Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Consolation Prize—Epilogue


The house rose up in front of them as Will squeezed the accelerator to push the car the last bit of the way up the hill. The front door flew open just as Will put the Volvo in park and turned off the engine. Glancing at his wife, her wild hair the same as it had been the day he met her at Cory’s wedding—pre-hair and makeup—and her freckled face glowing, he took a moment to appreciate everything that had happened between them. Noticing his gaze, she shifted her face sideways and chuckled, reaching for his finally free hand and squeezing. Slowly she rubbed her thumb over his knuckles.

“Ready?” she asked, voice gentle, cocking her head slightly.

“Ready,” he replied with confidence, squeezing her hand back.

Ari stood wrapped in a thick white sweater, skinny blue jeans, and black boots. Her dark hair was pulled up and away from her face and she was all white teeth and smile. Scottie remembered the first time she met this woman—this woman who had become a surrogate mother to her in the past few years—and felt a shiver of that old anxiety. It was stale and foreign, and she swept it away as she swept her hair off her face. Ari waved from the doorway as John bounded down the steps to help with the bags.

Scottie opened the passenger door and John took her into a tight hug.

“How are ya, sweetheart?” he asked gruffly, pulling away from her and running a hand over his face, scratching at the few days of stubble there.

“We had a quiet ride,” she replied, smirking and glancing behind her at the two sleeping forms in the back seat, heads lolling to the sides, faces wiped and peaceful. She saw traces of Will in both of their tiny faces, and it made her heart flutter every time she looked at them. His smile on Leo. His blue eyes on Tucker. She was fairly certain her freckles would make an appearance on at least one of them, and she’d slowly grown to accept that. They were oddly growing on her. It only took a little over three decades.

“Bags first then?” John asked.

“Will actually need’s his chair,” Scottie replied, remembering that it now, most of the time, had to be stashed in the trunk rather than the back seat.


“Trunk?” John asked without hesitation. Scottie nodded, smilingly at his willingness, thankful for the shift in attitude.This wasn’t the same John she’d met all those years ago.


“We’ve actually got the boys,” Scottie added, walking to the back-seat door. Will had the front door open and was leaning out talking to his dad as John pulled out the pieces, and instead of bringing each part one by one to Will, he began clicking them into place.


“Well, would you look at that,” Scottie commented, crossing her arms over her chest.


“Will, he sent me a MeTube video of how to do this,” John replied, his face crinkled in concentration. Will burst out laughing.


“Youtube, dad, Youtube,” Will chided as John clicked the second wheel in place and arranged the seat cushion on the wheelchair.


“Here you go,” John replied, sliding the now assembled wheelchair over to Will. “Inspect my handy work.” Will did a mock inspection, eying the thing from top to bottom. 


“Well, now I know that MeTube is the way to get through to you,” Will teased as he tilted it sideways to attach something on the bottom before he did his transfer. It was a little gadget—a single motorized wheel—that he’d gotten a few weeks back that had proven to be a game changer—especially when he had one of the boys riding on his lap. Scottie knew one of Will’s biggest fears was dropping one of them when he had to take back his hands to push his wheels forward. Plus, as they’d gotten older, who got to ride on Daddy’s lap had become a full-blown clash of the teeny tiny Titans.


“Glad I asked for the video then!” John exclaimed, “I’m a visual learner, always have been.” He was beaming.


“Glad you asked for the video, too.” Will said quietly. He locked the wheels and lifted himself up, dropped his butt into his chair, and was arranging his feet on the footplate when his dad snaked his arm around his chest, giving him a half hug from behind..


“You look great, kid,” he commented as he gave Will a thorough once over. Will shook his head and rolled his eyes as he pushed back and slammed the driver side door. Scottie came around the front of the car holding a half-asleep Tucker. He was rubbing his half-lidded bright blue eyes with his tiny fat fists and his lips were adorably pouted. He had Scottie’s wild hair and it stuck up in every direction. Will couldn’t believe that Tucker was his son. It blew his mind day in and day out. When they’d told him he was paralyzed, it was one of the first questions he’d had. Please, he’d begged, please tell me that I can still have kids. The doctor had smiled, albeit sadly, and told him that it would be complicated, but there were ways.


