50

Thirteen Candles

On the eleventh day of August, 1953, the entire family was gathered around the dining table of the dining room on Indian Island, celebrating the birthday of a young girl who was blossoming into a beautiful woman much too quickly for Lombard or Vera's liking.

"Make a wish, honey!" encouraged Vera as she set the cake before her now thirteen-year-old daughter, Cyrilla.

Cyrilla resembled her mother in almost every way possible—her hair, her eyes, her beauty, her grace—with the exception of her mouth, which was entirely her father's. In personality, she had her father's fiery spirit but her mother's grace.

Cyrilla focused steadily on the thirteen candles that lay ahead of her. She took a deep breath and blew them all out.

Vera gently took each candle out one at a time before cutting the strawberry cake (Cyrilla's favourite flavour). As she served Cyrilla her piece, she thought, What happened to the baby I was holding in my arms just a few days ago?

"I want a flower!" piped up a five-year-old Marina, the only one of her siblings who completely resembled her father, with the exception of her jaw.

"You always want the flower," said eight-year-old Peter, who, like his older sister, strongly resembled his mother and only had his father's smile.

"Now, children, don't fight on such a special day," said Lombard, who sat between Peter and Marina.

"Don't forget the twins over here!" called out Mrs. Claythorne, holding up the twin boy, Louis, her husband holding the twin girl, Katherine, both of whom had celebrated their very first birthdays just a few days ago.

"I'll be over in just a minute," called out Vera as she served Peter and Marina their pieces. She gave Lombard his piece and gave him a quick peck on the cheek.

"Ew!" squealed Marina. "Cooties!"

Vera lightly chuckled and walked back over to the cake to cut Evelyn, Derek, and Ann's pieces.

"Can I get a flower, too?" said Ann eagerly. Ann was around the same age as Peter, only the two had birthdays that were off by a week. Ann, for the most part, resembled her mother.

"One minute, Ann," said Evelyn, laughing. "Just be patient."

Derek smiled and gave his sister a gentle tousle of her hair. "Just wait little Annie," he said. "It will come."

Vera served the cake to Derek and Ann smiling. With Evelyn, she hesitated a bit before putting the piece down. The women had caught eyes, resulting in a temporary tense moment.

Fleta joked, "Hey, Vera, don't forget us little people over here!"

"One minute, Fleta," said Vera.

"Aw, mum, I can wait," said a twenty-two year old Matthew, home from college for the time being.

"This has been a great birthday so far, mum," said Cyrilla, grinning. "Thank you."

"You're welcome, dearest," said Vera as she cut off the next two pieces.

Cyrilla then said quietly, "It's too bad Granny Lombard isn't here, though."

The table fell silent. At around the same time Vera found out she was pregnant with Louis and Katherine, Carolina discovered she had cancer. She had fought it with all her might, but sadly, she lost her battle when the twins were just a few months old.

"Yes," said Lombard quietly. "It's too bad she really isn't." He smiled. "But I'm sure she's watching you from above and she's really proud of you."

Cyrilla smiled and the atmosphere lightened somewhat.

Vera served Fleta and Matthew their pieces before cutting up her parents' pieces, which they would share with the twins.

"So, Fred, how's the paper going?" asked Lombard.

"Better than ever," replied Mr. Claythorne. He then said to Katherine, "What's that, sweetie? Are you trying to say something to grandpa, hmm?"

"I think she wants cake," said Vera, walking up to her parents with the plates in hand.

Overall, it was a very joyful birthday.


Later that evening, when everyone else was getting ready for bed, Vera and Lombard took a walk down to the beach.

"I think our daughter's thirteenth birthday went over pretty well," said Lombard. "I only wish mother were here to enjoy it." He sighed, "Or that we could get past what happened with the Morley's and invited Chester. I know they didn't really intend for it to happen, but still, the fact that it did happen nearly destroyed our family. And they hurt you, Vera. They hurt you and humiliated you." He shook his head. "I will never be able to forget that."

"You should at least forgive them," said Vera. "I think I'm ready now. It happened years ago and the fact is, our family is still standing. And I know I was grateful to finally be forgiven."

Lombard laughed, "You know, I have the feeling that now that Hugo lives next door to us, life is going to get really interesting."

"Yes," nodded Vera. "It will be a real adventure."

The two gazed at the yellow-and-red sunset in the sky before turning to each other and sharing a long, passionate kiss, looking forward to the future ahead of them, a future that could not have been had things gone differently on this day fourteen years ago.

THE END

Credit Song: At the Beginning by Donna Lewis and Richard Marx

Quote: Seasons may change winter to spring/But I'll love you/Until the end of time—Ewan Macgregor, Come What May from the movie Moulin Rouge!

A/N: Wow...after thinking that I would never get to the end, here I am. I always intended for this to be exactly fifty chapters long and I never thought I'd actually make it to the end...but here I am.

This story has ended...but another is to come. The original epilogue detailed what happened over the past thirteen years, but the end result turned out to be thirty-two pages (and that's just the FIRST half of it!). I was advised to write an epilogue that lightly touches on these storylines and to turn my other 'epilogue' into a sequel, which I will. I didn't want to shorten it because it is the kind of epilogue that is so tightly written that to leave even one passage out would leave the reader in utter confusion. The sequel will go into more detail as to the events that take place over the past thirteen years that are only briefly mentioned here. I apologize if this epilogue seems a bit rushed, but I promise you things will be better explained in the sequel.

So...thank you to everyone who has reviewed, don't forget to leave one final review for this story, say which issues you're looking forward to seeing properly resolved (I have quite a few in mind, but it wouldn't hurt to be reminded of anything I may have forgotten), and stay tuned for the upcoming sequel!