The Wells Legacy

Without you, today's emotions would be the scurf of yesterday's ~Hipolito


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Gen.10-Alma. Chapter Eighteen: Part One

Recently, I spent some time thinking about the events in my life that led me to where I currently was. When I looked back to the times when I was worrying about college and my classes, I almost feel silly. If I didn’t get into one school, then I could have applied to another. If I didn’t like a class, then I would take another. If I didn’t do well, then I would try again. At that stage in my life there were so many opportunities to fix every little mistake, but I always made it seem like the sky would come crashing down at any moment. Now, things were different. Having the perspective of issues that were much more grand, I was beginning to learn how fragile life was, and how different my challenges were becoming as I was getting closer to graduating.

Which led me back home to talk about some of the big changes in my life.

“I’m sorry–what was that?” Mom squeaked.

I sipped my coffee slowly while Mom hovered over me. I was home for winter break and I finally spilled the beans to her about Sabin. It felt like the right time to do it since he was actually invited over the a classic Wells Christmas. The least I could do was give her some background. Well, more than I did when I first announced we were dating. Since things were a little vague between us, I never went into more details. Plus telling my mom that my boyfriend was much older than me and had PTSD wasn’t exactly a conversation that one has over the phone, or over text.

Especially over text!

Since I dropped that bombshell on her while we were in the middle of having a nice chat, I could understand why Mom was leaning against the counter with both her thumb and index finger around the bridge of her nose. It was a lot to take in. Not only was Sabin eleven years older than me, but he was also dealing with his past–a past that now I was learning about. Since telling me about his PTSD, I only heard bits and pieces of what happened, but honestly, I didn’t know if I would ever know the full story.

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“PTSD?” She sighed. “Well that sure is a lot of information to take in at once.”

My fingers fiddled around with the ear of the mug. What could I say? I looked over at my puzzled mother and offered her the most sincere smile I could manage. By sincere, I meant a very crooked attempt at a smile. I knew it was a lot to handle. I was still struggling with being around Sabin whenever he had an episode, but I was still around and I had no intention of disappearing. I was not about to budge. Sabin was worth it.

I didn’t tell anyone yet, not even the man himself, but I was in love with him.

“I know it’s a lot to hear, Mom, but I just want you to know. I really care about him, and he’s a big part of my life now,” I admitted.

Mom nodded. There was that Wells approval. “I understand that, but this isn’t like some baggage from a previous family, or even helping someone recover from an injury. This is something that can also take a toll on you. PTSD is no joke.”

I knew that very well. Sometimes it would get so bad he wouldn’t want me near him. We were rarely intimate, and if we were, then we would have to be very careful. Apparently he was working on that in therapy, because he wanted to feel close to me without any triggers. It was our work in progress.

“Alma, are you listening?”

“I know it’s not a joke. I know it’s a lot to hear, but I just need you to know. So, please don’t ask about his service, because I don’t think he’s ready to talk about that just yet.”

“Okay, I get it.”

There was a silence between us–a growing tension that someone could cut with a knife.

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“You’re not going to tell Dad, are you?” I asked softly without looking up from my drink. Seeing how Mom reacted, I wasn’t about to go through all that with Dad. He was like a bulldog when it came to that.

Mom laughed almost instantly as she grabbed her cookbook from the counter. As she walked towards me, she stopped and shook her head. “Honey, this is all you. It’s none of my business to tell him these things, but it would be good if he knew. You know how much he cares about you.”

With that, she stepped out of the kitchen and waltzed out into the living room.

Now I was left with the weight of time that was left before I would be forced to talk with my Dad. I had a relationship before and even some issues we talked about, but even then he got all riled up and wanted to “make things right”. Whatever that meant.

Luckily my was cup was still full, so I wasn’t about to race upstairs to tell Pops the great news. I was going to embrace every single sip of the magical drink if it meant that I had more time to mull over the speech I was writing in my head. However not all moments were meant to be dragged out like I wanted.

