A thundering storm cloud rolled in over a house in the mountains. The occupants within had all succumb to sleep. One, though, did not sleep peacefully. The woman thrashed violently.
The rumble of the quickly moving weather grew louder, as did woman's cries. Lighting struck. She erupted in a scream.
Her daughter ran in to her room and grabbed her shoulders, trying to steady her.
"Mom, wake up,"
The woman's eyes fluttered open. Confusion engulfed her face.
"Fiona?" she responded, "What? What is it?"
"You were doing it again,"
"Oh, sorry. I didn't mean to wake you,"
" I thought you said you would see someone about this," Fiona said.
" We've been through this, baby. I've seen doctors before. It only frustrates me more. No answers no..."
She stopped in mid sentence. Her eyes darted back and forth. She shook her head and place her hand on her forehead. A sigh escaped her lips as she looked at the second figure at the door.
"Every thing okay, Molly?"
"Yeah, Annie, just another terror," Molly replied.
Dawn was peaking over the horizon when Molly gave up on trying to sleep and got out of her bed. She felt really down. She had had bouts with night terrors since she was a child. Like noses, it ran in her family.
It was draining. Her arms and legs were bruised from the thrashing. Soreness filled her whole being. To make things worse, she remember nothing once she awoke. All that was left was fear and confusion.
The Phone ran, jerking her from her daze. Who could it be this early? She eyed the caller i.d. She didn't recognize it. She assumed it was a wrong number, but a voice in the back of her mind told her to answer it.
"Hello," she said after clearing her throat.
The voice was of a young woman. She sounded hoarse, like she'd been crying. Molly knew who it was all the same. Her sister's youngest.
"Daria?" she asked, "What's wrong? Did something happen?"
Molly knew that something had happened already. I hit her just after she woke from her terror. But she didn't think much of it. If she had a dime for every time she got the feeling something was wrong with one of her family members, she would be a very rich woman.
"Sorry about calling this early... I just didn't know who else to call. My mom's in Texas shacked up with who knows..."
"Wait a second, honey, where are you?" Molly questioned.
"I'm back in town. Drove in late last night and haven't gotten any sleep. Um," the girl paused to gather her thoughts, " my grandma died,"
Molly's face dropped. She didn't know the woman too well. She was her ex-brother-in-law's mother after all, but it touched her all the same.
It was cancer. It had been a long and drawn out battle, but the disease had won out. Everyone near had been knocked around in its wake. It was a very large contributer to the separation and later divorce of her sister, Trish, from her husband.
Molly let the silence hang. Even though over the past few years they had grown distant as time ticked on, she knew the girl. She was like Collin in many ways. She didn't like to be fawned over.
"I, um... I just need a place to go to. I don't feel comfortable staying with my dad and his new girlfriend," Daria said, " I'd call Carey but I don't..."
"Say nothing more. I understand. Come on over,"
Twenty minutes later, a car pulled up in the drive. Molly met her little niece at the door. The girl wasn't a child anymore. She was in her twenties and had been through many, many things no child should ever bear. But, in that moment, she was like that little child that had ran through the house with Molly's own children.
No words were spoken between the two McQuinn women. Daria's stony expression broke and she embraced her aunt tightly.
Molly lead Daria upstairs to the spare bedroom. The girl quickly took off her shoes and hit the bed. She fell almost instantly asleep.
Molly envied her for how easily she did so. But, it was Saturday. She was always up early to fix breakfast. Jack always made sure to come over on Saturday mornings
He had a budding career started. Sure, it was only a few gigs taking pictures for the local paper or for the high school seniors and different events in town. But, there was always something coming in to keep food on his table, clothes on his back, and his rent paid.
He'd been putting back money over the last year or so to buy his own studio space. With work in constant climb, it wouldn't be long until he could afford to put money down for it. Molly couldn't be more proud of her son.
Fiona was working part time at the local super market while she worked on her degree. She was going for cultural studies. She still had a call for the paranormal but did not chase it as blindly as she did when she was a teenager. Too much had happened since then that kept her from digging too deep.
But, all the same, she hoped that the degree would help her better understand people and help with case research as well. It was though, but she was making it work, mostly. That's why she was still at home. She couldn't work and go to school and still afford rent. Not on her paycheck.
