Six Years Ago
The nursery is dark and quiet and cold. She doesn't hear his footsteps approaching, she doesn't see his cautious frame from her place on the floor. She faces the crib that remains empty. That will always be empty. Maybe forever.
"Mary," Francis flicks on the light and she squints as she curls further in on herself. "You can't keep sleeping in here…" she doesn't say anything, just stares into nothing. Francis sighs as he closes the door and he leaves her alone, as he has the last two months. She's always alone.
Alone and so very empty.
Kenna got her out today, if only for a moment if it wasn't for her persistent pestering, she wouldn't have gone but she takes her out for lunch and she doesn't push as Mary picks at her food; the bags under her eyes are as heavy as Kenna's shopping bags.
"I know better than to ask how you are." Kenna says softly, "Francis tells me you've been sleeping on the floor in the nursery."
Mary swallows hard.
"He says you hardly leave it…"
"It...he shouldn't have told you that."
"He's only worried about you," Kenna says softly like that's supposed to make her feel better. Mary shakes her head. "He just wants to help."
"And telling people how I grieve is supposed to help me, how?"
"I want to go home." She says as she stands quickly, "Take me home."
"Now. I wanna go now." She snaps and Kenna rises like she's been struck by lightning, tossing a wad of bills down without bothering to count it, linking her arm with Mary and they start the quick descent towards the parking lot where Kenna parked her car. It feels so far away, the walk feels so long. But they get there and soon they're pulling into her driveway, behind Francis's car and she wonders why he's home so early. Kenna doesn't get out when she does, but she gets out like she remembers something and then she's chasing after Mary, saying something about needing to go back because she forgot something at the restaurant but Mary just wants to go inside.
"Mary." Francis looks startled when she comes crashing through the door and he's shouting at her wait as she races up the stairs. "Mary, wait- wait." She doesn't turn around, she just throws open the door.
The nursery is empty and all the air leaves her lungs.
Francis is right behind her, staring at her with quiet apologies as she walks to the middle of the room feeling very much like she just got hit by a train.
"Francis…" she whispers, "Where's…"
"I thought…I thought it was too much for you to see it every day...the constant reminder…"
"So you...got rid of it…" She feels like her bones are breaking, "Where's the crib?" She whispers, "And the toys...the rocking chair?"
"Where is it?" She asks as she spins on her heels, "Where...Where is it?!"
"Where is it?" She steps closer to him with fire in her eyes, "Give it back." She snaps and then she shoves him when he shakes his head and starts to say something that sounds like a no, "Give it back!" She shouts it over and over as he reaches. She shouts it again and again until the it, turns into him.
And then she's screaming and screaming and screaming.
"Gideon." Mary searches the house for him but she can't seem to find him and she notices the mess in the kitchen, the flowers in vases that are shattered on the tiled floor. She sighs and runs a hand through her hair. Her mother should be arriving from the airport soon, but neither one of them have the energy to clean it up.
She supposed her mother will have to deal with it.
"I...I don't know why I did that." Gideon's voice is hoarse as he staggers out of a dark hallway. He's still wearing the clothes he wore at the hospital, three days ago.
"It's alright." Mary says softly, "Why don't you try and take a shower before the minister gets here?" She suggests cautiously, "Or sleep a bit?"
"I don't want to sleep."
"You need rest…" she says softly as he approaches him, he pulls away when she reaches, a firm shake of his head leaves his dark curls even messier.
"I need my daughter." He says on a snap. She steps back with a swallow, picking at her nail bed.
"Yes…" Mary whispers as she casts her eyes down to the floor. Agatha died two days ago, so quickly, like she blinked and she was gone.
"Greer flew in yesterday, she'll be watching Anne...unless you think she should go…"
"A funeral is no place for a toddler. It's not even a place for a child. And yet it's a child's funeral, how fucked up is that?" Gideon says in a rush of air, words running together and Mary isn't really sure what to say to that. He's pacing now, quick sharp steps on the kitchen tile, looking every bit the grieving parent that he is.
"Gideon...I know this is…this is painful-"
"Painful?" He snaps, "Mary this is agony!"
