Every End Is A New Beginning

Elaine leaned back against the cushions of the sofa in James and Gabriella's appartment. She was going to have a hard time getting used to that phrase, James and Gabriella's appartment. Gabriella had lived at home or in dorms her whole life.

Gabriella pushed the bowl of chips across the coffee table. "Here. I shouldn't be eating those. Bad for my health." She smiled radiantly at Elaine.

That was another thing Elaine was going to have a hard time getting used to. Gabriella being radiant. It just seemed so… odd.

"Well… how was Niagara Falls?" Elaine asked.

"Oh, it was gorgeous. You have to go sometime. I hear it's nicer in the spring, when the flowers come out, though."

Elaine nodded, unable to think of a suitable reply.

"Did Madelyn tell you that James has found himself a new job?" Gabriella's eyes sparkled with pride.

"No, she didn't. Where is he working?"

"At the Museum of Aviation, as a tour guide. You should come see it – he talks a lot about the planes used in the wars. I'm sure you'd find it interesting."

Elaine thought so too.

There was a little bit of awkward silence as Elaine tried to wrap her head around this new version of her sister. She wasn't used to Gabriella being happy, or open, or interested in anything her little sisters had to say.

"How are Mom and Dad taking it?" Gabriella asked after a moment.

"Oh… they're starting to get used to the idea. They still don't like it, but they've given up on the annulment thing. And, um, they kind of don't know I'm here," Elaine admitted.

"I'm sure they'll get over it eventually," said Gabriella, but she didn't sound too sure. Even Elaine, with her limited people-reading skills, could tell that Gabriella was hurt by their parents' refusal to acknowledge her marriage.

"Even if Madelyn and I have to hit them over the head," said Elaine.

Gabriella smiled.

Their relationship was still a little strained, but it would soon feel more natural. Already Elaine thought of Gabriella as her sister, rather than her competition. Maybe someday they would actually trust one another. Meanwhile, Gabriella was starting down a difficult new path – she'd already suffered alienation from her family, and was likely to suffer more. But she had someone beside her, someone to help and support her, someone who made all the pain worthwhile.

And Elaine might – just might – have a someone like that too.

After spending a half hour with Gabriella, Elaine trudged across a street, through a ditch and over a parking lot to the movie theatre. However stereotypical and cliché it might be (and it was very stereotypical and cliché), she was going to see a movie with Kevin. It was – though she blushed when she said it and privately thought it sounded a little stupid – their first date. Kevin met her at the door with their tickets, and they went in together, both feeling a little awkward.

Elaine was just starting to feel comfortable when Kevin stopped short and looked over at the snack counter. Elaine glanced over too, then immediately wished she hadn't. Sandy Brown was taking orders from a customer and winking over at them at the same time.

"Oh, my God, I completely forgot she worked here on Saturdays," exclaimed Elaine.

Kevin burst out laughing. "Let's just skip the popcorn then, shall we?"

"Yes. Please," Elaine said, and laughed. "We sound so…"

"Funny?" suggested Kevin.

They both laughed, and the awkwardness evaporated.

They held hands throughout the movie, and afterwards sat on a bench outside the theatre waiting for Kevin's mother to pick them up. Kevin put his arm around Elaine's shoulders, drawing her closer to him, and she shivered pleasantly. It felt so nice to be close to him.

They discussed everything and nothing, and Elaine was admittedly disappointed when Kevin's mother showed up in her minivan. Kevin and Elaine sat in the back seat, holding hands in the darkness, which was some consolation for the loss of privacy.

Kevin walked Elaine up to her doorstep. Her heart was beating loudly. In a situation like this in a romance novel, she knew, the heroine would be hoping that her handsome suitor couldn't hear the telltale loud heartbeat, but Elaine was intelligent enough to know that Kevin wouldn't hear it unless his ear was against her chest.

Having thus triumphed in intelligence over the average romance novel heroine, Elaine turned to smile up at Kevin. He was very close to her, which made her nervous again. What if he kissed her? What was she supposed to do? Was she supposed to kiss him?

Finally clearing her throat, she said, "Well, I had a nice time. Thanks for the movie."

"I had a good time too," said Kevin.

And then he kissed her. Elaine felt (irrationally, she thought later)that all the nerves in her body had just woken up and demanded to be attended. She edged just a little closer to him, at which point he deepened the kiss and she couldn't spare the attention to think about her nerves.

They pulled apart and smiled a bit shyly, having trouble meeting each other's eyes.

