Prologue: I Never played I Never before this instance
August 15th, 2012
"No, Gran, just come already!" Jamie said, angrily, dragging his 83 year-old grandmother with him. Said grandmother looked helplessly at the other visitors of her birthday party, but she knew there was no way to argue with him. The grandmother, whose name was Elizabeth, shrugged.
"All right then. But I'll only play along for a few rounds. After all, I'm the host of this party," after which she allowed Jamie to drag her with him.
Nobody had the heart to tell Jamie that most eighty-three year olds don't play a game designed for students anymore. And if they would, they most certainly wouldn't play I Never.
Pretty much everyone under the age of twenty-three had gathered in Elizabeth's bedroom. There, the idea originated to play the student-game I Never, but without booze – after all, it's not a very clever move to become drunk at the birthday of one's grandmother: once the idea had risen, though, Jamie insisted that his grandmother would join in the game. After all, it was her birthday. Despite him being sixteen, he was still a bit unaware of the borders between elders and teenagers.
Of course, nobody dared telling him that maybe that wasn't such a good idea.
There was naturally another reason to why Jamie so desperately wanted his grandmother to be there. It's because he had such a good bond with her.
In fact, taking the broader definition of 'family' – not just the parents and siblings, but also everyone who's related – and disregarding his twin sister, then it'd be clear that he had the best bond with his grandmother.
They had arrived at Elizabeth's bedroom and a few people immediately stood up so Elizabeth could sit down on the bed, for her bad back. She was very grateful of that, as her age made her less flexible than most people in the room.
She looked around and didn't recognize many people at first. That wasn't very strange; despite it being her birthday, more than half of the people in the room were unrelated to her. That was because they always brought friends to her birthdays. She didn't have many grandchildren, so they were all allowed to take as many friends as they wanted to her birthday party.
"All right... so, can you explain the game to me?" She asked, using a pillow to make her back more comfortable. Jamie smiled.
"Of course, gran. Everyone gets a cup of a random drink they like. Normally, this is played with booze, but..." Elizabeth looked shocked and Jamie was quick to finish his sentence, "we won't do so now." Jamie looked at his twin sister, Esmeralda, next to whom he had sat down, and she nodded and finished the explanation.
"We all take turns into saying what we've never done, and you always begin your sentence with 'I Never'. For example, 'I Never did the dishes at home', or 'I Never hoped someone would die', that sort of stuff. Everyone who has done so has to take a sip of his drink. Got it?"
Elizabeth nodded slowly.
"So... if I say, I Never dreamt of Charlie Chaplin, everyone who has done so has to take a sip?" Everyone nodded and replied in agreement.
Fortunately, all the bottles with all the drinks had already been put in a corner by both Jamie and Esmeralda, so they didn't have to get drinks from the refridgerator anymore – which situated a few rooms away anyway.
Everyone already had all their glasses, except Elizabeth – but Esmeralda was quick to give her the glass she needed.
"I guess everyone can take their drinks," Esmeralda said after that, and everyone stood up to get to the bottles. Everyone chose their own favourite drink.
"Hey, you!" Elizabeth said and helplessly pointed her finger as she had forgotten the name of the blonde girl she had pointed to. It was... a friend of Esmeralda's, right?
The girl turned around and smiled.
"It's Lauren." Elizabeth smiled.
"Lauren, can you please get me a cup of water?" Lauren happily took the glass from Elizabeth and promised she would.
Elizabeth counted the people that were there as she saw people taking the drink of their choice. She noticed her two grandsons and her granddaughter, but the rest were only friends. With herself added, there were nine people. She was glad so many people had come along: this way, she was sure her grandchildren wouldn't have to be alone.
She might have been old, she was very aware of what happened in her grandchildren's minds.
When all the fuss had calmed down and everyone sat down with a filled glass in front of them – Lauren shuffled a table close to the bed so Elizabeth's glass could be placed there – it was silent until Esmeralda said the words that are crucial to every game.
"So... who's going to start?" Lauren shrugged.
"I'll start," she said and immediately had an almost imperceptible grin.
"Pete, you're... bisexual, right?" Pete nodded slowly and raised an eyebrow. Lauren's grin only grew wider.
