It had been nearly a year since Elaine's disappearance. Both the kids dealt with her leaving differently. Erin threw herself into her schoolwork almost to the exclusion of everything else. Scot became angry and distant. Wade, who had been left once before, didn't want to believe it had happened again.
It was snowing outside the windows of the ranch. The kids were in school and Wade was home with the memories. It wasn't often he looked through the old scrapbook, but he'd started to forget her smile, her laugh, her voice. Wade dug through the cedar chest at the foot of the bed they used to share. Aside from the scrapbook, there were other things like the various belt buckles they'd won at different rodeos, Scotty's ratty old teddy bear she hadn't the heart to just throw away, a small white box of Erin's baby teeth.
Scrapbook in hand, Wade sat in a chair by the window and opened the cover. The first few pages were mostly old newspaper clippings from their rodeo days. A strip of black and white photos from one of those carnival picture booths fell out on to his lap. He remembered her reluctance at entering the booth, saying how she hated having her picture taken. He never could understand why. But after the first two frames, she'd gotten into the spirit of cutting up and making funny faces. It was the last one he liked the best. He had tried to cover the lens with his hat, but had obviously missed. The camera still caught their first kiss on film.
More pages followed with pictures of their impromptu wedding in front of a Justice of the Peace in Albuquerque, pictures of them buying the ranch, the kids heading off to school for the first time, various Halloween costumes (all hand-sewn by Elaine), the horses they'd had through the years, Christmas pictures, candid shots of Elaine teaching Erin to cook, Scotty in his football uniform. Wade almost hated to get to the last page, and he was about to tuck the strip of black and white photographs back into the front of the album when he realized something.
Elaine hadn't changed a bit.
Sure, she'd had her hair cut and dyed a few times over the years, but her face hadn't aged at all. Ranching wasn't an easy life. A lot of time was spent outdoors in the weather. His own face had acquired more lines and a darker tan, but Elaine hadn't aged a day.
Different memories started coming to mind. He remembered one particularly bad nightmare she'd had where she'd awakened screaming in some language he'd never heard before. Then there were the times she'd helped Erin with her French homework. Elaine had sounded practically fluent, at least to him. Then, when Scotty had studied Western Civ, she spoke as though she'd met Nero. Wade had been working on cleaning up the kitchen when Elaine told him about some woman named Boudica who had practically kicked Rome out of Ancient Briton. He could tell it wasn't just a legend to her.
There were other things as well. She was an expert horsewoman. She knew how to talk to horses since before that Monty fella ever wrote his book. She knew how to hunt and field dress without being taught; she explained that away by saying her father had taken her hunting. Camping was almost second-nature to her. She could also fight like no one he'd seen.
Wade remembered the second time he'd ever seen her. He'd just happened to walk into the same bar where she'd been sitting. The man standing next to her, and twice her size, obviously wouldn't take a hint, and Wade wanted to charge over to her rescue. Before he could, however, Elaine had broken the guy's nose and had walked out the door.
Wade thoughtfully closed the cover to the scrapbook and stared out at the snowy day. How could she possibly have known at least three languages (English, French and whatever it was from her nightmare), how to cook and sew better than any home-ec teacher he could think of, and talk about historical figures as though she'd met them? The only thing that came to mind that she was somehow immortal, and it was just bizarre enough to make sense. That would explain everything. Except there was no such thing as immortality ... was there?Muse:
Quinnleigh Kincaid Wade Jameson (NPC)
Fandom: Highlander OC
Word Count: 738
Prompt: charloft Bonus Points, or for the graphically challenged: Write a short story in which a photo or a photo album plays a pivotal role.