She had thought Jared’s predictions will come true and they’ll die if they got apart.
But they were alive and thriving.
They hadn’t spoken on the phone after that day. Amelie didn’t know what happened.
All she knew was that the man who caught her surreptitiously looking at children’s books and went ahead to get her the most treasured collection of books in her life, couldn’t tell that she was dying for him.
That made all his actions and words suspect.
He didn’t mean them.
Just another girl. Just another fling. Just another tragedy.
Even though she thought of him with resentment and anger, she knew he was thinking about her.
His Facebook and Instagram came alive again. He was partying hard again and had lovely girls on his arm in every picture.
She reflected on the first time she had met him and thought this wasn’t going to work.
But boy, was she wrong!
Someone laughed behind her and she turned around, smiling, expecting it to be Jared.
A man crossed the street and she was sure it was him. Then he turned and he had ice blue eyes. Jared’s eyes were brown.
Isaac kissed her and she let him. She pictured Jared and herself, in their wedding bed, making slow love, laughing and talking, Jared asking her to pronounce painfully difficult medical words and not getting them right, then entering her and never letting her go.
“I love you, Amelie”. Isaac said.
“I love you too, Isaac”. She said, as if on autopilot.
He looked at her clear gaze and her innocent expression. He had never thought he’d win her and yet he had. Life had rewarded him for all the hard work. He had been through so much, it was difficult to count on life for much.
But Amelie made up for all the injustices, imbalances and screwups that had happened.
“She doesn’t just make up for them”, he thought happily, “she more than makes up for them”.
“What are you thinking?” Amelie asked.
“What about us?”
He turned to face her.
“How we are perfect for each other!”
“You’re too perfect for me, Amelie”. Jared’s laugh echoed in the room.
She smiled and ran her hands across his chest, “We are pretty perfect”.
“Why don’t you meet her, honey?” His mom asked him over lunch.
“Mom really! Marriage is not my thing. You have three other sons. Get them married”.
“Well your older brother is married and the younger two are practically in diapers”.
He looked at his mother affectionately. He knew that she knew something was up.
He said softly,
“Anyone you like is okay with me. If marriage is something you really want from me then I’ll do it. But don’t ask me for a song and a dance”.
So he met Shelby. He wasn’t very interested but saw long legs, whiter than white skin, a body to die for and he said yes.
He lay in bed late at night after their engagement and thought about Amelie the whole night.
“Were you sleeping?” She asked.
“So what were you doing? Something important?”
“Am I disturbing you?”
“No”. He was annoyed.
“I was thinking you might call me since it was our engagement today”.
“Hmm. I was going to”.
“Really?” She cried happily.
“Really”. He lied smoothly.
“Do you ever lie, Amelie?”
“I tried. I couldn’t lie”.
He broke out of his mind. He didn’t want to talk to her anymore. He abruptly said,
“My phone needs to charge. If we break up then I’ll call you tomorrow”.
“Oh good night, Jared”.
He hung up. He didn’t like her name.
“Why’s your name Amelie?”
“Why? Is it not a nice name?”
“It’s a beautiful name but sounds like a child’s name”.
“I was a child once”.
“Can’t believe that. Why do you spell it like you do? Isn’t “Emily” the correct spelling?”
“Emily is the English version of my name. Amelie is actually French”.
“What’s French about you, Amelie? Besides the fact that you’re arrogant and a buzzkill?”
“French people are great lovers”.
“Are you a great lover?”
“I think I am.”
“Have you ever made love to someone?”
“Did he like it?”
“He said it was the best”.
“Did he follow you around like I do?”
“It was you,silly”.
“But we’ve never made love”.
“We’ve never had sex. We have made love”.
“When? Why don’t I remember it?”
“When you’re intoxicated, you don’t remember anything. I intoxicated you.”
And now she was gone and there was nothing to cure his withdrawal.
He held her closer. She closed her eyes. He loved the way she surrendered in his arms. Sometimes she slept for hours in his arms and he looked at her. Isaac was obsessed with her. He couldn’t believe she was available for him to take. How come she never dated or loved someone else?
