20.

~ Shocking news out of Corporate America today: Astrid Wells, the hailed genius behind such technology innovations such as 'We-speak', and the extremely popular 'We-Connect' has announced plans to scale back her empire. She had sited that she wants to focus more on providing educational and technological resources to third world countries. In a statement released by her publicists; Miss Wells describes how her technology has changed the lives for the wealthiest of the worlds population, now it's time to change the lives of the poorest.

This announcement certainly brings a sigh of relief to her competitors. Many of whom feared total annihilation by this young prodigy. Wells also stated she had no intention of stepping out of the spot light completely, but did not give any clues as to when the world can except the next must have 'it' product. ~

~ Ariadne sat in her little apartment sketching. Since she had returned to Paris, it was all she did now. She had quit her job at the design firm. The money from the Wells inception really had set her up for life. She couldn't face work right now anyway.

Her once immaculate apartment was a disaster. Dirty dishes stacked up on the sink and counter top. Trash littered the floor. Laundry had gone unattended and lay in a mess on her bed. The Architect had taken to sleep in to sofa. Ariadne hadn't showered in a few days and felt she could go a few more days at this rate. Her hair was a wreck of tangles.

She neglected paying her phone bill and internet and cable bill. She cut herself off from the outside world. She hadn't wanted to see Arthur since they parted ways on the train. The Point Man looking like a zombie as she told Cobb and the others about her meeting with Astrid.

Arthur had said noting about the Mark and the connection with Harper. Not believing it, or not wanting to care. He hadn't called Ariadne since that day, almost six months ago.

Ariadne could draw very well. Six years of intense practice had given her what she wanted. She drew a pair of eyes, lips and face all from memory. Harper's little grin that caused her eyes to squint. Her father's smile. Her lips and teeth laughing or talking. Ariadne drew Harper as a baby. Her sleeping face, her waking up. Looking at her mother in curiosity. Her crawling around. She drew Arthur's hands holding her, she drew Harper with the stuffed elephant. The way her daughter looked when the Kick happened.

A knock on the door. Ariadne was wrenched free from the delicate lines she was drawing of Harper's face and looked up. No one ever visited her. Cautiously, she went to the door and peeped out. She saw Arthur's long frame in the fish eye view of the peep hole. Her heart beat faster as her fist instincts were not to answer it. To pretend not to be home. He knocked again and her stubbornness won out. Not caring how she looked she opened the door.

The Point Man looked almost as messed up as she did. He hadn't shaved in a few days and had been much more careless with his grooming. He looked at her in surprise. Clearly shocked to see her looking like wise disheveled.

"May I come in?" He whispered.

Ariadne nodded and stepped aside.

"Sorry about the mess." She said. Her voice exhausted. She had been sleeping too much these days. Her body was always tired and it was the best escape she knew.

"You should see my place in New York." He said looking around.
"What do want?" She asked trying to comb out her hair with her fingers.

"Your phone was cut off. Cobb was worried." He said.

"Cobb?" She repeated.
"I was worried." He amended. The Point Man looked at the coffee table where her sketches were. His large hands carefully plucking up the skilled drawings of his daughter.

"These... these are really good." He said sadly. Looking over some of them.

"Thank you." She said coldly. Her arms wrapping around her body. Protecting herself.

"Can I... can I take one of these?" He asked respectfully. Looking over Harper's face. Captured on paper and kept eternal.

"Oh, of course!" Ariadne said with a start. She and the Point Man carefully looked through her sketches. Finally selecting the drawing of her as a baby, a toddler and finally as the little girl with the black rimmed glasses.
"I know it's silly, to draw her I mean." Ariadne said apologetically as she found a sturdy folder for him to keep the drawing in so they would not wrinkle.
"No, not at all." Arthur said sadly. "I... I keep buying elephants." He said with a forced laugh. "Stuffed elephants, plastic elephants you name it. Every time I see one, I think 'Harper would love that.' Then I remember." He said softly his eyes going to his feet.

"I should have listened to you in the first place. I should have just wished it away. You were right. It hurts too much. Sometimes I can barely breath, it hurts so much." Ariadne confessed.

Arthur took her in his arms. Holding her as she cried.

"Let's get out of here." he offered. Stealing her away from the dirty apartment with it's ghosts.

~ Ariadne let him check them both into a nice hotel room for a week. She finally showered and dressed in clean, new clothes. Arthur, slowly returning to his normal dress as well. The Point Man and Architect working to heal one another.

Their love making was slow and kind. Not possessing the fevered rush of youth. They had been together for six years in the dream and knew the ways of one another. When they finally left their hotel suit, the Point Man had bought them a home stateside. He wanted to get married and the Architect agreed.

~ It was a small ceremony with only the Team who had shared the dream present. Cautiously, the newly joined couple made their life together. It had been discussed in great detail as to when or if they should have more children. The feeling that they were replacing Harper was still on their minds. The beautiful sketches of their daughter were framed and hung on walls. Their only tangible link to a child that never existed in the real world.

~ As Ariadne's belly grew large with their new baby, a boy this time, they agreed to tell him she was his sister who had died. To treat her memory with respect. To know that Harper was not just a dream.

~ End ~

I wrote this because I have a cousin who's wife had a baby that was born deformed and will most likely die. People always tell me that they would never go through with a pregnancy if they knew the baby would not live long or die in a few years. It's easy for me to say I agree but harder to actually put that into action.

We can't saw we would do anything till we are there. So I wanted to write this to show how hard it would be to give up a child.

Thank you to all my reviewers, readers and followers. You guys are the best.