|Children of a Common Mother
Author: Ankaris123 PM
AU. Canada has literally disappeared off the face of the planet as a nation and as a landmass. You can't miss what you 'never had', right? Apparently that's not the case with America...Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Hurt/Comfort/Supernatural - America & Canada - Chapters: 8 - Words: 40,877 - Reviews: 134 - Favs: 225 - Follows: 247 - Updated: 06-13-12 - Published: 02-24-10 - id: 5772227
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: Children of a Common Mother
Disclaimer: APHetalia and its characters are property of Hidekaz Himaruya.
Pre-Story Set-Up: [IMPORTANT, please read] Canada has literally disappeared off the face of the planet as a nation and as a landmass. Not even the nations of the world quite remember it (not that they did before). You can't miss what you 'never had', right? Apparently that's not the case with America…
A/Ns: I'm a terrible writer and I mean that by my non-existent deadlines and therefore no matter how tempted I am to turn this into a full-fledged fic, it'll remain a one-shot so as not to disappointment even more people. More on the birth of this one-shot at the end. I hope you enjoy.
The golden July sun warmed the dashboard of his old pick-up truck as America cruised lackadaisically down the western coastline in Washington State. Tapping an ungloved hand against the steering wheel, he hummed along to the Kenny Chesney song warbling out of the car radio.
Across his country, his citizens were preparing for the Independence Day celebrations, putting together awe-inspiring floats, tailoring fantastic street costumes, arranging fabulous fireworks displays and the like. He enjoyed these preparation days almost as much as he enjoyed the actual festivities themselves. His boss always allowed him a couple weeks off this time of year to enjoy himself (and if not, it's not like they could really stop him) and despite all the other things he could spend his time on, America liked to personally visit each state and see how things were getting along.
As forests gave way to occasional stretches of parched lands and a cluster of shoreline homes even he himself wondered why he had come this far along the Interstate-5. Rolling down the dusty window (there was time after the trip to clean it up), the North American nation breathed in the fresh town air, feeling the locals stirring and going about their business and the jubilant children just beyond a line of trees on the elementary school grounds carving images with red, blue, and white chalk into the hot cement.
Just as the trees and town let up, the beautiful sparkling Pacific came into view; a police car far ahead of him flickered on its revolving lights for a moment. The uniformed man inside slipped out of the driver's seat as America pulled the vehicle to a gentle stop, flicking off the radio simultaneously.
"What's up, officer?" he greeted genially, leaning out the open window.
"You a tourist in these parts?" the moderately stout policeman asked, returning the lopsided grin and tucked his thumbs into his pockets.
"Well, just giving you a heads-up. The highway ends a ways farther along, don't want nobody plunging into the salty depths there, see. We've had a couple folks from out of town a while back flying off the cliffs. Even the barriers don't seem to help," he said, then scratched his balding head. "Curious thing, y'know. The road just stops. Suddenly, you're on the road and then the next, nothing underneath you but water and lots of it."
"Really now?" America had heard about the astonishing number of casualties in Blaine in the past couple months. He had been meaning to check it out first hand.
"Yeah, don't know what the government was thinking when they built it. There might've been a roundabout at the end once upon a time, probably crumbled or something but that would've been before my time, I for one don't remember it for sure." Stretching, the man in uniform groaned as his aging joints creaked in protest. From the way the wrinkles around his eyes crinkled, he was probably stressed very often which was surprising given how out of the way this place was.
"Lots of trouble in these parts? You look overworked, if you don't mind me saying."
"Not at all to tell the truth. If I had anything to say, I haven't been so not stressed in years," he blinked, looking blankly at barren shore. "Strange really, I could've sworn this place used to be bustling with cars and whatnot, loads of traffic…why? I haven't got a clue."
America nodded empathetically. As of late, a vague nagging feeling tugged at the back of his mind similar to what his aging citizen was experiencing. It was as though there was something missing yet nothing had really changed.
Pushing the feeling aside, he too cast his gaze westward where he could feel (the distance was too great for either of them to actually see) the isle of Point Roberts a couple leagues away. Somewhere, America could faintly feel Alaska all by its lonesome in the North.
