3.22

“I love you, sweetheart! Who’s a beautiful girl? Are you my gorgeous granddaughter? Are you my third gorgeous granddaughter? I love you, darling!” Mum was our daughters’ biggest worshipper. She was so very grateful to have lived long enough to have met all three of them, and we were grateful to have had her around this long. She spent so much time with them all that I was a little jealous at times, but I reminded myself that she was getting old, and that Aunt Lily was visiting everyday for a reason, and gladly gave her all the time she wanted with the girls. She looked happy with them, who was I to complain?

Cyan still got up early every morning. His timing was getting better, so he actually managed to be done by the time his car pool arrived. The garden was definitely coming along well, too! It was only small, with less than ten plants overall, but I was surprised that he had kept it at all. Being knowledgeable of plants wasn’t required for his new job, but he insisted. I knew it helped him relax, although sometimes I wasn’t sure if it added to his stress instead. It was something else he had to do, on top of the journals and research he had to read, and the medical terms he had to study.

The fruit he grew was amazing, though! The tomatoes, lettuces and watermelons were nice, but his apples? I had never eaten anything so good! It was possible that it was my hormones that made me crave them, but I easily got through three apples a day, sometimes four.

I wasn’t sure how it worked, but they helped me calm the symptoms, too. Hearing his voice whisper to me from the back of my mind? Eat an apple. See a shade of turquoise that wasn’t part of any furniture, walls or floors? Eat an apple. Have the irrational fear of a bird crashing into our window, carrying a bomb set to explode on impact, destroying everything and everyone I ever loved? Eat two apples. Maybe three. Hungry? Most definitely eat an apple! Somehow, they had become my answer to everything. My new delicious comfort food.

At first I had considered taking medication against the symptoms, but that wouldn’t be an option for me until after this pregnancy. In the end I had decided entirely against medication. I had managed just fine without it before, I’d manage just fine now.

I was pregnant for the third time now, and we wanted this to be my last pregnancy. We already had three children, and knew that there was a chance for another set of twins, or possibly even triplets. Or more than that, even.

We didn’t know how many babies we were having this time, but one thing I knew for sure. The morning sickness had not been anywhere near this bad both previous times. With Feijoa, I had thrown up a couple of times. With Oracle and Willow, it hadn’t been as bad but I had still thrown up and felt sick occasionally. Now? I threw up at least twice a day and I felt sick the entire time. How I managed to keep any food inside me was beyond me.

I had lost all hope of ever seeing this toilet completely clean again. It seemed to me that I had thrown up so often into it that it was simply impossible to get the yuck off, no matter how hard I scrubbed.

When Mum let me do the scrubbing, that was. Often she insisted on doing it for me, ordering me to rest and sit down. Cyan was the same, with the only difference that he ordered both me and Mum to rest and do nothing. In a way, it wasn’t too bad. It did smell pretty vile every time, but I still wanted to be able to tidy up after myself. No matter how disgusting the mess.

I did enjoy watching my girls, though. Willow had inherited Dad’s hair colour, and Oracle had inherited his eye colour, which had made all of us speechless on their birthdays and had brought Mum close to tears. They were a perfect mixture, in every way.

All three of them were so different – as far as we could tell so early in their lives. But they all got along just fine. We often watched them play at their play table together, where they drew each other little pictures. It was adorable to see and hear as they also chatted away happily, talking about something only they could understand with words only they knew.

Mum cherished her time with all of them, and she made sure that they knew it. Sometimes I thought that Oracle was her favourite, and Cyan and I were wondering if it had to do with her green eyes. They had to remind her of Dad, and we thought that was the reason.

All of us made time to teach them their life basics. Cyan was understandably more tired when he came home, but he still managed to teach them at least a few new words. They all learned differently, so it took us a while to figure out who to teach how, but we got there in the end.

Feijoa was definitely the hardest to teach. Every time we told her a word to repeat, she just sat there, eyes wide, looking completely fascinated with us. Eventually she caught on to it, but it took her much longer than the twins. Especially when it came to walking, and how to use her potty. She was a friendly little thing, though, and we thought the sole reason she had started talking was so that she could have small conversations with us.

Oracle was her complete opposite. She learned the fastest, no matter what it was. Before we knew it she was walking and chatting away, and even knew how to use her potty properly and let us know that she’d done it, so we could clean up after her. At their play table, she mixed the colours the best, and it was no trouble at all for her to push the bricks through the right holes, or play little songs on their little xylophone.

She also was the most untidy, however. Mum and I would watch them draw for an hour, and always noticed how her sisters put the paper and pencils back where they belonged, but Oracle always left them on the table. The paper and pencils only went underneath the table, so it was nothing difficult they had to remember,  but Oracle didn’t care. She simply stopped doing what she was doing, and went on to something else – which she would then also leave in a similar state.

And then there was Willow, who seemed to be a bit of both. When we tried teaching her how to talk, she was a lot more focused than Feijoa, and really tried to take in the words we were giving her. Or it seemed that way, anyway. She was just as easily distracted as Feijoa, and often started laughing and clapping at the smallest things. She learned a lot faster than her older sister, however, but nowhere near as fast as her twin.

The same was true for their toys. Fey and Oracle simply drew, or played music – Fey because the colours and notes really seemed to impress her, and Oracle because she just seemed to know how, and maybe she even wanted to show off that she did. Willow concentrated more than the others. She got easily distracted at first, but we found that once she had gotten into it, it wasn’t easy to take her mind of it. She was very focused, and while she wasn’t as smart as her twin sister, she was still pretty intelligent for her age.

I took a lot of photos of them during that time, even if we didn’t hang all of them up. We already had so many photos gracing the walls of our house, and didn’t want to run out of space. Baby number four was on his or her way, and the girls were still very young – there were so many years left still before they were old enough to move out. There was so much time yet to take more photos. We wanted to have a few around as reminders, but we didn’t want to cover the walls completely.

It was a chaotic few months, and it was only thanks to Mum that Cyan and I got any time for each other at all. Three toddlers and one baby yet to come was a lot of work, but thankfully Mum didn’t mind looking after them at all so we could have some “us-time”.

If you looked past the stress, our marriage was stronger than ever. He enjoyed his new job, and we both loved our family. There were certain things that we were simply too stressed or too busy for, like going out for a romantic evening together, or some time alone as a married couple, but we knew that things were slowly getting better. Fey’s birthday was only another five months away, soon she would be old enough to help out around the house a little. I didn’t want to give her too much to do, but I hoped she wouldn’t mind entertaining her siblings every now and again, or doing the dishes sometimes. She would also be able to tidy her own room, which would be a nice change of pace for me.

Then one day, it happened.

“Mum? Are you alright?” We had just brought the twins to bed, and were about to tuck in Feijoa, too, when Mum just stopped in her tracks. She just stood there, eyes wide and staring at me, and I knew what was happening. I was grateful that none of the children could see this.

“I feel weird, sweetheart. I think- I think it’s time.”

“You don’t know that. I’ll drive you to the hospital, Mum, you don’t-” We knew that this was bound to happen, of course. Aunt Lily’s visits had told us as much, but now that the time had come I didn’t want to lose her.

“No, sweetheart. I think I’ll go lie down, if you don’t mind. Give the girls a kiss for me, won’t you? And a hug for Cyan. And give Smoke a cuddle” she told me as she hugged me and kissed my forehead. I wanted to be strong, but I could feel how hot tears were rapidly making their way up to my eyes.

“I will, Mum.” I was close to sobbing, but I didn’t want her to see me like this. Her last moments should be happy ones, not filled with guild. “C-Can I get you anything?”

“A cup of tea might be nice, sweetheart. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m really tired. I’ll be in bed when the tea is ready.” I nodded, and tried my best to smile.

I actually did make her tea that night. By the time it was ready and I had brought it to her bedroom, she had stopped breathing.

The months after Mum’s passing were difficult. Cyan had been allowed a few days off work, and I couldn’t have been more grateful that he was home with me. He helped me arrange her funeral, and he helped me cope.