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“Hey, kiddo. I didn’t hear you come in!”

Well, here goes nothing…

 

 

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Gen.10-Alma. Chapter Ten

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Three months into my first year away at school and my desk was already littered with papers that needed to be proofread, turned in, and filed away. It was to be expected that we were going to be swamped with homework, but the reality always seemed much more intense than the expectations.

I heard Dani groan from her bed as her alarm beeped right on time: ten minutes before her philosophy lecture that evening. Our schedules aligned in such a way that while I was done with class, she was still stuck in lectures, and vice versa.

“It’s too late to listen to a professor ramble on about ancient philosophies.” She rolled her eyes and reached into the cardboard box on her desk, pulling out a granola bar. “Snooze fest. What will you be doing?”

“Um,” I smiled and turned away from my computer screen. “Well, why don’t you come by and take a peek?”

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She did just that and her face immediately lit up at the sight of Gia’s face on the screen. We both managed to have a free moment, so we simply had to Skype.

“Oh my god. I’d freaking skip this lecture and get in on this conversation, but I really need to ace this next test otherwise my Mom will probably smack me upside the head and never let me forget that they’re paying for school.”

“Understood,” Gia laughed. “Kick some ass, Dani, and text me later! We have to catch up!”

Gia was studying at a university in California, which was exactly what it sounded like. It was sunny, it was refreshing, but after all, it was still a university. It wasn’t a vacation. She was studying psychology and was already in the middle of picking out which school she wanted to continue with when she had to get her work experience in the form of research projects. That would probably involve using her fellow classmates as guinea pigs in studies about anxiety and depression when course workload increased. She laughed about that for a bit, however she leaned in close to the camera, so her face magnified.

“So, you—what about you? How are things going for you?”

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Those questions could mean many things, but if I knew anything about my friends, then I knew it wasn’t a question regarding how my studies were going. What Gia was asking about was my personal life, also deemed my “desert-like love life”. It’s not like I was upset about that. My nose was buried in my books and as far as I was concerned, the only evening companion that I needed was in the form of a thick business textbook. I wasn’t really focused on relationships and I wasn’t concerned that nothing was happening in that department. Hey, if I was supposed to meet someone while away at school, then it would happen eventually, right? Well, I liked to think so.

“Just doin’ my own thing,” I said. “Ya know, studying!” While Gia rolled her eyes and stuck her tongue out at the screen I took a moment to look at her background, which I finally found the right moment to comment on. “Well, if you’re looking for some juicy stories, I’m sure Dani would have something. I’m pretty sure she is starting a collection of all the numbers she’s been getting from the fellas, and even some ladies–not that I’m surprised.” My eyebrow raised–Gia finally spotted me eyeing the mass laying on her bed. “I suppose you have some eye candy in sunny California, hmm? Not trying too hard there to hide him.”

 

Gia’s face flushed, but it didn’t seem like she was expecting my assumption, which didn’t make immediate sense to me. “Oh! Him?No-no! That’s my lab partner for class. He’s actually waiting for this boyfriend to come for him. We’re going to the arcade later.”

“B-boyfriend?” I asked and she confirmed.

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“Yeaaah, he swings for the home team, but let me tell you it’s been super fun. And I do admit that I am enjoying my stay here. There’s so much eye-candy here, so I think I’ll have to snap a few pictures to show you and Dani. You know, to show you what you’re missing.”

I laughed because I knew Gia would do such a thing. She was a doll and I couldn’t remember the last time I laughed that much during the week. It had been a long time since we had seen each other face-to-face, but we were already planning out our first get together since starting school. She wasn’t going back to St. Claire for winter break since her family will be flying out to her, to spend the holidays with the family they have in California, but Spring Break was sounding like it was going to be a possibility.

Soon our conversation had to end because her lab partners boyfriend did end up showing up, which meant that Gia had to go. It was bittersweet, but I knew that it wouldn’t be long before we would finally see each other again. Ugh, I sure did miss her.

