year-old self was squealing with delight.
Tanzania: Where they went for their first family vacation—with a new addition: a puppy named Squid. He was a little, black Labrador Retriever. A lot of their friends thought his name didn't fit with his appearance, but much of what Clare and Eli did defied the norm to begin with.
Unsuccessful: The state of Clare's second pregnancy. She was just over thirty-four when she found out she was pregnant again. She and Eli were ecstatic, but they made sure to contain their enthusiasm for a while. Only family and close friends were told. It was good that they didn't tell more people early on, because Clare miscarried a little after she'd hit the five month milestone.
She was very emotional, just like she was with her first miscarriage, but she thought that she was handling it better this time around. She got out of her slump at a quicker pace and she came to terms with the situation in a more positive way.
Both Eli and Clare agreed that they would not try to have a baby again. If she became pregnant again, they would wait and see what the results were, but they were, by no means, trying anymore.
Vincent: What they planned to name their son. Clare thought it was an adorable name and he would not have any trouble with nicknames. Vince. Vinnie. Vin.
Perhaps he would have been a football player. A scientist. Maybe he would have come to Clare or Eli after learning about Vincent van Gogh in school. "He has my name!" he would say. "Can we go visit him?"
Eli would get ready to tell him that this particular Vincent was not alive, but Clare would slap him playfully and say, "Maybe someday, honey. Maybe some day."
Wren: The little girl they adopted a few years after they lost Vincent. She was about eight years old and she adjusted to living with them very well.
Had they not known she was a girl, her room would have been very boyish. Instead, it was just the opposite. The walls and furniture were pink and purple, and butterflies decorated many items in the room. The cozy bed spread. The matching pillow cases. The mural on the wall, which was painted by Imogen. The little clips on her dresser.
Amidst their worries, their friends and family members assured them that they'd done everything right.
That was all that they could hope for. To be able to provide her with whatever she needed. To be there when she needed them.
Xenolith: Eli's favorite exhibit during a trip they took to a museum. Wren was eleven and had no interest in science at the time. What occupied her attention was a brightly-colored paper fortune teller. She made it in school with her friends and she was trying to get the coveted result of having Bryan Waters as her husband.
Eli and Clare glanced at each other and rolled their eyes. They knew that she would be over this crush sooner of later. It was just a matter of time before she was interested in other boys and things that had nothing to do with romance. If she took after her parents, she would find herself interested in some pretty strange things. Maybe she'd want to come back in a few years and take a look at the exhibit. By then the Xenolith Xtravaganza would be gone and a new exhibit would be in its place. Perhaps she would be interested in a different type of rock. Maybe something from a different kingdom altogether.
Young: What Eli calls Clare almost every day, even now that Wren is in college. She was no longer the nineteen-year-old girl he remembered from college. But he loved her at forty-seven, just as he loved her nearly thirty years prior.
Zephyr: What they felt on the beach during Wren's wedding. As they stood, with their feet planted in the sand, they listened to Wren read her vow to her husband-to-be. Standing with her is no Bryan Waters. The man across from her is someone she feels comfortable with in any situation. Someone she can laugh at while wanting to smack him at the same time. Someone that brings out the best in her.
Eli and Clare are still focused on the two young people before them, but they both have a similar thought: the couple they're watching reminds them of themselves. Them at age 19, when they were on their first date. Them at 21 when they decided to move in together. Them when they both said 'I love you' to each other. Of course, there's nothing like experiencing any of that and no one will truly be able to tell what someone went through, but anyone watching the couple—both of them, actually—would be able to see it all on their faces. They certainly couldn't see the specifications of the situations, the details of the heartbreak, the sorrow, the joy. But they could tell that they genuinely loved and cared for one another. They could see that they would work, that they just had to be programmed that way. Otherwise how could one practically feel the warmth that they both generated when they were around one another, when they spoke of one another?
And so, after the ceremony, when Clare and Eli gather with everyone else to take a photo, it doesn't matter that they came across many forks in the road, that they hit more than one speed bump along the way. It doesn't matter that they receive strange looks when they introduce someone to their daughter, who happens to be Korean. It doesn't matter that they made mistakes in the past—and are likely to make more in the future. What they care about, what they take pride in, is that they've survived. They've made it together, despite all of their ups and downs. Despite every moment that made them upset, or hurt, or angry. Despite every little event that seemed like it was the end of the world. None of that would matter because they had the here and the now. Then, twenty years from now, they would have a new 'here and now' and perhaps that would be fifty times as good as it is now.
Let me know if you liked it! Oh, by the way, please go vote on my poll! :)