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Weathering It Through
I walked slowly home, breathing in the scent of oncoming rain and earth. Leaves littered the sidewalk and swirled about in the wind. Dust tornadoes rose up on the street, blowing in my eyes and making me squint. The low hanging, silver clouds looked ominous above me. A few raindrops splattered on my face and glasses.
It was almost like I was crying, again. Things always seemed to be tears and sob-filled nights. Ever since my dad died nothing was the same. Mom was trying to keep her chin up, but I knew that eventually she would crash and I wouldn’t see her out of her bedroom for a while. Days dragged on, nights stood absolutely still. And everything in the house reminded me of him in some way.
My friends tried to help me, to cheer me up or make me happy. But nothing helped. I missed him so much already, even though it had only been a few days. I didn't have to go to school, so I spent my time somewhere else. Mostly it was in the tree house my dad and I had made together, but occasionally I would slip off to the old abandoned house at the end of my street.
That was where I decided to go then. To the only place where nothing held a trace of my dad, nothing brought back old memories of him. I could think there without the sound of my mom’s loud crying or my younger sister’s whimpering. I was 15 and didn’t do any of those things. Not because I was heartless or had no feelings, but because I was one to hide everything away and save it for later. It was how I dealt with sadness and anger.
As I reached the creaky wooden steps leading up to the abandoned mansion, I heard a cough or something, making me freeze. I knew that I wasn’t really supposed to be there and I was fearful that the police had finally caught me. Nothing else stirred so I carefully crept inside, making sure that I didn't hit any of the many creaks and groans in the boards.
Once inside, I plopped down on one of the covered couches and laid back, resting my hands behind my head. Dust motes danced merrily through the air and I heard the first of the fat raindrops hit the tin roof. Vines swept up the staircase banner and over the running boards. Eventually they found a spot to cross over to the massive hanging chandelier that glistened and sparkled in the middle of the room. Beauty surrounded me i every carving and delicately placed lighting fixture. I closed my eyes and soaked in the calmness I felt here.
I was about to doze off when the creak of a step woke me. I startled into a sitting position, instantly aware of everything. My ears were pricked for any more noise and my eyes searched the corners and shadows for movement. The only things moving were mice and beetles scurrying to their hiding spots. Another noise was made and I quickly stood up, ready to bolt out the front door. Inching towards the entrance, I placed one foot in front of the other with my eyes still on the staircase leading to the second floor.
All of the sudden a boy appeared out of the shadows. I squeaked and stood stock still, unsure of what to do or where to go. I was glad that it hadn’t been someone or something bad, but at the same time I was afraid of getting busted. The boy didn’t appear menacing, but in fact looked to be quite friendly, if not cautious. With that decided I straightened up fully and made a small noise in the back of my throat.
The boy coasted down the remainder of the steps, taking each one nimbly. When he reached the bottom he walked towards me and extended a hand. Talk about friendly.
“Hey, my name is Paxton.” he said.
I slowly took his outstretched hand shook it, relishing the feel of it. Warmth radiated from Paxton and in that simple handshake I seemed to already know him. His dark, ebony hair ruffled in the gentle breeze blowing through the cracks in the walls. Vibrant blue eyes gazed at me, piercing through my soul, opening up desires I never knew I had.
“Um, yeah. It’s nice to meet you, Paxton.” I said, distracted by his looks.
He looked at me expectantly, still holding my hand in a handshake. I snapped out of it and blushed, glancing at our hands. He let go and let his hand drop to his side. It clenched there, the delicate fingers curling into a loose fist. I realized then that he wanted to know my name.
“Oh, my name is Charmaine.” I said in a rush.
My name was familiar with those who liked, or rather adored, Cleopatra and all of that. Surprisingly I was actually quite fascinated by her, and her handmaiden Charmaine. My parents were both Egypt lovers and had some job involving it.
Then I remembered that there was no parents anymore. No mom AND dad. No couple or soulmates. And definitely no were. It was had. They had been partners in the job they did. They had been married. They had been taking care of me together. That was not the case now. Tears gathered in my eyes as I thought about them and the life that had been.
Paxton must have seen me start to tear up a little because he tilted my eyes up to meet his. His face was gentle and kind, the perfect kind of guy. His mouth was quirked in a worried line, his eyes questioning and wondering.
“What’s wrong Charmaine?” he asked kindly.
I sniffled and smiled ruefully, almost embarrassed now. Paxton was probably looking at a mascara streaked face and red, puffy eyes covered by spotted, dorky glasses. I was the picture of a hot mess, but Paxton didn’t seem to care. It was very reassuring.
“Ah, nothing really. I wouldn’t really want to overwhelm you. We hardly know each other.” I said.
Paxton didn’t give up though. He still kept my chin tilted up so my face was clear to him.
“Come on, I can already read you like a book. I know something is wrong. I won’t run away, trust me. And most of the time it has to be something big for a girl like you to cry.”
I stared at him, surprised at how quickly he had caught on. He must be really observant to already notice that I had a shell as tough as gorilla glass. Most people could knock me down, pick me up and then push me down again, but I would leave with little more than a dent to my feelings or ego. Not much fazed me. But Paxton did. He made my hard exterior crack a little with nothing but a chisel tap in the right place.
And so right then and there I decided that we were going to be friends for a long time. We were going to be more than friends in the near future, and then I could already see me walking down the aisle in a long white gown with him in a suit waiting for me. After that conclusion, I poured my pent up emotions out to him. I let my feelings and heart flood the room, wrapping us in a cocoon. And Paxton listened to every single word, nodding at the right time, rubbing my back, and responding just right. And when I was finished he became the perfect stranger and lightly touched my lips with his. Together we weathered out the storm as the rain and thunder raged outside of our safe haven.
“Do you remember that day?” I said to Paxton as we sat in wooden rocking chairs on our front porch. Our many grandchildren ran around and giggled in the yard, playing with our dogs.
That day, that single, dark day stood out against everything else in my memory. It stood in stark contrast to all others, popping out in my mind’s eye. My mind may have been fading, but that one thing stayed bright and shining. It was the day that I met my husband, Paxton.
“Of course I do honey. It was the day I decided to marry you. I made my first real choice about what I was going to do about my life. And seeing you there so lonely and sad, it was almost impossible to not fall in love with you.” he said gently, smiling faintly.
I asked this every day after recalling the story. And I wanted to reinforce it as cancer racked my body. I wanted to make sure that I never forgot the time I met my husband. I knew that I would ask the same question everyday until my final days rushed upon me. But that day wasn’t here yet. And the time that I had, I would spend with my true love, the one that helped me weather out any storms that pelted me with worry and problems. The one that I would never trade for anything...my Paxton.