A/N: Sorry I just sort of sprang the ending on you with no warning, but after reflecting on the previous chapter, it sounded like a good place to end. I will be writing a sequel, though, don't worry. I have a tentative title of "Deep Roots", and should be starting it today. See y'all there! AND please please please please review.
"Marcie! Hurry up, we're gonna be late!" I called to the five-year-old while slipping my shoes on. She scrambled out of the kitchen and over to where I was standing.
"I'm here Mommy!" I watched her put on her shoes all by herself proudly and smiled. Mark had taught her how to do that about a year ago, but she hadn't mastered it for another several months after that. When she stood up, I bent down and kissed her head.
"You ready, sweetie?" She shook her head.
"What's wrong?" I asked, bending down to her level so I could look her in the eyes.
"I'm scared." She launched herself at me, nearly knocking both of us over. I wrapped my arms around her.
"Aww, sweetie, there's nothing to be scared of. Besides, it'll only be for a few hours. Everybody's waiting downstairs to take you, and then I'll come with Daddy and Mama to pick you up at the end of the day."
"But I don't wanna go!" She cried, tears streaming down her face.
"Marcie, honey, it'll be fun! You'll meet lots of new friends your own age. Wouldn't that be great?" She nodded reluctantly. I stood up and held my hand out to her, and she took it nervously, holding it tightly.
"There she is!" Roger announced as we exited the building to find the other gathered around the door.
"UNCLE ROGER!" Marcie squealed, jumping into Roger's arms as he swung her around and put her down. He put her down gently and she ran over to Mark. "DADDY!" Mark hugged her, picking her up. I adjusted Marcie's backpack and lunch box nervously. Roger came over and greeted me with a hug and we kissed each other's cheek.
"Hey Mo. How are you holding up?" I sighed.
"She's growing up so fast! I honestly never thought I'd make it this far." He put his hand on my shoulder and looked into my eyes.
"I knew you would. You're a fighter."
"Thanks Rog. I think today might be my undoing, though." He laughed.
"Oh Maureen, such a drama queen." I grinned.
"Always." By now Marcie was with Joanne. Mark approached me.
"Hey Mo." He drew me closer and kissed me. I returned the kiss, then drew back.
"Hey Mark." We looked at each other for a moment wordlessly. "So...I can't believe she grew up so fast."
"I know...it seems like just yesterday..." I nodded.
"I know I haven't talked to you in a while, but I'm glad...you're okay with this."
"I have nothing to complain about..." Mimi had Marcie now, so Joanne came up behind me, putting her hands on my hips. I suppressed a moan and leaned back against her. She kissed my neck, and I turned to give her a quick kiss. Mark raised and eyebrow, "except maybe that." I shot him a look "What? I was only kidding!". Mimi put Marcie down. I took one of Marcie's hands in my own.
"We should get going." I said, beginning to walk. The others followed suit. Mark walked on one side of us, Joanne on the other. I couldn't help but smile—even though things weren't perfect, we were making it happily, and I could not have asked for more. The best part, though, was that I was myself again, and in the end, I pulled through. Things might be rocky at times, but hey, I am Maureen Johnson.