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?

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4. Chapter 4

"You just have to go do it." Theo berated himself in class. 
"But what if she says no?" a pesky voice in his head replied.

He was working up the nerve to ask Claire to go see a movie with him. And he was terrified. Christmas break was just hours away and Theo knew he'd regret it if he waited until after the holidays. Besides, a lot of highly anticipated films came out that time of year and Theo thought it would be worthwhile to- Who was he kidding? He just wanted to spend more time with Claire. 

So Theo shut his locker firmly and walked purposely down the hall, looking for said girl. Eventually, he found her by her own locker, covering it with Christmas decorations. Claire looked up and smiled at him,
"Hey, Theo." she said genially.
"What's up?"
"Nothing, really." he said, leaning against another locker. 
"Looking forward to break?" she asked.
"Yeah, sleeping in is the only present I need this Christmas!"
She giggled, a hand going up to cover her mouth. Theo took a deep breath and then took the plunge, saying,
"Claire, I actually came over here to see if you want to go see a movie sometime? Maybe over break?"
It took her a second to answer, and Theo was in agony. What if she was trying not to laugh? What if she was going to refuse? What if the thought of seeing a movie with him was so repulsive that she couldn't speak?

In reality, it was none of these things. Claire was taking a second to make sure she'd heard him correctly. And to make sure she didn't squeal with joy right then and there. Claire looked up then, grinning,
"Theo, I thought you'd never ask." she said, taking his hand and standing up so they were level.
"I'd love to."

Theo couldn't believe it. He stammered,
"Really- I mean, great! Yeah, awesome! Does Tuesday work?"
She nodded and Theo grinned, his face lighting up. Turning to go, he said,
"Okay, see you then." 
Claire laughed and pulled him back,
"Wait! We need to decide what movie we're seeing and a playing time!"

They talked about a lot of movies, but in the end, it came down to only two. One was a chick flick about a dude with a notebook, and the other was "The Return of the King", the final Lord of the Rings movie. (NOTE: This story starts in 2004, that's why these films are not very recent)

 Theo would much rather watch the latter, but for Claire's sake was willing to go see a romance. But when he brought this up to her over the phone, she strongly disagreed,
"The Notebook is meant to be really, really sad. Romantic, but still sad. Christmas is not a time to feel that way. Besides, I'm a nerd who enjoys epic battles between good and evil."
"She's perfect." Theo thought to himself before saying,
"So, Lord of the Rings it is, then?"
"Most definitely." Claire said.
"Okay, I'll buy us tickets-"
"I can buy my own ticket, Theo." 
"But-"
"But what?"
"Isn't that something the guy is supposed to do?" Theo said uneasily. 
 His mother had drilled into his head the proper the way to treat a girl. You are  respectful, give her complements, and should always pay. This was unorthodox. 

To his relief, Claire laughed,
"Theo, this is the twenty-first century. I am perfectly capable of paying eight dollars to get into a movie. But I applaud you for your chivalry."
"Can I at least buy popcorn?" Theo said desperately. 
 "Of course, Theo, if it will ease your mind." Claire said, and Theo could tell she was smiling. 

On Thursday, both teenagers woke up with tons of nervous energy. Claire bounded out of bed and immediately began getting ready. She tried on countless outfits, getting Joey to give his opinion, even though he said she looked pretty in everything she put on. 
"What do you think about the purple?"
"I like the purple."
"But what about the blue? I can't choose."
"I like the blue too."
"But which one do you like more?"
"It's a tie, of course."

Theo couldn't stay still. He was pacing up and down his room, annoying the whole household. Theo had three older sisters, Juliet, Melissa , and Rose, all of whom were teasing him unmercifully about his first "date." Only Rose, who at sixteen, was the closest in age to Theo, took any pity on him. She came into his room and sat down gingerly on the side of the bed.
"Nervous?" she asked,
Theo nodded and continued pacing. 
"Don't be. You're going to the movies; you can just sit in silence for three hours."
"That doesn't stop me from being nervous."
"Word of advice, don't try and kiss her on the first date. Never ends well."
Theo blushed and and laid down face-first on the mattress beside his sister.
"Should I cancel? There's still time."
"No, don't be a coward, Teddy! You like this girl, don't you?"
"Yes. of course I do."
"Then go be a man and see a movie with her!"

At the movie theater, Claire found Theo sitting in the lobby. They smiled nervously at each other and then got into line to buy their tickets. Theo gave one last attempt to pay for Claire, but she firmly ignored it and bought her own way in.  In the line for snacks, she stood on tiptoe to read the menu. Theo, who was taller, read it aloud for her.
"What kind of popcorn do you want?" he asked,
"Let's get- buttered mixed with Milk Duds. Trust me, you'll like it."

In the theater, they found a seat somewhere near the back and sat down. After half an hour of advertisements, the movie finally started, depicting the courageous quest of Frodo, a lowly hobbit who is trying to save his world by keeping the Ring of Power safe. But Theo didn't pay much attention to the film. He spent practically four hours just watching an unaware Claire. She was mesmerized by the movie and he was mesmerized by her. 

By the end, Claire was crying. She cried because the film series was ending, and taking a major part of her childhood with it. As for Theo, he didn't know what to do. Whenever his sisters cried at home, he got them chocolate as fast as he could and then ran for his life. That was not an option at the moment. So Theo glanced at Claire's spare hand and reached for it, trying to offer comfort in any way he could. She smiled through her tears and gripped his hand tightly. 

They sat there until the final credits had rolled and Claire had regained some sort of control over herself. Theo stood and helped her up, still holding her hand.
"Maybe they'll make a movie about The Hobbit." he said at last. 


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