And Annie? She had only been living there for a short time. It was suppose to be a temporary thing after a very bad break up from a musician that she thought loved her. He promised her so many things. They were all half truths and mostly whole lies. A career, a future together, everything, it was bullshit.
But temporary had turned to eight months. Molly didn't mind. She liked having them there. Better then being in a big empty house she and Rick had built to be filled by a family.
Molly had decided to move back to the log house soon after Fiona returned from Seattle. The house in town was beautiful. But it was old and hadn't been maintained properly. Basically, it turned into a money pit.
The other house wasn't getting potential buyers for some odd reason. Fi said it was fate. It was their home. Irene said it was because it was too far out. Whatever the reason, it worked out for the better.
Soon the house began to fill with the smell of breakfast and the sound of food sizzling. Yet another car pulled into the drive. This was followed by the front door creaking open and in walked Jack.
"Hey Mom," he said, giving her a kiss, "Who's here?"
"Daria. She called early this morning asking to come over," Molly replied, "Her grandmother died late last night and she needed a place to stay,"
Jack looked a little take a back. It all seemed some what strange to him. Daria hadn't really spoken to his family in the last two years. She'd been moving around and traveling a lot.
Only Fi got the occasional e-mail. She and Daria were only a few months apart in age, so they had the bond of growing up together. Carey had been her best friend, but even he got neglected.
She sent him a few anonymous notes to let him know a few things here and there. But they grew less and less when he and Clu got an apartment together.
"And she came here?" Jack asked, "Is she okay?"
"Yeah, I mean, as good as she can be," Molly said, "but, honestly, she's so different. I've worried about her,"
"Mom, you don't need to. She's got her own mother, remember?"
"Not exactly. Trish isn't being that focused on anyone but herself. To be honest, I've been really ashamed of her,"
Jack sighed and shook his head. He dug into his hand into his pocket for his phone.
" What are you doing?"
"Calling Clu," he answered, "He should know,"
"Mom, I need to. He'd planned on coming over today. I really don't think that she wants to see him, not yet,"
"Just, be nice about it. They've been through a lot,"
The sound of two sets of footsteps came from the stairs. Fiona and Annie walked together towards the kitchen, feet moving tiredly over the wood floor.
"Hey Jack," Fi said around a yawn.
Annie headed straight for the cabinet where the coffee mugs were kept. She poured herself a cup and slouched on a stool at the counter. She let out a cough and a sniffle as she took that first morning sip.
"Feeling any better?" Molly asked.
"Eh...," Annie answered as she lowered her head to the counter.
Sound of more movement came from upstairs. Fiona looked around, mentally counting the people in the room. All the people that were suppose to be there were there. She got up and peered out the window. She caught sight of a small blue car and erupted into a smile.
She took off back upstairs, following the sound of the footsteps. She caught sight through an open door a familiar figure, her long blonde hair tightly braided and trailing down her back, digging through a duffel bag. Fi lingered at the door as she watched her.
Daria turned and and saw Fi standing there. The sound of her name escaped Daria's mouth, barely above the sound a whisper. The two of them hugged. Not much was said really. Nothing really needed to be said.
The two of them went down stairs. Daria was very coy when she entered the kitchen. She loved Jack, but she feared what would come from their reunion. He had this way of breaking you down to size sometimes. The fought about it often through the years. Especially in those years that followed Fi's return from Seattle.
Daria eyed him like a wounded animal. Like she was a child about to be scolded by her father for breaking a window. She still managed to send a tiny smile his way. A sigh of relief and a small laugh came from her mouth when he walked over and took her in his arms.
"Jack," she said, "I've missed you,"
"I'm so sorry about your grandma," he said.
"If there's anything that I can do for you and your dad, let me know,"
Daria nodded. Of course that would be it. Jack was a lot of things, but cruel wasn't one of them. He knew how hard death of a family member always hit her. Especially now, after all that had happened before she left.
Annie picked up her head from the counter and gave a look of happy confusion at the going ons. She started to say something but was interrupted by a monstrous cough deep from within her chest. Daria walked over to her and took the coffee cup from her hand.
"Hey, excuse me," Annie said, in a rough voice.
"No coffee. Spearmint tea," Daria said.
Annie eye balled her for a moment before laughing.
"I've missed having you around,"