When they decided to start trying, Will wanted to be as up front and transparent about everything as he could. Scottie had married him knowing that this would most likely be part of the deal, and as he expected, she was wonderful about everything. Beyond wonderful. It was less about what he had expected, and more about what he had hoped, rather. And Scottie had been nothing short of an angel through the whole invitro process. As Will put it, his sperm had forgotten how to swim, but they still acted the same as sperm. If they could get where they needed to be, they could do what they were supposed to do. And thus, fraternal twins, Tucker and Leo, were born on a blustery morning, two years ago, this past September. And since then, their lives had never been quite the same.


Will remembered the first time he held Leo as he reached in and unbuckled him from his car seat. He was slightly more awake than Tucker and he gave his dad a lazy sleepy smile and reached for him. His eyes were almost brown, but had a greenish tint like Scottie’s. His hair was straighter, but dark like Will’s own. It was so weird seeing tiny versions of themselves right in front of them. And now that they were talking more and more, they were becoming little people.


“Ride wif daddy,” he mumbled as Will pulled him onto his lap and situated him between his legs.


“Remember what we talked about, Leo?” Will asked the toddler who was currently clapping and slapping his hands on Will’s unfeeling thighs.


“Howld on tite, howld on tite,” Leo babbled and giggled as Will kissed the top of his head and let go of his son to push his chair back enough to shut the door.


“You sure you’ve got him?” John asked impulsively, but had the decency to look embarrassed right away when Will shot him a sharp look.


“I’m sure,” Will replied tightly.


“Not that we weren’t sure before,” Scottie slid in smoothly, shifting Tucker’s weight slightly higher on her hip, and gesturing to Will. “But Will got this little gadget that attaches to the bottom of the chair, called a Smart Drive, and with one push of his wheels…” She trailed off as she motioned speed by shooting her hand out in front of her and making a whistling noise.


“Is that so?” John asked curiously, cocking his head. Will was still slightly frustrated that his dad had questioned his parenting abilities—frustrated there was even a reason to do so—but he took a deep breath and nodded, forcing himself to smile. His dad had just assembled his chair perfectly—something Will would trust almost no one outside of Scottie to do, and something he never thought he’d see John do, so he let go of his irritation. His dad was trying—trying hard—and that was one enormous step.


“Watch this,” he said simply, then turned down to check on Leo who was holding onto his dad’s legs with both his rollie pollie arms, which had been stuffed into a blue sweater. Will couldn’t tell how tight his grip was, but it looked tight, and Will wasn’t going to let go of him for long, or even be going that fast. “Ready, Leo?” Leo tilted his head to look up at Will a nodded seriously, his eyes wide as dimes.


“I want to ride wif daddy,” Tucker huffed, burying his face in Scottie’s shoulder.


“See? I’m chop liver over here,” Scottie joked with John, who laughed and shook his head. He remembered there had always been a favorite parent when the kids were little, but it was a shifting pendulum, destined to swing back and forth as long as both parents kept being parents.


“Okay,” Will said as he gave his wheels a strong push. Gliding across the path to the front steps, he lifted his hands off the push rims and wrapped them around Leo. It was a good feeling to be able to move and hold his son at the same time.


“Well would you look at that!” Ari trilled as Will came upon the permanent ramp his parents had installed before Scottie and Will’s reception at the house. It had been one of the wedding gifts they’d given them, and though Will still believed it was many years too late, he was touched that his father finally understood what it meant to him. This ramp was considerably less steep than the metal one, and Will gave himself another push, took the turn smoothly, and pushed again, finding himself on the porch almost seamlessly. 


“Gam gam,” Leo tittered, reaching his arms out for Ari, who swept him up and smothered him with kisses. His giggles were so rich and welcome. Scottie leaned down and gave Will a tender kiss on the cheek before giving Ari a one shouldered hug. Ari then plopped Leo down and he walked, for the most part steadily, toward the open front door. Will had anticipated feeling frustrated when his boys started hitting the milestones for things that he could no longer do. He’d braced himself for it, coaching himself to let it roll off his back—but it never came. There was only joy and awe at seeing them grow, and that might have been the best surprise of all.


Ari turned and pulled Will into a tight warm hug. She smelled vaguely like flour and flowers. It was a comforting smell that made him think of home.


“Hi mom,” Will whispered into her hair.


“Hi you,” she replied, turning to kiss him on the cheek before she righted herself and put her hands on her hips. John tossed Will his keys as he brought the last bag over the threshold.


“You know,” she commented, gesturing toward John with her thumb as he disappeared into the house to find Leo. “He watched that YouTube video over 100 times. He wanted to make sure he got it just right.” Will’s face went scarlet, and when he opened his mouth to speak, nothing came out. He shook his head and shrugged as Ari smiled and tousled his hair. “He loves you, kid.”


