Christopher and Rachel Astin lost their parents to drug addiction. Saturday seemed to be just another day for Christopher. He woke up and prepared breakfast while Rachel and his parents slept until lunch. At 10 in the late morning, Christopher proceeded to wake his parents up; an exhausting task he did every morning. Even from outside the room, Christopher smelled the usual stench of alcohol that reeked from inside. When he opened the door, he wasn’t surprised to see his parents’ lifeless bodies on the floor. He sighed and dialed 911 to relay the information. Paramedics came to their house minutes after, but his parents had already expired several hours ago in the middle of the night.
Christopher raised Rachel on his own since then. He took the responsibility of maintaining their house, paying the bills, and making sure Rachel got all her needs at home and in school. It was tough balancing his life at work, and his life at home. His income as a copy editor wasn’t always enough as well.
In his job, Christopher took all sorts of tasks to get himself promoted or have a raise even at the slightest percentage. He got what he needed, but not what his efforts deserved. Chirstopher fell to alcoholism and womanizing to escape the life his parents left behind. Troubled about how to pay one particular month’s bill, Christopher wanted to give up. In addition to that, he felt his body getting weaker from stress, work and unhealthy lifestyle. One night, he collapsed right outside his workplace and his co-workers had to rush him to the hospital.
Dr. Alexander Grace was a handsome young physician about his age. He was sympathetic of Christopher’s medical situation and arranged all his papers when Christopher’s co-workers left. When Christopher woke up, he was looking for Rachel. He plugged out his IV and attempted to rush home but felt dizzy just when he was about to take the stairs. Dr. Grace rescued him on the floor and asked why he was in a hurry. After knowing that Rachel was home alone at 8 in the evening, Dr. Grace volunteered to check up on her as his shift ended minutes ago. He promised to bring Rachel to the hospital and keep her company while Christopher recovers from his condition. He let Rachel sleep in his quarters as he just took another shift to look after the siblings.
Morning came and Christopher felt somehow better than the previous night. He was conscious enough to realize he wouldn’t be able to pay for the hospitalization. Dr. Grace offered to cover it for him for the meantime and come by to repay it some other time. The debt connected both of them for a while. Dr. Grace insisted that Christopher needed some time to unwind so he offered to have dinner with him every month when Christopher was to pay a percentage of his debt. Christopher agreed to the set-up and enjoyed the platonic relationship for a few months.
Dr. Grace had been in the profession for only a few years. He wanted to be a novelist, but his father insisted that he should take a career in the medical field. Feeling in debt of his father’s mercy to allow him to embrace his homosexuality, Dr. Grace let his father control the other aspects of his life. When he graduated from medical school, his father passed away, and he felt that he should just stick with the path he was rooted on.
A few months since their meeting, Christopher and Dr. Grace, Alex as he preferred to be called at that point, went out more frequently apart from their scheduled monthly set-up. They had coffee, dinner, unwinding at the park, and some sharing of their own write-ups. Christopher was never in love before so he was oblivious to what he felt towards Alex but he knew it was different from any relationship he had. When he was promoted to be a front page writer, he figured to buy Alex a gift for his support and friendship. He bought him a gold bracelet. When they met up the next time, he brought his gift, with a few realizations he had the night before. He didn’t know Alex had similar thoughts.
They were each others’ first boyfriends. They admitted that they may not have labelled those walks and dinners as dates, but it sure felt like one the moment they confessed their feelings to each other. His same sex relationship gave Christopher more visibility at work, encouraging the board to give a social justice column in their paper and that Christopher should be the lead writer. This promotion paid enough for him and Rachel’s bills so he thought of a great idea to blend Alex more into his life. Christopher officially proposed to Alex to be his boyfriend and that they should live together as a couple. Alex loved the idea and moved in with no reluctance or fear. He trusted the only person he was brave enough to open up to. The same night, Christopher offered Alex to quit his post as a doctor and stay at home to focus on writing. It was a big step for Alex, so he figured to think more about it for the meantime.
Alex started to take classes on creative writing at his free weekends. After his classes, Christopher and Rachel would pick him up and go straight to Selarano park to spend the day relaxing. When Alex finished writing his first poem collection and it was received well by the publishers, he quit his job to write his first novel.
Christopher’s job went smoothly, earning enough to support the three of them. Rachel got into high school eventually, graduating as the valedictorian from middle school. She looked up to Alex and Christopher as her own fathers as they both took care of her as their own child. Christopher materialized the family he wished he had from his parents, but he was satisfied to have it for himself even at that point in life. He married Alex a year after to legalize their union and to make a promise to be together for the rest of their lives.
Marriages weren’t perfect, even for gay couples who had gone through a lot. When Christopher and Alex moved to a bigger house in Willow Creek, a new chapter of their lives unfolded; something neither of them expected nor wanted to happen.
Christopher was invited by their next door neighbors for a welcome party after he brought them cookies the previous day. Alex declined the invitation, claiming he’s sick when he really just didn’t want loud parties. Around 3 in the morning, Alex woke up and Christopher still hadn’t come home. Alex put on his robe and went next door to check up on him. The party was still loud and lights were playing from inside the house. When he peeked from the window, he was surprised from what he witnessed. Christopher was in the middle of an orgy, drugged and ecstatic as two guys shared his length.
It destroyed Christopher’s character for Alex. Heartbroken, Alex called his relationship off with him. He moved out the day he got a small cabin in Glimmerbrook and lived there alone. For a couple of years, Christopher tried to win him back by sending flowers, or talking to him once again. Alex refused to reconnect, until Rachel talked to him before heading off to college. She asked Alex to give her brother another chance as he crumbled to depression since they separated. Christopher got demoted to his old job as a copy editor after negative reviews on his column.
Alex missed him in all honesty. The anger had long subsided, but he thought to isolate himself instead for doing such a cruel thing to leave Christopher behind. After new year’s eve, Alex visited their house at Willow Creek and brought food he made for Christopher the previous night. Christopher welcomed him with a very tight hug as he cried for Alex to come back. Alex refused to. Instead, he invited Christopher to live with him again at Glimmerbrook, where he renovated the house for the both of them using his inheritance money from his parents. Alex apologized for leaving and breaking their vows to each other. Christopher apologized for the hurt and disappointment he may have caused them, but promised that there wasn’t a single day he stopped wishing to have a simpler life as long as he’s married to the man he loved.
Christopher quit his job from the paper and refocused on his marriage. This time, Alex’s income from his royalties on his 4 best sellers, were enough to pay the bills. Christopher decided to take the same route as Alex and focus on writing Non-fiction books instead. He wanted to reclaim his reputation as a social justice writer and write about addiction, homosexuality and marriage.
Together, they planned to re-take their vows in the middle of spring. Their savings bought them a small ceremony at Willow Creek park and 3 nights at Granite Falls for the honeymoon. This time, they had no neighbors, but even if they had, they weren’t worried anymore. 2 years apart was enough to teach them the importance of each other in their lives and from their own vows at their wedding, they would do everything to not be separated anymore, anyhow. They both wanted to live a simple, quiet life together and their cabin at Glimmerbrook seemed to be the ideal setting for that aspiration. Every morning they get up, see the familiar face, hear the chirping birds and smell the fresh air that swept through the brook and valley behind their house. It was a dramatic decade for the both of them, but what mattered most the first morning in their cabin as a remarried couple was the thought that they still both lived happily ever after.