Smoke was getting older, too. He wasn’t that old yet of course, but he was no tiny kitten any more, either. He was a grown, proud cat now, and made sure we knew that it was his house, not ours. Once Cyan was back at work, Smoke was the one who helped me cope. He was a smart cat, and seemed to know that something had changed. He was much more affectionate than he normally was, and was constantly brushing around my legs, purring softly at me. We thought it was his way of comforting me, and I was happy to give him all the hugs and pets he asked for.

Suddenly, Fey’s birthday was only a week away, and my due date was scheduled three weeks later. We realised that we had to move a few things around in order to use all the rooms as best as possible.

Feijoa’s room stayed where it was. Since Mum and Dad’s old room was the only free space we had, the baby was planned to move there. But we soon changed our mind. The twins room was only small, which was made worse by the layout of the walls. It was much better suited to the new addition, while our room was better for the girls. I didn’t feel entirely comfortable with it so soon after the funeral, but I knew we had to move into my parent’s old room.

Cyan promised me he’d make it as cosy for me as possible, and he did. He managed to get the same wallpaper that we had at the moment, and got a very similar carpet to match. After that was done, it was just a matter of moving the bed, desk and computer, and the mirror. It looked very different, which made me feel a lot better about the situation. The bathroom was still how it had been, but I wasn’t as bothered by that. All the bathrooms in the house had to undergo a make-over, so we decided to simply wait until we refurnished the others.

Everything was done just in time for Fey’s birthday. My little girl – a school girl?

Time sure flew by quickly.

————————————————————————–

That’s it, everyone! This is the end of Generation 3! oO There be an heir vote, this time, and a colour vote, which will be up as soon as I can manage 🙂 

Thanks for reading! :3

Mischief

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3.21

Feijoa was the light and joy of our house. Always giggling, always chatting non-comprehensive words, and always happy. She always put a smile on Mum’s face, always brightened Cyan’s day by sticking out her little arms towards him, begging him to pick her up. And she always wanted cuddles. All of us were happy to oblige. Most of the time she was in someone’s arms, cuddling into our shoulders and playing with mine or Mum’s hair. She tried playing with Cyan’s, too, but we thought she was disappointed that it was too short for that.

Everyone adored her, most of all Mum. We knew she was grateful to have met her granddaughter, and hardly let Feijoa out of her sight.

She became my new favourite subject. Mum loved the photo I had taken of her and Fej, and we hang it up in Fej’s room. One day, it would make a great reminder of how amazing her gramma had been.

Slowly, more and more photos graced the walls of our home, and I started regretting a little that there were none of Pastel, Conifer and me when we had been children. I hardly remembered my brother, he was just faint memories to me now. I didn’t remember his voice at all, or the way he used to dress. I thought I remembered that his hair had been green and his skin had been white, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember what his eyes had looked like.

It was a very nostalgic time for me. Seeing Feijoa grow into a beautiful little girl and planning my next pregnancy often had me reminisce. He was as much of a memory to me by now as Conifer was. A memory I simply had to be more careful with. All these years had passed since then, and I could hardly believe now that it had happened at all. Thinking back to that night when I had sat on my swing, and he had suddenly stood behind me, I almost felt embarrassed that it had gone as far as it had. I should have been more suspicious, the impossibility of it all should have been more obvious.

Let alone that him having been there at all should have been more alarming, it was the fact that I had believed he would love me in the first place that bugged me. He hated humans and the idea of love, there was no way in hell he would have fallen for me just like that. Or the fact that he had been kind, never killed anyone while he was with me, or even threatened anyone. I should have known. And I thought that deep down, I had known, but I didn’t want to accept it. Because of how he had made me feel.

Then I had met Cyan, eventually, and he had taken his place. This wonderful man, who knew all of my faults and loved me anyway. For many years I hadn’t believed that I deserved him, and I still sometimes didn’t. It seemed too good to be true, Cyan seemed too good to be true. In a way, he had been perfect for me, but that was only because my mind had made him perfect. If it had actually been him, by whatever miracle of nature and/or science, I wouldn’t have lived another second that night.

Seeing Cyan with Feijoa made me heart swell with joy and just a little bit of pride. I had never expected to love again, let alone to have a family, but here they were. My perfect family, additions in process. Feijoa was my perfect little angel, and I was excited to see her grow up and become who she was meant to be. Cyan and I would be there, every step of the way, and I was grateful that Mum could be there for at least a little part of her journey, too.

One day, as I was attempting to teach Feijoa why the word Mummy was not the same as the word Aaaaai, Cyan called me from downstairs. I had been so focused on teaching her that I had lost track of time, and hadn’t noticed that he should have been home half an hour ago.

“Ivy, can you come down for a second? There’s someone I’d like you to meet!”

“Just give me a moment!” I shouted back, handing my daughter into Mum’s care. Mum had been watching our little game from the chair we had put into her room, with a big amused smile on her face. Now we were going to see if she fared any better.

I made my way downstairs, and froze when I saw them.

I knew my eyes were staring at the little fluffball in Cyan’s hand, and I knew my mouth was opened in a silent aww and adoration, but I couldn’t get myself to stop. In his hand was the most beautiful little kitten I had ever seen.

“Ivy, this is Smoke. He was too young when his namesake still came over, but he’s old enough as of today.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Did he mean…? This kitten? Mine?

I was speechless, so instead of saying hello right away I went over to them, slowly, because I didn’t want to scare Smoke, and knelt down so I was roughly the same hight as the cat. My cat. I had a cat!

The softest little purr escaped Smoke, his paw reaching out to play with my hair. “Hello there, little guy!” I whispered, and laughed silently when he meowed back at me. It didn’t really sound like a meow, more like a combined meow and purr. Sort of like a breow. It melted my heart.

“Can I take him?” I looked up at Cyan but found it hard to take my eyes off Smoke.

“Of course you can!” He laughed “He’s yours now.” I wanted to argue that he was ours, but decided to leave that for later.

For now I just wanted to cuddle my kitten. And Feijoa. And my kitten.

It was a good thing Mum loved her granddaughter so much and didn’t mind looking after her. Poor Smoke wouldn’t have gotten the attention he deserved otherwise.

“But we don’t have food!” I suddenly remembered. “Or a cat bed, or a litter box, or a scratching post or-”

“All taken care of! It’s all in the car, we just need to place his toys and fill his bowl.” Together with my cat, I hugged Cyan and gave him a big kiss. I officially had the best husband in the world! Well, I already had that, of course, but he got me a kitten!

Later that night, baby number two started to show. My old pyjamas didn’t fit so well around my stomach any more, and I had to change into something more comfortable as I got dressed for bed. We had already suspected that I was pregnant again, but seeing my stomach grow made it more real. More exciting.

A few months into my pregnancy, and Cyan had that look on his face. The one that told me that something was up, but he wasn’t sure how to tell me.

“Ivy, can we talk about something?”

“Is something wrong?” I hated how my first thought always went straight to impending doom, but there was nothing I could do about it.

“No, not at all. In fact, it might be something really good. It’s about work.”

“Oh?”

“Today, a few senior doctors from our hospital came to the lab. I had no idea what they were there for until later, when my boss called me into his office.” I wasn’t sure whether I liked where this was going or not. “He said that they were interested in some of our research, specifically some of the research I had done. According to my boss, they were really impressed, and offered me a job.”

I just stared at him for a few seconds before the news sank in. “The senior doctors from Sunset Valley hospital offered you a job?” He nodded. “Well, what do you want to do? Will you take it?”

“I don’t know. It would mean more money, but I’d also be on call eventually, once they’ve trained me up enough.”

“Let me put it differently, then. Do you want the job?”

“Yes.” Him being on call would mean seeing him less, but if he had a job that he preferred it didn’t sound like a bad deal to me. And he wouldn’t be gone all the time, he’d still come home to us at the end of the day. I didn’t care about the money, it was more important that he was happy with what he was doing. And I could tell he wanted to take the job. So it was decided. Cyan would tell them his decision the next working day, and become a doctor.