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While many students found sanctuary in the privacy of their dorm rooms, especially when their roommates weren’t present, I couldn’t say the same for myself. There was something about our room that just didn’t settle with me as being the right place to study. At least not when it came to serious studying. Finals were coming up a lot faster than expected, so I was beginning to bond much more with my textbooks at the library than at the dorm.

“Wells?” A young woman at the front desk asked. She appeared to have recognized me from the last four straight nights that I found myself stumbling into the quiet building.

“Back again,” I laughed halfheartedly. I mean, what else could I say? By that point I was sure the girl wouldn’t be surprised if I showed up with a sleeping back.

“The last study room is actually open right now, so you don’t need the key. And just so you know, the library will be open the full twenty-four hours starting next week for final exam preparation.”

As I acknowledged the announcement, I walked deeper into the building. The first few months at the university were spent avoiding this place like it was the plague, because we were too preoccupied with trying to “live life”. Yeaaaah, well living live away at school basically consisted of living without rules and curfew—basically, everything our parents probably wouldn’t let us get away with back home. However, after a few parties, several hangovers (which were caused by my own doing), and a few all-nighters trying to stay on top of our studies, we decided that it was actually time to buckle down and figure out our strategy to still have a great time and not kill ourselves over ten page papers on early modern use of some business tactics, or whatever it was that I had due that week.

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I flipped through my notes quickly while on my way to the study room only to notice that while the first two rooms were occupied by groups of sleep-deprived students struggling to finish their assignments, the third room was occupied only by two people who—let’s just say weren’t preoccupied with books on human anatomy, but rather trying to learn through experimentation.

My head was turned for a moment, to look over my shoulder. Was I just seeing things, or did I possibly stumble upon a moment that was just too good to be true? There was no one to see this but me. Damn. Who would believe me then? Oh wait–I almost laughed out loud. This behavior was typical for sex-crazed college students, wasn’t it? Ah, evening hormones. No thanks. The two people were so closed together that the mix of blond and green hair looked like a weird cotton candy swirl. Cotton candy gone wrong, in my opinion.

“Seriously?” I scoffed only until I did a double-take. Green hair? Wait–I delayed my walk to the room reserved for me, so I could get a closer look at who was inside that room. Curious and not wanting to jump to conclusions, I slid my phone out of my pocket and quickly send Dani a text. If I knew my best friend, she had it on vibrate and she never took longer than five minutes to respond when she wasn’t in class. Without fail, the two bodies soon parted only to reveal that the girl attached to that guys face was in fact Danika Lace!

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The rest of my time at the library was spent pondering about the identity of the mystery man Dani was making out with. I took a few glances at my homework, but trying to pinpoint that guys identity was proving to be a bit more rewarding in my eyes. Dani and I were incredibly close. I mean, we talked about everything, which included nitty gritty details of Dani’s love life. Hey, it’s just the type of friends we were. I’ve known about every boyfriend Dani ever had and each guy she ever had a crush on, so not knowing about this was definitely confusing. Was he new and she was testing the waters, or…I couldn’t even think of it, because it seemed so out of character for her. Was Dani trying to hide him from me?

What reason would she have to do that? It wasn’t like I was jealous. Then again, Dani wasn’t even really lying to me about her whereabouts because, as I checked the time on my phone, Dani was already out of her lecture. So this wasn’t her skipping class to suck face, but doing that after her class. Well then.

 

The confusion–and what I could admit was slight frustration– kept me from  getting any work done. I had to force myself to type out the remaining four pages of my paper for class before even thinking about leaving the library. I was hoping to come back to the dorm before Dani, but we would see how that would pan out. I couldn’t help my curiosity, okay?