"Do you?!" He shouts it as he looks at her like he wants to rip her apart. "I'm burying my child. My child. My little girl who...I was just holding her as a baby and now I am burying her, how could you possibly understand how this feels?" It isn't his fault she never told him, it isn't his fault she never explained exactly what led her and Francis to get a divorce. It doesn't make it hurt less, it knocks the wind out of her and she stumbles back with a hard swallow.
"I'm just trying to help." She whispers.
"Yeah…" He shakes his head, "Well, I'm sorry but I don't think that you can." With that he leaves the kitchen the same way he entered it, slow and drained. Like he's half alive and she doesn't know what to do. Mary waits until she hears the door open and then slams shut to sink to the floor in a puddle of tears.
"You know my mother is going to kill you if you walk into her house with mud all over your shoes," Francis says as he walks with Bash up the stone path towards the front door.
"Which is why I'm removing them." He smirks as he pulls one boot off and then the other, setting them aside and then sighing.
"What were you even doing?" Bash is a mess, covered in dirt, he wonders why the man didn't just shower before he picked him up. Bash just shrugs as Francis turns the knob and they step inside.
"I forgot to ask how the uh...art gallery thing went." Bash is saying as they walk, "I heard a certain someone was in attendance."
"A lot of people were in attendance, you will have to be more specific." Bash gives him a look and Francis rolls his eyes, "Okay, yes. She was there."
"Did you talk to her?"
"She didn't seem…in the mood to speak." He can't blame her, after what he did to her. Seeing him probably brought up a lot of emotions, it brought up a lot in him as well. He is a constant reminder of what she lost, what they lost, but all he could think about was how beautiful she looked in her evening gown and how the missing he smashed down for so long seemed to swell up in his chest once more.
He wonders if she missed him as much as he misses her, but he reminds himself over and over again that she let him go a long time ago and he has to live with that.
She has a new life now, with Gideon, the man who swooped in when she was broken and helped her heal. She must love him dearly, deeply, maybe even more than she loved Francis. She isn't his anymore, she belongs to someone else now, someone else gets to hold her and touch her and make her forget all of the terrible things he did to her.
"I...no I understand." Francis's mother is on the phone with someone, speaking softly as they walk up the hall towards the dining room and he squints at the sound of her voice. He's never heard his mother speak so…softly, warmly, and sympathetic.
"If there is anything you may need…" she pauses again, "Mary...is she alright?" That gets both and Francis and Bash's attention, both heads snapping up at Catherine. "My god…" she sighs heavily.
"Mom?" Francis questions, but the woman just shakes her head, gesturing for him to step back, to leave her to handle whatever this is. But if there is something wrong with Mary, he is desperate to know.
"When is the funeral?"
"Funeral!?" Francis asks loudly, did she just use Mary in the same sentence as a funeral? Why did she ask if Mary was okay and then ask when the funeral was in the same breath?
"Marie, if you need anything at all-"
"Is that her mother?" Francis asks, "What's going on-"
"Francis let her-"
"Is Mary okay?" He shouts the question and Bash is also tense beside him. His mother simply shakes her head as she says her goodbyes and hangs up the phone. "Mother-"
"Mary is alive." Is the first thing she says and the mental images of a wrecked plane and Mary in a casket fades from his mind, if only for a moment but something is wrong.
"Then what is going on?"
"Her...boyfriend...his daughter died." Catherine tells him, "The night of the opening, when she left so suddenly, it was because there were complications with Agatha."
"When did she…"
"The girl was dead before the plane touched ground." His mother says softly, "I do not know how close she was to her...but, her mother says that she treated Agatha as though she were her own child so." He knows from experience that Mary will not handle this well.
"I have to...I should...go see her." Francis says softly, Bash is already shaking his head. "No, I know her, I know…what this will feel like I should be there for her. I…"
"Francis, that is a very bad idea." Bash says quickly, "You showing up on her doorstep is not what she needs right now."
"Time." His mother finishes for him, "Bash is right, my dear," her voice drops into something warm and sweet, caring, "Seeing you will only make it worse." She says as she cups his face and he pulls himself away from her with a scoff.
"If it...pains you so much. I will go." She says after a moment.
"The last thing Mary needs is her ex-husband showing up at her current boyfriend's daughter's funeral."
"Francis, process that sentence before you argue any further," Bash says with a shake of his head.
