I. Young Love
Diveria is a large world with many places to call home; however, one region in particular is special, unique. Deeply surrounded by cavernous walls lies the city of The Quo, home of the Quorians. With 30 habitable levels, the city is as wide as it is high. On the outer limits of the eighth floor live the Jruks, a small family of three – Draka, the eighty-seven years old father, Birvena, the seventy-five year old mother and Jarvie, the thirty-three year old son. To those outside of the Quorian race, the ages may be surprising. Their race ages at an increased rate compared to others in Diveria. One year to a Quorian is the equivalent of six months to the other races.
“Heading off to school Mom. See you after,” Jarvie shouted, walking out of the house.
“Meet us at the restaurant right after school. We have a busy night ,” Birvena replied. Jarvie agreed and walked to school. The parents owned a successful restaurant on the fifth floor in Restaurant Alley called Draka’s Diner. It was a humble eatery, but reliable and well-known in the city. The family had run the restaurant for over twenty years. It was a dream for Draka – so much so that he named it after himself.
On his way to school, Jarvie noticed Saune walking alone. He quietly crept up behind her and yelled.
“Jarvie! You know better than to scare me like that.” The couple laughed. Quorians have a unique blue skin pigmentation. Their skin color can vary from one Quorian to another, some being extremely light while others are a rich, royal blue, appearing almost purple. Any given variation isn’t indicative of anything in particular; the pigment one is born with is random.
“I just couldn’t resist. You look too sweet when you’re scared.”
“That line doesn’t work on me anymore,” she laughed.
“It’s beautiful to watch you look at me and be at peace knowing I’m here to save you, protect you.”
“You know you would see the same face if you just didn’t scare me! I’m usually happy to see you.” She paused. “ Also, I can protect myself, but you know that.”
“It isn’t the same.” Jarvie laughed as they shared a kiss and walked together to school. Jarvie and Saune were the “it” couple at their school. They were both well-liked, had a good group of friends and were genuine, good Quorians. Jarvie stood slightly taller than Saune at 3’5″ while she was 3’0″. Jarvie was considered tall for a Quorian as the average height was three-feet. When they arrived at school, Jarvie and Saune attended their mandatory classes and maintained good grades. Jarvie never cared much for academics, but he put the effort in, knowing the information was necessary. Saune was a devout student, ensuring all her grades were the highest in their class. It came easy to her, so it didn’t put much strain on her personal life.
After the school-day ended, Saune and Jarvie said goodbye to their friends and walked home together. Saune did not have a job, since her parents didn’t require her to work but Jarvie did. The couple would routinely visit Draka’s Diner after school to help out. Out of respect for Draka and Birvena, Saune would assist Jarvie, as long as she didn’t have any pending schoolwork. Her main reason for going to the diner was to spend more time with Jarvie, and if she had to work a little, she didn’t mind. Her love for him was real and she felt the same in return. Draka and Birvena questioned Saune frequently attending the diner, but after talking to her parents, they didn’t mind. She was maintaining her grades in school and completing all her work. For the remainder of the school year, Saune went to Draka’s Diner with Jarvie. With every passing day, Saune’s loyalty to the business grew and grew. It was a well-respected restaurant in the Alley, and she started to fall in love with it.
Eventually, the school year came to an end and both students successfully graduated, – Saune at the top of their class. Jarvie did well but still never fully applied himself because he knew the end result. His parents always expected him to take over the restaurant and Jarvie was very interested in doing so. As long as he graduated from school, they promised to teach him everything he needed to know to run their successful business. Saune’s parents had a different idea for her, with plans to possibly become a medical Quorian, but her desires shifted. Jarvie truly loved Saune and she could feel his passion, his admiration.
Their shared love caused Saune to make a couple decisions that truly upset her family. First, she abandoned her parents’ dream of going into medicine and joined Jarvie at Draka’s Diner. This was an epic failure from her parents’ perspective. They wanted the biggest and best for their young daughter. They couldn’t accept Saune’s veering from her bright future. Further disappointment came when Jarvie and Saune announced they were moving in together, and proclaiming love for one another over The Enchanted Reservoir. Draka and Birvena couldn’t be more excited for the kids, offering their services to cater the event and help with planning. Unfortunately for Saune, her parents did not accept the news in the same light. They actually didn’t accept it at all. Once she told them about their Proclamation plans, her parents refused to attend the service. They couldn’t support or understand the choices the young couple were making. Saune was heartbroken and although she felt alone, Jarvie and his family were there to welcome her into their lives.