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When I got back to our room I wasn’t met with the presence of Dani looking innocent when I knew she was not. My sneaky friend was still out of the dorm, so I made my weekly call back home. Mom loved hearing about my adventures at school, but often times she was just like Dani and Gia–asking me if I met anyone I liked. My Mom was apparently pretty interesting during her college days. So interesting that I wasn’t even told all the details, because Mom always ended up shushing whoever was telling me the story. Just like I told Gia, I told my mom that I was spending my time with my books rather than boys. Dad was definitely happy to hear about that part. My protective papa apparently wasn’t so set on the idea of me bringing a boy home for the holidays so soon. That was actually the next topic we brought up.

“Okay, sweetie, we’re mailing you the plane ticket tomorrow. Do we just send it to the dorm room and address it to you?” Mom asked while the additional rustling of papers echoed into the phone.

“Yeah.” I smirked. “That will be just fine. We have a mailbox in the dining room anyway, so they separate it. I can’t wait to come home. I feel like I haven’t seen you all in ages.”

“That’s because you haven’t!” Dad spoke up. “The boys miss the hell out of you.”

“I miss them too,” I admitted.

“Still getting along with Dani?” Dad asked with a chuckle, which then prompted him to trail off into a story about him and Uncle Reno’s first experience as roommates. Apparently Uncle Reno wasn’t too into the “no girls after midnight” rule. Yikes, that wouldn’t be too fun, but Dani and I were different. We were getting along great aside from what I saw that night in the library, but still, it wasn’t something to lose my mind over. Dani had a boyfriend in her life and the only reason I wanted to know about it was so I could be happy for her. That was it!

Our conversation carried on and eventually ended on the note of a promise that I wouldn’t miss my flight home for the holidays. That I could promise without hesitating. There was no way that I could miss out on Mom’s cooking and Grandma’s baking. Seriously? If heaven had a flavor it would be Mom’s pineapple baked ham and Grandma Attie’s  Gingerbread mousse cupcakes. Nothing could top it!

 

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The door creaked open and Dani finally walked into our room. Without missing a beat, I wiggled around in my bed and sighed heavily. “Sooo, my dear friend, how was your time studying in the library?”

Dani knew me better than most people, and often times I could say that she knew me better than my own mother. So when I asked her about the library, she knew exactly what it was I meant.

“I’m guessing you saw me, huh?”

“Got that right,” I said with a wheeze and helped myself to an upright position before patting my blanket–an invitation for her to sit down. “Girl, you’re keeping a new hunky man away from your buddy!”

Dani smirked, but I could tell that a subtle blush was found on her cheeks. Clearly it was something that actually touched her in a way that well, made her blush! Dani wasn’t an inexperienced virgin, I could say that much, but it was definitely rare for her to not tell me something like this.

“Everything okay? I mean, you know I’d only be happy for you, right?”

She nodded. “I was going to tell you, but you’re so busy with your papers right now that I was going to wait to tell you once you finished. Plus, I was going to bring him over this weekend so he can play some games with us.”

“For real?”

“Yeah…”

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“I don’t know what it is about him, Alma, but I think I actually genuinely like him.”

Hearing anyone else say that would sound a bit odd because if people are dating then it can be assumed that there is a genuine like for each other, but hearing Dani saying that meant a lot. She was never one to really date people for longer than a month. If she were to get a tattoo it would read Carpe Diem, because that was how she lived her life–seizing every moment, living in the moment.

“I think he’s actually boyfriend material, and the type of boyfriend I’d actually want to introduce to my parents. Can you believe it?”

“Well, what’s his name?”

“It’s Saul.” The way she said his name made her smile. It was actually really cute to see a man’s name bring a smile to Dani’s face. If I had to say so myself, I had a feeling that my best friend was falling for his Saul guy. As long as she was happy and he was good to her, then I didn’t have a problem with it. Frankly, I was ecstatic for her, because it was something new and it was something that she wanted to share with me.

“So you’re not too mad, are you?” Dani asked, noticing my silence.

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“Nah, I’m just thinking a little bit.”

“About what?” Dani asked, nudging me.

“About how I’m going to kick your boyfriend’s ass at Mario Party.”

[Author’s Note: Thank you, April for the photo-editing help!]