Disclaimer: All of 'And Then There Were None' belongs to Agatha Christie, including its brilliant characters whose pasts I am depicting! Also, this chapter style (using years as chapters) is a style I borrowed from Elizabeth with an S' wonderful Moulin Rouge! story, Satine: Story of a Courtesan, so kudos to her!
The sun was setting in the horizon, creating a rainbow of colours all across the sky that were reflected into the ocean blue as Clara Claythorne took a stroll down the beach with her husband of five years, Fred Claythorne.
It seemed as though it were only yesterday the two had first met at the local carnival and Clara damn near killed Fred while playing that shoot-the-ducks game. Fred had been working as a volunteer at that particular booth when Clara stepped up to play. She was so enticed by his rugged good looks, she completely messed up her aim and nearly shot Fred. Likewise, Fred had been so captivated by Clara's beauty, he had forgotten to step out of the way when Clara began to shoot and wasn't even aware she had taken a shot until he felt something graze his ear. Clara had felt so embarrassed she offered to take him out to dinner to make it up to him. The two started seeing each other many times over the course of the summer and fell in love, resulting in a marriage proposal from Fred on a late August afternoon. The marriage caused a bit of a scandal, as they were only eighteen, and teenagers only married nowadays if the girl was in trouble, but in time, their neighbours came around to accept that they were simply in love. They had barely been married for more than a year when Clara became pregnant with their first child, a girl named Evelyn. Now two years later, they were expecting their second child, and happily in love.
"It's quite warm for a March day," spoke up Fred.
"Yes, it is," nodded Clara. "And it's the Ides of March, too." She inhaled the salty sea air and said whimsically, "This beach brings back so many memories from that fateful night months ago."
"Ah yes," said Fred. "I recall the beautiful moment we shared on this beach that will very soon result in another beautiful moment, if my plan goes correctly." He rubbed Clara's pregnant belly happily.
"Are you sure a walk on the beach will help speed things up?" asked Clara. "What if this doesn't work? What if something's wrong with the baby?"
"Clara, you're only two days overdue," said Fred. "I'm sure the baby's just fine. I've just heard that taking a walk wakes up the baby and reminds it that it's time to be born. While we wait, let's talk about names. I like the name Anthony for a boy and Charity for a girl."
"Those are nice names, yes, but they don't really fit in with the rhythm of Claythorne," said Clara. "What about Joseph for a boy and Ann for a girl?"
"No," said Fred, shaking his head. "Those sound a bit too plain. I don't want our second child to have an ordinary name, yet I don't want them to have an extravagant name either. Are there any other plants or herbs you like that you could name it after if it's a girl, which was how you came to name Evelyn?"
"I like Lavender and Hazel," mused Clara. "But I don't want to name our second child after a plant or herb; otherwise, our children will be the laughing stocks amongst the other children!"
"All right…how about the name of a quality that's important to you?" suggested Fred.
"Actually, I sort of like that suggestion," said Clara. "I guess I'll think up a quality name for if it's a girl, but there aren't too many quality names for boys…if it's a boy, I suppose I'll name him Matthew, after my great-grandfather." She winced. "Ah, my back aches."
"Is it time, dearest?" asked Fred quickly.
"It might be, but I can't be entirely sure," said Clara. "Remember when we thought I was in labour last week, but it turned out to just be a false alarm? I want to wait a little bit first; if it doesn't go away after ten minutes, we'll go home and call up my friend."
"I'm still not crazy about you wanting to have a home birth," said Fred. "What if something happens to you or the baby? There have been cases of women and children dying in childbirth at home."
"There have also been cases of women and children dying in childbirth at hospitals," said Clara. "I wouldn't want to have any more false alarms and have to go the trouble of finding someone to look after Evelyn for nothing. And besides, my friend has had plenty of experience in delivering babies before."
Clara was now tired of walking, so she decided to stop and rest in the sand (though with great difficulty) and just listen to the waves. She closed her eyes and listened to the waves go in and out, the water roughly splashing against the rocks—
Clara's eyes opened and widened as she felt a sharp pain shoot throughout her abdomen, which was quickly followed by water running down her legs. "FRED!" she screamed.
"Yes?" said Fred quickly.