They had just had sex. Sex was always good with Isaac. He was a gentle, attentive lover. He was also terribly self-conscious. Amelie never critiqued his technique or gave him any feedback. He was always second-guessing himself anyway.
“Do you know there are about 300 positions that you could have sex in according to the Kama Sutra?” He said.
“245 to be exact, I believe”. She said absentmindedly, poring over her book for a small test the next day.
“Which one would be your favorite?”
“I don’t think about sex nearly half as much as you, so you tell me”.
“Hmm”, he said staring into space. “My favorite position would be to watch you sleep the whole night”.
“Throw me a bone, Jared! What’s your favorite position? You’re not a virgin, are you?”
“Actually, I am”.
Her eyes widened.
“Wow! I wouldn’t have thought”.
“I’m waiting for someone special.”
“Special? Sex is sex. It’s carnal and impulsive. You could have it with anybody and know what it’s all about”.
“Are you kidding me? Amelie! Really sometimes I want to shake you up. You’re not romantic at all.”
“But why does it have to be a special person to lose your virginity to? How will it be better?”
“You won’t get it”, he said with an annoyed look.
“Okay”, he started, “when you’re having sex your body releases oxytocin…”
She laughed and snorted and fell in his lap.
“Stop Jared! Honestly I’ll kill you if you tell me that again”.
“Don’t kill me now”, he said nuzzling her neck, “You have yet to take my virginity and I have to take yours”.
She sank deeper in his arms. As far as she was concerned, he had already taken hers.
Shelby moaned and held on to him. He gently pulled her away and made it to the shower. He turned on the cold faucet and tried to forget all the nights that he had spent making sweet love to Shelby.
Amelie was in the shower too.
He touched her hair. It didn’t get wet like normal hair. It collected little beads of water in it, looking like fireflies and causing her hair to sparkle.
“Is she better than me?”
“No one’s better than you”.
“Then why did you sleep with her?”
“Sex is sex”.
“Sex is sacred. You told me.”
“I was wrong. Soul is sacred. And you’re in my soul. No one can get there. Our souls are always making love. We are always entwined. We are always loving each other”.
She smiled that magical smile. He began to inch towards her and held her waist.
“Never leave me”.
“I can’t, Jared! My soul will die”.
“Mine too, Amelie”.
His tears ran with the cold water.
It was no surprise that Shelby got pregnant soon after they got married. She had told anyone who’d listen that she came from a family of very fertile women who only produced male heirs.
He hated when she spoke like that. He prayed for a baby girl, with eyes the color of dark chocolate on a blue background.
He was unaware of everything. It was Amelie’s birthday and he couldn’t forget the day they celebrated it at the beach. He took out the diary. He wanted to write something to mark the occasion.
He opened it where Amelie’s birthdate was and found a little sticky note
“We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.” (Kahlil Gibran).
He wrote underneath
“I chose you and you became my joy and my sorrow”. (Jared Schroeder).
As with everything else, the powers that Amelie warned him of so frequently, gave him a boy. His son was born the day after Amelie’s birthday.
He held the baby in his arms and felt a rush of love and oneness. He was his to keep. No one could take him from him. He hugged the baby tighter. His mom asked,
“Have you thought of a name?”
“You have to think of our kids’ names, Amelie! You aren’t doing anything important that I ask you to”. He crashed next to her as she sat daintily, reading a comic strip.
“I actually have already”.
He put his head on her shoulder and said,
“Let me hear”.
“So I’ve decided we will have two kids”.
He looked at her with an amused expression. “Can the sperm donor speak up now?”
“No”, she said with a mischievous glint in her eyes, “If the sperm donor wants to donate his sperm to Amelie Atkins’s eggs then he can’t.”
“So two kids”, he said, savoring the vision of a pregnant hormonal Amelie, “What about their names?”
“Elizabeth and Albert”.
“Hmm”. He said thoughtfully, “May the sperm donor ask why these two thick as boulders names ?”
