They met in high school.
Unlike all the other students, she didn't seem quite enthusiastic about making friends. She seemed like a ghost or a shadow, and sometimes, both.
She wasn't like all the other girls who guys preferred; not like the blonde cheerleader, Jeanne, or the beautiful and elegant Semiramis, or even the popular and athletic Mordred.
Sure, they were a few people who seemed interested in her, but she turned them all down; no matter what they offered her, roses or chocolate, things like that.
However, there was one person that stood out among her suitors. He excelled in sports, competitions, and anything requiring physical strength. He was respected around the campus and everyone admired him. He was idolized by all the females, even the males who yearned to be like him, and once he heard about the transfer, he decided to make an impression.
He liked a challenge. A good one.
Like all the other guys, he tried to flirt with her, but she flat-out rejected him; when she told him to leave her alone, he did. He respected her and respected her choices.
He left her alone, however, others didn't.
They started to pull underhanded tricks on her and he decided he couldn’t stand by and just watch it happen.
He told her that if she didn't want anyone bothering her anymore, she would need to look like she was with someone. A fake relationship of the sort would do the trick.
She wasn't happy about it, but she went along with it.
It took them a long time, but she started to open up to him. Though they were only together for selfish reasons, she started to tell him little things about herself. She loved children, and she was really good at archery. She loved lions and bears, and she loved to climb trees.
She told him personal things, not often, but whenever she wanted someone to talk to.
She then told him things about her family. Her parents abandoned her and her aunt had taken care of her since she was little. She had told him that it was her dream to adopt children and give them the love that they deserved since the desire was fueled by her own experience. She was thankful for her aunt, who took her in after her mother and father refused to accept their child.
She began to talk to him more. She told him things that started to make him fall, or to be more precise, he had already fallen.
He didn't know when, but he knew he fell in love with her. Love felt like drowning; he’d dived in so deep, his chances of escaping and making it to the surface lessened as he kept sinking, sinking, and sinking.
He was already so far gone, there was no coming back.
After high school, they rarely left each other's side. Well, until ridiculous college protocol separated them into same-sex dorms.
He tried to persuade her to get their own place where they wouldn’t be kept apart, but her answer was always the same. They couldn’t afford it. He knew that, but it didn’t change the fact that he hated having to be apart from her.
He eventually roomed with another student, an aloof prodigy named Karna, who he’d come to befriend and confide in greatly.
It was Karna who listened to him talk about her when no one else would. It was Karna who offered him words of wisdom that kept him out of trouble. And it was Karna who stayed by his side when she couldn’t.
They grew distant as the years passed. They were no longer reckless teenagers, but now, adults with careers to maintain.
She graduated with a nursing degree, and was off to work in at a hospital while he put off his diploma to focus on his football career.
He worked as a part-time bartender to earn a meager living while putting his all into sport. Until, one day, one knee injury completely shattered all his hopes and dreams of ever playing in the big leagues.
He was hospitalized for weeks, and his coach told him he would probably never play again. While surely devastated and overcome with great despair, he was truly surprised to learn that his assigned nurse was the woman he’d loved. Her presence made the pain, both emotional and psychical, more tolerable.
Eventually, he’d fallen in love with her once more. His heart felt young and alive whenever she entered the room, and thumped with overwhelming affection whenever she smiled towards him, warm and caring. She'd sometimes sit down with him, and they'd talk almost all day and night, until she was called away.
Karna stayed with him most of the time when he wasn’t working. He’d gotten to know her, and they became good friends. When he was in recovery, she was with him every step of the way, encouraging and guiding him whenever he felt like giving up.
He’d almost wished to go back just to be with her.
After a few weeks, she wished to meet up with him. He wasn’t sure what to expect, but surely didn’t see this one coming.
He remembered the day when she introduced him to her fiancée, a doctor named David. He tried to be happy for her because he seemed like a good guy. He could tell she loved him very much from the look in her eyes; they’d never glowed like that for him.
Months without her made him miserable. Every day was her. Every night was her. Every thought was her. Only her.
There was a time, somewhere after ten or eleven months, when she came to him, and he believed she came for him. Only him. Oh, how very wrong he was.
She asked him to come to her wedding.