II. Commitment of Love
A few months passed and the road to resuming a normal life was imminent. Jarvie and Saune worked full-time in Draka’s Diner while Draka and Birvena stepped back to allow the lovebirds to grow and learn. Birvena spent time with Saune planning their Proclamation and the catering menu. Jarvie split his time between helping his wife-to-be with the event and learning the business side of the diner from his father, Draka. Saune made it very clear that after the Proclamation, she would spend time with Draka to catch up on her business knowledge. They knew she was an intelligent Quorian, so no one questioned her ability.
Saune was appreciative of Draka and Birvena for welcoming her into their family as if she were their daughter. The strain she felt from her parents bore a hole in her soul that she wasn’t sure would ever heal. Maybe one day the pain would subside, but for now, she needed to focus on their Proclamation and future. Her love for Jarvie was stronger than ever and she knew he felt the same. Although they found themselves busy, they made sure to spend time with one another, further intertwining their lives. Their new home was another project they kept them occupied. Although there were stressful times, it only brought them closer together. Both felt lucky to marry their best friend.
When the day of the Proclamation arrived, everything was ready to go. Birvena and Saune frivolously worked to ensure everything was executed perfectly. Fortunately, Saune was not a Quorian who overanalyzed every piece of their ceremony. Her main focus was her everlasting love for and life with her future husband. Jarvie made sure to allow her creative freedom with the ceremony as he was not concerned with the details. As long as it was Saune beside The Enchanted Reservoir, he was happy.
Most of the attendees at their Proclamation of Love were friends, with few family members. Saune’s parents stayed true to their word and did not attend. She secretly hoped they would show, but when they didn’t, she wasn’t surprised. They hadn’t spoken since the announcement. Saune knew they wouldn’t show up unless she apologized, however, she never intended to do so. Once the ceremony began, Jarvie and Saune met next to The Enchanted Reservoir to hear their Leader, Lady Vixa, give her blessing.
III. The Proclamation
Lady Vixa has been the Leader of The Quo for many years. Although she does not speak much, she decided to oversee every Proclamation Ceremony. A Leader was not required to attend the ceremony, let alone oversee it. However it was generally understood that Lady Vixa enjoyed the happiness from each ceremony and wanted to vicariously live through the participants. Regardless of the reasoning, she announced her personalized blessing next to The Enchanted Reservoir, the Quorians most sacred area of the city. When she finished, Jarvie took the opportunity to profess his love to Saune, before she returned the same sentiment. To everyone’s surprise, Jarvie spent an exorbitant amount of time swooning Saune. A few Quorians laughed, confirming he no longer needed to win her over – they had both won.
After the ceremony, everyone traveled to Draka’s Diner in Restaurant Alley to celebrate. Lady Vixa did not attend so everyone could freely celebrate. She returned home to the highest level of the city, the 30th floor. Jarvia, Saune and their entire support team ate too much food and enjoyed the common drink of most Quorians, Qubble! It was the traditional alcoholic drink of the city, – tart with a sweet, zesty aftertaste. Hours went by and eventually the diner began to empty out until it was just Jarvie, Saune, Draka and Birvena.
“It’s getting late. Your father and I are going to head home.”
“Are you sure Mom?” Jarvie looked at his father. “One more bite, Dad? ” Both his parents politely declined and walked towards the door to leave.
“We almost forgot this.” Draka tossed a key to Jarvie and Saune.
“I’ll lock up, don’t worry,” Jarvie chuckled.
“You better, because if you don’t, it is your responsibility.” Jarvie had a puzzled look and felt Saune grip his arm tightly. Saune and Jarvie made eye contact, sharing the same understanding.
“Are you telling me…”
“Yes…” Draka looked at Saune. “The restaurant belongs to you both. Your mother and I know you are ready to take control and turn this diner into the best restaurant it can be.” Saune yelled with excitement and ran over to hug her in-laws. Jarvie stood there, unable to move, deeply touched by their gift. Birvena walked over to her son and embraced him.
“I know you will take great care of this place. You both will.”
“Thank you, Mom. You won’t regret this.”
