Title: Forgive Us Our Trespasses
Feedback: I was telling my beta just now, that it's for a reason I cannot put my finger on that this series is taking so long to force itself out through my fingers. I thank anyone for their patience, if you're still with me.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Don't sue, I'll cry. ;p
Summary: What was the biggest mistake of your life?
Distribution: Just please let me know and we'll be good.
Classification: Rory and Dean
Spoilers: Season 4
Beta: Thank you, Elyssa, for your engaging thoughts.
Warning: Dark imagery ahead, though no darker than anything that's already been touched on in this story.
Chapter Thirteen: Like You'll Never
The first thing to invade her psyche was red. Angry deep red, flowing behind her closed eyelids like a raging river of death. Blood, lost and gone, flowing further and further away. The river carried a loved one in its tumultuous flow. Rory's baby, barely formed and already being drowned in the life force that ran through her veins, now headed for either heaven or hell.
Somewhere past her subconscious, she heard voices -- some familiar and some of strangers she had never known. Lorelai's voice was the loudest, her words indiscernible, but the overall sound was a startling thing. It broke up the red river's flow, creating bubbles in the liquid to make it steam up and begin melting away. Rory couldn't see herself, couldn't feel the stickiness of the river around her; she wasn't there in her mind's own hell, and neither was she a part of the life outside that was continuing without her consciousness. Still, she felt a force trying to pull her from the blood, from the flashing red, into the universe from which part of her had fled.
The world was coming back to her in a series of little quivers that felt so much like goodbye.
She could hear nurses' and doctors' voices stepping into her unconscious state amid her dreams of all the yesterdays that didn't prepare her for today. "She's hemorrhaging," came an unfamiliar male's voice, frenzied and concerned. "She's losing a lot of blood. Take her to bed seven in the E.R. -- give her --"
"What's happening? How is the baby?" This was Lorelai's voice. Rory's mother, who she couldn't see. She couldn't see anything but the flowing blood as it dried up, the river falling through cracks in the foundation of her mind, and leaving behind nothing of color to cling to.
"She's -- we're going to find out. We're losing it. We're losing... Hurry her to bed seven! Are you the mother?"
"Yes, I'm -- yes. Is she --"
"You're going to have to wait here. Just outside here. We're doing the best we can."
"She's bleeding so much! She's lost so much blood..." Rory could hear her mother sobbing, but couldn't find her face in her mind. She walked through deserted streets in a black-and-white world, the river having drained all living color but grey. Stark and sterile, the world gazed at Rory with a lack of sympathy. "She's lost so much... Help her!"
Help, ha. It was a wry thought etched in severe white lettering on a building of black stone. There was no help this day, in this place. No help for the girl who was falling without a net, and without a baby to catch at the bottom. There was no reason to stretch out her arms that ached so deeply, and so she left them at her sides. No help for this girl, only an expanse of a black and white universe devoid of all color and love. She ambled through it on crippled legs, falling to scratch her knees that oozed blood now made of grey matter, and nothing else. She made her way through the streets, searching for something worth seeing, now that so much was simply gone. Denied color and security, her mind found endless alleys that had forgotten the sun.
Rory's mind began to take on memories like small slideshows in her head. Still pictures taken at exactly the perfect time.
She was seven, and she felt the foreign rush of delinquency as she stretched up on her tip-toes to reach the latch of the wooden door concealing Mary Tennant's back yard. It was part of a very tall fence, but Rory was very tall for her age. She managed to undo the lock, and then she giggled as she snuck in past the door, her mother at her heels.
"I see we can mark 'stealthy' off the list of adjectives you must become," Lorelai said with pride in her voice. "Ah, I knew you'd misbehave one of these days. You were becoming so perfect I thought you'd never answer the door with bed head or stick your gum under the table again."
Rory shook her head and rolled her eyes good-naturedly. She looked away from her mother, who brought on so many smiles.