Things only started getting better after his announcement. Cyan hadn’t exactly hated his last job, but he seemed happier now. He looked exhausted when he came home, but he was smiling, and he always had time for me and his daughter.

My pregnancy was also going well. I had all the same aches and pains as I had the last time, but it bothered me less this time. Feijoa might have been the reason for that.

“Mummy? Baby?” She asked me one day, pointing at my tummy, her eyes looking curious.

“Yes, sweetheart. Mummy and Daddy are going to have another baby!”

“Baby wike me?” Her eyes were growing wide, and it was easy to tell how excited she was about the idea.

“Yes, Fej. A little baby, just like you.” She giggled and squeeked in response, and I couldn’t have been happier. I just hoped that her excitement would stay once the baby was born.

Or, more accurately, babies. During my last check-up my doctor told me that he didn’t see two feet, but four. Cyan was thrilled when I told him, and Mum was glowing almost as much as I was.

I was getting worried, however, that the twins would never get to meet their grandma. Aunt Lily was over pretty much everyday now, and I knew it could only mean one thing. She and Mum had been close all their lives, and had been best friends even. I didn’t want to lose my Mum, but I didn’t want to imagine what knowing must have been like for Lily.

I had no idea how she knew, I just knew that she did. At first I resented her visits for that reason, but my resentment didn’t last long. They had a chance to say goodbye, and I was thankful for that. It also gave me a chance to get used to the idea. She wouldn’t simply be gone suddenly, like Dad had been. We knew that she didn’t have long, and I wanted to make the most of the time we had left.

Cyan spent every free minute he had with me and Feijoa. His new hours were taxing, so I was glad that he had some time to relax when he came home. I did most of the training with her, but he insisted on teaching her at least some words and steps. It was great seeing them together, so I didn’t mind. Feijoa adored her Dady, and I enjoyed watching them, which gave me a chance to sit down and nurse my aching back.

One night, around two in the morning, my water broke. Cyan freaked out, and I tried to remember how to breath correctly, which was not easy given that my whole body was on fire.

Fortunately, he remembered the drill from last time, and got me to the hospital as fast as he could. Labour lasted much longer this time, but eventually I gave birth to two beautiful baby girls.

Willow Spectra…

… and Oracle Fern. Welcome home, my little darlings.

3.20

A week after he had died, we buried Dad on the family graveyard. Mum was, understandably, a mess for most of the service, and didn’t feel much better in the days after the funeral. She went around the house silently, hardly making a sound the few times she came out of their room. Cyan and I were still upset about Dad’s passing as well, and didn’t want to imagine what Mum must have felt like. We tried cheering her up a few times, reminding her of the good old days, asking her to tell us stories about how they had first met, about their wedding, and their lives together, but nothing could inspire a smile in her. Aunt Lily tried her best too, but was just as unsuccessful.

It felt like such a blessing when this little bit of happiness came into our lives again. I was out late one evening, taking photos of buildings at night, when I found out that I was pregnant. The sudden rush of happiness and joy I experienced was so strong that it nearly overwhelmed me. I was so happy to be pregnant, and knew that it would bring a smile back on Mum’s lips, too.

I went home immediately, and asked both Mum and Cyan to join me in the living room.

“What is it, sweetheart?” Her voice sounded terribly hoarse, and so lifeless that it scared me. She sounded like a woman who had lost her reason to live, which only made me more excited to tell them the good news.

“I’m pregnant!” I squeaked out. I had been preparing a little speech in my mind, something to make them wonder first, but my heart was beating so fast that the words simply wouldn’t come.

“Y-you are?” Cyan looked so shocked by my announcement that I feared he was unhappy at first, but then my eyes left his and I noticed his big grin.

“Yes!” My voice was so high pitched by that point that I hardly still sounded like myself. Cyan pulled me into a tight hug, and I squeezed right back.

“That’s wonderful news, sweetheart” Mum said, and smiled for the first time in weeks. It still didn’t look the same, but it was there, and for the moment that was enough.

After that, things were finally starting to look up again. Mum was still mourning, and we couldn’t fault her for that, but she was also excited to meet her first grandchild. She didn’t go around the house quietly any more, but was constantly saying about how I should have a baby shower. The idea alone seemed to make her happy, so I agreed.

Cyan had started a little garden. His job demanded that he knew the characteristics of certain plants first hand, so he didn’t really have much say in the matter. At first, I wasn’t convinced that he would enjoy it, but he actually seemed to be getting into it.

He even got up early to tend to his plants, and always finished just in time for work. Sometimes, his carpool arrived while he was still washing the dirt of his hands, but he always managed to jump into the car before they left without him.

I couldn’t help myself and took some photos of him going about his new hobby. There was a blissful smile on his face, and I suspected he found gardening rewarding.  Seeing his own plants grow slowly under his care, because of his care… I could see why someone might enjoy that.

His plants weren’t the only thing he enjoyed watching as they grew. My stomach was his other new hobby. Whenever he got the chance, he was talking to it, listening to his unborn child and feeling for the baby’s first kicks. It was still early, but he insisted that he could feel the baby wriggle underneath his hands. Sometimes, I thought I could feel first movements, too, and it was incredibly exciting when it happened.

While I myself hadn’t abandoned my photography completely, I had found an old new hobby. It had been years since I had used grandma Whisper’s old easel, but something about being pregnant made me want to paint again. To be honest, I still wasn’t great at it, but it felt like I was slowly making progress. It had a calming effect on me, and took my mind of the pain in my back and feet, or the paranoid fears which had started forming. What if my child was sick? What if he or she would be born with a disability, maybe blind, deaf, or with only one leg? I had seen a doctor a few times by the time I reached the sixth month, and he had reassured me time and time again that everything was fine, but I couldn’t help it.

In the end, painting helped me silence these thoughts. I found solace and clarity in it, and it didn’t take long until I used the old easel every day.

Mum had gotten her wish, and had arranged a baby shower. I couldn’t wait to see all my friends again, and I knew they couldn’t wait to taste Mum’s key lime pie. According to her, she had never cooked or baked much at all when she was my age, but since she had retired she had needed something to keep her busy all day. I found it hard to believe, but Mum insisted that her cooking was a joke compared to her father’s skills. I didn’t remember him, of course, but Mum had told us how granddad Kobi had been a celebrated chef, and how his food had been amazing. To me, it was hard to imagine anyone’s food better than Mum’s. I thoroughly enjoyed what she cooked for us, and I knew that Cyan did, too, but she insisted.

The moment she took the hot pie out of the oven, the first guests arrived.

Capri was the first, her eyes lighting up the second she saw my swollen belly.

“Oh, Ivy! I’m so happy for you! Can I feel it?” I pulled her into a hug, and nodded. I’ll admit, at first I hadn’t been sure about this, but now that everyone was here it was amazing how excited they all were. Ana had only ever taught me a few basic skills, compared to her I knew nothing, really, but even I could tell how full of positive energy everyone was. There were smiles all around, the delicious smell of Mum’s pie hang in the air, and the occasional promise of showering my baby in presents were also constantly whispered against my tummy.

Mum’s pie was a huge success. I had never seen a pie disappear so quickly, but it seemed not an hour had gone by after the first guest had arrived, and most of the treat was gone. Rayne had contributed strongly towards that, I should add. Not that Mum seemed to mind who ate her cake, or if everyone managed to get a piece, she was simply happy that people loved it as much as they did.

In fact, Mum had been smiling the whole day. Now that my friends were chatting and laughing in our garden, she had joined in, and I occasionally heard her laughing with them. It was so good to hear her laugh that my hormones went crazy, and I started crying.

I didn’t want them to see me bawling my eyes out, so I stepped back a little.

It really was a hot day outside. The lemonade was just as popular as the pie, and Mum kept needing to pour more.

I was just blinking away some tears when I heard it.