“I know. You found a beautiful Quorian. Make sure to hold onto her. She’s special.” Jarvie and his mother both looked over at Saune. He was amazed by her beauty.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Jarvie said, now looking at his mom. Birvena got close to Jarvie and whispered in his ear.
“So when can we expect grandchildren?” Jarvie didn’t know how to respond, but fortunately the love of his life came over and hugged his mother in excitement. Jarvie felt a sense of relief and gave his father a tight hug to say thank you. The four of them walked out of Draka’s Diner together. Draka and Birvena were excited to see what the kids planned to do with it. Jarvie handed Saune the key and she locked up for the night, for the first time. It felt natural to her, comforting.
Draka and Birvena walked home, wishing the kids a good night and to get home safe. Jarvie and Saune wished them well, thanked them again and made their own way home, holding hands along the way.
“All in all a great day,” Saune said.
“Yes.” There was slight hesitation in Jarvie’s voice. He tried to hide it but it was too late. Saune noticed.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Nothing. It isn’t important.” Saune stopped, wanting to make sure her husband was happy. It was, after all, supposed to be the happiest day of their lives.
“Tell me. I won’t leave until you do.” She looked at him with determination. Jarvie knew she meant it, too. Saune was a stubborn Quorian. After a slight pause, he blurted it out.
“My mother asked me when can she expect grandchildren.” Saune instantly felt a jolt in her body that caused her to twitch but Jarvie didn’t notice it.
“What did you tell her?”
“I never had a chance to answer. You came over and the conversation ended.”
“Okay. Well it’s been a long day. Let’s head home. We can discuss it tomorrow,” Saune said. Jarvie agreed that was the best idea. He was curious how this conversation would go but felt too exhausted to have it now. There was little conversation when they returned home. Once inside, they fell asleep within minutes. It was the most relaxed either one of them had felt in a long time.
IV. The Children
Days went by and the conversation between the two never occurred. They put all their effort and energy into Draka’s Diner, ensuring to maintain its popularity and success. Saune met with Draka to learn the financial side of the business since she was too busy earlier planning their Proclamation. Jarvie was familiarizing himself with how certain foods were prepared and who regularly dined with them. Their regular customers were a big part of their success.
Restaurant Alley is located on the fifth floor of The Quo and although there are many options to choose from, Draka’s Diner is centrally located. There is a nice seating area outside that helps bring traffic in from wandering Quorians. Draka and Birvena were lucky to have purchased the diner years ago. Many have offered to take it off their hands, but they’ve always refused, knowing Jarvie would successfully take over and continue to pass it down through the generations.
One evening, while Saune was closing up and Jarvie was cleaning, Birvena walked in, shocking both the children.
“Hello my favorite children! How are you two doing?” Jarvie knew his mother well enough to know she had a few too many Qubbles. He chuckled innocently.
“Just cleaning up and going to close. Seems like you’re having a great time, Mom?” he laughed.
“Be nice, Jarv!” his wife tried to hold back the laughter. “Besides, a Qubble sounds good right about now.” Saune walked towards the bar and began to mix a drink for herself. She offered one to Jarvie, who quickly accepted.
“You’re going to have a Qubble!? I guess that means no grandchildren yet.” Saune dropped a bottle, obviously uncomfortable with the comment.
“Mom, did you real-“
“What’s the harm in asking? Once I became a mother, I couldn’t wait to become a grandmother!” Jarvie and Saune looked at one another, uncomfortable by the inquiry. Neither of them knew what to say, but the silence was becoming uncomfortable, it was palpable.
“I’d love to have children. Hopefully we can make you a grandmother soon, Vena” Saune remarked. Birvena beamed, elated by the prospect of grandchildren. The two females-embraced one another while Jarvie stood on the other side of the diner, confused by the exchange.
“I’m not sure that is best for us,” he said, sternly.
“Don’t be foolish, son. It might seem scary, but it’s certainly worth every struggle.”
“I agree Jarvie! Let’s try to have children soon, okay?” Jarvie was confused by this discussion. Saune completely stunned him in front of Birvena. He couldn’t say much in front of her so he stood quiet and waited until she left. Saune and Birvena talked a little more about baby names and clothing until his mother finally left. Jarvie quickly locked the door behind her and the newly Proclaimed couple had their first fight. Saune was adamant about having them while Jarvie shouted back, questioning how it was possible.