“I know,” Will managed with a creaky voice. Scottie knew Will was bowled over and in disbelief about how far his dad had come.


“Who wants some dinner?” Ari asked brightly. “And some red wine,” she continued, shooting a pointed glance at Scottie who laughed and shook her head.


“I’d love a glass.”


“Let’s go inside and eat. Tonight, it’s just you guys, but tomorrow will come quickly, and that means everyone else. So, let’s savor this rarity before the Thanksgiving festivities begin.” Ari reached for Tucker, who was still bleary eyed against Scottie’s shoulder and Scottie gladly surrendered him to his grandma. Ari fussed over him as they made their way to the kitchen. Scottie sighed heavily but happily and squeezed Will’s shoulder before she followed Ari into the house. Will took a moment on the porch, the air chilly but refreshing after hours in the car. This place used to be painful to him, but taking it all in now, the pain seemed to have vanished over the last few years, floating away into the fresh air, diluted with joy so much so that it ceased to exist at all.

<> 

Much to Scottie and Will’s surprise, no one was angry with them about eloping. Surprised, yes, considering the last time Ari had spoken to Will he and Scottie hadn’t been back together. But there was so much joy in Lise’s hospital room that afternoon, between little baby Jack and the newlyweds, that nothing, even a clandestine relationship turned binding legal contract could ruin it.

Five weeks later, in early August, on a balmy but breezy Saturday, Ari and John hosted a much overdue reception at their house. The lake glittered in the late afternoon sun as the couple made their entrance from the kitchen onto the large deck. Will popped a bottle of champagne and pulled his bride onto his lap. She was wearing a short bell sleeve white dress with white flats, her hair wild, and the barest makeup. Will had gotten himself a second custom suit for the occasion—grey this time, and linen, for the warmer weather. He wore a white button-down shirt without a tie, and a cognac-colored belt and matching shoes. They toasted each other and drank the refreshingly cold and crisp bubbles, kissing in between each sip, the rich flavor making the feel of her tongue on his almost surreal—something from another world.


Pete gave his own inebriated toast which included a few slurred sentences, a poor reenactment of a scene from the Godfather Part 2, and the phrase “the best guy I’ve ever known” to which Will mockingly and playfully shouted, “okay, forget the slurring, now we know he’s really drunk.”


Will led Scottie out to the middle of the porch for their first dance. It obviously wasn’t a traditional first dance, but he’d wanted this moment with her, with the people they loved surrounding them. Will didn’t feel self-conscious at the fact that he couldn’t really dance the way he wanted to, and that filled him with hope. This was the beginning of everything—right here—as the three-piece band played Al Green, their sound filling the brilliantly starry night air with words that felt like they were taken out of Will’s own mouth.


“You make me feel so brand new, and I want to spend my life with you.”

<> 

That had been a little over six years ago, and since then, Scottie and Will had found their rhythm. They initially moved into Will’s place for the first year, but later found a place in Red Hook Brooklyn in a newer elevator building. It had been a struggle to find a place they loved in a new building, since they both loved pre-war architecture so much. But with Will’s wheelchair, it was going to be pretty impossible to find what they wanted in a building that didn’t have flights and flights of stairs. But they did the impossible. They found a three bedroom in a newly renovated, but not gutted, pre-war building. And one of the renovations included a brand new pièce de résistance.

Using the money that Scottie had from the sale of her grandparent’s apartment in the West Village, they were able to make it theirs. Now, they just had to fill it with kids. Fill might have been an overstatement, but both Scottie and Will wanted kids, and given Will’s injury, they knew it would take longer and be a bit complicated.

And it was. But they didn’t give up. And about a year and a half later, Scottie got pregnant with twins. It had been a miracle. She carried them almost to full term and delivered them with Will holding her hand, the same way he’d held Lise’s—except this time, when he came into the room and the doctor asked if he was the husband, he could barely get the word “yes” out he was so excited.

They’d been trying for the last two and a half years to get pregnant again, but this time the hormone therapy was more difficult on Scottie. They’d had a harder time getting the sperm from Will, and each of the implantations hadn’t took. They were both older, and the process, which had felt new and relatively exciting the first time around, just felt arduous and demoralizing this time. An endless cycle of ups, downs, hopes, setbacks, and doctor’s appointments. And though they were disappointed it hadn’t worked again, they’d accepted that Leo and Tucker were going to be it for them—and they were pretty damn okay with that. Better than okay. They were over the moon. Against all odds, despite everything stacked against them, Thea Scott and Will Nash had managed to start a family of their very own. They had their own little world that was theirs and theirs alone. It was more than either of them had allowed themselves to hope for during the darker days. 

