First of all, a HUGE thank-you to everyone (if anyone) who's bothering to pick this story up again! I've been very busy these past many moons, trying to finish my degree. Now that it's down to the last weeks, I'm procrastinating! So, finally!, another chapter.
Second, "Que Sera Sera" © 1956 Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
February 9, 1965
Greg liked Maggie's house. It was cheerful and pleasant. The furniture was soft and squishy, and upholstered in bright colors. There were always toys lying around in a glorious disarray that contrasted with the careful tidiness of his own home. There were cookies to eat, and baby Sarah to play with, and Maggie to impress with his vast knowledge. There were lots of great things about Maggie's house.
Best of all, though, was Auntie Gwen. She wasn't always there, because even though she was a grown-up she went to Yoosee Esdee, but some afternoons she would be home. She played with Greg and Maggie like she was just a big kid. She was funny and she didn't treat them like babies. And she played the guitar.
Greg loved the guitar. Gwen would take it out of its furry brown case, and set it lovingly in her lap. Then she would spread her long fingers over the frets, and music would magically eminate from the heavy wires. Gwen usually sang kids' songs, like The Owl and the Pussycat andThere's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea. She also sang the alphabet a lot, because even though Greg knew his ABCs off by heart, Maggie was littler and she didn't. Sometimes, however, Gwen would sing grown-up songs, too. Greg really liked the one about how it didn't matter any more, which along with the one that went "Deep in my heart, I do believe…" was one of Gwen's favorites. Greg liked it because sometimes he wished that a lot of things didn't matter anymore, especially when Mommy talked about the time in the distant future when Dad would come home from the war.
On this particular afternoon, Gwen had run through the usual repertoire of children's songs, and was still strumming away. She had a distant look in her eyes as she sang, but Greg was too transfixed by her hands to worry about her face. He was standing next to her where she sat on the sofa, leaning on her knee and watching the guitar as if mesmerized by its magic. Maggie had grown board of listening, and was now on the other side of the room, undressing her baby doll with incredible resolution.
Auntie Gwen changed chords and began to strum melodiously as she started a new song.
"When I was just a little girl,
I asked my mother, 'What will I be?
Will I be pretty,
will I be rich?'
Here's what she said to me:
Que sera, sera.
Whatever will be will be
The future's not ours to see.
Que sera, sera."
Greg was so enchanted by the music that he was scared to interrupt it. It took an enormous effort to stifle his insatiable curiosity, but he withheld his burning question until the last chord sounded and Gwen relaxed her hands with a small sigh.
"What does it mean, Kay Sarah, Sarah?" he asked eagerly.
Gwen smiled a little. 'It's French,' she said. "Que sera, sera. It means 'what will be will be'."
"Oh." It was a sophisticated bit of rhetoric for such a young mind. "What doesthat mean?"
"What do you think that it means?" Gwen asked.
Greg's brow furrowed and his eyes glinted in response to the challenge. It was a puzzle! This was what he loved about Gwen: she didn't tell him how he should think. She let him figure things out by himself instead of giving away the answers and spoiling the fun.
"What will be will be," he repeated pensively. "I think… I think that… I think it means what's going to happen is going to happen no matter what we do."
Gwen nodded somberly, echoing his words in a strange, haunted way. "No matter what we do. You're right, kiddo. You're a smart little guy, Greg, you know that?"
Greg grinned proudly. He had found the answer! He had got it right!
Gwen wasn't smiling. She was gazing off into space, and there was melancholy in her voice as she spoke. "What's going to happen is going to happen, and there's nothing we can do to stop it."
There was a silence. Greg watched the young woman's face, but he couldn't understand her expression. The puzzle in her eyes was too difficult for a child to unravel. All he could really comprehend was that the words held some terrible significance for her.
What will be will be, he thought. And we can't change it
Greg was very quiet. He had been quiet since coming home from the Carters', and it was making Blythe nervous. He was a talkative child, and often played out loud, carrying on whole conversations with drama and enthusiasm. When he was quiet, it meant one of two things. Either he was being good (dear little boy!) because John was tired, or he was getting into something that he shouldn't be in.
She slid her bread dough into the oven to rise, and was just about to go off in search of her son when he cried out for her.
"Mommy!" he shouted. "MOMMY!"
Blythe's pulse quickened. There was an unmistakable urgency to the exclamation. She hurried into the parlor, from whence the cry had come.
Greg was sitting on top of the piano, his little legs dangling down. In his hands, he held the willowware vase that usually stood where he was now perched. He looked up as she entered, a very serious expression in his brilliant blue eyes. Then, in the moment it took for Blythe to recover from her surprise at this odd scene, he extended his arms.
"Greg, no, don't—' Blythe exclaimed, but it was too late. Greg released his grip, and the vase hit the floor, shattering with a dull moaning echo.
Blythe inhaled so sharply that her lungs almost seemed to collapse. Greg stared dumbfounded at the broken vase, teetering for a moment on his precarious perch before instinctively seizing the lip of the piano lid to steady himself. Before Blythe knew what was happening, Greg was in tears. Too soft to bear the sight of her little boy weeping, Blythe tiptoed amid the shards of porcelain and lifted Greg off of the piano.
"Silly goose," she soothed, moving out of the danger zone and over to the settee, where she settled him into her lap. "What did you think would happen if you dropped it?"
"It's broken!" Greg said woefully. "It's broken!"
"Yes," Blythe corroborated solemnly. "It's very, very broken. Why did you drop it?"
"You didn't stop it," Greg reproached, accusation in his voice.
"No, I couldn't stop it," Blythe said.
Greg sobbed. "You didn't want it to break!" he cried. "Why couldn't you stop it?"
Blythe frowned, trying her best to be stern but failing utterly in the face of her child's distress. "If you didn't want it to break then you shouldn't have dropped it," she said. "I can't stop things that are already going to happen."
Greg stared at her for a moment, and then started to cry again. Blythe rocked him soothingly.
"Why did you drop it?" she asked gently.
Greg's whole body shivered in distress. "I wanted you to stop it," he said frantically. "I wanted to see you stop it."
Something was troubling him: Blythe could see that there was more to this than a broken vase. But Greg's vocabulary, though precocious for a four-year-old, was obviously inadequate for the task of articulating whatever thought was torturing him. He couldn't explain, and Blythe didn't know how to help him do so. All she could do was hold him until he calmed down again.
She didn't always understand what went on inside of Greg's head, but she loved him with all of her heart.