He remembered tearing her invitation in half and then burning it until it was nothing more than ash; just like she had done with his heart.
A week after that, he'd gotten a phone call from her.
She wanted to see him. He didn't. But he did anyway.
When he saw her, she looked strange. Her skin was pale. Her eyes were dull. And there were bruises dotting her beautiful face.
He didn't have to ask. He already knew.
She cried in his arms that day. Endless and ugly tears.
He hated himself for not being there for her when she needed him.
Then, he realized that this was the first time he ever saw her cry.
He was with her when she broke off the engagement, and when she took her former husband-to-be to court for domestic violence charges.
He had to be in the court with him, the disgusting and pathetic excuse of a human who dared to lay a finger on her, on the woman he loved.
He didn’t know how he managed not to deck him right then and there. He believed it was because she held his hand tightly that day to remind him that he wasn’t worth all the trouble for a moment of temporary satisfaction.
In the end, they won the case.
Two years after that, they got engaged.
On one afternoon, he rolled an apple at her feet. After all, it was the greek way of a marriage proposal.
If she picked it up, it meant she was accepting him. Accepting what he was offering her. Accepting him wholeheartedly as the man who wanted to be with her.
She bent down to pick it up without another thought.
Eight months after, they got married.
When she walked down that aisle, he watched the emerald ring he picked out for her sparkle, just as beautifully as her. The color green suited her. It was their color.
Karna was there too, as his best man. He'd watched with approving eyes, and stood by his friend proudly for the entire ceremony.
He remembered when he saw her in her dress. Beneath the long layer of transparent fabric, she wore a white garment. She looked like an angel and if she wasn't an angel of God, she was a warrior of God; armed with her angelic bow and golden arrow to protect Elysium from all evils.
They exchanged vows. Vows he made when they were back in high school.
And they declared that till death do they part.
Six months after their wedding, he got the greatest surprise of his life.
He discovered that he was going to be a father. And that she was going to be a mother.
He learned that there was a life growing inside her. A life that she and he made together out of love.
When they discovered they were having a girl, he got started on the nursery immediately.
He painted the walls pink and blue, pretty, warm colors. He decorated the walls with murals of bears and lions and many other animals even if it took him many nights to finish. He put together the crib and adored the room with teddy bears, stuffed elephants, and giraffes.
He remembered one day waking up in bed after finding her gone, and as he suspected, she curled herself into the crib along with the stuffed toys and fluffy sheets. Too bad there wasn't enough room for two.
His intentions were to make the room something akin to his wife's fondness for the wilderness.
She might have spent more time in that room than their own.
The day came when the baby decided to enter the world.
It was probably the worst day of his life, albeit the best one too.
They decided on a home-birth because they wanted to welcome their baby in the comfort of their home.
There was a definite risk to give birth at home, but they arranged for a midwife to support them during the homebirth.
After a sleepless and long night, their baby girl had lastly entered the world. All slimy but beautiful.
They named her Agape. The symbol of their love. Their joy. Their happiness.
His wife had no problem being a wonderful mother. However, he didn't know that handling a baby would be so trying. His wife showed him the ropes, but he wanted to let it come naturally.
That's when he found out that she was ticklish under her heel. Just like him. Little by little, he discovered that she had shared many of his own traits, his wife's too, of course, and there were things she had done that never ceased to surprise him.
Agape was a lively child. Sure, there were times where she had a scraped knee, or bruises from being careless, but she loved every second of it.
She wasn't like all the other girls. She wasn't into playing dress up or playing with dolls, or anything like that.
She loved the thrill of skateboarding, hiking, fishing, playing sports, and doing things young boys would normally do.
And as a result, in grade school, Agape received many love confessions during Valentine's day and Achilles didn't know how to handle the fact that boys were coming by his house every day to ask Agape out to a date.
His wife tried to persuade him that they were just kids and that every kid has childish crushes, but Achilles wasn't having any of it.
He knew he was being silly and sometimes went a little too far, like that one time when he turned on the sprinklers to drench Agape's suitors in water to shoo them away.
But everything he did was for his daughter to avoid being hurt, just like his wife had been.
He vowed he'd never let that happen again.
Later, he had a talk with his wife and they decided that it would be nice for Agape to have a younger sibling.
