A/N: Well, I left my laptop at my grandma's house so any stories I've been working on are having to be put on hold until I go back over there. Sorry. Good news though...I did come up with a new idea and my mom let me use her work laptop....so here's another story. I hope you like it. Let me know, please and thanks. The song is Let Me Let Go by Faith Hill.
Van watched as his mother-in-law carried her clothes to her bed. She sadly filled her suitcase, keeping her eyes away from him. He understood why she had to leave, but he still wished she wouldn't. It would be hard on all of them, he knew. Reba had been this family's rock for so long he wasn't sure how well they could do without her. He sighed, closing his eyes when she walked back into her closet. Cheyenne stood in the doorway, silent tears slipping down her pink cheeks. She stalked over to her husband, wondering what he was thinking. They hadn't had the time to think about her mother's decision. It had all happened so fast. They had arrived to offer an invitation to an early lunch, but Reba had declined saying she had to pack.
"What do you think Dad did this time?" Cheyenne whispered, with a hint of anger, to Van who was leaning against her mother's dresser. Van shrugged his shoulders, looking to his feet. Reba had entered the room again to finish packing her first suitcase. Cheyenne took the black bag, dragging it to the doorway. She set it just outside the door, glancing towards Kyra's room. The young redhead hadn't left her room all day. Cheyenne hoped she'd be able to handle her mother being gone. She might be entering her first year of college, but that wouldn't be for another three months. She had wanted to spend that time with their mother. Cheyenne sighed taking her place by Van once again.
"I really don't think he did anything this time, Cheyenne. Your mother's been distant lately. Maybe she's been thinking about this for awhile." Van paused, trying to get his thoughts together. He had a feeling Reba would be making a huge decision soon. She hadn't talked to him all that much in the car pool lane or even made fun of Barbra Jean in a little under a week. Something had been bothering her more lately than ever, if it had even bothered her before at all. Van glanced at his wife again, taking a deep breath. "She's thought this through, Honey. She knows what she's doing. It's just as hard for her to leave all of us as it is for us to lose her." Cheyenne jerked her head to Van, realizing the truth behind his reasoning. She, too, had seen her mother's behavior change over the past few weeks. She just never thought her mother would actually leave.
"I know, Van. I just never thought she'd leave...She's always been here. What do we do without her? We've only been on our own for a week now." Cheyenne shook her head, walking out of Reba's room. She couldn't talk about this and remain strong for her mother. They still didn't know why she was leaving. Reba hadn't spoken a word since she told them. Cheyenne hoped when Jake made it home from his friend's house they would find out more. Van watched as his wife's body disappeared, his eyes darting to the redhead when she came out of her closet.
"Mrs. H, do you need any help?" Reba shook her head, folding her clothes absent-mindedly. She couldn't talk without breaking into tears, and hearing her kids doubts made it worse. She had almost called the whole thing off, but that wouldn't have solved anything. She'd still be in the same predicament she was in now, and what good would that be? She needed to go away for awhile. Where? She still didn't know. Reba had picked the first plane she could with a reasonable time, and decided once she got there she'd fine one heading to a place she could vacation at. It wasn't much of a vacation as it was an escape. She wished she could take the kids with her. "Jake called...said he was almost here. Are you gonna tell him, or just continue packing?" Van spoke softly, knowing all too well that this woman didn't take to harsh and angry tones too well. He had hoped his non-yes-or-no question would cause her to speak, but Reba out smarted him. She moved her eyes from the pair of blue jeans, in her hands, to his eyes. The hurt and guilt battling in her eyes showed Van he had to wait and see. She was going through something that needed his support without all the questions. She needed him to letitgo. Van nodded his head, taking a few steps over to her. He grabbed an article of clothing, folding it for her. "I'll tell him if you want me to." Van glanced at Reba. "No questions asked." Reba placed her hand softly on his upper arm, catching his attention. Van stopped folding the shirt when he saw the single tear sliding down her cheek.
