Last chapter. I kind of felt like this story would never end and now it is and I'm sad. Thank you to all of you guys for reading and thank you for regular reviewers:
TaioraWarrior, FutureNovelist887 and of course, ftmill16!
Pam leaned against the frame of the front door and smiled at her husband.
"I don't see why you're so nervous, Jim. We've been through this."
"Twice! We've been through it two times before and if I remember correctly, you were always in tears."
"Because it was the first time. Aurora was going to her first day of school alone. Ruby has two older siblings to look after her." Jim frowned and ran his hand through his hair, the way he always did when he got nervous. And he was nervous because it was youngest daughter's first day of school. Pam, of all people, seemed infuriatingly calm, sipping her coffee. She walked barefoot out onto the lawn to meet him and kissed his cheek. Aurora, tall and skinny at sixteen, appeared at the door with an old leather bag over her shoulder, her wavy honey brown hair loose and mussed around her shoulders. She avoided eye contact with both her parents, moody and quiet. Pam could see loose leaf paper sticking out of her bag, covered in Aurora's neat, curvy writing, the i's dotted with hearts. When she was thirteen, Aurora had announced she would no longer respond to her childhood nickname 'Rory' and had retreated into her room writing poetry and staring out her window. She spent most of her time reading and writing with her stereo turned up and the door closed. Once, after a fight with her parents, she had angrily taped a line to the floor in the doorway and told them if either of them ever crossed it, she'd never speak to them again. The tape had long since frayed and mostly torn away but neither of them betrayed her wishes. Jim knew it drove Pam crazy sometimes, when she passed the room and saw the blinds down and the windows shut, the bed a tangle of turquoise sheets and thick novels but it didn't bother Jim. He knew it would pass and until then he would just be where Aurora wanted him to be and let her come to him.
"You're really not worried? She's the last one to leave the nest."
"She'll be home at 3 o'clock." Jim just stared.
"She'll be fine. Stress less." She kissed him again and turned to Aurora.
"Have you got all your things?" She reached out to smooth her daughter's hair and Aurora jerked away on reflex as though burned.
"Sorry, sorry," Pam held her hands up in surrender, trying to hide her hurt. "I know you hate being touched." Aurora simply shrugged and picked a thread on the arm of her dark blue sweatshirt which almost swallowed her thin frame.
"Ruby wants you to braid her hair." She told Pam, referring to her younger sister who was almost six and a replica of Pam. Jim glanced at his watch.
"You better hurry," he told Pam, "the bus will be here in like, ten minutes." She nodded and slipped inside. She passed twelve year old Luke scraping around in a near-empty peanut butter jar in the kitchen and went upstairs to Ruby's room.
"Come here cricket," she beckoned with her hands and the small girl ran forward happily to her mother. Pam sat on the small white bed with Ruby on the floor in front of her and began twisting the auburn red hair into a delicate French braid.
"Are you excited about school?" She asked. She would never admit it to Jim but she was a little sad that her youngest child would be leaving and the house would be empty of children between 8:30 and 3:00.
"Very!" Though she looked exactly like Pam, with auburn curls and large green eyes, Ruby acted more like Jim. Pam tapped her daughter's head once to signal she'd finished with her hair and watched from the bed as Ruby jumped up, examined her hair in the mirror and slipped on her new purple backpack. Already her white socks were slipping around her ankles and her white blouse had untucked from her skirt. Pam sighed once before following Ruby out of the room and down the stairs to the kitchen.
"Hurry Luke, you'll miss the bus." She warned, grabbing a comb from the counter and trying to wrestle the tousles out of her son's hair. If Ruby looked like Pam then Luke certainly looked like Jim, with caramel hair that was never neat and a large smile. He was twelve years old and obsessed with basketball. He spent most of his time in the backyard shooting hoops and waiting for his father to come home so they could play one on one. In terms of personality, he fell somewhere between his sisters. He was quiet and somewhat reserved but when spoken to he was friendly and easygoing, an approachable and likeable boy.
"You always say that and I never do," he said through a mouthful of peanut butter toast, ducking away from the comb playfully. He rose and picked up the black backpack that sat at his feet before moving to the counter by the door where his homework and books sat in a stack. As he quickly packed his bag Pam admired her son's organization. He was a genius at maths and science and though he struggled with humanity subjects like history and English, he worked at school and enjoyed learning.