“We both know you aren’t able to have a child! Why did you tell my mother you could!?” Jarvie regretted those words the second they left his lips. Saune didn’t say another word that night, nor the next. She didn’t speak to him for four days after his comment. He tried many times to apologize and seek forgiveness but the offense was too deep. As a Quorian, it was socially expected that females were to have children. Some decided to not have them but there was a stigma surrounding that decision. Choosing not to have children was seen as worse than being unable to have them. Saune knew from a young age she would not be able to produce children. Jarvie knew this before their Proclamation, and had accepted it. He understood that children were not an option for them, so he was startled by her comments to his mother. Regardless, he tried to express his sorrow but his efforts failed. Saune was deeply offended, outraged.
V. The Act
Three weeks went by with barely any communication between Saune and Jarvie. They continued to manage Draka’s Diner without any issues. Jarvie didn’t want to disappoint his parents but he worried they noticed something had changed. Saune was quiet although organized with business handlings. She was able to maintain the finances and ensure everything was running smoothly.
One morning, before opening, Draka and Birvena paid a visit. Both children were startled to see them and grew more concerned when they locked the door behind them. Even though only four Quorians were inside the diner, the air seemed close, heavy.
“So you still have a key?” Jarvie questioned his father.
“Don’t be smart with me. What’s going on between you two? Something is up.” His father was stern.
“Things have been very strange the last few weeks. Are there problems with the diner?” Birvena looked at Saune, knowing she headed the finances.
“Nope, business is great,” Saune replied, looking down at the books. Draka and Birvena continued to pry and it didn’t seem they would leave without an explanation. Just as Jarvie was fabricating a lie to get his parents to leave, Saune burst out with a response.
“I want to have children, but Jarvie refuses.” Jarvie couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He was stunned, and words escaped him. His parents were outraged. They began berating him, questioning his goals, his outlook on life. Draka immediately felt the shame it would bring upon their family. All his years of working in this diner would come to nothing. Birvena began to cry at the prospect of never being a grandmother. Neither parent could understand why their son didn’t want children. Jarvie stood there looking at his mother and father. His heart felt ripped from his chest, seeing his parents crumble as the love of his life maimed his family. All of this pain because of a lie, stemming from a deep secret. Without saying a word, Jarvie walked out of the diner and left the three Quorians he loved most. He quickly realized that no one was going to come after him – it was three against one. How could this be?
VI. A Reversal
For three days, Jarvie roamed the city. He couldn’t bring himself to contact his parents or wife as he tried to wrap his head around what had happened. He was a good Quorian who did what was expected of him. All he wanted a simple life. Jarvie couldn’t understand how he came to be in this situation. There was no winning in this scenario. He could say nothing, protecting the love of his life from her “shameful” secret, or come clean about everything. He didn’t know who he should be loyal to, his parents or his wife. Though he struggled with this dilemma for three days, he was no closer to a resolution. But he knew he needed to return home. The diner needed him, he thought. His family needed him.
Back at the diner, Jarvie could see it was packed. He mentally prepared himself to walk in and get to work. Setting foot inside, he noticed Saune behind the counter, his father in the kitchen and mother serving customers. He was about to get behind the counter when Draka noticed him, grabbed him by the arm and dragged him outside.
“You have brought such shame upon this family. How dare you walk in here like nothing happened!” he whispered with anger through clenched teeth. Jarvie was completely shocked by his father’s reaction.
“You’re overreacting, Dad. Let me come in and we can talk abou-“
“No! You go home, if Saune will allow. You underestimate humiliation you have caused!” He stopped and looked down, taking a moment to catch his breath. “ You left us here, without help, with no idea where you went, if something had happened to you. How could you be so irrational?”
“And you think your reaction is justified right now?” Jarvie challenged.
Draka was livid.
“Clearly you returned home to cause more carnage. I suggest you leave and don’t bother to return.”
“Get out of here, Dad, let me speak to-” Draka stopped him from going in but Birvena and Saune walked out to see what the commotion was about. Draka explained his interaction with Jarvie and stormed back inside. He had nothing left to say. Birvena walked towards her son and burst into tears.
“How could you…I just…” She wanted to hug her son but felt such deep hurt. She couldn’t understand why her boy would turn against their family.
“How could I what?” Jarvie heard himself getting angry and although he felt bad to counter his parents, he felt justified. He could not comprehend why they were acting this way.