And there it was. Mary's brand new trampoline, set in the center of the yard, atop grass so green you'd never know it was almost September. Rory loved when summer lasted its full length, bathing her in its sunshine and warmth. Surrounding her in luxurious green on every tree branch, every flower stem. If only summer was forever and none of those flowers had to die. She'd never been able to see quite the same magic as her mother found always in the snow. What were millions of disintegrating flakes when compared to dozens of blooming roses?
Sludge and thorns. The ugliness is all she now sees.
Mary and her parents were out of town. Lorelai and Rory were house-sitting. Today? They were house-jumping. Onto the trampoline Rory scrambled, immediately overjoyed as the elastic material stretched beneath her body and dipped toward the ground. The paradox of being able to sink the material with her weight and then bounce into the air as if weightless thrilled Rory's senses and limbs that she stretched up and away.
"I thought I called first bounce!" Lorelai complained as she climbed onto the glee-inducing structure moments behind her daughter. "Oh well. At least this way, if we get caught, I can say that you did it first."
"Fine," Rory answered carelessly, loving the bouncing, every sinking sensation like falling down an elevator shaft followed by being flung into the air by a gigantic sling-shot. Now Lorelai was bouncing, too, her lovely legs propelling Rory ever higher. Happy and hyper in the foreign back yard, she had the coolest mom ever, she thought. Every stitch of her laughter was echoed by Lorelai. Oh, they were giggling, bouncing fools, giddy even though they had promised to leave the trampoline alone.
Lorelai, still to some a kid herself at a mere 23 years of age, jumped along and played as though she was on a school playground. She lived out the childhood she had missed as she watched her own child grow up. She participated in every stage of Rory's development, truly a part of all facets of Rory's life. They jumped together on the trampoline just that once, which made it exceptionally special. Slamming each other for hours -- timing the big bounce to be right before the other person lands, allowing the other person to ricochet up closer to the clouds. Squeals and giggles abounded to move the still summer air. It was cool that Lorelai bounced, too. She wasn't like other moms. Not at all. Rory loved that about her.
"I want to fly when I grow up," Rory told her mother as she reached for the sky. "Higher than the airplanes and the birds. Higher than the weather. I want to sit on top of the rain."
These stars we breathe will shake the moon.
Angry black clouds and menacing thunder rocked the colorless world of Rory's mind, threatening rain and things much worse. As drops fell to wet her skin that had gone white as a ghost, there was a giggle that arose above the splish-splash of minute drops on the ground. Rory did her best to move forward, toward the sound that was faint and yet gorgeously rounded into a complete capture of happiness. She sought the happiness she'd heard, stumbling along the brick-laden roads that were so 18th century, on her way to the giggle that called to her.
She knew that voice, though she'd never heard it before. It was unfamiliar but right. It was a part of her she hadn't known was there, a creation that had taken wing when she hadn't been looking. She had to find it. She had to identify the giggle before she went mad with the very curiosity that killed every cat. Pained and powerless, she moved forward, inch by awful inch.
Rory wondered why people had the need to decorate treasures with the name of the object of their desire. She studied it one day, the strangeness, as she watched Lane draw "Seth" in bubble letters during social studies. Over and over again, all over Lane's binder was that one and only word that seemed to sum up a fourth grader's notion of love: Seth.
Rory's binders and notebooks were free of random squiggles, of the immature graffiti that was common for others her age. She chose to save her sharpened pencil points for margins of books. What a wonderful thing the library was, but it was better to own the books herself, so that she could litter them with her own thoughts spawned from the ideas in text. What others wrote was decoration, names of crushes and movie Gods; what Rory wrote was intellectual stimulation -- a broadened, heightened interpretation of all that she read and saw. Others were escaping the drone of the social studies teacher's voice. Rory was improving her mind, seizing in every moment possible the chance to grow to be the girl who would one day wear a Harvard sweater in a Harvard classroom.
