Author: writingmyownhistory PM
Meg and Steven reflect on the failure of their marriage, and Sarah reacts to the news of their upcoming divorce. Prequel to the movie, oneshot. The bond between mother and daughter is unbreakable.Rated: Fiction T - English - Family/Hurt/Comfort - Words: 1,740 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 3 - Published: 02-12-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5741001
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
[A/N: This is going to be a oneshot fic, written as a sort of prequel to the movie Panic Room. Meg and Steven contemplate the reasons behind the failure of their marriage, and Sarah reacts to the news of their split. I've only seen the movie twice, so this is probably a bit OOC. Enjoy it anyways, and please review.]
Disclaimer: I don't own this movie, nor do I keep in touch with any of the actors and actresses in the film. Still wishing Kristen Stewart and I could be best friends, though. Sigh.
They stand in the doorway of their daughter's room together, united as husband and wife.
In the dark, they watch and wait, hesitant. Sarah needs her sleep. This is one thing that the pair can agree on. Though they are standing on opposite sides of a chasm that grows wider every day, they still care for their daughter and want to do what's best for her.
Meg Altman sighs a heavy sigh, the air pulled up from the depths of her lungs. "What do we do?"
Steven's worry is palpable, his guilt even more apparent. He runs his hands through his unkempt gray hair, twitching nervously. He feels like a bug under a microscope. This is his fault, though. He got caught, and now he's paying the price.
"Tell the truth," he says slowly, feeling his heart twist as he stares at his sleeping daughter. The truth hurts, but sometimes it's all you've got.
Steven knows it's too late to salvage his marriage, but his relationship with his daughter could still be saved. There's a chance. It's a slim chance, but he know's it's there.
With heavy footsteps and a heavier heart, he walks to Sarah's bedside, feeling the chill of the floor through his socks. His fingers come to rest on her shoulder, one by one.
"Sarah, wake up."
She barely stirs, only rolling over and burying her face in the pillow. But Steven has known this girl for eleven years now. She's only faking slumber; she knows that something is wrong and Steven knows just as well that she's waiting for the right moment to drop her facade.
"I know you can hear me."
Sarah sighs in frustration and sits up, rubbing her eyes. "What, dad?" She's annoyed by the interruption of her pre-sleep meditation, and she'll let it show.
"Your mother and I," as if on cue, Meg crosses the room to stand beside her family, "have something to tell you."
"Okay." The bedside lamp is switched on, illuminating the room. A pair of wary blue eyes gleam in the low light, darting around as they adjust to the sudden brightness. Sarah stifles a yawn and squints, waving the hand that isn't covering her mouth. Though her parents have failed in many respects, they raised her to be polite.
If only they'd taken their own advice when dealing with each other, Meg thinks, things would be different right now.
"Scoot over," Meg says, patting the striped comforter that covers her daughter's twin bed in an attempt to ease the tension in the room. Sarah moves wordlessly, taking most of the blanket with her. Meg pulls her knees up to her chest and thinks about the best way to break the news. Though Sarah is exceptionally mature for her age, she is still a child, and some things bother her greatly.
"Sweetheart," Steven says slowly, at the same time Meg blurts, "Dad and I aren't together anymore."
The rest of their words fade into a meaningless blur behind the hard pulse of blood in Sarah's ears. For a minute, she is actually shocked into silence, something that is rare for the normally talkative girl. Then her anger bubbles over, exploding into something she doesn't know how to control because she doesn't understand, doesn't want to understand, and the strength of her own rage surprises her.
"Why?" The half-spoken, half-screamed question flies out to slap her parents in the face. They jerk back in perfect synchronization, flinching as they realize how much hurt they've placed upon the one person they both love. Meg, always the more observant of the two, is the first to notice that Sarah is crying.
Crying isn't really the right word. Sarah's shaking from head to toe, with her head in her hands, trying to muffle her sobs as tears stream down her face. Drops of salt water ooze through the cracks between her fingers, falling fast and splattering onto the sheets below.
Meg moves to comfort her daughter, but she is met with small hands pushing her away.
"Just listen for a second," Meg whispers, and Sarah looks up, catching her lip between her teeth.