But finding each other had changed that.

<> 


The next day was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and the house was bustling. Olivia was the first to arrive. She’d had to work late on Tuesday. She was an assistant producer for Nightline on ABC, and though the hours were long and wildly hectic, she fucking loved it. It was the dream career she’d never knew she wanted until she had it. She had moved out about five years ago, forgoing Boston after meeting someone at Scottie and Will’s reception who just happened to live in New York. And that was how, six years later, Olivia came home to see her family on Thanksgiving with a beautiful diamond ring on her finger, courtesy of none other than Will’s friend Parker. At first it had bothered Will—his friend dating his baby sister—but as it had become clearer and clearer that this wasn’t a fleeting thing, Will had finally warmed to the idea. Parker was family now, and Will couldn’t imagine it any other way. Their wedding was in April of next year, and Will, fittingly, was going to be the best man. He’d do his best not to arrive with a black eye to this one.

Wynn and her husband, Derek, arrived next, around lunch time. Sean and Wynn had broken up not long after Scottie and Will had that first time all those years ago, but the difference was, they’d broken up because they weren’t right for each other, not because a mutual friend had done a horrifically fucked up thing. Wynn met Derek at work not long after Sean. She was working as a pediatric nurse at Massachusetts General where Derek was a pediatric attending doctor. A year later they were married, and a year after that they had little Grace. Grace was three years old, and Wynn arrived very pregnant with another baby girl, due in December. Will liked Derek a lot. He was smart and funny, and between Will and Scottie, had quite a bit more to offer than Sean ever did. It was obvious in how happy Wynn was when she was with him that she’d made the right choice.

And then, right before dinner, Pete and Lise rolled in, just as the wine bottles were being uncorked. They’s gotten married about eight months after Jack was born in a quiet ceremony in California where Lise was born and raised.

“Perfect timing,” Scottie whispered to Will who stifled a laugh. They were all sitting around the family room, a roaring fire in the fireplace. Grace, Leo, and Tucker were coloring on the floor while Ari handed out glasses of red and John placed a plate of charcuterie down on the coffee table.

“Well, well, well,” Pete chimed as he walked in, carrying his daughter in his arms. Since Jack, they had had two more kids, and it was unclear whether they were done or not. Lise came from a big family, and Scottie wagered there might be one more on the horizon. Pete had been at both Nico and Wren's births, living by a self imposed travel ban in the third trimester—just in case. 


Wren, the youngest, was a year old and in Scotties opinion, the prettiest little one year old she’d ever seen. She had Lise’s delicate features paired with Pete’s coloring and it was breathtaking. Her brother Nico, who was three was quick at Pete’s heels, followed by Lise and Jack, who was six and half. Scottie smiled at him and he smiled back. They had a special connection, the two of them. Nico raced to climb on Will’s lap when he saw him. 

“Ride, ride, ride, please please Uncle Will,” Nico shouted. Will smirked up at Pete who leaned over to put Wren down. She ran to the kids coloring on the floor.

“Oh please,” Pete scoffed, “you’re just new and exciting. Trust me, he’ll tire of you, too.”

“We will see,” Will teased with raised eyebrows. "I just so happens that I've got a significant advantage." 



“Ride, ride, ride!” Nico yelled and Will, smugly, obliged him. He zoomed back and forth down the hallway, taking the turns quickly and sharply. Nico yelped with glee, which attracted the attention of Will's own kids.

“Daddy!” Tucker whined, “me next, me next.”

“No me, me next,” Leo counted, stomping his little feet.

“Let’s give Uncle Will a break now,” Lise interjected, lifting Nico off his lap as Will arrived back to the group. Tucker huffed but sat back down to color. Leo sniffled a little and climbed in Will’s lap anyway, but Will locked his wheels, which Leo knew meant he wouldn’t be getting a ride just now. Still, he stayed on his dad’s lap. It was his favorite place.

Scottie hugged Jack and commented on how big he’d gotten. Jack—she swore—blushed and wrung his hands. He really liked his Aunt Scottie. She was the prettiest girl he’d ever seen. Scottie ruffled his hair and scooted over so he could sit next to her, which he did gladly.