“Ivy.” His voice was faint, kinda see-through, but it was next to me as much as my old swing set was. It had happened so suddenly that I jumped, and turned around. No one was there, but for a moment I could have sworn that some turquoise mist had quickly faded away, right there next to me.

I had heard it so clearly, and it had sounded so much like him, that it brought fresh tears to my eyes. For reasons I couldn’t explain, my pregnancy seemed to have weakened my mind. To me it felt like I was more susceptible to the symptoms again, as if my mind’s efforts were waning. It was harder to control, too. I hadn’t heard his voice in years, and I hadn’t heard it this clearly since- since that day. I usually went through something similar when I was on my period, but a few days to a week were much easier to cope with than nine months.

“Ivy?” I jumped again. “Are you alright?” I had been so focused on the sound of his voice, that I hadn’t even recognised that it was Midnight who had spoken to me.

“Yes, I’m fine.”

“Are you crying?”

I smiled, to reassure her. “A little. Seeing you all again, and seeing how excited you all are… It’s so beautiful” I lied quickly, but thought it was a very believable lie. I was a pregnant woman with crazy hormones, after all. I had every right to cry.

“May I?” she asked, and I nodded encouragingly. Most of my friends had never been much around pregnant women, let alone feel their huge bellies. Then again, neither had I. As the youngest child of three, I hadn’t experienced my Mum’s pregnancies. Conifer had never had the chance, and my sister apparently wasn’t ready to settle down, yet.

I did quite like all the attention. Not ten minutes went by without someone asking me whether they could feel the baby kick, or listen for little sounds.

“Have you two decided on a name yet?” Sunny asked me while she was feeling for movements for the third time that day.

“We don’t even know whether it’ll be a boy or a girl” I smiled back at her. We had decided to just let it be a surprise. I had no preferences, and neither did Cyan. We just wanted the little one to be happy and healthy.

“Please, you must have looked at names before! I can’t believe you’d give birth to him or her and have no idea what to call him or her.” Of course she was right, I hated being unprepared.

“Well, we thought… If it’s a boy we were thinking Reef, and if it’s a girl we were thinking Mist or Feijoa. We found so many names, though, it’s hard to pick just one.”

“You’ll just have to have more children then!” She punched me playfully, and I punched her right back. But, again, she was right. I didn’t want too much time to pass between children, so we had considered trying again right away. Well, as soon as I was strong enough, that was.

At the end of the baby shower, when everyone was saying about leaving, I pulled out a little present for Sunny. She had modelled for me so often by that point, and just like every other woman I had ever met she hated most photos of herself. There was one image though, which she had pointed out to me right after I had taken it, and had told me how much she liked that one.

I had printed and framed that portrait for her, as a thank you. She very much liked her present, and I considered giving my other friends photos of themselves, too. It didn’t always have to be about profit, did it?

A few weeks before our first child was due to be born, we finished the room. Cyan and I had gone out together to buy furniture and toys as often as possible, but he was often busy with work. Mum, on the other hand, was free, and loved picking out toys and wallpapers with me.

It was fair to say that this room was a tea effort. All three of us had poured energy and love into it, and by the end I was very pleased with the result.

The colours went together so well, and my heart swelled whenever I imagined our little bundle of joy sleeping in the crib. It hadn’t been a cheap one, but I had known it to be the perfect one when I had spotted it. Cyan had been with me that day, and had  found a matching teddy bear to go inside the crib. We had loved choosing the toys, and Mum had picked the bookshelf. She had insisted on filling it with nothing but educational books, and I had felt reminded of my own childhood when she had insisted on the same thing. In the end, we chose a mix. A few educational books, and a few short stories about bunnies and puppies.

Roughly around that time, a little kitten frequently found its way inside our home. It was the most adorable little thing, the way it meowed at us melted my heart. I knew it wasn’t just the hormones, because I had always secretly wanted a cat, but now, only one week before my due date, I really wanted a kitten. You could say it was similar to my food cravings. Other days I craved spaghetti and gravy, that day I craved snuggling a kitty.

Unfortunately, that one stopped coming around not long after. We couldn’t be sure what had happened to it, but we wanted to believe that some kind soul had given him a home, instead of the alternative.

I really missed Smoke after that. Cyan and I had named him that when he kept finding his way inside. It suited him, and it gave us something to call him other than kitty or adorable little stray.

The closer I got to my due date, the more impossible it was for me to be left on my own. When Cyan wasn’t at work, he insisted on being around me, just in case I went into labour a few days early.

Mum seemed to share that idea, because when Cyan was at work she was with me instead. It was like they were working shifts looking after me.

“How are you feeling, sweetheart?” She’d ask me at least once an hour. I couldn’t really blame her, though, she just wanted to be sure that I had everything I needed. Even though it did get annoying after a while. I didn’t mind her sitting next to me while I painted, as long as she kept quiet and read, or simply watched. I liked to be able to focus on what I was doing, and her constant questions were distracting.

That same evening, while we were all watching TV, I went into labour. A pain worse than anything I had ever felt coursed through me, and I jumped up screaming. Absolute chaos followed.

“Sweetheart, is it time?”

“What do I do?”

“I’ll get your bag!”

“Oh Berry, what do I do!”

And I had to try and stay calm in all that. We eventually managed to get into the car, Cyan and I. Mum stayed at home, since it was already gone ten, and I knew she was tired. We had to promise her, though, to call her as soon as the baby was born.

The doctors promised me a short process and put me on pain reducing drugs. And they had been right, this little baby girl really didn’t want to say inside me one minute longer.

After only four hours of labour, our little angel was born. Cyan called Mum, and I hugged her as close as humanly possible, vowing to myself to never let her go until she was old enough.

Cyan had to lead me away from her and into bed after we had brought her home. I didn’t want to leave her alone, and wanted to keep looking at her, but I knew he was right. I was exhausted, and needed to rest.

Welcome home, Feijoa Mist.

————————————————————————

I wouldn’t want you to miss out, so here’s her pain-twisted face 🙂

3.19

“Sweetheart” And just like that, this was one of the worst days in my life so far. “I need to tell you something.” Nothing good ever started that way, right? Bad things started that way, bad news were told that way.

The worried and sad look in my Mum’s eyes only made matters worse. Her eyes were red and swollen, as if she had been up all night, crying. She looked tired, and exhausted. It was eleven in the morning, but she was still wearing her dressing gown. Why hadn’t I seen Dad yet? He was usually up early, with Mum, playing his guitar. Why hadn’t I heard him playing yet?

When Cyan and I had come home the night before, we had assumed that my parents had already gone to sleep. But there was something in Mum’s voice that told me that they hadn’t even been home, let alone in their bedroom.

Nothing could be wrong with Dad, could it? He was healthy, he was doing better than he had done in months. Sure, he had been tired, and they had left early during our wedding, but he was 91 years old, after all!

My heart told me that he was fine. My gut told me that 91 was a very good age, and that he had lived longer than most other people these days. When I listened closer, I could hear my heart saying the same thing.

There had only been one other moment in my life when I had felt like I did in that moment. The second I had realised that he wasn’t, and would never be, real had felt just like this, too. All the pain after that moment didn’t compare to how I had felt in that moment. Except when I had ended it, but that had not been a single moment of realisation. That had been one long, painful moment, one that I still remembered pretty clearly, and always would remember very clearly.

I hadn’t seen him in years, though. I hadn’t heard him, either. Really, the only symptom that was still a problem up to this day was the paranoia, and even that I had controlled most of the time. There were times when I thought that I felt him. Times where I thought I heard someone, but no one would be there when I checked.

And, yes, my thoughts still wandered off without my permission every now and again. But that wasn’t it.

I had dreams, still. Except, they weren’t nightmares. My nightmares had stopped a long time ago. No, these were… different. I dreamt about him now. Him and me, to be exact. Him and me, hugging, kissing, sometimes more than that. They were so vivid, and felt so real every time, that I had woken up a few times, crying when I realised that they hadn’t been. Even though I loved Cyan with all my heart, these dreams reminded me that I would never completely stop loving him, either. My feelings for him had simply gone into hiding, but they weren’t gone.

