Anne Elliot \Ann-Ell-ee-yutt\, noun:
1. A severely naïve, bored twenty-something with a failed relationship behind her and a family that takes her for granted
2. See: nobody, slight fucktard
"Anne, what are you doing?"
"Nothing," I mutter, instantly closing the Word Document (and the MacBook itself, incidentally). Mary's giving me a condescending look from across the room, and for a moment I kind of see my father's likeness in her sneer. It's kind of a frightening thought.
"Aren't you supposed to be helping me clean up? You do realize that Charlie's parents and sisters will be over soon, right?" She sniffs and perches her hands on her hips. I want to say something really snide and biting, reminding her that I'm only here for company during the summer months (at her bidding!) and that she has no right to boss me around (she's the youngest, even, for pity's sake).
Instead I nod, "Yeah, I'll get on that," and make myself useful in the living room picking up her kids' toys. It's not that I'm a pushover; I just think that part of me hates confrontation so much that I'll pretty much do anything to avoid it. And you should really hear my sister's voice when she gets hysterical; I really think it has the capacity to shatter glass. You would do anything to steer clear of it too.
"God, my back," she moans, hunching over to collect the pairs of shoes from the adjoining foyer. I raise an eyebrow as she limps past, "I think I pinched a nerve the other day, Anne. This is just the whipped cream on top of my headache today, I swear."
Oh, Mary's a hypochondriac, too - Did I mention? In these situations, you pretty much keep quiet so she has no encouragement. I have no idea how her husband stands it.
As if on cue, Charlie himself bursts into the foyer, the three year-old twin terrors latched onto him like baby primates. They're still wearing their karate uniforms. Hunter, copper-haired like his father, is practically swinging from his dad's shirt collar. Danny, dark-haired like Mary (and the rest of our family) is fastened around his shin, barefoot.
"Okay, okay, let go of Daddy, yeah?" he grumbles, and I instantly notice he's toting grocery bags too. I ease the load a bit and he thanks me with a warm, grateful smile. The boys scramble down and shoot towards the opposite end of the house, probably to wreak havoc in the playroom.
"Boys, don't forget to change!" Mary shrieks after them, and turns to her husband. He pecks her on the cheek and we (Charlie and myself) carry the bags to the kitchen counter, my sister trailing behind us.
"That was fast for a dual karate lesson and grocery shopping," I note, sensing that this doting father needs encouragement. God knows Mary doesn't give enough of it. Charlie grins and shakes his head, pausing to wipe the sweat off of his brow.
"Couple years of multi-tasking experience, I s'pose," he laughs, "How have you been, Anne?"
"Good," I reply. Just writing pseudo-dictionary definitions of myself on the laptop to avoid my sister and put up with lack of internet. "Just getting settled and all."
"Arrived safely?" he inquires.
"Charlie, I specifically asked for wheat bagels," Mary crisply interrupts, probing at one of the bags, "You know how your mother likes to watch her figure!"
Charlie shrugs it off, "They were out, and she'll have to make do." He flashes me a smile and I shrug in response.
Charles Musgrove is such an endlessly easy-going guy that sometimes I wonder if one day, his tolerance for my sister's ridiculousness will just run out and the family will fall apart. It's a grim thought, but maybe I'm just too cynical to believe in an enduring amiability in a person. I cast him a sidelong glance to see his arm around Mary, nestling her into a hug. She sighs and gives in, and he plants a kiss on her neck.
Nah, I think, He loves her too much. Funny thing is, I could've been the one married to him. Seriously - we became friends freshman year and he kind of had a thing for me, a big thing. We dated for a few months, but the entire set-up was so completely devoid of sparks (at least for me) that I had to end it. We just mesh completely better when we're friends. And besides, the fourth month we were together, I totally sensed that he was interested in Mary. Not that he tried anything, he's so not that type of guy.
Hunter scrambles into the room, stripped of everything but his Buzz Lightyear underwear. He sees me and lights up, having been unaware of my presence when they first walked in. "Annie!" he yelps, snaking his wiry little arms around my waist. I laugh and scoop him up. He's seriously the only person in our family to call me 'Annie'. Even his slightly moody twin settles for 'Aunt Anne'.
Mary disbands herself from her husband and promptly pries her son out of my arms, "Where are the clothes I picked out for you and your brother, Hunter?"
He stares at her like he has no idea what she's talking about. Grunting in irritation, she skulks out of the room with him in search of some lost khakis and miniature collared polos, no doubt.
Charlie and I unload the rest of the groceries in peace (thank God) while he makes pleasant inquiries to how my life is. What can I really tell him, anyway? He's far better off than I am, though we went to the same school - University of the Arts, in Philly, if you must know. He's an incredible graphic designer. He's inching his way up the advertising chain, mainly web-based. Either way, the guy got hired fresh after graduation and he's getting loads of offers though he's employed.
Me? Freelance so far, something my family has never supported. But art is my passion, and it has been since I was three and discovered the wonders if smearing my paint-covered fingers all over stark white paper. It's only progressed twenty years since then. I thrived in college, I really did. I just had no idea what the hell I wanted to do. I still don't, despite my definite major, which is why I use the term "Freelance" very loosely. I have no idea where it'll lead me. In September, I'm starting work for a small children's book company for awhile, so that's something. My old classmate found me the job. For now, I'm stuck at Mary's, pining for the wood-floored studio back home (our old sunroom, cleared out), ripped paint-splattered jeans and the smell of kneaded erasers.
