The Good Ones - Chapter 2: Walter
Here’s part two of The Good Ones. I’m working on the Astrid chapter now.
His memories fade more and more every day. He knows the people he loves, feels that connection, but cannot put his finger on every significant moment in these relationships. He knows that Peter is his son, remembers the day he was born and the intense wave of love that he brought with him. He remembers Peter dying, twice. And yet, he knows the man that Peter has become, knows that he somehow got him back, that he resisted at first but ultimately came to accept the remarkable man who called him father. He knows that they both love Olivia in very different ways. That he couldn’t pick a better person for her than Peter. And he’s proud that such an incredible woman chose his son to be the person whom she would allow to know her better than anyone else.
He has absolutely no memories of this young woman standing before him. But then her eyes go big as if begging him to remember and her lips upturn in a sad smile and he remembers his granddaughter pleading for one more Redvine before bed, the way she mastered the look that turned him into putty.
He knows memories fade, so he clutches on to the good ones. Those are the ones that he wants to last. He remembers Peter’s smile when Olivia told him that she was pregnant. He remembers Peter’s high, euphoric expression and his voice much louder than needed when he exclaimed “She’s perfect!”
He remembers the look of fear and uncertainty barely a day later. When the baby’s cries and Peter’s soothing but slightly panicked voice woke him up. And he found Peter in the nursery, body tense and voice shaky as he tried to comfort his daughter.
“Hold her closer to your body, and relax, son. She can sense your stress.”
Peter’s shoulders loosen a bit, he draws her closer into him, and rocks her gently, intently focused on the soothing phrases he’s whispering to her. When she finally calms and Walter can see her little eyes droop closed, Peter carefully collapses into the plush rocking chair.
“I have no idea what I’m doing,” he heaves.
“No one expects you to know at this point. You’ve only been a father for forty-seven hours.”
Peter doesn’t take his words into much consideration, “I can’t screw this up, Walter. I can’t, she’s too important.”
“I know. But the truth is that, as long as she knows you love her unconditionally, any mistakes will only make her a stronger person.”
Peter smiles, not genuinely, merely as an acknowledgment that he’s heard his father’s words before he turns his head to stare at his daughter in awe.
“I get it now,” he whispers.
“I get why you took me, why you were willing to shatter two worlds,” Peter doesn’t look up as he says it, even though Walter has no memories of Peter ever saying something so profound to him.
“There’s nothing – nothing I won’t do for her.”
The room is silent, Peter seems to forget that Walter’s even there as he rocks her back and forth, back and forth. He watches Peter’s smile widen as she turns and nestles into him.
“Olivia says she can feel her love for us,” he whispers, “She loves me.”
“She’s very lucky to have you,” Walter whispers.
If there is one memory he wants to hold, it is that one.
Memories fade, and in some ways he is grateful that they do. He knows that it was a short while after Olivia announced she was carrying his grandchild and they stopped Bell from ending the world that they had to start working tirelessly to prevent the observers from taking it over. He knows that things didn’t get really bad until a few weeks before the purge. He distantly recalls warning signs that would even tip off a civilian that something drastic was about to happen. But these memories are fading more and more with each day, as dark as he knows those last few months were, he doesn’t dwell on the dark parts. Because, he remembers, for four years his life consisted of craft tables and jumbo sized puzzles. For four years he would work tirelessly in the lab with Peter until Olivia walked through the door at the end of the day with their favorite person in the world balanced on her hip. For four years that little girl would squeal for her daddy, run up to him for a hug, and then smile mischievously at him, her grandpa, before begging for a Red Vine. For four years a perfect little girl running around the lab in her father’s pea coat and an oversized tin-foil hat could make him forget the events of the day, and the dark moments of his life that she wasn’t a part of.
He remembers her, and that is more than enough for him.