"Indiana, huh?" James wonders how one would make the adjustment from a small conservative town to, well, New York City. Elizabeth answers as she continues to bustle around the kitchen. She never seems to stop moving for long.
"Yup. Address from one town, phone number from another. Smack dab in the middle of conservative nowhere. Lovely people but very different from me." She throws the words over her shoulder to the table where James, Idina, and Jackie are eating. Idina's brow furrows as she detects deep pain beneath the factual tone.
"So how'd you get out of rehearsals tonight?" Idina changes the subject with a meaningful glance to James. She shakes her head and rolls her eyes as he's too involved in his food to notice.
"We don't open for another few weeks, thank goodness. And I've been able to sing Out Tonight since I was seventeen, as well as the other songs, so missing one night wasn't a big deal. They know I'll make up for it." Elizabeth is obviously excited, thrilled, but for some reason also seems nervous.
"Have you begun costumes yet?" Jackie loves the fun costumes she's always seen her mother wear and wonders if this girl Elizabeth gets to wear fun costumes as well. Elizabeth smiles at Jackie but Idina notices the pain in her eyes.
"Yes we have. I have my costume here, though we haven't rehearsed in them yet." Elizabeth's back straightens and she tenses at the mention of rehearsing in costume.
"Are you excited?" Elizabeth hesitates, unsure of how much Jackie knows about her mother, not wanting to ruin her innocence.
"Kind of...they've never had a Mimi quite like me." She takes the Snyders's empty plates and begins to do the dishes. Idina and James exchange a look.
"James and Jackie love doing the dishes together. How about we let them do that and you can show me your costume?" Idina hopes the girl agrees. She's worried about her. Elizabeth turns and looks between Idina and James, her already open eyes widen and shutter. She blinks.
"Sure. Let's go to my room and spare James and Jackie the horror." Elizabeth leads the way back to her bedroom and holds the door open for Idina, shutting it firmly behind her. Idina begins to make conversation as Elizabeth retrieves her costume.
"So conservative Indiana to a stripper on Broadway. An interesting paradox. I've got to give you props for staying true to yourself."
"It wasn't easy. My parents didn't...agree. They rather hated anything Broadway or theatre or secular related. Yours was actually the first secular concert I ever went to." Elizabeth stands there holding the skimpy costume, unsure of how to proceed. She looks up and makes full eye contact for the first time that night. The memory hits Idina like a wave and she's thrown into it. Exiting the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis through the stagedoor, stopping to sign whatever people asked. About halfway through the crowd, Idina signs yet another program. She reaches for the next one and her attention is caught by the small, scar covered arm extending the program. Her gaze follows the arm up the waif like figure to her striking eyes. The depths and intensity of the eyes seem to stare clear into Idina's soul. "Thank you for coming tonight, Ms. Menzel. You're even more incredible in person." The quiet words seem to mean more, as though the girl truly means them and has learned not to use words lightly. Idina pauses and does something she rarely does at the stagedoor. She reaches out and pulls the girl into a hug. "You're beautiful," Idina whispers in the girl's ear before releasing her and continuing on to the next person. She turns back to try and catch another glimpse of the girl, but she's already disappeared. Idina is brought back to the present with a soft hand on her shoulder.
"Idina? Are you okay?" Concern is written all over Elizabeth's face as she stands there, now in costume.
"Yeah, sorry. I'm okay. I remember you know. You were at my concert in Indy." Idina takes in the girl's appearance. "Oh honey."
"I know. It looks awful. I still have three weeks to get to be as thin as I need to be though." Elizabeth crosses her arms protectively across herself.
"No, Elizabeth. That's not what I meant at all. Honey, you can see your bones." Idina's heart aches for the girl, her eyes traveling over memory-formed scars and bones far too visible. She remembers when she was nearly that painfully thin. "Can I tell you something?"
"Of course. You can tell me anything. I'll listen." Elizabeth sits next to Idina on her bed.
"So, you know that Taye and I were married for a long time before Walker was born, and, well, messing around even longer than that. Well, Taye wasn't terribly keen on being a father. Of course I was on birth control, he made sure I took it every day. But you know that stuff isn't always 100% effective. I was pregnant, several times. Every time he would find out, he would beat me until...until I lost the baby." Elizabeth wraps her arm around Idina, comforting her and wiping her tears. "He found out about Walker at the same time as everyone else did, at that press conference we spoke at. He couldn't do anything without everyone getting suspicious, so I was safe, for a while at least. But those times after I lost them...I felt so alone. I remember what it feels like, honey. But I promise. You're not alone."
Plays » If/Then Rated: T, English, Hurt/Comfort & Friendship, Words: 12k+, Follows: 1, Published: 5/4/2015 Updated: 4/10/2017}
1 Chapter 1: You're Not Alone