I’d wake up, hating myself for feeling that way, and having to somehow deal with it. It was so much easier now, of course, but then again a lot had changed. I had Cyan now, and he was like a miracle to me.

Only a few nights ago I had dreamt that I was with him. We were in a dark room that I didn’t recognise, and I was scared. Terrified, actually. I thought I was his prisoner, and I was waiting for him to kill me. But instead, he had entered this room, the one I had been waiting in, and he said that he had to test something. Just hearing his voice and seeing him so close to me had sent shivers all over my body. I thought he’d torture me, test how much information he could get from me, but instead his arms were suddenly around me with inhumane speed. His lips were on mine just as quickly, and he pulled away, just as quickly. We looked into each others eyes, my whole body feeling as if it had been set on fire. His eyes looked surprised, shocked almost, and weirdly sincere, which scared me more than anything. I pleaded with him, silently, to kiss me again, even though I had no reason to believe that he would. But he did, and that time it felt so good that my breathing became heavy, and I got dizzy. Really dizzy. So dizzy that everything around me was spinning, and I had to cling on to him for safety. My entire body was tingling underneath his hands.

The feeling was so overpowering that I woke up. I was still dizzy, and it took me a few moments to see clearly again. My body felt electric, pulling me back to him.

A dream should not have the power to do something like this. It wasn’t really a symptom, more an after effect, but it happened every now and again. I clung on to Cyan for the rest of the night, and it helped me stay focused.

Suddenly, I realised that it had happened again. My thoughts had wandered off again, and I hadn’t even noticed. Slowly, my Mum’s words started making sense.

My Dad was in a coma. Mum had called the emergency after they had gotten home, because Dad had passed out and hadn’t woken up after. The doctors had advised us to say our goodbyes sooner rather than later.

Lily came over the same day. It was two in the afternoon, and Mum still hadn’t changed out of her dressing gown. We hadn’t received the call yet, but it seemed to me she had given up hope already. She had told the nurse that we’d be back for a visit that evening, and I had this gut feeling that it would be the last time I’d ever see my Dad.

Mum’s brother, Brink, had only died a few weeks ago, and she was still a little shaken from that. We hadn’t heard from her older brother Illusion in years, so I was glad that she still had Lily to talk to. My own sister was eleven years older than me, and we had never been very close. She was nice, but the age gap and her time at boarding school hadn’t exactly helped our relationship.

I overheard a bit of what they were saying. Purely by accident, of course. I was planning my next shoot, when I got thirsty. I was on my way into the kitchen to get some cold orange juice, when I saw them talking by the stairs.

“… gonna do, Lil?” Mum’s voice sounded heavy, as if she was trying very hard not to cry but would lose the battle sooner or later anyway.

“I’m so sorry, Rose” Lil answered. It was weird hearing her use Mum’s old nickname, but she sounded comforting, calm and re-assuring. Exactly what Mum needed. “There’s nothing I can do.”

“I know, and don’t you think I’m holding it against you. This is different, Lil, and even then” I had no idea what they were talking about, but I heard Mum sob and decided it was time for me to get that orange juice.

We left around 4pm that afternoon. Aunt Lily came with us, as moral support for Mum. I hated going to hospitals. Their sterile, clean smell made me feel uneasy. It always seemed to lie overly heavy in the air, like the hospital staff was trying their best to cover up the smell of disease and death. It was a necessary lie to protect visitors and doctors alike, I knew that, but it still made me uncomfortable.

Dad looked awful. His face was unnaturally pale, and he was completely still except for the faint rising and falling of his chest. The movement was hardly there at all, but I couldn’t stop watching it. It was a very surreal experience, as we all gathered around him, one by one, saying our goodbyes. Mum went last, but Cyan and I didn’t stay around to hear her last words to him. These would be the last moments she would have with her soul mate, and I wanted them to be alone one last time for it. She had her sister there, she would be fine.I felt in my heart that he didn’t have much longer, so I squeezed his hand, kissed his forehead, and asked Cyan to take me home. Lily nodded her understanding at me, and I was grateful for the fresh air that caressed my skin the second I stepped outside.

The rest of the day I spent in the recreation room. I was thinking about making it my studio, since we didn’t really have space or money to build a whole new room, and it was the biggest room in the house. I’d been going over ideas in my head before, but was finally getting around to drawing up some plans.

Slowly, I was covering the house in my photographs. I had never taken many of Dad, which I regretted now. At first, I only took colour photographs of friends or the stray cats that came around our house. We weren’t sure what it was that attracted them to our house in particular, but every day we saw at least one of the little darlings sun bathing in our garden. They didn’t seem to mind us overly much, and sometimes they even allowed us to pet them. Mum wanted me to be careful, in case they carried some disease, but they all looked perfectly fine to me. Just a little thin, maybe, but not sick.

My friends didn’t mind posing, either. In fact, Midnight loved it. I knew that it was portraiture photography that I enjoyed doing the most, but it was images like the middle one that made me the most money. I didn’t get paid much yet, but there was an interest for my work, and I was slowly building myself a little fan base.

Planning my studio was a big step for me, as it meant that I would be able to work from home more effectively. Now that I was done with university I definitely wanted children, and I knew Cyan did, too. If I was able to make enough profit from home, we wanted to start trying sooner rather than later. Dad would not live to see his grandchildren, and maybe Mum wouldn’t either. I wanted to be able to meet my grandchildren one day. I wanted them to know their grandparents.

When Mum came home, I didn’t open the door to see if she was okay, or to hear what had happened. I could her heart-breaking sobs just fine from where I was, and I could hear Aunt Lily comforting her. Dad had died. Her cries left no doubt for that.

Mum hardly wore anything but her dressing gown after that day. Lily was over a lot more often, and I threw myself into my work. My studio wasn’t done yet, but this was definitely a good start.

We had bought a few very good, very expensive lights, and a bit of furniture to go with it. This sofa, for instance, I placed against the wall where Grandma’s old easel usually stood, and where my drawing table had been. The easel was now in Mum’s office, where Mum herself also spent most of her days. Somehow, the room was comforting her, which was all I had to know.

My drawing table stayed in the room, only because we had no space for it elsewhere.

The chess table and chairs were moved to the living room, and replaced by a beautiful living chair and bed-side table. I also added some candles, which I thought would go well with the red and white light coming from the lights.

On top of that, I bought this gorgeous chest! I had several props by that point, which I had collected over the years from art school and uni, and this was the perfect place to keep them in. At first, the drawing table was in the way, and I really wanted to have it somewhere else, but I eventually got used to it. In fact, I wanted to keep it there. I could draw up new ideas in my studio this way, and place some inspirational photographs around it to help me find new ideas.

Now there was only one wall left in the room. I wasn’t going to buy any more lights for it, but I did want to paint it white, plus a bit of white on the floor. It wouldn’t feel like a proper studio to me until that was done, but for now we couldn’t afford it. We hadn’t talked about it yet, but there was the matter of Dad’s funeral, which would cost money, and if Cyan and I were going to start trying for children then they would cost money, too.

It was a good thing that I managed to sell some of my work, even if it was mainly landscapes that sold well. Sunny was a great help, as she didn’t mind coming in and modelling for me. She was good at it, too! And when my friends didn’t have time, I photographed Mum and Cyan.

I started doing more with my colour filters, too. Mum and Sunny became my favourite subjects over the next few weeks. Lily couldn’t be over all the time, and I felt bad leaving Mum on her own, so I hardly took photos outside in the weeks after Dad’s… after Dad had left.

Soon, their portraits became more and more important to me. Mum was only a few months younger than Dad, and I had already lost Sunny once. If anything was to happen to them, I wanted to have photos as a reminder. I wanted to keep their smiles and their frowns both, especially for our future children. There were only a few images of Dad around, but at least they would have those. I couldn’t change that there weren’t any more of him, but I could change how many there were of Mum, Cyan or me, even.