"So how's your dad and sister Elizabeth? She still attached at the hip to that Clay girl?" Charlie's voice pulls me out of my own thoughts, and I glance up to find that we've cleared the entire counter already. I grimace. Those three are the last people I'd like to talk about. All incredibly vain and self-absorbed. Actually, Evelyn Clay, Liz's best friend, isn't all that bad. She just has this weird habit of flirting with my Dad, which is just about the creepiest thing because she's in her late twenties and he's gearing up to hit sixty. Um, no.
"They're okay," I shrug, "Liz got a small part in a new pilot for Fox, so my Dad's pretty much eating that up. But I think we both know she's always been his favorite."
Charlie attempts an innocent smile, but he knows it's true. He sighs, "Well, good for her then."
I shrug. Liz's always had her sights on acting. At twenty-eight, she's still pretty much waiting tables and doing commercials here and there. Truth is, Liz is far too much like my Dad - completely and utterly egocentric. She pretty much looks the part of the wannabe actress, too - Long, blonde hair (not natural, of course), baby blues (contacts, yep), skinny. Some people think she's the prettiest of the Elliot girls. Mary's kind of cute, if you ask me. She's a young mother, at twenty-two, but she's adorable as all hell despite her horrible tendency to overreact. She's got this cute button nose, and her eyes crinkle all sweetly when she laughs. If, you know, you happen to actually see her laugh.
But you can bet that Mary and I are cast aside for Liz in my Dad's eye. He's just as vain as she is, that's probably their big bonding point. The man just loves himself too much, and will spend any amount of money to make himself look youthful. That's probably why we're so low on money, too. We'll probably have to move soon, all because he's this ridiculous spendthrift who wishes he were twenty years younger. It's kind of embarrassing, especially now that everybody but him is actually aware that the hair plugs look, well, monstrously fake. I think it's only gotten worse since Mom died, to be honest. There are more mirrors back at our house at Kellynch county than usual. Maybe he's trying to replace her with his reflection.
"You okay?" Charlie asks me over his shoulder, removing a bottle of orange juice from the top shelf of the fridge. I shrug and smile.
"Yeah - You excited that your parents and sisters are coming up from Florida?"
He puts on a pained smile that makes me laugh. He's only kidding, I know. I've met the Musgroves, and they're actually pretty sane and pleasant. Even his sisters, Hannah and Louisa. I mean, for young eighteen year-olds (twins, they run in the family), they're actually not that snooty. Well, Louisa can be a bit of a brat, not going to lie. Hannah and I have mostly gotten along more, but that's probably because we weirdly like most of the same movies.
Charlie sighs, "I guess I missed them. It's just frustrating, because whenever they come over, Mary tends to run around like a chicken with its head cut off, y'know?" Oh, do I. He adds, "I'm just grateful you're here to help. Thanks for taking the time out of your summer, Anne."
"No problem," I grin. He's such a nice guy, really.
"Oh," he pauses, "I guess I didn't mention that a friend of mine is visiting too, huh?"
I blink, "No." For a second, I wonder if there's enough room in the house. I've already designated my pull-out in the den and I really don't want to move. Oh well, if I must, I must.
"Yeah," Charlie shrugs, "He used to work for my father, I met him a couple years back and we're pretty close now. He's a creative type too, a journalist. Maybe you'll like him. Not that you don't get along with anybody," he adds. I roll my eyes good-naturedly, and screw the cap of the orange juice bottle back in place.
"I'm a regular bitch, you just don't hear that side," I mumble, swiping the carton from the counter. He snorts with disbelief. "So, this guy have a name?" I ask.
"Yup -- Fred Wentworth."
Thank God the orange juice is capped, because if I dropped it otherwise, Mary would have a fit about her stained tiles. But it drops, and I grip the counter's edge for balance. Charlie rushes to my side, wide-eyed. He grips my arms, "Anne? What happened?"
It's such a loaded questioned - he just has no idea.
"I thought I saw a spider," I reply meekly, as he stares into my face. It kind of doesn't bother me at the moment, because I can only think about one thing.
Fred Wentworth - Frederick Wentworth, in this house? For two weeks? Oh holy shit on toast, who did I murder in a past life to deserve this? I bet I was John Wilkes Boothe or something. I close my eyes.
This is so inconvenient.
Author's Note: Um, yeah, so I've had a plotbunny forming for the longest time and I really wanted to take a crack at making my own version of a modern-day Persuasion story. I love these characters too much to not add my own spin on them. I just have two (well, maybe three) warnings before I start.
1. To the lovely people who read Lilting (ignore the blatant plug-in) and are venturing here, know that this fic will have a lot more cussing, including f-bombs, which is obvious in the very beginning. It's also less serious than say, something Phantom-oriented. It also might be slightly cynical in tone.
2. To Austen fans, the cussing warning also applies, also know that some names will be changed (just minor characters, because to me, Henrietta does not sound like a young girl nowadays - It sounds like a great aunt who plays checkers every Sunday at the senior center). Also, some minor characters might be exempt from the story as well, but nothing major will be hacked off. It also won't follow the plotline of Persuasion to a tee, I mean it's modern-day, I have to take some liberties. But the general flow will probably commence.
'Kay, so that's over with. Originally, I put this in the beginning, but I felt it was too yawn-inducing. Please, please, please read and review! I love feedback!