Lane dreamed of holding Seth's hand. Or maybe John's. Rory dreamed of being introduced to fellow Ivy League alumni, impressing everyone with her firm handshake and her tied-back no-nonsense hair. She dreamed up the pantsuit that she would wear. When others complimented her smart fashion sense, she would give a small smile of contentment and thank them in a humble voice. They would admire her; they might even envy her confidence, her class, and her unmarked notebooks. They would accept her as one of them, and she would finally feel grown up. Capable of all that the mind can undertake. Ready to seek out the very depths of intellect and shine light in corners of the brain that were previously held in shadow.
So many shadows all around. Black as night, dark as death, chilled as frozen bone. Alone; that's what shadows meant. Alone.
Her tears were chilly as they slid down her cheeks. What she cried for need not be pinned down. She cried for everything, everyone that was absent from this place. She had lost them, and their voices had stopped penetrating the clouds to make the air reverberate like the inside of a beaten drum. She beat her legs with her fists to vent her frustration, and kept straining to cough out a sound. There was so much silence until the giggle rang again.
Desperate to find the source, to pin it down and hold it hostage in her heart that ached while barely beating, she ran this way and that. Frantically, she raced down long alleys, the soles of her feet making slaps on the stones below to announce her chase. To announce that she was coming; she was on her way.
Titter-titter in the wind; snicker-doodle in her ears. She rounded a final corner, and suddenly one shadow faded to reveal the child who was waiting for her. He moved like a shimmer, and it became obvious now why she couldn't pin him down. The child never once stayed in one place an entire second. His form wilted and blinked, exploding in vivid flashes here and there, for not nearly long enough. She so badly wanted to look at him, but he was so hard to see.
Everywhere there is death.
The child did not speak, but when a smile broadened his face, it lingered into laughter. He had no words, but he communicated and she sought to understand. She tried to smile herself, but every step she took closer forced him further away. His presence moved back and forth, in and out of the world before her as though he were the blinking light on an answering machine. Whatever message he brought with him, she couldn't grasp. She didn't know. She was held so spellbound and still by the sight of him that her brain ceased to analyze and probe. She loved him in her mind, softly, lightly. She didn't dare touch him, for fear he'd fade away.
He didn't need to stay in one place, or hold onto a single pose. She knew him instinctively; she saw he was her child. The one once inside of her that now flashed before her. The one who couldn't stay; the one who was escaping right before her eyes.
He noticed her, too, or at least it seemed so. He put a small hand over his mouth to muffle a sob. It wasn't hers to hear.
A baby cries out in the night. He is mine, but I cannot have him.
With grand gestures of each limb, she swayed this way and that, embarrassed for short seconds whenever her skirt flew up to reveal white cotton panties stamped with Strawberry Shortcake. She was to convey a swan, and moving her head forward and back as she parted the waters before her, she concentrated on this and made it her task. To transform, to be an animal; to be something other than Rory. The music was not playing, but there was a melody in her head. The swan dipped and dived beneath the surface of the water, but as she surfaced again and shook dry her silk feathers, embarrassment confronted her once more.
Lorelai was watching, had gone beyond laughter and was now smiling like a goon.
"Mom! You're not supposed to watch when I practice! I'm... it's not ready to be watched yet!" Rory huffed and lowered her feather-covered arms, nervously plucking her leotard away from where it rested over her belly button to allow it to snap back tighter into place. "I'm not ready to be seen."
Lorelai tittered at the dancing fiasco, and let forth a guffaw at the "swan" in her kitchen. She wiped imaginary tears from her cheeks that encased a grin much too wide. "Oh, dear God, is there no end? Make it stop," she threw out to the universe, bringing a delicate hand over her forehead, playing the part that she might faint.
"Miss Patty says my dancing is beautiful." Rory glared with fierce eyes.
"Of course she does. I'm paying her to say that."