“Well”, she said sweetly, “Elizabeth is for Elizabeth I, Queen of England. One of the strongest women from the House of Tudor, born to the strongest woman of British history, Anne Boleyn.”
“Got it! And what about Albert? Was he the strongest man of the Irish history?”
“Albert was my dad’s name. Can we name our son Albert, please Jared? Then my dad will always be with me”.
He took her in his arms. She sobbed for a few minutes then he heard her soft snore. She slept for four hours in his arms.
“I was thinking Albert is a wonderful name”. He said softly, thinking of keeping Amelie always close to him.
“Nonsense”, Shelby spoke up in her mean, hormonal voice, “I’ve already thought of a name. His name will be Sean”.
He gave up. He was so much weaker than the powers.
Amelie’s birthday came and went. Isaac didn’t remember it and she didn’t remind him.
Anyway, she thought to herself, how could anyone do what Jared did. No one can top that.
His Facebook status was updated with a baby in his arms. Amelie looked at the man she had wanted to impregnate her.
“Jared! Do you think I’d be a good mother?”
“You’d be wonderful mother”.
“You know how much I want to be a mother?”
“Yes! Do you want me to take care of that now?”
She laughed. The same hoarse laugh that made him want her more. Sometimes there was a tinkling quality to her laugh and sometimes it was nervous. The many shades of Amelie.
But her heart melted at seeing Jared’s son. He was so adorable. And Shelby too. She and Jared made a striking couple.
She tried to find traces of unhappiness in his face but couldn’t find any. She wrote a rote, casual, friendly, generic comment underneath.
“Congratulations! He’s so precious”.
He looked at the message she had sent. He ached to know what she thought when she saw Sean. He wanted to message her and tell her of Shelby’s pregnancy but the sense of loss paralyzed him always.
He decided to leave her hanging. Punishing her was the only way to not regret the overwhelming love that tore his soul up from the inside.
The year after, Amelie and Shelby were pregnant together but Shelby was due before her.
She kept up with his life by following his Facebook.
Amelie was an intern in a busy residency program. Her pregnancy wasn’t easy. Isaac was usually very busy. He didn’t like complaining women much so she usually went to her appointments herself.
They shopped for the baby. They were going to have a girl. Amelie had always wanted a girl. A strong girl who wasn’t like her mother at all. Who knew how to go after what she wanted. Who defied tradition and fears and insecurities.
Shelby gave birth to a girl. Jared was over the moon. He kept kissing her and showed her to Sean over and over. In his loneliness Sean had been his savior. His son was his little buddy. Someone who never left his side.
“What are you going to name her, dear?” His mother asked.
Jared stared at her. He sometimes wanted to confide in her and cry his heart out. His soul was getting heavy with the secret. He craved for a touch that was from someone who cared about him. He had been writing in his diary occasionally and had found many other notes that Amelie had left in there. They appeared out of nowhere. They didn’t let him forget her or her brilliant mind.
“I love Brianna”, Shelby simpered.
Jared looked at her. The powers were at it again. Not again! Never again!
Two days later they brought little Amelie home.
He watched Shelby snore and was immediately disgusted. Nevertheless he turned her over and asked if she could make breakfast for him while he ironed his clothes and fed Amelie.
Shelby woke up, bleary-eyed. She didn’t like him much anymore. She had never loved him and after two kids, the sex had gotten old.
She ruefully got up and left the room.
As he was eating some toast and drinking coffee , Shelby sat next to him.
“I talked to my mom and she thinks Amelie is a horrible name”.
Why is your name Amelie?
Why? Is it not a good name?
“Hmm”. He sipped his coffee.
“And why are you spelling it like A-M-E-L-I-E. What in the name of Jesus is that crap?”
He noticed that she cursed a lot.
Emily is the English version of my name. Amelie is French”.
“Well whatever it is I don’t want it for my baby. Mom and I are thinking that her name will be Brianna”.
Elizabeth! One of the strongest women born to the strongest woman in all of British history.
