Penguins: A Love Story

Did you know that when penguins mate, they mate for life? They are the only animals to do this. And when a male penguin has chosen a mate, he searches the entire beach just to find the right pebble to give to her. Exactly like a proposal. Penguins are soul mates, loving one another until they die.

"Penguins" follows the romance of Theo and Claire; two people who never thought they could be loved, but then found each other. Theo was the quiet, shy guy who was universally liked, but no one really knew him. Claire was a bright, sunny soul who always had a smile on her face that hid her inner pain. Could they be penguins? Or will these lovebirds be wrenched apart by the very things that bind them together?


2. Chapter 2

"I'm home!" Claire called, walking into her house and waltzing into the kitchen, swinging her backpack on one hand. 
No response. Well, clearly no one was interested as to how her first day of high school had gone. Claire sighed and dropped her bag down on the ground with a loud thud. Going to the cupboard, she began to raid it, taking out everything she could reach. Whoever came up with the stereotype that teenage girls never eat had obviously never lived with a teenage girl. Claire lived for food. 

"Claire!!!" a little boy called from the door of the kitchen. 
"You're home!"
She looked around and saw her little brother, Joey, standing in the doorway. Opening her arms, he flew into them,
"Of course I came home, little guy." she said gently, holding him close. 

Joey was eight years old, and he had autism. This meant he had difficulty getting close to people. Claire was the only person he truly talked to. Their mother was never home, busy at her job. She was a high-end executive of some company. Claire didn't even really know what her job was. And as for their father....well, it was impossible to ask him for help with anything. He would just snap and start yelling at you for no apparent reason. Her parents fought all the time, just because they barely knew each other anymore. 

Claire could hardly remember when her parents ever seemed happy together. It had been when she was quite little, back when her mom stayed at home and baked cookies and actually smiled. They'd spend Saturday mornings in bed, all three of them together. Claire still missed that sometimes. But then things changed, and Claire had to grow up pretty quickly. Between having a mother who was never there and a father who didn't give a fig about any of them, Claire knew she'd be the one to take care of Joey. He was the only person Claire was positive that she loved. 

All of this flashed through her mind as she hugged her brother. He grinned up at her adoringly, a gap between his teeth where one had fallen out. 
"How was your day, Joey?" she asked, absent-mindedly wiping a smudge of dirt off his cheek. He squirmed out of her reach and then said,
"Good. In school we talked about iguanas, but nobody but me seemed to know what they were."
"That's because you're intelligent, Joey." she said, smiling.
Joey had always been very interested in animals, watching Animal Planet every time he had the chance. Claire really wasn't into that, she preferred historical documentaries, but she encouraged her brother's passion; Even going as far as buying him books out of her own baby sitting money. 

"What about you, Claire?" he the asked,
"How was your day?"
Claire could have cried over his sweetness. Joey was the only eight year old that she knew of who would wonder how his big sister's day had gone. 
"It was excellent, buddy. Just excellent. Now, how about I get us some snacks and we watch some Scooby Doo?"
"Yay!" Joey cried, jumping off her lap and running into the living room.
"Come on Claire!"

But their evening of enjoyment was ruined when their mom came home. Storming into the house, she bustled into the kitchen and flung some Chinese take-out down on top of the kitchen table. A scowl adorned her features, making her normally pretty face look sour. Claire had been told she looked exactly like her mother. They had the same big brown eyes, auburn hair, and rosy complexion. But that was as far as the similarities went. For as sunny and warm Claire was, her mother was the absolute opposite. 

"Dinner!" she called into the living room. 

Joey looked up at Claire, judging her reaction. She plastered a smile on her face and then stood up, holding out her hand for the little boy to take. They walked into the kitchen together and sat down, Claire lifting Joey up into his seat. As soon as she saw that the children were situated, their mom walked out of the room, already back on the phone to one of her work clients. Claire sighed to herself and then brightened for Joey's sake, trying to remain cheery. They ate dinner, laughing and giggling all the while. 

But soon enough, they heard a fight beginning upstairs. Their parents had finally clapped eyes on each other, and things were bound to get ugly soon. So Claire hurriedly dragged Joey down into their basement, where they could play together and he hopefully couldn't hear the sounds of the argument, going on up above them. 

No such luck. Joey was terrified, his eyes wide and scared. Claire put her arms around him and held his tiny body tight against hers, holding her hands over his ears to drown out the fighting. They sat down there for hours, waiting it out. Joey eventually fell asleep in her embrace, worn out from worrying. Claire lifted him up and climbed up the two flights of stairs, towards his room. She laid him down in his bed and covered him with blankets, tucking a teddy in beside him.  He nestled in closer, and Claire touched his cheek gently. She longed for the times when a hug and a teddy bear could make everything better. 

It was only when she was in bed herself that she remembered the boy she'd met earlier that day. What was his name again? Oh yeah. Theodore, preferably Theo. He was a teddy in a way himself, friendly and comforting. 

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