It has taken him quite a while to get close to Cindy.
It seems strange to think that thought given the fact that they have a kid together and everything, but it’s not until just recently that Eric has felt that they have some sort of deeper connection. Like he understands her – and is allowed to understand her.
She guards herself well. Caring and sweet as she is, there’s a hard shell around her and he had been drawn to that too, to her independence and strength; he had found it irresistible to imagine her secrets and hidden thoughts. But those aren’t simple things to overcome if you want to get really intimate with someone.
For most of their initial relationship, she seems to wait for him to abandon her and the kids. And at first he’s hurt by it, upset by the assumptions and implications that he’d be that kind of guy, but it doesn’t take long for him to realise that of course she assumes that because that’s what’s her life has been like.
She talks about it when he asks, but not all of it, not nearly. He knows that much.
It makes him want to protect her. To provide for her and their daughter – and for Jean as well, of course. He always includes her in his plans for the future.
It might just be the first infatuation stage but he’s loving fatherhood so far. Adores it, everything about it. Janessa is a very simple baby to care for – at least according to Cindy – and sleeps a lot.
When he earns a small bonus at work and start getting more well-paid night shifts in the better parts of town, he saves it up and uses it to redecorate their dining/living room. He does it without asking Cindy and regrets it once he’s dragging her downstairs to show her but all he had been able to think about was how much she had hated the old wallpapers there and how nice it would be to make her happy by removing them.
“Do you hate it?” he asks, observing her as she takes in the change.
“No.” There’s a big grin on her face. “I love it. I can’t believe you did all this.”
“Of course I did,” he answers, simply. Because it is simple.
This is not a romance novel or a dramatic movie or anything fancy, really, but it’s two people and a marriage and it’s exactly what he wants. He wants to make her happy because she makes him happy. End of story.
They lead a quiet kind of family life together with the girls and he knows Cindy enjoys being ordinary for once. Making pancakes for them in the mornings and having long breakfasts together on the weekends.
She still works as a gym class instructor and doesn’t make much money and he still handles his night shifts as a security guard which isn’t terribly exciting but it pays the bills and occasionally it lets them do something out of the ordinay, like redecorating.
Before he met Cindy he didn’t much consider this sort of family life – not the details of it, anyway. He knew he wanted it but not what it would look like. So far, he thinks almost daily, it has surpassed his non-existent expectations.
In the future he hopes Cindy might go back to get some kind of education. Eric is pretty happy as he is but he thinks Cindy will be bored, eventually. She’s clever and eager to learn new things and he isn’t certain she will want to keep that part of herself reserved for her spare time only. But all of that are matters for the future, not for right now.
Right now, Eric decides, is about them.
He asks her to marry him one ordinary day in February when they’ve been snowed in for two days. He can tell at first that she doesn’t even believe him, but when she does, her face lights up and she says yes.
On one condition – that he takes her name. She wants to keep her family name out of sheer stubbornness, she claims. Wants to make it something to be proud of, rather than something to hide away. Wants to be proud of herself.
He has nothing against that.
They marry in private, a quick little ceremony downtown. Afterwards they have dinner at home and break open a bottle of too-expensive wine.
My wife and I, Eric thinks and that sentence feels perfect as it resonates in his mind.
* I have had a lot of time to play recently, which explains the fast pace. 🙂 It will slow down as soon as I run out of pre-played, pre-written stuff. And first rounds are quick, at least for me. Kind of want to just keep going, to get the hood up and running.