Clara looked up at Fred and said, "Fred, get me home now."
"Daddy, what's going on in there?" asked little Evelyn Marie Claythorne, who would be turning two in just a month.
Mr. Claythorne stood outside the bedroom he and his wife shared as he said, "Right now, your mother is giving you your brand new brother or sister."
"She doesn't sound very happy about giving it," said Evelyn.
"Just wait out here, dear; I'll tell you when you can come in," said Mr. Claythorne. He pushed the door open, walked in, and sat by his wife's side. "Took your sweet time, didn't you?" snapped Clara.
"Okay, we're in the finishing stages now," said Clara's friend, Delia Mayfair. "I just need you to start pushing. Now push, Mama, push!"
From where Evelyn was standing outside the door, she could see that her mother was not having a great time giving Evelyn her new baby brother or sister. She kept grunting and screaming. Evelyn wasn't really sure why her mother was screaming; wasn't a baby supposed to make people happy? She wasn't standing from an angle where she could properly see the birth; if she did, she would've felt nauseous to the stomach.
"You're doing great; the head is in sight; just keep pushing!" said Delia.
"I AM pushing!" screamed Clara. She continued to push and scream as she squeezed Fred's hand like a stubborn bottle of toothpaste, mostly to make him feel the pain she was feeling.
Evelyn impatiently played with her doll in the hall as the sounds of screaming grew louder and louder. Then suddenly, the screaming stopped, only for another scream to slowly begin—but it wasn't the scream of her mother, it was the scream of a newborn baby.
Delia held the screaming baby up in her arms and said, "Congratulations, Clara. You and Fred have another lovely little girl."
Beaming, Mr. Claythorne got up, got the pair of scissors, and gently cut the girl's umbilical cord. Right after, he opened up the door and said, "Evelyn? You may come in now and meet your new baby sister."
Evelyn walked in and saw Delia gently laying the baby down on a nearby table, using a washcloth to clean off some of the amniotic fluid. That's the baby everyone's been making a huge fuss over? she thought, disgusted, prompting her to exclaim, "She's ugly!"
"All newborn babies look ugly, dear," said Mr. Claythorne. "In time, she'll come to be a real beauty and you'll appreciate her all the more."
By now, the baby had calmed down a little bit after listening to some familiar voices. She heard a gruff but gentle voice that had spoken to her many times while she was in her cozy home that she had been violently forced out of. She heard a perky voice that had told her about all the adventures they would have together once she was born. These two voices helped her realize she was around people she could trust; however, she still wished to be held, so she whimpered as if to say Daddy, you're forgetting me.
"I think she wants you to hold her, mister," said Delia. She gently wrapped the baby up in a blanket and put the baby in Mr. Claythorne's arms. He supported the baby with all his strength and looked deep into her eyes, which were wide and curious after all the chaos of the past few hours. "Good evening to you too, little one," chuckled Mr. Claythorne. "Do you see that little girl standing over there? That's your sister, Evelyn, and she'll be the best big sister she can be. Evelyn? Would you like to say something?"
Delia lifted up Evelyn so she could see the baby. Evelyn said, "Hi there. I hope you get prettier!"
Mr. Claythorne chuckled and said, "Well, Clara? Do you think you have the strength to hold her?"
"Of course I do," said Mrs. Claythorne, stretching out her arms.
Mr. Claythorne walked up to the bed and gently placed the baby in Mrs. Claythorne's arms. The baby's curious eyes darted across her mother's face, as though she were carefully examining this woman to make sure that she really was the person who had housed her for nine months.
Mrs. Claythorne smiled and said, "Hello, little girl. It's me, your mummy."
"Is that what her name will be—little girl?" asked Evelyn.
"Of course not, dear," said Mrs. Claythorne. "I've been thinking about the quality I want to name her after, Fred. I've thought about Faith, Virtue, Purity, and Hope, but there's one quality I believe to be the most important of all—truth. Vera is latin for truth, so that'll be her first name: Vera. For a middle name, how about Elizabeth, after your late mother, Fred?"
"My mother would be beaming at the ears if she heard that," said Mr. Claythorne softly.
Mrs. Claythorne smiled at her daughter and said, "Welcome to the world, Vera Elizabeth Claythorne."