"Good night," said Kevin.

"Good night."

"I love you."

"I love you too."

One final smile, then Kevin was gone.

Elaine sighed, swooned and opened her front door.

When Elaine arrived in the kitchen, she was surprised to see that her parents were still sitting at the table. They jumped up when they saw her, and Elaine felt herself enveloped in her mother's hug.

"My youngest daughter, my baby girl, all grown up!"

Even her father smiled and asked gruffly, "How was your… movie?"

"It was okay," said Elaine, trying to escape from her mother's embrace.

"Now, Elaine dear, we just want you to know that you don't have to take Gabriella's… defection to heart. Just you remember that your father and I will never have any objections against Karen Jones's boy."

"I'll remember," said Elaine, feeling slightly light-headed, as her mother's firm grip wasn't allowing her room to breathe.

"I want to be able to give at least one of my daughters away, and I doubt Madelyn will meet anyone respectable at that college of hers," announced Elaine's father.

"Umm, okay," said Elaine. "Mom, I can't breathe."

"Oh, sorry dear." She immediately let go.

"I think I'm going to bed now," said Elaine, backing slowly away from her lunatic parents. "Goodnight."

"Night!" said both of her parents cheerfully.

Alone in her room, Elaine looked at herself in the mirror and said, "Well, that was odd." Then she let her mind drift to much pleasanter thoughts – Kevin.

What was he thinking right now? Was he replaying their kiss over and over again in his mind as she was? She hoped so. She didn't want to be the only one who was obsessed.

She thought about Nella and Spring, trying their hardest to get the two of them together. She thought about Sandy Brown, deploring Kevin's supposed commitment-phobia while her own boyfriend couldn't love her. She thought about Gavin Dubovski, stalking Krista online when he wasn't pep-talking Kevin. She thought about her sisters, the one happy in love, the other happy in life.

Slowly, Elaine came to realize something.

She was so lucky. After all, she had Kevin, didn't she? But it was more than that. She had wonderful friends who only wanted the best for her. Even Sandy Brown, who didn't hang out with her often enough to be considered a friend, had dedicated herself to the cause. And then there were her sisters, who loved her and who would stand by her no matter what – just as she would stand by them. She was even lucky in respect to her parents, who wanted the best for her, though their definition of the best was different from her own.

At that moment, Elaine was completely satisfied with her life.

She was even happy.

Her alarm clock flashed to midnight. It was a new day – a new section of Elaine's life. From now on she would be happy. She would help others the way they'd helped her. She would be a good friend, a good sister, a good girlfriend.

Smiling, Elaine hummed to herself some lines from a song Nella had sung once:

Oh, what a beautiful morning,

Oh, what a beautiful day.

I've got a beautiful feeling,

Everything's going my way.

And it was true.


I do not own Oklahoma. I just love it. Those words were written by... um... Rodgers 7 Hammerstein? (I actually have no clue.)

Aw, sap! Sorry for the complete lack of updating-ness. I was busy, and then I was sick, and then I was away, and then there was the Stanley Cup, and then I was busy again, and then I was sick again, and then there was FIFA, and now I'm sick again.

That reminds me: Forze Azzuri! I write this half an hour before the World Cup final. My French relatives just got here (to cheer on Les Bleus, or the blues, the French team) and my Italian relatives are one their way (to cheer on Azzurri, or blues, the Italian team). This should be interesting.

There is a sequel to Of Love and Animal Crackers that should be out in a week or so. It's about Nella.

Thanks for all your reviews guys!

umakane - Yeah, hormones are getting the better of the world. People usually forget that nerds have as much hormones as anyone else. (My boyfriend is a prime example of this, actually... but that's another story.) Anyways. I'm glad you "aww"ed at the last chapter, and I hope you did for this one too!

Plinky - They kissed now! (Yay?) My writer's block definitely has a thing for you. It hasn't been back!

violin-lady13 - Thanks! I play the flute and the piccolo in a concert band, but I also play the piano (used to be in a Jazz ensemble) and I've played in orchestra for musicals. Speaking of which... I am writing a sequel, and it's about Nella. It focuses quite a bit on music, because Nella is the most musical of the four of them.

Accidentally on Purpose - I'm not sure whether your review just didn't work or if I should interpret it as speechlessness. I think I'll choose the latter.

Please review again! And read my Nella story when it comes out!

I 3 you guys. Seriously. You made me keep writing this story. I seriously would have given up after chapter 3 if no one had reviewed.