If nothing else, there was already one portrait of me around. Mum had taken it the morning of our wedding, and we had moved all three of them upstairs into the corridor. The light was best up there, and since all the bedrooms were there we would always see them. I didn’t remember Grandma one bit, but I loved her portrait. She looked beautiful, wise and amazing, and I was grateful that I had this photo of her. That’s how I knew how precious these photographs really were. They meant a lot to me, and I hoped that they’d mean the same to my children one day, and maybe their children, too.

Cyan was doing alright in his job, and I had sold some photographs. So far, working from home hadn’t gone too badly.

Maybe it was time…?

3.18

“AAAH! OMB, YES, IVY!” Okay, so I didn’t think she’d be that excited. “I’D LOVE TO!”

“You sure? It won’t be too much work or stress for you?”

“Of course not! I can’t wait to get started, is there anything you guys need me to know?”

“Like what?” Cyan and I hadn’t really made any plans yet. We wanted to get married once I was done with uni, which would be in roughly five months time. We had thrown some ideas around about where to have the ceremony, but hadn’t decided on anything.

“Like… where do you want your bachelor parties to be? Do you have a limit on the guest list? Is there a particular shop you want to get your flower arrangements from, or a bakery where-” I felt if I didn’t interrupt now she’d go on until it was time for the actual wedding, without having done any of the usual wedding planning, so I quickly stepped in.

“There’s this pier that just opened next to White Wave Pier. It’s specifically for weddings, and can even hold the reception and party. Cyan and I have thought about it, but hav-”

“Say no more.” I wasn’t sure she’d let me, anyway. “I’ll see if they can fit you in when did you say?”

“Not before I’ve finished uni. We were thinking maybe August? September at the latest, so it’s still warm out.”

“I’ll get right on it.” Rayne hugged me for the fourth time that afternoon, promised she’d get us every detail we wanted for our wedding, and then she was off, just as Sunny arrived. Who’d have thought she’d be so excited about being our wedding planner? Well, I did, kinda, otherwise I wouldn’t have asked her, but this excited?

Now I just had to ask Sunny. If she agreed, too, I’d have my perfect wedding no matter what.

“Hi, Ivy, what’s up? You said on the phone it was important?”

“It is, it’s about our wedding.”

Sunny chuckled. “Might that have anything to do with why Rayne left, huge grin on her face, mumbling something about “booking that pier” and “getting you the best damn flower arrangement there ever was”?”

“It might do” I smiled, because I knew that Rayne would do an amazing job. Just as I knew, deep down, that Sunny would say yes.

I took a nice, deep breath in, and asked without hesitating any more “Would you be my maid of honour?”

Her squeel of excitement was not that different to Rayne’s. “OMB! A-ARE YOU SURE?”

“Hehe, I am! Is that a yes, then?”

“Of course! Oh Berry, this is so exciting! Thank you! Have you picked a dress yet?”

“The wedding is still five months away.”

“So have you?” Admittedly, I had looked at magazines. But I hadn’t been to any shops, yet. I wanted to go with three certain women by my side, and until only moments ago I had still needed one woman’s agreement. Now that I had that, I couldn’t wait to start looking.

“I wanted to wait until I knew that you would be my maid of honour, since I really want to go dress shopping with you, Capri and Mum.” My maid of honour had to be there, because, well, she was my maid of honour. Mum had to be there, because, well, she was my Mum. And I wanted Capri there because she was amazing, and my best friend, who loved me even though she knew. I wanted Rayne there, too, since she was the wedding planner, but no doubt she was going to have enough on her hands already.

And you know what? Five months passed ridiculously quickly. Between dress shopping, keeping my fiance happy, and containing my own excitement while making plans for my career, I didn’t have much time to breath. Suddenly, I stood in the bathroom of the wedding pier, Sunny by my side and tears in my eyes because my dress was so beautiful.

“How are you feeling now?” Sunny asked. I had been feeling nervous all morning, but now that I was about to go outside, Dad leading me towards my waiting husband-to-be, I almost felt sick with nerves. What if I forgot my vows? What if he left me at the altar? What if- What if- What if some insane stranger showed up, not wanting us to be happy, killing all of our guests and leaving us for last? 

Okay, yes, I was still pretty paranoid every now and again. I knew it was stupid, something like that was never going to happen, but I couldn’t help it. These thoughts were there before I could do anything about it. The paranoia had always been a strong symptom for me to fight with, but somehow, while all other symptoms had slowly died down under my constant control, the paranoia had not gone down so easily. Every now and again, there were sudden comebacks, random as far as I could tell, but I was strong enough by now to fight against it. It wasn’t easy, but now I was just terrified instead of mortified. That was an improvement, wasn’t it?

“Still nervous.”

“Don’t worry, Ivy, it’ll be fine. I bet the ceremony will feel like a really short moment to you. You’ll just walk up there, recite your vows, then you’ll listen to Cyan recite his vows, and then you repeat a few words before you kiss and cut the cake. Nothing to be scared of.”

“Well, when you say it like that it really doesn’t sound so bad.” A knock on the door stopped Sunny from answering.

“May I come in and give my daughter a hug before she gets married?” Mum’s voice carried through the door. I didn’t like it, but her voice wasn’t as strong any more as it once was. It was shaking, and unsteady. In many ways, Dad seemed even worse than Mum. He was only a year older than Mum was, but looked much older than her.

I was worried, yes. But for now, I didn’t want to think about it. It was my wedding day, I was getting married to an amazing man, and I was not going to let some worries or paranoia ruin my day.

“Come in” I said, and nodded to Sunny.

“I’ll see you at the altar” she smiled and left, leaving me alone with Mum.

“Look at you”, she started, happy tears glistening in her eyes “You look so beautiful, sweetheart.”

“Thanks, Mum. You do, too.”

“A little bird has told me that you and Cyan have decided to keep your last name. May I ask why?” I suspected this little bird was called Rayne. The question didn’t surprise me, I thought she was going to ask me sooner or later. It was tradition that the bride takes her husbands name, after all, so this was bound to raise questions.

“Cyan never really knew his Dad, and doesn’t get on well with his Mum. I know Grandma wanted to be a great artist, and she was, but my approach to art is so much different than hers has been. I can add something to our art history, and make sure that our family will be associated with artists.” Honestly, now that I had said it out loud to my Mum it didn’t seem like such a brilliant reason any more. “Why have you kept our name?” I had never really thought about it, and we had never actually talked about it, either.

“Oh, that’s a long story, my dear. To make it short, your grandma’s parents had always wanted to be successful, but had failed due to impossible expectations and depression. She told me about it on my wedding day, too.” For a moment, Mum’s eyes glazed over, and she had a happy, distant smile on her lips as she remembered the happiest day of her life.

“I never knew that…”

“You wouldn’t have done, sweetheart. I didn’t want you to feel obliged to keep our name, but I see you two are doing that, anyway. It makes me happy to know that our name will be around a little longer, since your brother can’t carry it on.”

“Thank you for telling me. I’ll make sure our children will know this story.” Cyan and I wanted kids one day, just not yet. There was much to be done about my career, first of all I would have to invest into my own studio. I had a rough idea of how it would look, and where I would have it in the house, but a lot of money was involved, too. I wanted it to be finished, and I had to be sure that I could work well enough from home, before thinking seriously about having children.

“We shouldn’t let your father or your husband-to-be wait, sweetheart.” I agreed, and together we left the small bathroom. Rayne had managed to get us the pier for late August, so it was still warm outside.

Dad was standing just outside the building, looking very handsome in his suit. He looked tired, but so very happy for me. In fact, he looked better than he had done in recent weeks.

“Are you ready?” he asked me, and I nodded.

“I am.” Mum had already gone on ahead and had taken her seat in the first row. Dad took my arm, led me up the stairs and all the way down to the altar. I could feel that everyone was looking at me, but I didn’t see them. I only saw Cyan, waiting for me only a few more feet away. It was then that I felt the first tears forming and stinging my eyes. He looked so handsome in his suit, and so nervous as he looked towards me… I couldn’t help but sniffle a little.