"Then this one's for you. I Never kissed anyone of the same gender." Pete sighed, shook his head and took a sip.
"You mean insert mean word here." Pete, Jamie's cousin, rarely ever swore.
To everyone's surprise, however, Elizabeth also took a sip.
"Huh?" Pete said when he saw Elizabeth taking a sip. "Gran... is there something you need to tell us?" Elizabeth shook her head and wondered why everyone eyed her so suspiciously.
"Hey, of course I kissed someone of the same gender. My adoptive mum, probably my real mum too..." Everyone looked disgusted for a to Elizabeth unknown reason, but Pete just laughed.
"No, gran, we mean French kissing. Like you only kiss your lover."
"Oh..." Elizabeth answered and looked into her glass. Then, she shrugged. "Oh well, I guess I already took a sip," she said. Lauren, when Elizabeth was finished, spoke up herself.
"By the way, I believe you had a boyfriend, right? Where is he?" Pete shrugged.
"He was busy. He had a competition for football, I believe. Anyways, he couldn't show up." Lauren shrugged.
"Pity. I would've loved to meet him," she said.
"Now, who's next?" Esmeralda asked and Jamie raised his hand.
"I guess it's my turn. I Never really wished someone was dead. Sorry, can't think of anything right now." At this, Lauren took a sip, as well as Pete and Elizabeth, and a few other people in the room. Everyone, however, once again seemed to be surprised at Elizabeth's siptaking.
"Huh? Gran, you did understand it this time, right?" Elizabeth nodded at the funny confusion of her only granddaughter, Esmeralda.
"Just because I'm old doesn't mean I've never wished people dead. One guy, I had wished dead so many times..." she said with a sigh.
"Okay. The goal of this game is to get to know each other, so I want to hear gran's story," Jamie said. "Who agrees?" Everyone raised their hands, so Elizabeth shrugged.
"There isn't much to say about it, I'm afraid. You all know I'm adopted by another family, as the Nazis invaded my island and I was sent to London together with my little brother, Alan. A friend of my father's, Ben, arranged an adoptive family for us, only apparently he forgot we were siblings as we were both adopted by different families – we were forced to part with the promise to see each other once again once the matter was solved.
Thing is, a week after that, the Nazis invaded and said friend had to go fight in the frontlines against the Nazis and he didn't find the time to bring us back together again." She shook her head. "I've wished that Ben dead so many times... even more often than Hitler. I know, that's bad. I never saw my little brother again, not even when I married Jeremy and moved to the USA."
"You really should try to find him." Someone who was not her family spoke up, but despite that, she recognized him immediately – this was Victor, a childhood friend of Jamie. Elizabeth shrugged.
"I'm old and the world is enormous. I don't have the time left to find him, I'm afraid, provided he's still alive."
"Still," Jamie said, agreeing with his childhood friend, "I think you should try to find him once. What if he's still alive and desperately looking for you? That'll be bad for both of you." Elizabeth shrugged.
"Let's continue? I really don't feel like talking about this."
Jamie nodded. "Sure. Esmeralda, it's your turn."
Esmeralda bit her lower lip while she briefly pondered about what to ask – but she had quite an interesting one.
"I Never got drunk."
"Really drunk, or just a bit tipsy?" Victor asked for clarification, but Esmeralda shook her head.
"Really drunk. The next-day-hangover kind of drunk." Elizabeth was spared the idea of taking a sip, and Victor too, but Lauren and Pete weren't so lucky.
"Any stories we want to know?" All heads, save Esmeralda's, were shook and Esmeralda passed the question to the guy sitting next to her. His name was Ian; she had brought him to the party as a good friend of hers, as Elizabeth remembered. She remembered his name specifically as she had had a boyfriend back in the UK who had the same name.
It was the first time he had spoken up; apparently, he was quite a shy person.
"I Never smoked." Again, not many people had to take a sip; in fact, only Elizabeth and Pete had to take a sip of their glass.
Everyone knew Elizabeth was a former smoker; she had stopped smoking about fourty years ago for her children, but it was well-known she had smoked one day. Everyone, however, was surprised at Pete's sip; after his sip, he looked down in his glass and moaned about how everyone seemed to have picked things he had done.
"Pete? Have you ever smoked?" Jamie asked, surprised as he was, and Pete slowly nodded as if to apologize.
