My proposal may have been less than extra-ordinary, but Elaine wanted a big wedding. I just wanted her to be happy, so I told her she could have whatever she wanted.
“Weddings are about the bride, sweetie,” I told her. “It’s your day. If you want to make it a fairytale wedding, you can. If you just want to elope, we can do that, too. Whatever makes you happy.”
“It’s your day, too, Ferris,” Elaine said. “You get some say…not a lot, but some.” We both laughed.
What I had say in was inviting all of my male relatives to my bachelor party. Adam and Carter arranged most of it, but we decided to hold it at my house since it was the largest.
There was a lot of champagne involved. Carter popped the first quark and poured a round for everyone. “Today I want to toast my brother. He now joins our other brother in the bonds of marriage. As of now, I am the only hold out among the Fields boys. I guess that means more girls for me!”
“Boo, Carter!” Adam jeered. “You are too afraid to get married.” Adam raised his glass. “To Ferris! May he be as happy in his marriage as I am.”
The rest of the guys shouted, “To Ferris!”
Then things got out of hand. As soon as we all drank our glasses, Carter grabbed a full bottle, shook it, and said, “Hey Ferris!” and then he sprayed it all over me. Not to be undone, I managed to get Adam and Carter back.
Of course it wouldn’t have been a bachelor party without some exotic dancers complete with little cheer uniforms. Not surprisingly, it was Carter who ordered them.
I didn’t mind. Elaine told me that the dancers would be ok as long as I knew I had something better waiting for me when the party was over.
I knew I did. Elaine had laid out a new set of lingerie on our bed that morning where I couldn’t help but see it. Who needed girls in cheer uniforms when a pretty pink push-up bra and sexy garter belts were waiting to be admired later?
Elaine came home at the tail end of the party. “Don’t mind me, guys,” she chirped as everyone said hi to her. “I’m just heading upstairs. You guys keep it up. I’m just headed to bed.” She gave me a long wink that made everyone cheer.
“Party’s over, Fer!” Carter said. “That was quite a look!”
“You go on up, Ferris,” Adam added. “Carter and I will clean up.”
I made some sort of inarticulate comeback, but I couldn’t wait to get upstairs to see what my future bride had in store for me!
Like Adam, Elaine and I decided to get married in the evening. However, just like the bachelor party, we elected to do the ceremony and reception at the house, too. Adam was my best man.
“You have the ring, right?” I asked him, worried that something would go wrong at the last second.
“Relax, man! Everything is fine.”
Of course I continued to be nervous up until the moment that Elaine appeared under our wedding arch. Seeing her there looking so serene and beautiful, all of my worries disappeared. I knew I was the luckiest man in the universe!
My hand didn’t even shake as I slipped the ring I had purchased for her onto her finger. I looked up into her smiling face and knew everything was going to be perfect.
I know that everyone was clapping and cheering as we kissed, but I don’t remember much of that. I just remember Elaine’s brown eyes. I remember the feel of her soft lips on mine. I remember how she hugged me as hard as she could. Then she said, “I love you Ferris.”
Cake and food followed the ceremony and then dancing. Everyone told me it was quite an exciting party. To be honest, I don’t even remember who was there even though I was the one who invited them.
At the end of it all, when everyone had gone home, Elaine and I collapsed in the twin rockers I’d put in my living room when Rilee was born.
“What a night!” Elaine said. “I’m so tired!”
“Is Zap going to clean everything up? Should we go help her?”
“Zap can do it. She’s a robot. They hardly ever get tired.”
“Oh. Good. I could fall asleep right here.”
I stood and pulled Elaine up, too. “No sleeping here,” I said and yawned hugely. “We’re newly-weds. We need to at least go upstairs to our bed so that people think we’re doing more than sleeping.”
“Maybe if we sleep now we can get up early so we at least tell people we had sex.”
“That’s a good idea,” I nodded, too tired to realize how ridiculous we were being. “I can set an alarm.”
“Good. Love you Ferris,” Elaine nodded. She was also yawning. We both stumbled up the stairs, managed to take off our wedding clothes and collapse onto the bed. We were asleep even before we hit the pillows.
Not the most romantic wedding night, but I’m not complaining.