As they sat down to dinner an hour or so later, Scottie didn’t feel so good. She’d only had a half a glass of wine because it had made her feel woozy, which was seriously unlike her. She tried to shake it off, but it only got worse as the food was brought out. Excusing herself quietly, she barely made it to the bathroom before throwing up. She sat back on the tile floor and remembered that morning she’d thrown up in Will’s bathroom in his Williamsburg apartment. It felt like a million years ago. But there had been an explanation then. She’d had too much to drink. This time she….

And then it hit her. 


Rifling through her purse on the bed she found what she was looking for. She’d been carrying them around constantly since they had started trying again, and last month they had decided on one final round, the outcome be what it may.They'd failed so many times that she had pretty much let herself stop hoping. 

She chewed on her thumbnail as she waited for the strip to show one line or two, her nerves fraying her inside out. Her morning sickness with the twins had been terrible, so it would only make sense.

“Scottie?” Will’s voice came through the door, left ajar.

“In here,” she replied slowly. She was so rapt with attention to the test that she didn’t even realize she was crouching on the closed toilet lid. She looked like Tarzan. 

“Everything okay?” Will asked cautiously and curiously as he rolled into the room, gliding smoothly up to her so his knees brushed her toes. She didn’t answer right away, and Will’s gaze followed hers to the pregnancy test on the counter. They saw the lines at the same time.

“Yes, Mr. Nash,” she whispered hoarsely, “everything is very, very, very okay.” Smiling in wonder, she looked up to meet his blue eyes. Blue eyes that brought her home.

Will felt his mouth go dry.


“A baby?” he asked, not daring to let his voice get ahead of his head.


“A baby,” she confirmed, nodding and placing her hand on her stomach. Will put his hand on top of hers for a moment as she adjusted her position, so she was sitting on the toilet in front of him. She pulled her hand off her stomach and took his in both of hers, kissing along his knuckles and squeezing it as she brought it back to her lap. It was such a simple thing, but Will would never take it for granted. 


After all they had been through apart, and then together, the good, and then the bad—Cory’s betrayal, Scottie’s mom’s recent death, her sister’s ongoing struggle with sobriety, the never ending complications of Will’s paralysis, the never ending complications of Scottie’s difficult childhood, round upon round of In Vitro, and now, the difficulties of simply being a good parent—now they were about to bring another baby into the world. Will felt overwhelmed and slightly lost with the kind of rare happiness that only comes from deep within you—the kind that makes you feel giddy and scared and weightless yet heavy with the reality of how truly deep it goes, all at the same time.


Yet right then, he knew they’d find their way. Holding her hand was, and always would be, his North Star.

17 comments:

  1. I want to leave my gratitude for sharing this incredible story. What you did with Will and Thea was perfect. I hope to see other stories written by you soon. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!! I’ll be back soon.

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  2. Wow, I've loved this story. I can't believe it's been 7 months, not sure what I'm going to look forward to on a Thursday now.

    I'm so glad to have been able to see John's progress. I hoped that things were easier between them now but glad to see it. I'm so happy that Will and Scottie get to have the closest to a happily ever after that any real person can have.

    Thank you so much for sharing your writing, it's been awesome and I'm looking forward to seeing what you come out with next.

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    1. Thanks for your continued support, Beth. It was so great to hear from you each week.

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  3. Absolutely beautiful, and perfect, and thank you so much. Enjoy your break and the holidays. I'm looking forward to seeing what you have to share with us next.

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  4. This has been such an amazing journey with Will & Scottie. Thank you for sharing this with us. I have looked forward to Thursday's for the last 7 months. Really great writing!

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    1. Thank you so so much for reading and sticking with it all this time. I’ll be back soon!

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  5. Beautiful story with a perfect ending! Love your characters, they felt very real to me. You have a way with words and describing emotions. Hope you stay on this blog for a long while and wish you all the best.

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    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, Lovis—same to you!!

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  6. Simply lovely! I loved the "MeTube" -- that was funny. Great that John finally gets Will. I look forward to more from you in the New Year. Have super holidays!

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  7. This entire story has been a gift. You’re a terrific writer, and I’ve truly enjoyed being invited into Scottie and Will’s world. -Meghan

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    1. Ahh Meghan—thanks so much for commenting. I’m so happy you enjoyed will and scottie’s story. I loved writing it.

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  8. So sad it's over but I want some more! More stories please!
    Tc

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  9. Thank you for this. It was absolutely perfect! I'm so glad they got such a beautiful happily ever after. You definitely did them justice. I feel like they are a part of me now. I can't wait for your next story. ❤❤

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