"Yeah, I guess so," he laughed nervously, "there was this girl in... well, I think it was somewhere in highschool. I fancied her a whole damn lot, but she smoked. So I thought, if I smoke, I might just get closer to her." He shook his head. "Worst idea of my life. I really can't smoke and I hated inhaling it the first time I did. So I decided to never do that again." Ian nodded.
"Well, that was interesting. Pity so few people took a sip. I guess, as you're sitting next to me, Pete, that it's your turn." He nodded.
"I guess so. I Never... err... I Never swore." Everyone save Pete, even Elizabeth, took a sip of their glass. This time, Pete didn't have to drink anything and he grinned widely as he saw Elizabeth look at what was in her glass – very little.
"It's not fair that your grandmother has so little. She's taken one sip falsely," Ian said as he stood up. "Wait, I'll refill the glass slightly for you," Ian said whilst taking Elizabeth's glass and walking to the corner where all the bottles were.
"Such a gentleman," Elizabeth said mockingly, but with an undertone of appreciation – she really appreciated Ian's help.
"Always," Ian said.
"Any stories anyone wants to know?" Victor asked, and when there was no reaction, he shrugged. "Then it's my turn. I Never kissed more than one person in my entire life. And, as it happens, she sits right next to me," he said while hugging a girl with long, bright-red, curly hair with one arm. She was Jamie's other childhood friend, Zoë. Zoë laughed; her teeth were visible as she and Victor were the only persons not to take a sip.
While Ian gave Elizabeth her drink back, he took a sip himself – and Pete, moaning, took a sip too. It was his last one.
"Thanks, Victor, guys, I'm out." Victor shrugged and smiled.
"I guess you should've been more monogamous, like me, and have only one lover," he replied, but with a wink.
Elizabeth, too, was once again seeing the bottom of her glass. She was almost out as well, and it hadn't even been her turn yet!
"It's the turn of your lover, so come on and say something!" Jamie said, sounding annoyed, though it wasn't genuine. He exchanged a look with Esmeralda. "See? That's why I came sitting next to you instead of them. I really don't want to see them getting all touchy-feely again." Esmeralda shrugged and smiled as Zoë finally found something to say.
"I Never put on any make-up." The red-haired girl was far from the definition of feminine. Indeed, unlike many women, she had never put on even the tiniest bit of make-up.
And unlike all the other girls in the room who took a sip. Even Elizabeth, leading to many 'aaah's in the room out of pity as she was out now too, without it even having been her turn. Lauren, too, was effectively knocked out of the game by this clever move of Zoë, who simply grinned. There were no boys who took a sip, though.
"You mean, mean b..." Lauren didn't finish her sentence as she realized an eighty-three year old was sitting in the room, "I mean, you mean, mean person. You very mean person." Everyone laughed at this.
"So... Simon, already got an I Never?" Lauren asked and Elizabeth looked at the dark-haired person in the room. She remembered him to be Lauren's boyfriend; but she was wondering why, if he was her boyfriend, he wasn't sitting next to her. She would've easily believed they were just friends.
"I Never... I Never had a loved one of mine dying." Simon was a lucky one. At the age of sixteen, he still had four grandparents – and all the elderly people he knew when he was young, were still alive.
Victor, too, didn't have to take a sip. He had never had any grandparents – they died before he was born, so he didn't have to take a sip at all. All the others, though, didn't have a choice at all and took a sip; Zoë looked at the bottom of her glass and complained about how little there was left in hers now too, after which she asked Victor if, in the event he won, they would share the honour.
Victor, of course, was happy to oblige and kissed her forehead while agreeing with her.
"Of course we'll share the honour," he said and smiled. Jamie rolled his eyes while Ian noticed Esmeralda looking – no, even staring – at him. A tad uncomfortably, Ian smiled back and Esmeralda smiled at him too before looking away.
When she looked away, though, his look kept on lingering on her for a while before looking away as well.
"Right then. If the love-birds are finished, then whose turn is it now?" Lauren asked, slightly annoyed at the way too obvious love the two childhood friends shared. There was an undertone of jealousy in her voice as she had her look linger on Simon for a while.
"Well, it would be mine..." Elizabeth said, "but I'm out, so..." Lauren shrugged.