“You look amazing” he whispered and I smiled.

“Why, so do you” I whispered back just as the waves hit the beach, swallowing half my words. For a moment, everything went quiet. No word was said, no sound disturbed the rhythm of nature. All we heard was the soft crushing of the waves against sand, and the screams of seagulls.

Then it was time for us to say our vows, and I could very clearly feel my tummy flip.

I went first, which played its trick on my nerves.

“Cyan – I am so glad to have found you. Or that you have found me, either way I am grateful. I can’t be sure where I would be today if it hadn’t been for you, but it wouldn’t be a very bright place. In many ways, I see you as my saviour, and I will repay my debt to you every day in every way that I can. I love you with all my heart, and am excited to spend the rest of my life with you. I knew right away that I loved you, all those years ago, and am so thankful that you have chosen me, too.” My voice was shaking, and my eyes were burning, but I was not quite done yet. I took a very deep, shaky breath in, and finished my vows. “With this ring I pledge my life to yours. I promise to love and cherish you for all that you are, in good times and in bad times.” I slid the ring on his finger, and felt the first hot tears rolling down my cheeks. “I love you, Cyan.”

Our guests were completely silent, but from the corner of my eye I could see some of them sighing happily, and I could hear sniffing that wasn’t my own. For a second, I thought I saw a turquoise flash, too, one that wasn’t Cyan, but when I turned to look there was nothing there. Just my guests, none of them turquoise. I turned my attention back to Cyan, pushing what I had seen only moments ago out of my mind.

“Pale Ivy” he started, and I had to force down a sob which would have ruined the silence otherwise. “Just like you, I am grateful that we met. Who’d have thought a relationship found online could be so happy? You make me very happy, Ivy, and I hope that I can do the same for you. I want to make you laugh and smile every day for the rest of our lives, no matter the cost. If you’re happy, I am happy, too. You are the most beautiful and kindest person I’ve ever met, and I still can’t believe that you love me as much as I love you.” I tried to smile between the tears, but it was getting increasingly harder to create a straight smile that wasn’t twisted. I just wanted to skip the rest and kiss him, but knew I had to be patient just a little bit longer. “With this ring I pledge my life to yours. I promise to love and cherish you for all that you are, in good times and in bad times.” I knew my hand was shaking, but he slid the ring on my hand seemingly without effort. “I love you, Ivy.”

Finally, we were allowed to kiss, and it was without a doubt the best kiss we ever shared. Everyone was cheering and clapping, and I felt so overwhelmed that I was laughing and beaming out of joy. I hid my face in Cyan’s shoulder, who squeezed me and pulled me in for a second kiss.

Together, as husband and wife, we made our way through the rows of our guests, who were most likely looking forward to the cake by now.

It hadn’t been easy to choose the right one, but thanks to Rayne’s fantastic skills we had managed to get the cake we wanted. Double chocolate layer cake, a favourite of Cyan’s and mine.

We cut the first slice, followed by more cheering and clapping, and sat down at the nearest table.

Sunny and Rayne joined us and congratulated us. Over the next thirty minutes, everyone else found their way to us as well to do the same, and to wish us all the best. Eventually, everyone was eating, and the sound of the waves and seagulls was buried underneath chatting and laughter.

Cyan and I were just about to share our first dance as a married couple, when Mum and Dad approached us.

“Congratulations, you two. Oh, it was such a lovely ceremony, your friend did a beautiful job!” They both looked so happy that all my worries from earlier were blown away. They looked healthy and young, and not at all like their real age.

“Yes, it was beautiful, Ivy” Dad agreed while Mum pulled me into a hug.

“Listen, sweetheart, please don’t take this the wrong way, but we think it’s time for us to go home.” Mum’s words caught me by surprise.

“How come? Is something wrong?”

“Not at all” Dad answered for her, and also pulled me into a tight hug. “We’re just tired, darling. We’ll watch you share the first dance, but then we’ll be off.” Really, I should have expected that, but my thoughts seemed to have changed priorities on their own for the day.

“Of course, thank you for being here.”

“We wouldn’t have missed it for the world, sweetheart.” We said early good byes with the promise of talking about the rest of the evening the next morning, and Cyan and I made our way over to the dance floor. The music was already playing, but changed to a soft, slow number for us.

It had been the most romantic day of my life, perfect in every way. Definitely better than any wedding I could have dreamed up as a child.

After our dance, the guests joined us and soon the dance floor was fully filled. Every one seemed to have a good time, and I even had the chance to dance with Sunny and Capri before everyone got too tired.

By the time we made it home, my feet were screaming in agony. I didn’t think they had ever been in so much pain before, but it didn’t stop us from sealing our marriage. And what a night it was.

3.17

“What are you doing tonight?” He asked me with a nervous smile.

“Tonight? Nothing yet… Why are you asking?” Something about his smile made me a little nervous, too, and also excited.

“Because I have a surprise for you.” Cyan loved to surprise me every now and then. Whether it was a small present or a trip to the theater, he had a habit of spoiling me. Which I didn’t mind. But this was different. His smile told me it was different.

“A surprise? May I have a hint?” Hearing my guesses was something he nearly enjoyed more than seeing my reaction to the actual surprise. I usually wasn’t very good at guessing, though, so he didn’t mind giving me a hint just so he could hear my ideas.

“Hmm, let’s see… Dress up, maybe?”

“Dress up, huh? I might need to go shopping for a tiger costume then…”

“Ha, not that kind of dress up. If you want to though, you’re welcome to, but people might look at you funny if you do.”

“So, if I was to wear a dress, would you be wearing a suit?”

“No, but I know women like wearing fancy dresses.”

“We do! But we’ll see. I don’t want to be the only one wearing an expensive dress.” Not that I had any expensive dresses. Or many dresses at all. The few ones that I did own hadn’t cost me all that much, but still looked nice and suited me.

I did consider wearing one of them, but I decided against it in the end. If he wasn’t going to wear his suit, I wouldn’t be dressing up, either. It just wouldn’t be the same if I was the only one.

There was one thing that I did do, though. I decided to wear make up.

I had worn make up on a few rare occasions before now, but I had never really liked how it had looked on me. Of course, then again, I wasn’t exactly skilled at it, but I wanted to try again tonight anyway. I had a feeling that whatever he had planned was important and meant a lot to him, and not only because he had been nervous when he had asked me. I could just kind of tell.

My first year at uni was over by now. I had enjoyed it so much, but to say that it had been stressful would have been an understatement. The first week of my too long summer break I had loved and had done what people usually do when on holiday – I had slept a lot and had relaxed a lot. After the first few weeks I had gotten bored and by now was looking for things to photograph again.

Cyan and I had been together for nearly four years. So, naturally, the thought that he might propose to me had occurred to me a few times throughout the day. I had just ignored it, though, mainly because Cyan wasn’t really the sort of guy who wanted to get married. We wanted to grow old together, yes, but many people didn’t see marriage as a need-to-do thing any more, and he was one of them. I had been a typical girl in that aspect, and had pictured my wedding once I had been old enough to understand that it was the holy joining of two people before Berry who loved each other very much. Other than sex. I had lost my religion somewhere along the way, though. I suppose Conifer dying probably had had a hand in that.

I had gotten used to the idea that, while we would grow old together, we wouldn’t be married, and I was fine with that. What was the difference, as long as Cyan and I would be together? To me, there was none that was relevant. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. We didn’t need to be married for that.

“Are you ready to go?” Cyan stuck his head through the door, a cute smile playing on his lips.

“I am. Will you tell me where we are going now?”

“It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if I did that.” He gave me a kiss, and I followed him to the car.

I must admit, I was surprised when he parked at the restaurant. The family graveyard Mum had been working on had taken a lot of money away from our savings, and it still wasn’t completely done, so we didn’t have a lot of money left. When Cyan took me out, he did so with the small amount of money he earned himself, which we however also used for bills, new furniture, and groceries. On top of that we had been thinking about renovating the house, which would also take a pretty big amount of money.

