Anyone who knew Clementine would tell you she wasn't exactly normal. She never had been, not even as a toddler. Clementine's love of fairytales was nothing unusual, but the hours she would spend staring at the castle mural in the nursery did worry her parents.
As a child, her differences became more pronounced. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that her parents missed her birthday again due to the disappearance of her big brother, Devon.
Clementine hadn't exactly been thrilled at celebrating another birthday alone, but if it meant getting her big brother back, she supposed it was okay. And she had gotten a new a new toy oven.
Clementine was just worried about the fact that the prepackaged baking mixes required water. She hated water, even if it was necessary to her survival. She'd been told the correct term was hydrophobia, but Clementine thought of it as simply being smart. After all, who knew what was in the stuff? They got it from lakes for crying out loud. Lakes had fish. And if an organization or a government wanted to get to everyone, what would be a better way to do so than through the water supply? After all people used it for everything. They even bathed in it.
Clementine shuddered. Baths and showers were definitely not her favorite things.
Clementine didn't exactly have the easiest time in school. While the other kids didn't outright ostracize her, they kept their distance. After all, she wore formal dresses to school everyday and preached about the dangers of water. So when Faye Roth had asked Clementine to come over to her house after school one day, Clementine had been understandably excited.
Even though they had already met, Clementine felt the need to reintroduce herself to Faye.
"Hello, Faye Roth. My name is Clementine Catherine Dawson," she said, formally introducing herself.
"You're funny," Faye giggled as she shook her hand. "Oh, and you're it!" she tagged Clementine as she ran away.
Clementine pursued her, thinking how happy she was to have met Faye in detention earlier. She'd gotten in trouble because she'd sabotaged yet another water fountain. Clementine simply couldn't come to terms with the fact that her school actually promoted drinking water. Faye had been in detention because she'd punched a boy who'd been teasing a first-grader. She had something of a temper.
Soon the two girls became tired of tag and decided they had better do their homework. Both their parents were strict about that sort of thing.
Afterwards, Clementine confided in Faye how her mom and dad hadn't been spending much time with her lately.
"Mom's always been pretty busy, but ever since the triplets were born, all she does is work," Clementine told her.
"What about your dad?" asked Faye.
"He's always taking care of the triplets. They're always crying about something. It's so annoying, I'm glad their birthday's tomorrow," Clementine replied.
She looked at the clock and sighed. "Well, I guess I should go now since I still have my chores to do," Clementine grimaced. "You're so lucky you have a maid."
They said their farewells and Faye informed her that she'd love to have her over again.
The next day brought with it the triplets' birthday. Clementine's parents were so worn out from work and taking care of the girls, that they'd decided to forego a party and simply celebrate in the nursery. Dawn, as the eldest, had been first.
Next was Eliana.
Followed by Leila.
Clementine noticed that the two eldest triplets seemed to be closer. Dawn and Eliana were always together, sharing their toys.
They even played with their dolls at the same time.
Leila was different.
She was more serious and spent most of her time lost in thought or reading books. The peg box and xylophone were too simple to catch her interest.
Clementine knew she shouldn't pick favorites, but she liked Leila best. She saw a bit of her own eccentricity in the girl and couldn't help but feel like she understood her.
A few days later, it was Clementine's birthday. She was unsurprised when a crisis with the triplets meant her birthday party was cancelled. Still, she forgot all about it when she saw her room.
Ever since her brother had moved out, she'd been staying in his old room, but it wasn't to her taste. It had turtles on the wallpaper. Turtles, in Clementine's opinion, were almost as bad as fish. In fact, they were just below frogs on the list of animals she disliked. So she was understandably ecstatic when Adrian had had her room completely redone in violet, her favorite color. He even made sure to include a castle mural similar to the one in the nursery.
Once she got over how awesome her room was, she decided that if her parents wouldn't be providing her with a cake, she'd bake one herself.
Clementine had taken quite a liking to her toy oven. She spent most of her free time baking muffins, cookies, and brownies. Lately she'd been learning how to make cakes and pies.
After she ate her cake, Clementine's birthday was officially over and she became a teenager.
Violet was still her favorite color.
"I can't believe Winston asked you to the prom!" Faye giggled. She and Clementine were having a sleepover, which had almost immediately devolved into a gossip fest.
"I know, right? He's not too bad looking but he's on the swim team," Clementine made a face.
Faye rolled her eyes. "You and your weird water phobia."
Clementine's response was to whack her friend with a pillow.
Once the pillow fight finally ended, the topic of prom came up again.
"Clem..." Faye started.