"I think you should say an I Never. It hasn't been your turn yet, so I think you deserve it," Lauren said, having taken off her eyes of her boyfriend. She looked around in the room and didn't find anyone disagreeing. "Go ahead," she said to her friend's grandmother with a smile.
"Thank you. I err... I Never disliked classical music." Everyone in the room laughed as everyone who was still in, except for Jamie, had to take a sip. For Zoë and Esmeralda, it meant the end of the game – their glasses were empty now too.
"Jamie?" Pete said, in pure confusion, but Jamie just shrugged.
"Yeah, I like classical music. What's wrong with that? I've got a lot of Beethoven on my iPod. I don't see the problem with it." An uncomfortable silence entered the room, which Lauren broke.
"Anyway, it's your turn now, Jamie, unless you insist on me doing another I Never..." Jamie shook his head.
"No, you're out. All right then, I never hated Christmas pop-songs." Only Ian took a sip at this, which meant he was out too. Esmeralda laughed at her twin brother.
"If you win, Jamie, you'll share the honour with us, right?" Jamie nodded with a smile.
"Of course. Ian, what's wrong with Christmas?"
"All the sugarcoated 'everyone's happy and I love you and we're happy and we live forever and you love me..." Ian sighed a sigh of annoyance. "I hate hearing all of it, at the end of Christmas I've got diabetes for the rest of the year. I guess I'm the only one here, though."
"Your choice," Jamie said. "There's no accounting for taste. Victor!"
"I Never... oh damn, I already used the 'never-kissed-one-person-trick now, right?" Everyone nodded.
"Indeed you did," Simon replied. "So just think of another I Never, will you?" Victor rolled his eyes.
"A bit of patience never killed anybody, Simon. Anyhow, I Never had any parents who came from abroad." Ian laughed.
"Suddenly, oi'm very glad that oi'm oit of the game," Ian said, intentionally exaggarating his Irish accent. Both his parents were Irish – therefore, he should've taken a sip, but he was spared as he had no sips left to take. He himself was born in the USA, though.
"I'm thirsty, though," Ian continued in his normal American accent, "I think I'm going to get myself some water too," and he stood up.
Simon, with his eyes closed in visible annoyance, took a sip, emptying his glass.
"My mother's German," he replied as soon as he took his sip; his disappointment of not winning the game was very, very visible. Lauren stood up and wanted to come sit next to him to hug him, but Simon just looked in the other direction.
He was a very bad loser.
"Right then, I guess it's just the two of us," Jamie said and grinned. "And you're my childhood friend, Victor. I know you," and his grin only widened. Victor sighed a sigh of fake annoyance.
"Damn, Jamie. Damn you. Any chance we'll share the honour?" Jamie laughed, but shook his head.
"I'm sorry, Victor, if I have to share the honour with more people there won't be any left. You lost. I Never had the same relationship for almost twelve years." Victor smiled only.
"And I'm damn proud of it too. And many years to come." Victor happily took his last sip and shared a romantic look with his girlfriend, as Lauren looked at them with one eyebrow raised.
"How old are you, exactly, Victor?"
"Sixteen," he replied, and when he saw the look on Lauren's face, he quickly added, "Zoë asked me in kindergarten to be her boyfriend. As both of us were four-year-olds, we both didn't know what it meant and I said yes. We never really broke up with each other and became good friends, and Zoë with Jamie, but only in the first years of highschool, we started to feel something for each other. So technically, our relationship has lasted almost... twelve years now."
"Congratulations," Lauren said, "when's the lucky day?"
"October the 27th, we'll have been together for twelve years precisely," he said and smiled.
"And many years to come," Zoë was quick to add.
"And many years to come," Victor repeated with a smile.
"Well," Elizabeth said when silence had returned, "now the game's over, I should go back to my guests, then." And she started to stand up.
"We should do this more often," Jamie said. "And then with bigger glasses. This way, it was over way too quickly." Pretty much everyone in the room agreed with that, even Elizabeth, who admitted it was nice and cosy.
"We'll join you," Jamie said and winked at his childhood friends before finishing his sentence, "I think these love-birds need a room for themselves."