"Well, there's no point in me keeping you here. Just mind where the road ends, alright? Not much to see over there anyways except for the Arch."
"The Arch?" There was that nagging feeling again.
"Yeah, the Peace Arch. Some historical monument erected after a war or something. I'm bit foggy on its origins myself but I suppose it's pretty for a lump of rock. If you're not interested, you can just u-turn here and head back, the municipality's still working on repaving part of this highway so folks don't have to drive over the grass. Beats me why it's taken so long to figure out."
"I think I'll check it out before I leave town," the blond man said, leaning back into the leather upholstery with what he hoped to be a faintly disinterested expression. The nagging feeling was joined by a strange writhing sensation in his abdomen, almost akin to anxiety.
The policeman nodded.
"It's a little early but Happy Fourth of July, have fun."
"Right back at you." With that last remark, he tensed his leg muscles, repressing the bizarre urge to floor the gas pedal, and rolled away at a leisurely pace, leaving the man to return to the police vehicle and some respite from the blazing afternoon sunlight.
In a matter of seconds, he pulled to a stop once more, taking care to park a decent distance from the reflective striped barrier with a painted STOP sign attached to its middle and the clear skies just beyond it.
Minutes passed as he sat there in the rumbling pick-up, blue eyes fixed on the white marble structure hidden modestly from view by the two trees flanking it from either side. His fingers were slightly sweaty (it was probably from the heat) as he turned the engine off and pocketed his keys.
The first step onto the flourishing green sent a jolt straight to his heart, a pang of indescribable heartache. It took him by surprise, adding to his confusion.
Why was he feeling this way?
Step by step, he strode towards the arch, his feet marching to his loud heartbeat. Perhaps this monument had a deep emotional significance to his country, something that, over time, had become forgotten, a mere relic of a bitter past. Like the Blaine local, he couldn't recall when and why it was made. It instilled a hint of nostalgia in him so he must've at least been here for the opening day.
Even with this reasoning, the nagging did not go away, like there was something more to the emptiness that sometimes kept him up at night, that surfaced amongst his thoughts when he dazed out during meetings, that pushed him to drive to the corner of this continent without reason.
Finally, he stood directly in front of the monument, taking in its majestic height at a glance. At the very top, his lucky stars and stripes waved in the coastal winds. The smooth frieze bared the inscription 'Children of a Common Mother' in black.
The words triggered a memory within him and a song of the same title flooded into his mind, sung by the dulcet tones of a woman's voice. It took hold of his voice and he found himself singing along quietly under his breath.
"Standing tall. There for all."
His eyes drew up to the flag once more.
"A symbol of freedom, peace, and harmony."
Wherever the sunlight touched, the white marble seemed to glow.
"Our Fathers' eyes saw troubled times."
Wherever the trees cast their shadows along its surface, the darkness seemed so much deeper.
"So they built a reminder. For all the world to see."
As abruptly as it started, it ended. The first verse faded away as the sounds of waves and the breeze returned.
Willing his limbs to move and his fixated eyes to avert its gaze, he circled the monument and approached the cliff.
Unlike the smooth, ocean-combed beaches along the west shoreline, here the land gave way to a sudden sheer drop and salt water as far as one could see. The sight was breathtaking in a good way and a bad way but right now all it did was making his knees weak. Even the Grand Canyon didn't have this effect on him and the distance to fall was far longer and definitely multiple times more perilous.
The Forty-Ninth Parallel was a geographical phenomenon that baffled many experts. It couldn't be readily explained and for reason unknown, no one had tried to explain it until recently. From the looks of it, it was like someone had taken a knife and chopped off everything that stuck out above that specific latitude. Of course, it was not perfect. There were irregularities, but from space it appeared as a straight border between the North American landmass and the expanse of the Arctic Ocean. Somehow, even the thought of it repelled him greatly and he avoided the cliffs whenever he could.
The knife analogy touched something inside, stirring the emptiness within him and probing his emotions for reactions. He tore his unfocussed gaze from the water and stared back at the Peace Arch again.
There was a strip of grass just behind the arch, wide enough to safely walk on without fear of falling over the edge. America walked uneasily towards it, then, checking that there was adequate space between him and cliff, he turned and tilted his head skywards.