"Why should I listen to what either of you have to say?"
Grudgingly, the two guilt-ridden parents admit that their daughter is right. She's clearly too angry to think rationally right now. But, because they're digging their own graves and the holes can't get any deeper, they plunge on.
"Dad and I just don't love each other anymore." This is the simple explanation Meg offers; it's all she can give. Steven is tempted to elaborate, but there are some things a child shouldn't have to hear. Still, he almost wants to confess: get everything out in the open, and then let the hatred flow from all sides.
"Mom, Dad," Sarah chokes out, "I really don't want to talk to you right now. Her body shudders as she tries to hold in more tears, the dam behind her eyes threatening to burst. She's always been so strong, and showing weakness for the first time in years is humiliating.
Sarah allows herself to be tucked in, lies in bed quietly as her mother's soft hands pull her hair away from her forehead and her father plants a sloppy kiss on her cheek.
When they finally leave, the exhausted young girl finally sinks into a fitful sleep. Two hours pass, and when she wakes, she realizes that Meg is asleep on the floor, curled under a blanket. She feels the weight of the world settling onto her shoulders, and in that brief moment, she's overcome with the need to talk things out.
The lone syllable reaches Meg's ears as she sleeps, pulling her back to consciousness. Fatigue still clouds her mind, but the fact that Sarah wants to speak to her again is enough to make her feel alert.
"Sarah?" Meg holds her breath, waiting for a response. She fears that the moment of acknowledgement has already disappeared, that there is no hope of talking to her daughter tonight.
Immediately, Meg feels more guilt course through her, wishing Steven were here to see this.
"Don't be sorry," she sighs, running a hand through her sleep-tousled blond hair. "None of this is your fault, honey."
Sarah's confused look doesn't surprise Meg. She knows that sometimes, children feel like their parents' arguments and separation has somehow been triggered by something they did. As she sits silently in the dark, Sarah wonders if she is to blame.
"Whose fault is it, then?"
Meg chews on her lip, wondering just how much her daughter needs to know. Enough to set her mind at ease, of course, but not so much that she hates her father for the rest of her life. Meg won't even consider the possibility that Sarah might hate her, too. It's too frightening. Without Steven in their lives, Sarah and Meg need each other more than they ever have before.
"Your father," Meg starts, stops to prepare herself, and then barrels on, "decided that he was unhappy with our marriage. Following me so far?" She earns a sleepy nod from Sarah and continues, "and he also decided that the best way to guarantee an end to our relationship would be cheating."
Sarah nods again. This is something she can understand. Steven took the easy, dishonest and sleazy way out of a relationship that, until recently, had seemed perfect. But just because she understands her parents' motivation doesn't mean she has to like it or agree with it. From a young age, she has known how to fight, and tonight she is fighting the most important battle of her young life. She is trying to keep her fractured family together.
"That's fucking stupid. I mean, why would you just drop your love on the curb like that?" Sarah's use of profanity is something Meg hasn't been exposed to before.
"Language, honey," she warns, but the corners of her mouth quirk up in a smile. "It's hard to explain, but one thing you'll learn later in life is that if someone does something once, they'll probably do it again. Dad and I still love you, Sarah, and you're the best daughter we could ask for, but we've grown apart. We can't be under the same roof anymore, it's that simple."
Now curious, Sarah has a few more questions floating around in her mind, but she's so tired that she can only ask one of them. "Where are we gonna go?"
"Manhattan," Meg informs her, rising to pull the blankets around her daughter for the second time that night. "We'll talk about this in the morning, now go to sleep."
She pads silently back down the hall to the bedroom she shares with Steven, her bare feet slapping on the wood floor.
It's only when she hears Steven's car pull out of the driveway and she knows she's been abandoned again that Meg will allow her own tears to fall, releasing some of the crushing pain of her loss and with it, her feelings of failure.
She tells herself that everything will be better in the morning, when she can see Sarah smile again.
For the first time in months, she sleeps without fearing that she will be alone when she wakes up the next day. She's always had Sarah cheering her on; it just took her this long to realize that her daughter has never let her down.