Shelby got upset as she usually did. She said a little louder,
“She’ll be Brianna”.
Amelie is a beautiful name but it sounds like a child’s name.
I was once a child.
“I think it’s settled. Her name will be Brianna”. Shelby got up from next to him, taking his silence for agreement.
“Shelby!” He called her without any emotion in his voice.
“What?” She turned around expecting to see him apologetic for annoying her so much with a stupid name.
“If you change Amelie’s name I will kill myself”.
She stared at him. He looked calm but his eyes had hell’s fire in them.
She never mentioned changing the name again.
“Congratulations, Amelie. She’s just like you”.
She read his comment on her picture with Elizabeth.
Her heart became full. He had seen her and Elizabeth. That was all she had wanted for her birthday wish.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t get in touch about your recent baby. What did you have?” She commented back to his comment.
“Wow 😍. Girls are so sweet”.
She saw a “heart” reaction to her comment.
It was like time had never come between them ever.
“What did you name her?”
Many galaxies shattered in her heart. The ring on the string became hot and burned through her skin.
It was her wedding anniversary. She waited for Isaac to come home so they could go and celebrate. She had Elizabeth in a pretty pink outfit with matching bows in her hair.
Elizabeth was a gorgeous baby. She had thick wavy hair, blackish brown eyes with a blue background and cheeks the color of the morning sky. Pale with specks of pink. She looked so much like Amelie, it was unnerving.
Isaac came home late. Amelie had been waiting and he had promised to be home at 5. It was 9 o’clock.
When Isaac entered she couldn’t pretend that everything was fine. She was hungry and Elizabeth had finally slept after waiting for hours for her dad.
He came in with a sheepish expression.
“I’m sorry. Really, Amelie! Whatever you want me to do I’ll do it. There’s no excuse for this except I got an extra thirty minutes late because I stopped to pick up Chinese from your favorite place”.
She couldn’t be angry with him. She loved him.
“Then why did you get so angry with me that you never gave me a chance to explain?” He asked her, his brown eyes filled with tears.
“Because you broke my heart. Isaac never broke my heart.”
“You think I broke your heart because you made it happen. You accepted the power of the powers”.
“I did”. She said resignedly. “The fear of failure doesn’t let me go against the powers, Jared! It makes me count on them”.
He continued to look at her dejectedly. She reached out a hand and took his arm. He came closer.
“Amelie! Some nights I think about you until it’s morning”.
“Is it normal?”
“No. But love doesn’t happen the same way for everyone. Have you read “Under a thousand splendid suns”? Do you know a very lovely girl falls in love with a one-legged boy?”
“Even though you’re very lovely, Amelie, you might have noticed I’m not one-legged”.
“No, silly”, she laughed and punched his arm. “It’s about the oddities of love”.
“What are the oddities of our love, Amelie?”
She drew him closer. His breath fogged her glasses. Their noses touched and Amelie felt her fuller than before body getting aroused in his shadow. She ran her hands across his back, pulling his head on to her lips, until she couldn’t see anything around her.
“Your glasses remind me of Dexter”. He said softly .
In spite of herself she laughed and doubled over laughing.
“Amelie! What’s going on?” Isaac stuck his head in the kitchen. “Who are you talking to?”
“No one”, she said looking at him fondly, “Just my shadow”.
He smiled at her and her quirky ways. He came in and kissed her full on the mouth. As their lips locked she sensed Jared drifting away. She locked her grip on his forearm and pulled him forward.
He willingly came and settled in a place between her and Isaac.
He watched her with an amused expression and marveled at how much she resembled her namesake. Amelie was stooped over her homework, her brow furrowed, her expression fierce.
“One of the greatest women. Daughter of the greatest woman in British history”.
Sean was trying to help her but Amelie didn’t listen to anyone.
Shelby came over.
“Can I help you with your homework?”
“Mom!” Amelie said without looking at her mother, “I’ll ask for help when I need it”.
“Amelie! I know you like to prove people wrong but let me tell you that this is advanced math and your brother might have to help you. Or we will have to get you a tutor”.