“Saune told us everything. I can’t believe you. All we wanted was to keep our family pride intact and you obliterated that.” Jarvie, once again stunned, had no words. Birvena inched back inside and he was left staring at his wife, who suddenly seemed like a stranger.
“What have you done? What did you tell them, Saune?”
“The truth.”She looked around and noticed Quorians now observing their interaction. “You don’t want to have children with me!” she yelled at him, making sure everyone heard her words. Jarvie suddenly realized what was going on.
“So this is it, huh? You know I love you more than I love myself, Saune“
“I know., she responded, with a smirk. As Saune entered the diner, she stopped herself to look at Jarvie once more. “ Don’t bother coming back here, Jarvie. You will receive your ex-Proclamation papers with a settlement from your parents.”
“You can’t be serious, Saune. This is my family’s diner.” Draka opened the door to help her in.
“Correction, this is our diner, Jarvie, not yours. You heard your wife. Now go.” Jarvie was heartbroken. He planned to return, hoping things had settled enough to talk to everyone. Apparently three days was enough time for Saune to win over his own parents. He knew she was smart, but he had underestimated her cunning. Jarvie underestimated her intelligence, and her love.
VII. Draka’s Corner
Two weeks after he was exiled from his family unit, Jarvie was living on the 15th level with an old school-mate. They weren’t very close, but the acquaintance was kind enough to lend a hand. Somehow, aware of Jarvie’s location, a Quorian mailer arrived at his door. He received an envelope with ex-Proclamation papers and a large sum of Jinugery. He was relieved to see he had enough to start his life again, but then reality hit as his world crumbled before him. Not only had he lost his wife, but both of his parents refused to speak with him.
That night he went down to Restaurant Alley to hand Saune the papers. He took care to stay out of sight, observing his former family before approaching. What he witnessed put a knot in his stomach. Saune and his parents were closing up the diner, laughing. They acted as if nothing had happened, like no one was in pain. They seemed to be over everything and had already moved on. Jarvie didn’t think he could feel worse than he he did. He had intended to walk up to them but after witnessing their exchange, he could not. Jarvie stood in the shadows until they were out of sight. He walked up to the diner, and slid the signed documents under the locked door. Jarvie stood there for a while, looking inside, reminiscing. He grew up in this restaurant. He couldn’t understand how it gotten to this point. One tear rolled down his royal blue cheek. He wiped it off and walked away, knowing he would not return for a while, perhaps forever. Unfortunately Jarvie still felt adoration for Saune – she was the love of his life. This love was so powerful that his secret about Saune’s infertility remained steadfast, even at the expense of his own family.
As time progressed, Jarvie conceded to the fact that he needed to start anew elsewhere. Since his parents and Saune lived on the eigth floor, he decided it would be best to settle higher up. Draka had a fear of heights, so his parents rarely visited the higher levels. After much research, he decided to relocate to the 24th floor. It was higher up, a little more expensive, but worth the price to avoid his family. Time didn’t heal any wounds for Jarvie; however, it did allow him to make peace with the situation. He reached a point of acceptance, and he had no desire to see them again. He had no desire to stir up those awful emotions.
A few weeks after moving to the 24th floor, he opened up his very own shack called Draka’s Corner. He was torn about the name at first but decided it was for the best. He didn’t hate his father; on the contrary, he still loved him. There was still part of Jarvie that appreciated him for all the knowledge and wisdom he had shared throughout Jarvie’s life. If it weren’t for Draka, Jarvie would never be able to nurture any business.
Draka’s Corner opened with success, although he only served drinks and snacks. He was limited by a lack of space for proper food preparation. Besides, the only place to serve patrons was the bar-front outside.None of his customers would be staying for a full meal. The shack had a unique look, but he cherished it. The bar was his.
On opening day, he met his first customer. As expected, the first order was a Qubble. Jarvie chuckled remembering the last good memory he had of his mother. She entered the diner intoxicated from too much of the drink. He mixed a glass and served his guest. Jarvie was so proud to make his first sale that he asked the customer if he could keep the receipt as a souvenir to hang in the bar. The patron agreed. After he signed the paper and handed it to Jarvie, they shook hands and introduced themselves to one another.
“Nice to meet you. My name is Jarvie. Thank you for this…sorry, what is your name?”
“The name is Smolar. Nice to meet you Jarvie. I live here, on the 24th floor.”