But this time, they weren't going to conceive. They decided to adopt.
When they began the process of adoption, they were introduced to a little girl who was mistreated as a child and therefore, had little trust in adults.
They brought Agape along who slowly coaxed the girl to come out of her shell and thereafter, they became inseparable.
It was going to be a long journey, but they were determined to make this little girl a part of their family. No matter what.
After eventually gaining parental rights over the little girl, they welcomed her into their home and promised her that she would never be hurt again.
She was born without a name, so they decided to name her Chelóna, which meant tortoise in Greek and was meant to signify her shy and meek personality.
She completed their family.
Sooner or later, his girls had brought up the subjects of pets.
He and his wife had sat down with their daughters to explain the responsibilities that come with having a pet. They listened carefully and promised that they would do everything that was needed. After a long discussion, they agreed.
They went to a rescue center because they decided to adopt an animal instead of buying one.
They found a little lab, who was only six months old, but he was thrown away because of his discoloration that resulted from faulty breeding. He was a mix between a gold and a black lab, with the addition of his faded, almost glassy blue eyes that were a result of his hapless rearing. Because of this, he was nearly blind, but they chose to adopt him because their family welcomed oddities.
They called him Eidikós, which meant special in Greek and because he was special to them.
He knew that one day he’d have to let go of his daughters. He didn't imagine that it would come so soon.
Agape and Chelóna were accepted into a university that they had been long wanting to attend and when it was time for them to leave the nest, he couldn't hold back his tears.
His wife kept her emotions in check. She bid farewell to her daughters and held her husband's hand, like she always did.
She then too, after out of sight of their children, cried on his shoulder, but that was their burden as parents, to make sure their children's life would be better than their own, even if they had part ways.
They continued to live their lives without their daughters and decided to foster children.
Their daughters came to visit them on occasions. One time, Chelóna had announced her pregnancy, which was unexpected since she was only in her early twenties, but her parents proceeded to support their daughter in any way that they could.
Chelóna then later had twins, two, thriving babies; a lively boy and a beautiful girl. He remembered the love that swelled in his chest when he got to hold them.
Karna had visited them, with a wife and children of his own. After all, he was his daughters’ and grandchildrens' godfather.
A year later, Agape was involved in a car accident that had left her in critical condition. She was on the backside of her boyfriend's motorcycle and because of his reckless and irresponsible driving, they were involved in a frontal collision with a truck.
While Agape's boyfriend had paid the price for his breakneck riding with his life, Agape had to suffer paralyzation waist down.
Agape could not feel the lower part of her body and doctors had said she would never be able to walk again. Her spine was broken beyond repair.
Agape could never have children because of the accident and she would need someone to look after her. However, that did not stop them from giving Agape her best chance at life.
One day, Agape had met a girl who loved her even with her disabilities. After getting married, they planned to adopt just as her parents had.
Atalanta and Achilles were proud of her. Proud of her for getting this far even with her impairments. They were also grateful for Agape's spouse, who never stopped encouraging and supporting her crippled wife. They were lucky to have her be part of the family.
There had come a time when Achilles and Atalanta's story had to come to an end.
Atalanta had gotten sick one day. Although they didn't know what had caused her illness, she wasn't improving.
She had to spend the rest of her days in a hospital, never recovering and permanently in bed. Eidikós stood faithfully by her side, growing older as white hairs on his muzzle accompanied him. Karna was there too, quietly providing comfort in any way he could.
Achilles knew his wife would never get better. He knew it too well. But, he never stopped staying by her side, even when she was dying. He held her hand that day, just like she did for him. But it wasn't enough.
Years had gone by after his wife's death. It didn't seem real, to be honest.
He was on his porch, on his rocking chair, looking out into the distance; straining an ear to hear her voice in the warm breeze.
In his long life, he couldn't have been more pleased. He was a grandfather to two grandchildren and three adoptive grandchildren. His daughters had a good life of their own, and would never be alone with families of their own. Karna passed away only a few days ago, and he thought it was time to finally let go.
When he closed his eyes, he saw her.
She must have waited for him, but that was his ever faithful wife.
They did so many things together. They loved each other, they reared two, beautiful girls together, and they continued to show the world their love.
He had no regrets.
He let out a soft exhale and smiled.