“I don’t want a tutor. That would be so embarrassing”.
“Well, I have had tuitions all my life and had top grades”, Shelby countered her pompously.
“That’s not the purpose of education, Mom. Winning is not the purpose of education”.
“Why’re you always reading these damn books? I love you for this but right now you need to focus on me”.
“I’m focused on you. Why do you think I’m not?”
“I get jealous of your books, Amelie! You’re already so smart. You don’t need to read so much”.
She smiled and cuddled with him.
“Here you go! Is this better?”
He felt the need to make raw animal love to her and then thought better of it.
“The bags under your eyes”, he observed, “are getting heavier”.
“Occupational hazard of being a genius”.
“I’m serious, Amelie! You have to take better care of yourself. Many people are medical students. They don’t kill themselves to learn novel concepts everyday”.
“I can’t do anything by halves, Jared! Bob Marley said “Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet”. I want to feel the rain. I don’t just want to get wet”.
“I want to feel the rain too. I don’t want to get wet for nothing”.
“Aren’t you feeling it?”
He looked at her serene face then remarked at the peace she brought him. She was like the rain that had cleared all the badness. She had made him pure and capable of feeling love. He had never felt it before. She had made him crave for her physically just because she could turn his mind on so much.
“I’m feeling it. Are you?”
She looked in his eyes. The brown of his eyes was never the same. It spent the entire day lightening up and darkening down depending on his mood. When his eyes reflected light, she could see tiny specks of a deeper brown there. She kissed his eyes, tenderly like she had never before. Her body moved against his for a few rhythmic seconds. He was entranced. She smiled at him,
“I’ve never felt anything so badly in my heart and my body before”.
It was all they could do to not surrender to the moment.
Amelie became a mother again. Jared looked at her Facebook picture and wondered why she looked so haggard and weak. Her radiance, vibrance, vivaciousness were gone. She looked tired.
He was immediately drawn to the little Amelie she had created. Elizabeth. She was a replica of her mother. The same deep eyes, thick wavy hair and the hint of blue in the whites of her eyes.
Whatever might be said of Amelie, she had come out on top. She had gone into fellowship and done great for herself.
“My dad wanted me to be a cardiologist.”
“Do you want to be a cardiologist?”
“Does it require a lot of work?”
“Work and a little grit”.
“What if the powers worked against you?”
“Then I’ll fight them”.
Why didn’t she fight for him?
He saw his father gasping for air and knew he had to call 911.
Fifteen minutes later they were on the way to the hospital.
They were visiting his aunt for Thanksgiving and his dad had crushing chest pain after dinner.
Jared stood in the emergency room, feeling lightheaded at the prospect of losing his dad any minute.
The physicians were very nice and tried to calm him about the situation. They told him that his dad’s kidneys were also showing signs of shock. They had paged the cardiologist and they were on their way.
Amelie was saying,
“The kidneys help the heart survive. They take the insult on themselves so they can save vital organs”.
“That’s mighty nice of the kidneys”, He heard his mocking voice.
“They’re selfless, the kidneys. Quite possibly the most selfless organs of the human body”.
“Mr. Schroeder”! The nurse interrupted him. “The cardiologist is on her way. She’d like someone to be in the room for history and consent for procedures if necessary”.
He went back in his dad’s room and stood next to him.
Suddenly the air stopped moving. He felt a tightness in his chest that wouldn’t let him breathe. He wanted to go back to his normal, Shelby, Sean, and Amelie but couldn’t.
Amelie was staring at him. Her face was lined with deep crevices. Her lips were thinner and there was a lot of grey in her hair. Her hands were dry and shriveled. But she still exuded the confidence and intelligence that she did twenty-five years ago.
“Amelie! Do the powers ever work for us? The way you talk about them, they sound scary. Do they ever work for us?”
“Oh yes! They work for us. Everything they do is for us. Every time we move, they make us move. Every time we love, they make us love. They work for us, Jared! In mysterious ways”.
They stared at each other, thinking how the powers couldn’t have been more cruel.