I hadn’t expected anything quite so fancy.

“How is your food?” The sun was slowly setting behind us by the time we reached deserts. Our dinner had been lovely, we had been casually chatting away about work and uni but I sensed that he was getting progressively more nervous the later it got.

“Amazing, thank you! How is your cake?” I was one of these people who could never decide between two or more deserts. I regretted a little that I hadn’t gone for the cake, because it really did look delicious, but at the same time I enjoyed my cobbler so much! This restaurant was the best one in town. Of course, we only had this one and a diner, but it was the best one in the area, too. The food was fantastic, and the service was friendly and professional.

“Great, too!” Cyan squeezed my hand, and for the next few minutes we silently finished our plates.

“Where would you like to go next?”

“Next? You mean there’s more?”

“Only if you want to! I want this evening to be perfect for you, Ivy. If going home sounds better than going anywhere else, we’ll go home.”

“No, I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just the food was already so amazing, and I’m dreading to see the bill, I-”

“Don’t worry about the bill. I’ve been saving a bit of money over the last few months, specifically for this evening.” Hearing that made me curious. He had been saving over the last few months? So this evening had been planned for a while. It was definitely important! But with him proposing ruled out, I couldn’t think of anything else.

“Could we maybe go to the beach, then?” They had finished the new pier two years ago, when I was on my summer break between the first and last year at ICA. The building works had finished only a few weeks before my new term had started, so I hadn’t found the time to go then. Last year we had made plans to go, several times, but something else had always come up. This new pier had been called the most beautiful addition to Sunset Valley in the news over and over again, and I still hadn’t managed to go down there. I had seen pictures in the paper, short clips on the news, and I could see it from our garden, but that was hardly the same.

The truth was, I had been aching to see it for the last two years, and since Cyan was leaving it up to me… It was worth a shot, right?

“The beach? Oh, I know what you want! You want to see White Wave Pier!” I blushed a little, feeling like my cover had been blown.

“Can we? Please?”

“Of course! The pier sounds like a great idea, I’d like to see it, too. And it does work well with my plans…” A little, fake-evil smile spread on his lips as he raised his eyes to mine.

“Oh? Do I need to be scared?”

“Better safe than sorry, right?” We finished the last few crumbs on our plates, asked for the bill, and paid. It hadn’t been cheap, but it had been so worth it.

The pier wasn’t far from town, and I felt myself getting more and more excited the closer we got.

I wasn’t disappointed, either. The entrance was a lovely blue brick building, with bathrooms which included showers, some comfortable looking seats, plants, and a bar selling cocktails. I wasn’t much for juice, and had never been drunk, but cocktails? Any time.

Not to forget the huge windows, which gave us a beautiful view on the beach and the actual pier! It was still quite warm outside, but the building was nicely air conditioned. From the windows I spotted a barbecue area, complete with seats, tables, a grill, and stairs leading down to the beach. On the either side I just about saw a swing set and a slide for children, and I could hardly miss all those lounge chairs and beach umbrellas! There even wear some fire pits, perfect for roasting marshmallows and late get-togethers.

The pier itself was risen above the beach, and was mostly empty apart from some benches and a telescope at the end. Now that I was here and saw it for myself, I had to agree with all those news reporters. It really was beautiful.

I quickly excused myself and used the bahtroom since I hadn’t gone at the restaurant. And, well, I had had a lot of water. When I came back out, I spotted Cyan over at the bar, ordering some drinks.

He knew I loved cocktails, and was happy to see that he had gotten exactly that. He was holding two cocktail glasses when I approached him, both faintly smelling of strawberries.

“I hope you’ll like this one, it’s supposed to be their speciality and a White Wave Pier exclusive.” I took a small sip from it, and loved it.

“I do! It’s really yummy, do you like it?”

“It’s alright.” I knew that I was bigger on fruity tastes than he was, but I also knew that he didn’t mind them as much as he sometimes made it sound. “Shall we go outside?”

“I’d love to.”

“I’ll just quickly use the bathroom, why don’t you go on ahead?”

“Okay. I’ll be waiting at the end of the pier.” Cyan excused himself, and I went outside. The air was still warm, and the breeze was lovely. Not enough to ruin my hair, but just enough to caress my skin and help me stay cool.

There was hardly anyone else there. A few people were relaxing in the lounge chairs on the actual beach, but other than that it was quiet. The only sound came from the soft crushing of the waves against the sand, which was beautiful. It had gotten dark quickly, and the stars were out. We had a full moon, which, together with the torches, provided us with a romantic glow.

When I heard Cyan approach, I turned around and gave him a smile. My evening had been amazing thanks to him, and I wanted him to know that. I wanted him to know that he made me happy.

“Are you having a nice evening?” He asked me before I had a chance to tell him myself.

“I am! Dinner was amazing, and this beach is breath taking. Thank you, Cyan, I’m having a great time.”

“You look very beautiful tonight” he half whispered and sounded so adorably nervous that I wanted to squeeze him. Instead, I blushed.

“Thank you. I’m glad you like it, I wasn’t sure how well make up would suit me.”

“It suits you very well, but if you don’t like it I don’t mind if you want to leave it after tonight.”

“No, I think I like it, too. I’ll think I’ll use it like this from now on.” He put his arm around me, and I thought he would me pull me into a hug, but instead he turned me back around so we were facing the sea.

“I, erm… I got you something.” I wasn’t entirely sure where he had hidden them this whole time, but he handed me a gorgeous bouquet of red roses. I was rubbish at looking after my flowers, which usually died because I always forgot to water them, but that didn’t mean that I didn’t like receiving them.

Cyan watched me as I stared at them, a huge happy smile on my face.

I brought them up to my nose and smelled them. Their scent was amazing, almost divine. They smelled so fresh, so full of- of- life that it brought small tears to my eyes. Never had I thought that I could ever be this happy again. After him I hadn’t thought it possible that I would find someone who I could love this much. I hadn’t even wanted anyone else. But now, in that moment, I felt so immensely happy, that I couldn’t think of any words strong enough to describe what was going on inside my head. I felt overwhelmed, and so very grateful that Cyan had found me, and that he loved me even though he knew.

“Cyan, I- I don’t know what to say.” There were tears in my eyes, yes. They had build up without me noticing right away, but I couldn’t stop it from happening. I was just that happy.

“Are you speechless?” I nodded.

“Then maybe I should use this moment, before you find your voice again.” I could see how nervous he was, his body was visibly shaking with nerves. “Stay as you are, don’t move.” My breath caught in my throat as I realised what was happening.

Right there, in front of me, he went down on one knee, and took something out of his back pocket.

He managed to hide it pretty well, but I knew what it was.

“Pale Ivy, I love you more than anything else in the world. I loved you from the moment we first wrote to each other online, and am so very happy that you allowed me into your life. There is nothing I want more than to make you happy. Would you, in turn, make me the happiest man alive, and marry me?”

In that moment he opened the tiny box, and a beautiful, light turquoise ring flashed green sparks at me.

I wasn’t sure how to talk, all I could do was grin like an idiot. At him, at the box, back at him. I could feel a tear running down my cheeks, and instinctively covered my mouth as it opened in a silent wow.

Then I remembered that Cyan was still waiting for an answer, so I swallowed hard and brushed the tear away.

“Yes.” My awkward grin turned into a large, genuine smile which was so big it hurt the muscles in my cheeks.

“Yes?” He asked, looking like a happy fool himself.

“Yes!” It felt so good to say it, I didn’t want to stop. But before I could say it again, he spoke.

“Then, if you’ll allow me-”

With clumsy hands he took the ring out of its box, and slid it onto my finger. I usually hated how rings felt on my hands, but this was different. This ring was exactly where it should be.

Cyan stood up, his eyes never leaving mine. The moment he stood securely on both feet, I threw myself into his arms. He squeezed me and tightened his embrace, only letting go once to kiss me.

I couldn’t believe it. I was getting married!