"And think about what that would do to you." His mother says softly, "Going to a child's funeral. Even if it was one you never knew, it could take you back to memories you want to forget. Things you moved on from. Mary is facing that right now-"
"Which is why I should-"
"There is nothing you can do for her." It's said more on a snap than anything else, "You are no longer her husband."
"Must you keep reminding me-"
"I will keep reminding you until you forget this ridiculous fantasy of somehow winning her back." His mother snaps and Bash shifts awkwardly at the back of the room. "What do you think will happen if you go to this funeral if you approach her at this time? She'll embrace you? She'll come back. She won't, it will push her farther away."
"She needs to be with someone who understands-"
"Gideon understands." She says softly, "He may not have before but, oh he knows better than anyone now. She has him. They will grieve this tremendous loss together." Catherine sighs, "Something the two of you never really managed to do." She adds softly and he glared at her, that wasn't a fair statement and he feels his blood begin to boil.
"Francis maybe we should-" Bash is cut off by the phone ringing but his mother doesn't move to pick it up.
"She pushed me away!" He shouts
"And you fell between the legs of someone else!" Catherine shouts back. The phone continues to ring. "I want nothing more than you to reconcile with her, but this is not the way to do it. Do not force that man to grieve for two people he loves."
The phone rings again and again and when his mother doesn't move to answer it, Francis takes matters into his own hands, snatching it off the hook.
"Francis-" His mother scolds, but it's too late.
"Catherine?" The voice is soft, sniffly, hoarse but he recognizes it instantly.
"Mary…" His voice drops into something more sympathetic than the hateful tone he used with his mother two seconds before.
"Give me the phone." His mother whispers.
"Mary, I just heard...are you…I'm so sorry." She's quiet but he can hear her breaking on the other end.
"Francis." She whispers, "Tell your mother to call me." She chokes, he hears her breathing clip on a sob and then the line goes dead.
Gideon hasn't talked to her much, not since that morning where he shouted at her. She understands completely why he did that, she isn't angry. She just wishes that he knew.
The funeral home is empty, aside from them. They had to be here first to make sure everything was in order. She's straightening a display of flowers when Gideon quietly walks in. He doesn't glance at her, he keeps his eyes on the casket. A white wood box, with a fancy silver trim. Her mother spared no expense. It's closed, they both thought that was best. He showered finally, even trimmed his hair a bit, but he looks hollow, ghostlike, pale. He doesn't look like Gideon, the years of hospital visits and ICU beds have caught up with him and he looks aged now.
"Gideon." Mary approaches slowly, keeps a distance. "How about we go outside for a bit, get some air before everyone starts to arrive…"
"I don't want to leave her." He says softly, "but...thank you." He rests his hand on the lid of the casket and Mary takes a deep breath.
She walks outside because she can't breathe. She's never been to a child's funeral, her son was buried before she left the hospital, that's what the grief counselor said would be best.
They were wrong, but how would Francis know that?
She's practically hyperventilating, stomach twisting violently, her phone slips from her fingers and hits the pavement. It came out of nowhere, the pain from so many years ago, she didn't realize that this would break her as much as…
"Mary?" Her mother's feet pick up the pace as her heels click against, "Mary?! Hey, hey…" she's pressing her to her chest, smoothing her hair, shushing her softly.
"I thought this would be easier…" she sobs, "Because we knew she was….she was so sick, mom…"
"It didn't come out of nowhere…and I thought it wouldn't feel like…" Like when she had to say goodbye to her baby. Who wasn't sick. "But it does it feels like that...it feels just like that…"
"I know…I know Mary…I'm so sorry sweety."
She doesn't know how long they stand like that, how long her mother holds her for. The next thing she knows, she's sitting in a pew next to Gideon and the other guests, not listening to the guy speak. She doesn't think Gideon is thinking either. He just stares blankly ahead at the casket.
A/N: I'm back, this chapter is very dark and I apologize for that. I also apologize for falling off the face of the earth. I hope everyone had a lovely holiday season, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, new year. What else have I missed? Got a whole new President for us U.S. people uh. Thank the Lord.
Anyways, I...I'm sorry for being gone so long, as you know I was dealing with something very tragic. And if it wasn't for the kind messages being left for me; whether on here or on Tumblr, I probably wouldn't have come back. So thank you. Please, if you have any suggestions for this story, even the next chapter; leave them in a review or a comment. You can even message me on Tumblr.