"Mom, can we go?" Ruby tugged on her arm, frowning.
"The bus has to come." Pam reminded her, crouching to tuck in her blouse. Ruby wriggled in excitement and Pam felt another tug of sadness. She would have like maybe a little reluctance to leave home from Ruby.
"The bus is here!" Aurora yelled from the front yard impatiently. Ruby squealed and flew out the front door, followed by Luke, with Pam on their heels.
"Wait!" She realized, "you have no lunch. Oh, my God."
"Mom." A rare event – Aurora spoke up. She reached into her seemingly bottomless leather bag and pulled out two brown bags. "I packed them some lunch." She handed her siblings their bags quietly. Jim smiled at his eldest daughter – this was a typical Aurora action. She acted so sullen and detached from the world but slipped up occasionally by showing her sweet side and exposing her unnatural thoughtfulness.
"You'll watch your sister?" Jim reminded her and she immediately retreated to her dark side, scowling.
"Of course. You've told me a million times."
"Just a reminder." The bus driver honked once and Pam pulled away from her hug with Ruby.
"Be good Bee. If anythings wrong you just find Aurora or Luke, okay?"
"Okay Mommy. Can I go now?" Pam nodded and wrapped her hand around Jim's as their three kids moved towards the school bus – Luke reaching his hand out to hold Ruby's, no trace of embarrassment, and waving to his friends on the bus, Ruby, her shirt untucked again and one braid already coming loose, followed by Aurora, walking her slow, careless walk and wearing that half smirk that clearly said 'you don't know me at all.'
"I can't believe they're all going." Pam sniffled.
"I knew you would cry!" Jim exclaimed triumphantly. "I knew you couldn't be so calm!"
"Oh, shut up." Just then, Ruby hesitated and turned back. She ran back and hugged her parents, first Jim, then Pam, tightly.
"Bye." She said to them with a smile before running back to the bus and climbing on. They waved as the yellow bus pulled away. Pam smiled. She knew they weren't perfect parents. They'd had to grow up fast and be the best parents they could before they were even out of school but their children loved them regardless.
She knew her life could have gone in a completely different direction. She was lucky to have found Jim, she was lucky to have Aurora, she was lucky she got to go to college and study literature alongside Jim studying history. She was lucky she'd seen her father before he'd died of lung cancer and she was lucky she lived so close to Alexa and Mark, who shared an apartment, and she was lucky she got to help plan Alexa's wedding to Eli, the boy she'd met at college while studying psychology. She was lucky to go to sleep every night beside her husband and she was lucky to wake up to a new day and her three beautiful children. Pam Beesly knew she was very lucky.
Jim knew he was lucky too – lucky to have married the girl of his dreams and lucky he had spoken up about keeping the baby. Lucky to have gone to college and lucky to have become a history teacher. Lucky to have a wife who led a support group for pregnant teens and lucky to have a friend as good as Mark, even if he did tell terrible jokes and never shut up about his girlfriend, Cat.
They were lucky. Their lives hadn't been easy but if they had to do it all over again, they knew they wouldn't have changed a thing.
THE END. (Get ready for a long authors note, guys.)
This story was pretty strange to write after that incredibly long (sorry) break. I came back with a whole new perspective on it and unfortunately, that means I haven't done this story exactly the way I wanted to. There were a few plots that I didn't develop on (namely art school) and I had to kind of change all my previous ideas and stuff. I know it's not a perfect story since the first half was setting up to a totally different ending than the one I ended up writing but I've still had a lot of fun writing this and it was a great challenge.
About this chapter: I never wanted to finish writing this chapter. I think I could write pages and pages about their children but I tried to keep it short. I think I was a bit lazy with just throwing in details (oh, Alexa and Mark have relationships! Oh, Jim's a teacher!) but I hope you can look past that.
Thank you all so much for sticking with this story and reviewing - I genuinely appreciate it, especially because of the long hiatus.
I hope to see you all again, either on one of my future stories or on one of yours.
PLEASE NOTE: I have created a new profile (the link is on my current profile) where all my future stories will be posted so I am no longer StarStrewn. For the record, the story I'm working on now is a Rose/Scorpius fanfic (and yes, I am shamelessly advertising my new story)
It's been fun. Love, Star Strewn xx
P.S It would mean a lot to me if everyone who read this story could put some final thoughts, likes, dislikes, what you think I could improve on, whatever comes to mind.