There are some pretty extensive author's notes here.
1. This was a really tough chapter to write. (So tough, it actually stopped being a chapter. More on that in a sec.) But here's a summary of what happened: I wrote a crap-awful draft, reread it, then went to reread dashakay's beautiful "Though They Sink Through The Sea." Then I metaphorically ripped off my glasses and said "fudge" (except I really didn't say fudge) because I don't think anything I could write in prose would ever come close to her touching farewell.
Here was my solution to this fanfic rut.
When I was seventeen, my father died rather suddenly. Seventeen is pretty old; by this age, my brain had the ability to retain memories unlike, say, the squishy brain of a toddler. Yet, to this day, I can only remember bare snippets of the day of his funeral, though I apparently functioned decently enough at the time. (Or people were polite and didn't say anything. Who knows- maybe I was drooling.)
So, this is the concept I had in mind for Chapter 7. It is in drabble form, 100 words apiece. I chose my favorites. I hope it isn't too much of a cop out- if I get too many negative responses, maybe I'll reattempt a standard chapter.
The next one will be back to normal. As far as I've planned, there are two more chapters coming, plus an epilogue.
2. "Right or Ryn" on asked this question: do you think he's using Penny as a replacement?
I'm really hoping Sheldon isn't doing this. In the series, Sheldon loves his mother (and his meemaw) very much. But on a day-to-day basis, he doesn't seem to be emotionally dependent on them. (If he's dependent on anyone, it would be Leonard, but in a very practical sense, like car rides and food and conversation. Penny, feel free to replace Leonard in Sheldon's life. As a matter of fact, Sheldon, feel free to replace Leonard in Penny's life, as well.)
I like to think that, in this story, Sheldon is discovering that Penny is a person he can rely on when he is devastated, the person around whom he can feel vulnerable without becoming defensive. Maybe this is similar to how he acts with his mother on the show (except he is sulky and defensive, but still, it's his mom), but hopefully he will discover he can do the same for Penny when she needs it, which would make the relationship more adult than a parent-child paradigm.
3. I'm still posting this on , but I'm also putting it on Livejournal as well. I really like the comments system on LJ. I can respond with more immediacy to things people say.
Thanks for bearing with me. I'm tired and still working, and the Christmas season is always a bit rough, which makes writing harder. I hope everyone is having a nice restful holiday.
The week passed quickly, brutally.
Penny watched it fly by in a blur of images, dazed. She clung all the more to Sheldon, desperately needing the comfort despite the fact that it wasn't her mother who was killed without warning, or her family that had been ripped apart and forced back together, only with vital parts missing.
Except it was her family now. Because of Sheldon, who has become her 0, 0, 0, 0.
On Tuesday, while Sheldon is in the shower, Billy digs out Mary Cooper's spare key and puts it on Penny's keychain. She cries into Meemaw's shoulder.
In quick succession, they had made arrangements with the church, the pastor, caterers, lawyers, the bank, the hospital. (Penny was pretty sure they had visited every funeral home in Galveston before finding one that met Sheldon's stringent specifications.) Between Meemaw's formidable glare, Missy's remarkable organization and Sheldon's, well, Sheldonness, the funeral would be held the following Sunday.
Mary Cooper's killer was still in custody, sober now and terrified, pleading for mercy from the court and the Cooper family. "He is irrelevant," said Sheldon, coldly, and the others agree. (Later, they hear he has been sentenced to fifteen years in prison.)
Their last errand took them to the cemetery, to George Cooper's grave.
One half of the headstone bore his name and the relevant dates; the other half had been left blank. Soon the stone would be dug up and engraved, this time with the words "beloved daughter, wife and mother."
Only after a fierce, whispered discussion would the Cooper children decide to add "beloved father" to George's side. Oddly enough, Billy seemed to be the holdout.
Penny didn't ask; but that night, in stammering whispers, Sheldon told her anyway. Afterward, she promised she would never again spike his Cuba Libres.
Sheldon insisted on paying for it all; he was the only one, he argued, with a stable and somewhat lucrative career. Which was true, since Missy still worked at Fuddrucker's and Billy was currently inching his way up in his friend's father's construction company (inching being the operative word).
Coopers were frugal by nature, but Sheldon's "modest" bank account still took a seven thousand dollar hit.
He held his credit card out unflinchingly, and Penny was reminded of his can of snake-guarded peanut brittle, and the earnest, unselfish expression on his face as he had offered her a no-strings-attached loan.
Penny, in her black dress (it showed more boobs than she had originally thought, but then again, both Missy and Meemaw were sporting a little bit of cleavage today, so whatever), sat at a rented table accepting condolence cards and envelopes. She murmured "thank you" and "we're glad you came" to strangers so many times the words had lost almost all meaning.
Until Billy came up to her, looking as weary as she felt. "I think I'd better take over," he told her, raking a hand through his hair as he collapsed into a folding metal chair. "Go to Sheldon."
The Coopers, minus Billy, stood at the front of the church, greeting dozens of family and cousins and friends and acquaintances. Mary Cooper was a popular woman; practically everyone she knew, from her church group to the checkout ladies from the supermarket, had showed up to pay their respects.
Meemaw and Missy stood with identical ramrod backs, dry-eyed and grim, graciously accepting handshakes and hugs with stoic expressions on their faces; the night before, they had purposefully cried themselves out over a series of photo albums and a "few" stiff drinks. (They apologized, drunkenly, to both Mary Cooper and Jesus.)
Sheldon was doing his best impression of a robot, but was inevitably failing; with the arrival of each new mourner, his shoulders slumped a fraction of a millimeter more. By the time Penny got to the front of the church, he was already hunched like a giant preying mantis, refusing to make eye contact with anyone.
Penny put a gentle hand on Sheldon's elbow; he turned to her, his wide eyes filled with gratitude, as she gracefully took her place by his side.
When she first introduces herself as his girlfriend, Sheldon smiles involuntarily and stands just a little straighter.
After the service, everyone else ate snack food and small sandwiches, and told funny stories (with teary eyes) about Mary Cooper.
Penny sat with Sheldon in the men's bathroom and held him as he cried for the first time since his mother died.
His arms were wrapped around the sealed metal urn he had stolen from the altar. "I hope she's in Heaven, now, with Jesus and Gampers and my father and Aunt Marian and Lucky," he said. "I'm an atheist, but if it means she's happy, I would be more than glad to be proven wrong. Just this once."
That night, oh, that one night Penny both dreaded and suspected may be "the night," Sheldon kisses her for the first time. And it feels just right … except that it isn't.
Reluctantly, she pulls back, gripping his arm with trembling fingers. "Sheldon, we shouldn't do this today."
His fingers are still poised on her cheek as he pauses to consider. "Yes, you are correct," he admits.
She has waited a whole week for this, a whole week sharing his bed, but she can wait just a little big longer. "But soon," she insists, just in case.
"Soon," he agrees.
I welcome constructive criticism. Especially this time.