Soon after our wedding…maybe too soon…Elaine and I found out that we were pregnant. We were both thrilled, of course. Unlike our pregnancy scare just before I proposed, Elaine was never sick.
“I guess I’m just lucky,” she told Elyssa, who had been really sick with both Rilee and Rico.
During the pregnancy, Zap and I were hard at work building another P.A.L. robot. Zap missed Nan, and I wanted to have an extra helping hand around the house. We’d hired a maid to help with chores and Zap was helping me in the shop, but it was still a challenge to handle everything. Elaine had maternity leave, but she decided to keep working from home, turning in free-lance articles and writing short fiction.
“I don’t want to be a stay-at-home mom,” Elaine informed me. “I have this dream to be a news anchor. I can’t do that if I’m always at home.”
“It’s ok,” I said. “I work from home and we have Zap, too. She’s programed to be a baby-sitter. I want you to achieve your dreams, sweetie. I would never hold you back.”
“That’s why I love you, Ferris. I just feel so guilty about it sometimes,” Elaine said. She started to tear up. Her emotions were always more intense now that she was pregnant.
Another reason I was working so hard to build another P.A.L. was that Elaine and I were told we were having twins during one of her early check-ups. “That’s two heart-beats, Mr. and Mrs. Fields,” our doctor told us. “You have a family history of multiples, right Mr. Fields.”
I just nodded dumbly. Twins. That would mean twice the work, but also twice the love.
“I can’t believe we’re having twins!” Elaine exclaimed. “We really are lucky, aren’t we Ferris?”
“We really are.”
“I’m so glad,” Elaine continued. “I only have to be pregnant once and we’re already done. Two kids is enough, right?”
She looked so happy about it, I nodded. I had thought maybe three or four children. I was one of two other multiples. One thing I’d always wanted was a little brother or sister. I figured Elaine might change her mind once she saw the babies. Maybe I could talk her into having at least one more later.
When we brought home the girls, Anne and Rachel, we were both so happy. It was an exhausting time, but with the help of Zap and the new P.A.L. that I barely completed in time, Whiz, we managed.
Eventually Elaine went back to work, but by then I had figured out how to be a stay-at-home dad.
Mostly this involved delegating the work to Zap and Whiz, who were much faster at making the little gadgets and gizmos we sold in the shop anyway. I put any larger inventions on hold, too, and decided to wait to make any more advancements on the P.A.L. models until the girls were older.
Life became a bit of a blur for awhile. It seemed that all of us were engaged in taking care of Anne and Rachel. We put them to bed, got them up, fed them, and held them throughout the day.
Eventually, the girls were learning how to talk and walk and use the potty like big girls. They were still a bit of a handful, but they didn’t consume as much of my time as they had once done. I started thinking it might be a good time to talk to Elaine about having another child. Surely, now that she realized that she could continue to pursue her career and I would take care of the babies, she would be more willing to have another.
I didn’t expect her not to agree.
I made Autumn Salad, Elaine’s favorite, for supper. She was just as surprised as I wanted her to be when she got home.
“You made this for me? That’s so sweet. I take it today was a good day with the girls? No one was fussy or willful today?”
“The girls have been loving the dollhouse you bought for them,” I said. It keeps them occupied for hours.
Elaine laughed. “Good. I knew they would like it. I hoped that it would give you a little break from them.”
“Oh I don’t mind them,” I said. “Now that they are talking, I know they understand me when I tell them not to do things.”
“Yes, but whether or not they listen…”
“True, but for the most part, they do.”
I let Elaine finish her meal and then broached the idea of having another baby as she was doing the dishes.
“I thought we were done, Ferris,” Elaine said, turning to me. “I thought we’d agreed on just two.”
I frowned. “Actually we never discussed it.”
Just then Elaine’s phone buzzed. “Hold on,” she said. “I’m expecting a text from Ralph at work. We’re about to break a story…”
Elaine touched her screen and read the message there. She laughed.
“That’s funny,” she said finally. “Elyssa just texted me they’re having another baby.”
“That’s great!” I enthused.
“I can’t believe it. Rilee just turned thirteen. What are they doing having another one so many years later?”
“It’s not like they’re getting too old,” I said. “I mean, Adam and I are the same age. Our children are still toddlers. Heck, Carter hasn’t even had kids.”