"Why-don't-we-go-to-prom-together?" She said it so fast it sounded more like one word than a complete sentence.
"Sure," Clementine replied, not missing a beat.
Faye just looked at her. "Clem, I know sometimes you don't see things the way everyone else does...You get this would be like a date, right?"
"Yep," Clementine nodded.
"People could talk about us. Say nasty things," Faye continued.
Clementine just shrugged. "So? I've never cared what others think," she paused. "Besides, they're all a bunch of sheep anyways. How much do you want to bet that next year there'll be dozens of BFFs going to prom together? I mean, look at how many girls started wearing their sweats to school after I'd been doing it for weeks."
Faye groaned. "I should have figured you'd react like this. Here I've been nervous for weeks about asking you..."
Clementine just laughed as she gave her friend a hug.
As Clementine prepared dinner a couple of nights later, she thought about what an amazing time she'd had at prom. Sure there'd been a few whispers when she and Faye and walked in together, but once the novelty died down no one seemed to mind. In fact, a few of her fellow classmates had even told her how much they admired her for going to prom with someone of the same sex since it was something they hadn't had the courage to do.
As she stirred the Stu Surprise, Clementine thought her prediction about the increase of same-sex couples at next year's prom wouldn't be far off.
With all the excitement of prom Clementine had forgotten all about her sisters' birthday. After dinner, everyone gathered in the dinning room to celebrate.
Dawn looked pensive as she aged into a child. No doubt she was worrying about all the trouble her sisters would now be getting into. Clementine knew she wished they could be more responsible sometimes.
Eliana looked as though she didn't have a care in the world as she made her transition. She wore the same small smile she always did.
Leila wasn't quite as pleased.
Clementine had interrupted the ceremony in order to change into her swimsuit which she felt was better suited the occasion. Knowing how much her eldest sister hated water, Leila wasn't sure this wasn't some subtle statement that reflected Clementine's attitude about the triplets. Then again maybe she was reading too much into it. Even she knew her sister could be a bit weird at times.
Like when she swore her hands would attack her after having a shower.
Life continued normally in the Dawson household. Well, as normally as it ever did.
Her sister was way ahead of all the other kids in her grade, and she preferred to spend her time working in the garage on her latest inventions.
Even when they didn't exactly turn out as planned...
Clementine was spending most of her time with Faye, who was now her girlfriend. After the kiss they'd shared at prom, Clementine had found she was amenable to the idea.
No one was shocked when she invited Faye to the next family celebration.
The days had flown by so fast it was already time for the triplets to have another birthday. Eliana and Dawn both invited some of their friends as well.
When the time came to blow out the candles, Dawn turned into quite the stunner.
She didn't seem to care though, she was just excited to celebrate her sisters' birthdays.
Eliana was happy. Clementine was sure she was thinking of all the boys she'd now be allowed to date.
And Leila... Well, she was her same old, serious self.
And she was not pleased about her sisters' crazy cheering antics.
Clementine's birthday followed short on the heels of the triplets'. Faye had insisted that they go to Cathedral in order to celebrate.
"Can you believe how fast high school went by?" Faye asked her, as they sipped their drinks.
"No, I can't. I swear, it feels like just yesterday we met in detention," Clementine mused.
"Best thing to ever happen to me," Faye replied, smiling.
Clementine responded by giving her a quick kiss...
...That soon turned into something more intense.
"So," said Faye when they came up for air, "have you figured out yet what you want to do once you graduate?"
"I'm not sure, but I think I'd like to be a chef," Clementine told her.
"You'd be great, Clem. You're such a good cook," Faye said. "And, I'm sure you could think of some very creative uses for certain food items." She raised her eyebrows suggestively.
Clementine chuckled. "You're such a letch, Faye," she teased.
"And you love me for it."
"Yes, I do," Clementine laughed.
"Clem, do you'd think maybe you'd want to get a place together after graduation?" Faye asked after a moment.
"And leave behind all the drama and bathroom hogging I get to put up with every day?" Clementine joked. "Of course I would," she continued.
Soon it was time for the two to say goodbye. Clementine gave Faye a kiss and promised to call her the next day.
As Clementine rode home in the limo Faye had rented for her, she thought about her future. She wasn't sure where exactly things between her and Faye were headed. She knew she loved her. How could she not? Faye was the only one who had ever truly accepted Clementine with all her quirks and craziness, even if she didn't completely understand her. Clementine just wasn't sure she was ready to jump into marriage if that's what Faye wanted.
The moment the limo turned down her street all thoughts of marriage fled from Clementine's mind. Her house was surrounded by emergency vehicles.
Clementine jumped from the limo.
Her house was on fire.