Quentin showed her a set of photographs, arranged lovingly on the kitchen table. He had taken them while she was asleep.
“Y'know, it's kinda creepy to take pictures of people while they're sleeping,” Ellie said to him, flopping down in a chair. It wobbled as she swung her feet back and forth. “Next thing you're going to do is mention how delicious my blood smells.”
“How did I know you were going to make a Twilight
reference?” he asked. He ran his fingers through her hair until they caught on knots and tangles caused by her impromptu nap.
“Well, it's either that or some comment about how innocent I am when I'm asleep,” she said, nose wrinkling with a grin. “And I think that has passed into 'mom humor' territory. Very passe now. I'm more hip than that. Get me a bowl of cereal?”
“Lucky Charms or Cocoa Krispies?”
He never could say no to her.
A hint of laughter snuck into Ellie's voice. “Are you willing to pick out the marshmallows for me?”
“Cocoa Krispies it is, then,” he said. The cereal was poured into a small, pink bowl adorned with smiling kitties. They had picked it up at the Japanese portion of Epcot on their trip to Disney World the year before.
The toaster beeped out the first bar of the Spongebob theme. Quentin ate toast smeared with strawberry jam.
Quentin was a hobbyist photographer—nothing professional. He was too level-headed, too methodical, to live on the unsteady paychecks that the life of an artist provides. Weekends were filled with trips to the countryside, or the farmer's market, or downtown where the city was falling apart but beautiful. There he would snap photographs of sunflowers or apple carts or old graffiti or hungry-looking children. This was the first time he had taken pictures of her.
“You could have waited,” she told him. “Maybe let me put on some cuter pajamas? Something racy? I could be your very own Victoria Secret model! I just need to starve myself for a week to get that perfect 'anorexic waif' look.”
He swallowed another bite of toast. “It's not the same. ”
“Oh, so you need a genuine
anorexic waif then?”
“No, Elle,” he answered. “I didn't mean that. I mean … I don't know what I mean, really.”
“Pft, you don't have to know what you mean,” Ellie answered with a dismissive wave of her hand. “You're an artiste
. They never know what they mean—adds to the mystery of their artistic genius.”
He cracked a smile. “I'm not an artist.”
“Sure you are! You've got a super expensive camera, a peacoat, and a taste for Earl Grey tea! Come on. The only thing that could make you more
of an artist is a house by the sea. Maybe in Maine?”
“I think you're thinking of Stephen King,” Quentin countered. “And he is anything
but an artist.”
“Come on, he did lots of artistic things! Like … Phantoms?
” she suggested.
“That was Koontz,” he corrected.
“Aw. What about that movie with the big dog? … Beethoven
?” she said. Her spoon scraped the bottom of the bowl, and she took that as a sign to slurp the remnants of her cereal—not much more than chocolate milk at this point—down with a contented sigh.
Her boyfriend's gaze flattened. “Now you're just messing with me.”
Ellie's smile gave everything away. “Maybe.”
He shook his head as he abandoned his seat and the crusts of his toast. Quentin roamed the kitchen and grazed on other things, like Little Debbies and orange juice straight from the carton.
“You've got me off topic,” he said, still peering into the artificial light of the refrigerator. He contemplated finishing the bag of pepperoni they had bought the day before. Instead, he gestured with it emphatically. “I mean, sometimes... You ever been in a moment and just wanted to hang onto it forever? Everything is just … it's perfect. Really perfect. And you know that at any moment, something, somewhere is going to ruin it. Your cell phone rings. A cloud blocks out the sun for a second. You realize that tomorrow, you're going to have to go grocery shopping again because I'm going to eat all of this delicious pepperoni. Things like that.”
She tried so hard to keep smiling. Really, the joke was funny. But she kept trying to summon the courage; the same fearlessness she always tried to summon when she revisited this day through her time travels. Ellie couldn't. Not yet. The moment passed.
“I just … I saw you there, and I thought 'my God, she's beautiful and she's mine,'” he confessed. “And you … well. I never thought I'd end up with a girl like you, Ellie. You're everything I wanted. This... that picture, that was the first time it really hit home. I love you.”
“I love you too, Q,” she told him.
They continued talking, just like they always did; they had the same conversation they did every May 25th, 2009, at 1:52 PM. Like always, he left the table at 2:14 and slipped on his shoes, citing he had a maternity photoshoot at the park.
She knew he would die at 2:57—a heroic but unlucky bystander in a bank robbery gone terribly awry. But how could you tell someone that?
This is my entry for Round 1 of #Senshi-Pageant
, starring my character Sailor Kairos. I hope you liked it! :]
Also, Kairos' bedroom is based on *kennasaur
's guest room, where I sleep when I go to visit her. It is the most adorable room in the entire world.