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Dr Archeville

[Vignette 2/2011] What You Leave Behind (Wander)

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February 16th, 2011

It still surprised Erin to come into her room and see the flowers on her dresser, bursting with life and color. They were so pretty, and they made the whole room smell good. She'd been very surprised when Trevor had given them to her for Valentine's Day. She'd been expecting something more, well, utilitarian, but though she'd never have thought of them herself, the flowers were really lovely. The fact that they were personalized, and that he'd planned ahead and gotten another hero to help him out... it sort of made her card look blah in comparison. She hoped that his birthday present would make up for that.

Valentine's Day had been really nice in general, she thought as she unpacked her backpack and stacked up her pile of homework on the desk. Going out and watching the stars had been surprisingly cool, and the kissing and makeout opportunity hadn't been squandered either. They hadn't gone any further than that, and the unspoken message was clear. Even after the interruption in his room last time, it was still her call if and when they went any further. She was grateful for that knowledge, even though she thought having to decide might well drive her insane. Didn't she have more important things to be obsessing about, like where she was going to live or work in another four months? Sex shouldn't even be on the table for her, yet there it was, and it wasn't going to go away unless she picked it up or pushed it off.

Erin walked over to the dresser and looked at the flowers, smelled them again. Next to the vase, her parents' faces smiled out at her from a broken frame. She sighed and closed her eyes a moment, rubbing the third finger of her right hand, where her promise ring used to be. Since she hadn't been wearing it the last time she left Seattle, it was gone for good, but that didn't really change anything. Maybe she'd only been in junior high when she'd promised at church she would wait till she was married, but she'd known what she was doing. It had made a lot of sense at the time. She didn't want to end up pregnant or with kids saying she was easy, or with some kind of disease. It had been an easy promise to make back then, one that had made her parents proud of her thoughtfulness and maturity. The little silver ring they'd given her had been a token of their pride, and a reminder of her own value.

Looking away from the picture, Erin drew a black lily and a yellow rose from the bouquet, carrying them over to her bed and sitting down. A promise was a promise, wasn't it? She knew for a fact that her counterpart here hadn't lived up to it, but that was different. Her parents were still alive, her family was all there. Erin knew logically that if things had gone differently, she'd probably have done the same thing. Even by the time she'd gotten to high school, she was starting to have her doubts about the whole waiting business. Wasn't that why the ring had been in her jewelry box and not on her hand on that last night?

But it was different for her, she admitted, because her parents were dead, and the promises she'd made them seemed more important because of it. God knew she'd failed them in everything else, so really all she had left to give them was faithfulness to their memories. Not that she believed in God anymore, or that anyone up in the sky or down under the earth would care if she were having sex, but a promise once made ought to be kept. That had to matter.

As she sat and stewed, Erin toyed with the stems of the flowers, twining them together. Maybe it wasn't even really an issue. Her parents couldn't have foreseen the future, and that had certainly been a mercy. They had no way to know of the strange journey she'd have to take, or how horribly alone she would be throughout. Nothing had gone the way it was supposed to, the way they'd have assumed it would go when they let her make her little junior high pledge. It seemed ludicrous to think she'd ever get married to anyone at this point, with all her neuroses and depression and annoying nervous habits. Was she supposed to remain alone her entire life because of that? The fact that she had Trevor at all, for any length of time, was a kind of miracle. Why shouldn't she be able to enjoy it, for as long as it was good?

Maybe the promise didn't even apply anymore, she thought, looking down at the twinned arrangement she'd made. She was eighteen years old, she was an adult now. Surely her parents had just wanted what was best for her, for her not to make mistakes and get herself in trouble and do things she wasn't ready for when she was younger. Now that she was old enough, and was thinking it all through, and would be careful and take precautions, maybe they would be happy to see her happy for once, and getting something that she wanted. That had to be more important than whether she'd waited to secure a particular piece of documentation, right?

Erin sighed, setting aside the flowers and laying back on her bed. She wished she had someone to talk to who could give her advice on all this stuff. She wished her mom was there to talk to and actually ask, that would make things so much clearer. All she had to go on were her own intuitions, and make decisions that were entirely her own. And she knew what she wanted, whether or not she could actually have it. She was interested in sex, oh absolutely, but the idea of having someone to hold onto in the dark was at least as seductive. Maybe sleep wouldn't be so elusive, maybe the dreams wouldn't be as bad. Surely she wouldn't feel so lonely at the thought of leaving Claremont and trying to find a place in the world where she was an extra copy.

That was probably a selfish way to think, using Trevor to try and fight her own demons, but he already knew that about her, he couldn't say he wasn't warned. And he was lonely too, and they loved each other. She'd never treat him the way his old girlfriend had treated him, and that had to be good for something. And she would be very careful, and thoughtful, and that way whatever happened, she wouldn't have to have any regrets. That had to be the way her folks would've wanted it. Erin got up and went back to the computer and scheduled an appointment in the infirmary.

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