A/N: I'm so sorry this has taken so long! To think this chapter was nearly done over the summer. But then I started school and things got really hectic. But I absolutely must bring this story to a finish. There's only like three more chapters, so I'm going to finish it out. I hope there are still some readers out there. Please RR!




I barely left the couch in the three days after my incident. After blacking out, I didn't wake up for up until almost five hours later in the hospital where Robert had taken me. This fact scared me at first, but actually turned out to make things easier. Because the doctors said I was dehydrated—which I'm sure was true, since I hadn't paid attention to anything that day—it made it easier for me to keep convincing people that I was just run-down.

But I wasn't completely in the clear, because things in those following days weren't so easy. I would've just gladly stayed up in my room the entire time, but everyone was so worried that they insisted I stay where they could keep an eye on me. Raymond brought me food, and not to mention, plenty of water, while trying to keep the kids out of the way as much as possible. When Robert called her, Amy was very concerned after the initial shock, and still was, being herself. But still, I could tell that over the past few days, she was trying her best to give me the cold shoulder, as she must have figured I'd broken my promise to be less stressful.

Having avoided most confrontation all week, the worst was yet to come. I hadn't yet been approached by the confronteur herself. Surprisingly enough, with the exception of the hospital, my meddling mother-in-law had been absent throughout the run of my recovery. Normally, I would've expected her to rush over to provider her mothering nurture, while still belittling me, lecturing me on not taking care of myself properly. Certainly, I appreciated the lack of this in my situation.

Of course, the day had to come soon enough. It was morning, and Ray had taken the kids to school on his way to work. Naturally, I was lying on the couch after briefly getting up to grab the toast and eggs Ray had put on for me. My bedrest was probably extending longer than need be, but I savored the excuse to practice this routine. I had only taken the first bite of my breakfast when Marie walked in, without knocking, of course.

"Hello dear," she began, in normal, mock-sweet tone, "How are you feeling?"

Fork still in my mouth, I turned big eyes up toward Marie, only to find her staring at my plate and shaking her head, not very approving of my current state.

"Debra, do you really think you should be cooking when you're sick?" she said, that horrible grin plastered on her face, "I mean, it's a challenge enough when you're well, dear."

I sighed, "Marie, Ray made this for me."

"Yes, well, he never needed to learn to cook with me around," she shrugged it off.

Thanks to Marie's distraction, I was now starving. Trying my best to ignore her presence, I turned back to my plate, focused intently on consuming the food.

"So you don't need me to fix anything for you?" she asked, not having moved from the same position—hovering over me.

"I think I can make do. But thank you, Marie."

"I'm not so sure you can…" she mumbled, almost inaudibly.

"Excuse me?" I retorted.

"Heh, well, Debra… I don't mean to be rude, but—"

"Marie, I'm just sick, okay…" I huffed, trying to shrug her off.

"Debra, don't think I can't see what's going on here! I understand that you didn't exactly start out with the best standards… but lately, things have been much, much worse. This isn't just about you being sick. You've been neglecting your duties as a mother!" she said, frantically.

The truth is, I didn't care about anything Marie was saying to me. I knew that I was a horrible mother. But did Marie? Probably not. It was just the way she had always talked to me. But now, even when it rendered true, I simply did not care.

So I did the only thing that felt common to me.

"You're nothing but a bitch, Marie!" I shouted, savoring the sting I felt on my lips, "I hate you! I've always hated you!"

I even had myself surprised at how angry I could come across when I actually felt no emotion at all. Because really, none of what I said is true. Sure, Marie could be a bitch from time to time, but I did not hate my mother-in-law. In fact, there was once a time when I could depend upon her. But not anymore. There was no place for her meddling in the life of a person as disembodied as myself. It was the last thing I could afford.

"W-well, if that's the way you really feel, dear…" the words fell from my mother-in-law's lips as she quickly stumbled towards the door and left. I knew I had hurt her, more than we had ever hurt each other before. But what other choice did I have? If I didn't scare her off, she would have gotten involved. And even I know what Marie Barone is capable of. And these days, I'm certainly not capable of handling it.