It was identical from the seaward side, a perfect mirror as expected and well preserved like the whole monument itself. There were however subtle differences.
The pole at the top where the slanted roof met at a point had snapped in the middle, leaving it flagless. Facing away from the equator, this side of the structure was bathed in chilling shadows, giving it a sorrowful loneliness and squinting as his eyes adjusted, America could just make out the inscription: 'Brethren Dwelling Together In Unity'.
His breath hitched as a coldness gripped his heart in resonance with the words. The longer he stared the harder it became to breathe but he could not bring himself to look away.
Turning sharply on his heel, almost slipping on the damp grass, he scoured the view frantically. When he found nothing but the ocean, disappointment washed over him as though he expected something else to be there.
But it was just the ocean, the great blue wonder, glittering with sunshine but incredibly calm. Yet the near-perfect stillness, the docile way the waves pressed against the cliff terrified him. Short of hyperventilation, he retreated slowly and purposefully until he was underneath the arch before dropping to his knees.
Curling up against the white marble, he wrestled with his erratic breathing and racing heart, holding his sweating face in his equally clammy hands.
He didn't know how long he sat there, caressed by the breeze with the cool marble against his back leeching his body heat through his clothes. Despite the cold, the shady side of the Peace Arch was oddly comforting.
Gradually, America calmed down, pulling Texas off to rub his eyes and wiped the lenses clean on the hem of his t-shirt. Shoving it back on his face, he pulled his bomber jacket closed, grateful he had decided to wear it despite the heat.
The flourishing grass under his runners was green and full of life even though it lived mostly in the shade for much of the year. He ran the tips of his fingers through it, admiring the velvet tickle they induced. A tired smile crept onto his face as he closed his eyes and listened to the wind rustle the leaves of the surrounding foliage.
The pangs deadened to dull recurrent aches, manageable but still noticeable. He tried not to think of the inscription he had just read as licks of the chill returned with the slightest of recollection.
Opening his eyes again, he looked across to the opposite inner wall to see a black grill, part of a gate, and yet another inscription.
It read 'May These Gates Never Be Closed'.
Closed to what? he pondered briefly. The emptiness stirred again, restless but not insistent.
What is it trying to tell him?
He couldn't figure it out.
Leaning back and relaxing his shoulders, the chorus to the song came to mind. This time he allowed it to enter his thoughts, giving it room and free reign to voice its lyrics with his own vocal cords.
"Children of a common mother.
We are sisters, we are brothers.
Children of a common mother.
Sisters, brothers, it's all about you and me."
Even as it faded away, he continued the song, swallowing hard and repeating the chorus in his thick, raspy voice.
He stumbled and choked at the word 'brothers'.
He was crying by 'you'.
A/Ns: So after the devastating loss to the US in ice hockey (why were we playing so badly? Argh), I decided to nip around and heal my aching heart with a little friendly US-Canada relationship and immediately thought about the borders. Somehow it turned into this sap-fest which made me sad again but for another reason.
The Peace Arch is a monument at the US-Canada border between Surrey, British Columbia (part of Metro Vancouver) and Blaine, Washington at a very busy 24 hours borders crossing. The arch was erected as a joint project between the two countries to commemorate the end of the war of 1812 (more specifically, the signing of the Treaty of Ghent which ended the war).
The song 'Children of a Common Mother' is written and sung by Christina Alexander, a sample clip of the first verse and chorus are available on the Peace Arch website.
Having never been there nor ever driving down the Interstate-5, there may be inaccuracies in the descriptions (most of which were written with the help of Google maps and the street view function) so please excuse me if it happens and if you wish, please tell me what to fix. I've also got no clue about what happens on Independence Day except what wiki told me so there may be inaccuracies there too.
Geographical things are accurate (or are supposed to be) to the extent of all Canadian soil removed from Earth (therefore instead of the bay, the town borders the Pacific and the Arctic Ocean). There is no specific date on which this event happened. I also have no logic explanation for how a large landmass could disappear entirely but hey, this is fiction.
Hopefully, this fic was enjoyable.
Thank you for reading.