A Story of Two

by Daniel J. Boston

Chapter One: A Bit of Introduction

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It happened rather unexpectedly. One of those things you could never anticipate; and one of those things, that, once it's happened, nothing can ever change it.

Not that people didn't try, mind you. And try often. Sometimes that's the way things work, and sometimes that's the vehicle Fate uses to make things last.

This story really begins in 1980, but at that point the protagonists were just begin born. Therefore, a meeting with their parents is in order.

XXXX

"Can't you go any faster?" cried Claire. Her face was rather livid, and understandably so -- she was quite pregnant. And very much in labor.

"If I go any faster," assured Ted with a gentle squeeze of Claire's hand, "I won't be able to keep the car on the road."

Gasping from yet another contraction, Claire growled between clenched teeth, "I don't care! Just go faster!"

Ted, in response, slammed on the horn and the brakes while tossing the wheel hard to the right. "That jackass just cut me off!" Glowering at the offending party, Ted quickly flew past them on the right, distinctly illegally, with his middle finger pointing quite to his left.

Claire just groaned, praying softly. She did, however, stop asking him to go faster. A rapid executive decision on her part that to be alive and at the hospital would be better than getting there faster, but dead, carried the argument.

Turning his attention back to his wife, Ted asked, "How'r'ya holding up, Air?"

"Ask me," she squeezed out as another contraction slammed her, "later."

"Ah, right. Drive now, questions later."

Taking the turn at a speed much too fast to even pretend it was safe, they narrowly missed the oncoming line of traffic. Swing back almost sent them fishtailing off the other side of the road, but Ted had adrenaline on his side. Like a trooper, he wrest back control of the car just in time to make another harrowing turn. At least this time, it was into the hospital's emergency room parking lot entrance.

In a flash, Ted jumped out of the car, raced to the other door, swung it open, and gently helped his wife out of the car. A hospital attendant who had watched Ted careen into the lot, noticing Claire, decided that calling security wouldn't be necessary. Instead, he helpfully unfolded a wheelchair and helped Claire into it.

Ted, quite appreciative, tossed a glance at the man, at his car, and mumbled something about it still running and needing to be parked. With that, Ted raced off to the birthing wing, while a thoroughly confused attendant decided he might as well park the man's car.

Eighteen hours later, Aurora Hope Peterson was born.

XXXX

Backtrack seven months and a thousand miles east. It was here that sometime around three o'clock in the afternoon that Laura Clark waddled into the living room.

"Honey, my water just broke."

"Oh, that's ...What!?" John exclaimed, turning quickly to look at his wife.

She grinned. "I suppose we should head to the car, hmm?"

John was definitely taking this all more seriously than Laura. He leapt from the couch and frantically began looking for the car keys.

"Honey..."

John kept looking, all the while muttering to himself.

"Honey." Laura repeated more firmly. This time John looked up. Smiling, Laura let the keys dangle from her hand.

"Calm down, John. We've got time, don't worry."

"Ah, at least one of us has her mind on straight," said John, the tension draining from his face. "Still, I thought I was supposed to be the calm one here, not you."

"Now whose fault is that, hmmm? Certainly not mine."

Smiling gently, John relieved her of the keys and took her hand in his. "Well then, Mrs. Strongwoman, let's get this show on the road, shall we?"

"Let's," she said, just in time to death grip his hand as a contraction hit.

On the way to the hospital, they dropped their first child, James, off at their neighbor's house. The lady who lived there, a dear friend, was more then happy to watch the tike for them.

"Now don't you be having no complications, ya hear?" quipped Mrs. Bradshaw, her deep south accent somewhat out of place in Ohio.

"You're a Godsend," assured Laura after kissing James good-bye. "I don't know what we'd do without you."

Blushing fiercely, Mrs. Bradshaw turned away. "Ya'll too sweet. Now geet before that baby comes on my porch."

The two ladies embraced before they left. Getting into the car, Laura kissed John before setting off.

It wasn't long before the hospital loomed large in front of them.

Looking at Laura and gently squeezing her hand, John asked, "You ready, babe?"

Laura smiled radiantly. "It's impossible to be ready, love. But I'm about as close at you can get. Let's get this over with, shall we?"

Grinning, John parked the car.

Little David Arnold Clark certainly didn't keep anyone waiting. He was born 8:12 that evening.

XXXX

And so the stage was set.

Fourteen years later, the curtain raised.