It was about eight o'clock in the evening when Simon and Lauren were at Simon's place. From there on, Lauren was to walk back home herself, but of course, she kept on lingering at his place a bit longer. Simon's parents weren't home yet – they were always working late.
Only when Simon and Lauren were sitting in the living room, Simon finally spoke up. He was annoyed because of what happened – he felt he was close to victory, but it went wrong at the last time. He was a very sore loser – why did Victor know Simon's mum was German anyway?
"I had almost won when that bastard, Victor, used my parents' heritage against me. You told him, didn't you?" Lauren was silent shortly.
"I don't know what you're talking about," she said calmly. "We had a great time, didn't we?"
"Yeah but... I should've won. I just... if everything had gone a little differently... and if you hadn't told him, then maybe..." Lauren had never been more annoyed in her entire lifetime.
"Oh please, Simon, for gods sake, you're fucking sixteen. Grow up, man."
"I mean it," Simon said coolly. "Just answer my question."
"No, I didn't tell him. Thanks for trusting me, Simon. You really make me feel comfortable." The sarcasm in her voice was audible even for someone who was deaf.
"It's your fucking fault if I make you feel so fucking uncomfortable," he said and he went to the kitchen to make himself a drink as he felt it coming up again – his temper, his most terrible temper broke loose again and a little voice in the back of his head told him he shouldn't go angry now, not at Lauren – it had happened before.
But the rest of his body simply disobeyed the little voice. It always went like this – Simon had no self-control at all and he hated himself for it sometimes.
"It always goes like this, Simon. I'm tired of it. Every. Single. Time. Every single time you lose a game, you react your anger on me. Grow up, Simon, please. I'm tired of constantly being the object of your anger." After a short while – Simon probably drunk up his glass in one go, something he usually did when he was angry – the voice from the kitchen said a painful thing. The owner from the voice himself wasn't feeling too well either – Simon didn't want to say this deep down inside, but his anger got the better of him again.
"Then say it, Lauren. I know you want to say it. Come on, say it. Say. It." He seemed controlled, but Lauren sighed.
"I really am tired of constantly wanting to say sweet, sweet words to you and hoping you'll forgive me for being the object of your anger, Simon. For god's sake, grow up." This scenario had happened before – and every time, Lauren came to him and ensured him she wasn't going to break up with him. But she was tired, incredibly tired of it.
"Then SAY IT!" Simon became red in his anger. "Just don't talk in circles, just fuckin' say it!" He shouted. Lauren shook her head and hoped that maybe if she reacted differently just this time, perhaps... perhaps he would react differently next time then, too...
"Fine," Lauren said, shaking her head and letting her forehead rest on her palm, as if she had a headache, before standing up and walking at the door, "I'm breaking up with you." And she walked away, shutting the door tight behind her.
And she walked away into the night, trying her hardest not to cry, hoping Simon would see what kind of a fool he was.
Author's Note: I would like to dedicate this story to my grandmother. On September the 6th, 2011, I lost my grandfather. My grief was immense.
On September the 6th, 2011, she lost her husband, the one she spent most of her life with. I can only imagine how immense her grief is, which is why I dedicate this story to her.
There's another reason too, though. See Elizabeth and how awesome she is, at the age of eighty-three? Don't you all wish you had a grandmother like that? Well, I have one like that, only she's eight years younger. But you'll find out much later why Elizabeth is even more awesome than she already seems to be.
I would like to thank both my Betareader and my Gammareader for helping me with this story! It took me a year and a half to finish this story (I always write a story completely before beginning to post) because I needed those two to make this story worth reading, to give it a higher quality. Give them a high five for me!
Also, yes, I am aware that this story takes place in the recent future. But don't worry – that problem will solve itself in due course.
Anyone who has read one of my previous stories probably knows that I'm used to posting in a pattern, by the way: I always update once a week, and usually on a weekend day.
But not this time – I do have a whole posting schedule ready, but it's not as simple as updating once a week, since I'm trying to spread the story out over the year for reasons that will become clear once you read the next chapters. So, if you're planning to read this story in full, I recommend one thing for you – put this story on Alert!
I think the next update will be in… two weeks? Three weeks? You'll hear it soon enough. Until then, please review: all reviews are returned!
I'll see you next time, and finally, happy 2012 to you all!