"Ha. Gladly." Lorelai cleared her throat and took a seat at the kitchen table. Rory watched the legs of the chair scrape along the floor, leaving boisterous noises along their way. She found dancing to be a desirable endeavor in that she could glide across the room with more interest than those who merely walked, boring the earth below them with their predictable steps never changing.
Rory fluffed her feathered cap, then readjusted her bodice. "You know, if your opinion of my sporting activities mattered to me, that would sting."
"Thank God you're detached. And God, do you always talk like a 32 year-old?"
"One of us should."
Lorelai swatted at Rory's behind lightly with a folded up newspaper. "Go. Leap. Away with you!"
Dean wanted to name him Joel. He looked like a Joel. His bone structure was that of a young child of four. Creamy white skin encased his eyes of blue that had captured the glory of a summer sky. She watched him with tears falling from her own eyes, also made of blue.
His hair was long for such a young child, the strands ending just above his shoulders, and it was dark as midnight's black abyss. So many times his tiny fingers reached up to sweep heavy bangs aside in order to bear his eyes. He looked toward her, but not at her. He saw things, but not everything. He looked at many things around her while she saw nothing but him. The radiant blue of his eyes was the only color in this dark place that reeked of death. And she cried for the baby that she could see whose pathway had never come to enrich her own life with its memory, its existence. Its screams and its smiles. His smiles. And his beauty.
He had Dean's supple mouth and Rory's soft eyelashes. His laugh was Lorelai in a bottle.
Rory cocked her head at the spectacle of this child flashing in and out of her nightmare existence. She bit her lip till she could taste the metallic tang of drawn blood. She kept her blinks short, eyelids closing and reopening at the speed of a hummingbird's wings. She could see him before her, but already he was gone. She was beginning to lose sense of the colorless world surrounding her. It was beginning to fold in on itself: the sky was falling, the ground was up-heaving, the raindrops blew every which way.
When finally she uttered a sob, it was because Joel with Dean's lips and hair made of silk, only to look at not to touch, faded as the world closed in on him. The world took him within its jaws and swallowed him, leaving Rory bereft and alone. There was nothing left to see or hear; nothing good to feel in this place, or any other.
This time the childhood giggles were her own. Water splashed all around her in the Connecticut summer, and seven year-old Rory was submerged for delectable seconds, her ears plugged by the water, the whole world blocked out. When she resurfaced, there was Lorelai, snapping pictures with a disposable camera in her red and blue bikini.
Tell me you love me. Tell me it matters. Make me believe you while I believe nothing from this day on.
The beach was hot, and its sand stung Rory's toes as she dug them beneath the ground's surface and buried them in the cooler dirt beneath. "Get back out in the water!" Lorelai yelled, clapping her hands excitedly. "I need to test the waterproof guarantee of this piece of junk." She waved the camera held in her hands, and Rory sprinted back out to the water that moved with the wind.
"Rory..." she heard as she screamed and flailed in the cool refreshing liquid. Delighted at the feel of it, she ignored this voice she didn't recognize. "Rory," it came again, stronger this time. The sky reverberated as if there were speakers in the heaven above. "Can you hear me?"
No, no. Never, never. She swam out into the depths, where minor waves crashed in from the horizon. Rory screamed and laughed, pure joy on her face and in her veins. She was in love with this memory, and chose to stay here, of all places. Right here. She could feel the strain of her smile on her face. Too wide it was, too expressive of happiness, pure and undiluted. At seven years of age, she had known what happiness was. At nineteen years of age, so much of her had forgotten. She didn't wish to go back to a reality that stung more than the sun's aimed rays.
She ignored the unfamiliar voice that insisted she come back to a world she didn't care to be a part of.
Where was that little one, who treaded water with joy and abandon? She lost a little one. Did that mean she'd never get back to happiness again? These thoughts haunted her, and though she did her best to ignore them, they would not be put aside. They would not be silenced under the water where she swam with fierce strength, in a terrible hurry to get far, far away from the pain that had only begun to set in.
to be continued...