Metronome by AndromedaMarine
The metronome went back and forth, recording each second he was without her. His fingers flew over the ivory piano keys, a toccata of sadness and grief; the only relaxing thing he could do to alleviate the pain of loss. How could he truly remember her if he didn't honor what she'd taught him? The baby grand in their enlarged family quarters had been placed there as a wedding present – he was one of the only people who knew how much she had loved to play. Two children, represented by the ends of the metronome's path, were both the beginning and the end.
It was on a slow repetition, for the slow song that represented who they were as husband and wife, ticking back and forth as if time itself had slowed to the four-second beats, drawing the tears from his eyes onto his cheeks. The metronome angered him. He wanted to throw it into the beautiful Lantean window – hurl it off the balcony into the ever-changing sea, because that's what his life had become – turbulent.
It was close to ten in the evening, yet the walls were sound-proofed, providing him the perfect cover from waking his slumbering son and daughter. He failed to hear the door swish open, as he was deep in the melody of the song he'd composed especially for his wife, and failed even to sense his daughter's presence by his side. The piece resolved, the last note fading into the silence of the night so perfectly he couldn't hold the tears in any longer, and he brought his hand to his eyes. His shoulders shuddered up and down, wracked with sobs, when he felt the light touch of his four-year-old daughter's hand on the small of his back. The touch was so gentle he could've mistaken it for Elizabeth, but he knew better.
He seized the metronome and ceased its slow beat, turning to look at his small, black-haired daughter. "Katrina, you shouldn't be up."
His daughter had inherited his quiet intelligence. "Neither should you," she replied smartly, her green eyes boring into his much like Elizabeth's had. "Besides, Jack's upset. He wants Mommy." Her bottom lip quivered, but she ignored this to be strong for her father. "I do too," she added quietly.
"Mommy's gone to a better place," he tried, but failing to believe it himself caused doubt in Katrina's heart. "She's still watching over us."
"Can we sleep with you tonight?"
It wasn't a question. "Yes, Kat. Let's get your brother." He stood from the piano bench, gazing at the ivory with silent wonder, and the metronome, with one moment of irrationalized hatred. He lifted his daughter to his side and walked into his children's shared bedroom, where Jack Sheppard squirmed on his bed.
The younger child joined his sister and father, and the three fell asleep to the crash of the ocean and the silent beat of life that Elizabeth had left behind, a metronome to steady John's life without her, in the form of two young children – the two beginnings and ends of the antique metronome that rested atop the piano in their room.
Fifteen-year-old Katrina Elizabeth Sheppard woke in a cold sweat. The dream about the night following her mother's death had been haunting her unconscious mind for over three months now, making her question her father's and the Athosian's close relationship. How could her father love anyone but Katrina's mother? She realized that Elizabeth Weir-Sheppard had been dead for over eleven years, and her father had the right to move on, but Katrina remembered her mother, and could never call Teyla Emmagan such.
She hopped out of the bed and tip-toed to the bathroom to splash water on her face. The dream often made her do that because of the realization that perhaps her mother wasn't really gone. John had never elaborated on the circumstances of her death, refusing even to tell them if the one-time leader had ascended. Katrina's only true reminder of her mother was the antique metronome she'd learned had come from her grandmother on Earth, but had only been to the planet once a year for a week.
Looking at the clock, the oldest Sheppard child ignored the early hour and powered her laptop. The Pegasus symbol rotated on the screen, mesmerizing her as the programs loaded. Opening a Word document she began to free write, letting her mind wander into the past as she let her fingers fly over the keyboard much as her father's had flown across the piano.
Her past was a muddle of fuzzy events, seams hazy and misleading.
The crescendo of her father's composure for her mother rang in her ears, until she realized the music was alive and full of vibrancy.
Her father was playing the piano, the metronome missing from her shelf and instead atop the baby grand, keeping slow time for the ever-grieving man.
Katrina would not forget.