“And he probably won’t,” Elaine said. She started typing out a reply to Elyssa. She pretty much ignored the topic after that.
I wasn’t ready to give up the idea of another baby just yet. I managed to get Adam to invite us over for dinner to celebrate my new niece or nephew. I figured when she saw how happy Elyssa was, Elaine would be more likely to reconsider.
We were greeted at the door by my nephew, Rico. “Hey little buddy!” I said.
“Uncle Ferris! Hi Auntie Elaine! Wanna go see my new train set?”
“Sure buddy,” I said. “But first I want to talk to your dad. Show your Auntie and I will be right up.”
Rico pulled Elaine up to his bedroom. His enthusiasm had her laughing the whole way.
I went in to see Adam and Elyssa. “Congratulations guys,” I said in greeting.
“Thanks bro. We’re really happy.”
I asked when the baby was due and whether or not it was a boy or a girl. Of course they didn’t know yet. Adam asked me how the business was doing and I explained that I was doing mostly paperwork and computer entries. “I hardly have time to build anything,” I admitted.
“I’m so glad I retired,” Adam said. Elyssa just smiled. “We’re having Ratatouille,” she said. “My vegetables are really doing well this year. Everything is fresh.”
Elyssa’s pregnancy did not have the effect on Elaine as I thought it would. She didn’t want any more children.
“I don’t know why we keep talking about this Ferris,” Elaine said one Sunday morning. “I’m happy with how our lives are now. I love our daughters. They’re going to be five soon. Why should we do anything to disrupt the way things are?”
“Having a baby would not be a disruption!”
“You can’t honestly believe that? Think of how much trouble having two children has already been. You say you haven’t been able to work on your inventions like you want to. You’re just asking for even less time. Think about it Ferris! Our life is pretty good right now. We’re happy, right?”
“Yeah. We are.”
“So, why change things?”
I didn’t bring up the idea of having another baby again. I knew that I would never be able to convince Elaine that a new baby would just add to our happiness. It was hard for me to see Elyssa at the party wearing her maternity clothes. She looked tired, but she and Adam were always touching her stomach.
The party for the girls was just family. Adam and Elyssa brought Rilee and Rico, but there were no other kids there. I was once again surprised that my niece was now a teen. I wasn’t surprised, however, to see Carter with a new girlfriend. He’d broken up with Jade Greenwood before Elaine and I were married. He said she was too clingy.
His new girlfriend worked with Elaine at the newsroom. Her name was Sabrina Funke. She wasn’t as pretty as Jade, but Elaine said she was nice. She and Sabrina spent most of their time at the party talking to each other.
I mingled with my family, especially Adam and Rilee.
“I wanted the girls to have my old toy oven,” Rilee said to me when Adam set the thing down on our living room floor. “I used to make these little muffins in it. It’s a lot of fun,” my niece continued.
I wasn’t sure what to say, so I just said thank you. Later Adam pulled me aside and told me that the little oven was perfectly safe for five year-olds. “You have to watch them a bit at first, but it isn’t really more than a microwave. They won’t burn the house down with it.”
“Good to know,” I said.
When it was time for cake, Zap and Whiz took the girls and helped them blow out their candles. Elaine and I watched and clapped and led the family in off-key singing of “Happy Birthday”.
In the middle of all of that, Elaine got a phone call. I didn’t say anything, but I wasn’t happy when she answered it instead of turning her phone off.
“It’s my daughters’ birthday,” she said to whoever was on the phone. “Yeah….yeah…ok. I’ll text you when I get a minute….yeah. Ok. Thanks. Bye.”
I had no idea who was on the phone or why it was important, but I assumed it had something to do with Elaine’s job.
As soon as the girls blew out their candles, Zap and Whiz started serving everyone cake. I guess Elaine felt that it was an appropriate time to send her text. I tried to get her attention to let her know that I didn’t approve, but she was too engrossed in whatever it was she was looking at.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t confront my wife at the party. I wasn’t going to talk to her about anything while we had guests. Besides, I didn’t want to ruin my daughters’ party. They were both so excited about their birthday.
So I swallowed all of my comments and just ate cake with everyone else.
That night, our little girls went to bed not knowing that upstairs their mommy and daddy were having what would be the first of quite a few nasty fights.
My perfect, happy marriage, was starting to crumble around me.