"I'll do it, Van, but thank you. Thank you so much for..." Reba swallowed back her tears along with the lump in her throat. "Being here for me. I know I'm not making much sense or even giving ya'll the comfort you need, but trust me. I have to do this. It'll make everything..." Reba closed her eyes, taking her hand away from Van and turning back to her clothes. "Just forget it, Van. I'll tell him. Don't worry 'bout it." Reba yanked the shirt in Van's hands, freeing it from his tight grip. She stared at it for a minute before tossing it over her shoulder. She couldn't take that one with her. It connected her to him. Something she shouldn't have. Reba zipped up her second bag, placing it next to the other one before disappearing into her bathroom. Van was shocked. he didn't know how he got her to say so much. He thought about what she said. It, in itself, was leaving him worried and confused. He wanted to know the end to her sentence. What was going through his mother-in-law's head? Van started for the bedroom door when Reba poked her head out. "Van, can you give those letters to Brock and Barbra Jean? The ones on my desk." Reba waited for him to show her the white envelopes used for putting cards in before nodding her head. "Uh, after I leave though... if you don't mind." Van didn't have to look at her to see the discomfort it would bring if he didn't.
"No problem, Mrs. H. You just concentrate on packing and telling Jake. I'll do the rest." Van gave her a weak smile, hoping he was showing her all the support she needed. Once her head had disappeared back into the bathroom, he left her room tucking the letters in his jacket pocket. Van stopped outside of Kyra's room. He wondered if anyone had checked on her. Normally, she was either left alone or Reba would check on her every so often. Van knocked softly, receiving a 'what' in reply. "Kyra, it's me. May I come in?" Van stood still for a few minutes before the door swung open. On the other side stood a wet red faced Kyra. He had never seen her cry this hard. It had to be killing her. She stepped to the side, allowing him to enter. Van stepped into the room, giving her a grateful smile. Kyra rolled her eyes before shutting the door behind him.
"What do you want, Van? I'm not really in the mood for a heart to heart." Kyra stood by her door, arms folded across her chest, her eyes bloodshot and fighting with low strength against the salty tears. Van motioned to her bed before sitting down. Kyra stayed where she was, not expecting him to be there long.
"I'm not here for a heart to heart. More like a vent session. You have anything botherin' you?" Van gave her a weak, goofy grin. Kyra had to admit she liked the way he put it, but she still wasn't ready to accept her mother's decision. She quietly shook her head, looking to the floor. Her bright lime green house shoes looked out of place with the rest of her room. She was planning on redoing it with her mother, but now that was being put on hold. Kyra sighed, reaching for her doorknob.
"Not now, Van." Kyra opened her door, waiting for him to leave. She couldn't do this now. It wasn't going to happen. Her mother would take one step out of the house then rush back in, apologiving to everyone. She'd say she wasn't thinking clearly, and that their father had drove her insane finally. Kyra held firmly onto that belief, not wanting to hear anything he would say to take that away from her. Kyra glanced at him, holding back a chuckle. He sat on her bed, arms folded across his chest and his head turned away and upwards. Kyra shut the door, deciding talking with Van for a few minutes couldn't change her mind. If it was her mother, like it usually was, she wouldn't be doing this. The woman could change your mind faster than you could think twice. "Alright, what do you have to say? I could really use a good laugh." Kyra sat next to Van on her bed, kicking her shoes off in the process. Pulling her legs up to sit Indian style, Kyra shoved her hands into her sweatshirt's pouch.
"I know this is hard for you to take right now, but you're old enough...and definitely smart enough...to hear what I'm about to say." Van waited for any sarcastic comments or noises of disgust. Two sure signs of how Kyra felt about the situation. When neither came he continued. "Your mother is goin' through something. It's hard for her, and for some unknown reason to me she feels leaving for awhile is the best thing right now. She just...really...needs our support, and only that. I know it's difficult to accept, and to be honest...I haven't really done that myself, yet. But for your mother, we need to pretend we do. Just go out there, smile, and say 'See ya in a few weeks, ya ol' kook!" Van stopped his thoughts, taking a glance at his sister-in-law. She was starting at him, confused and angry.
"Do you really think that? We should be telling her that she shouldn't go. That we need her and this is the biggest mistake of her life. How can you pretend everything's normal and ok when it's not?" Kyra's breathing increased and her hands closed tighter than they were. She was glad Van couldn't see. She wanted to get angry. She wanted to be anything but scared and sad. She wanted her mother to come in and tell her it was just a sick joke. Van knew Kyra needed to be mad. It was how she normally handled the problems in the family. She was angry with the people fighting, throwing out sarcastic comments and telling them how she felt. It seemed to be the way the women in the Hart family expressed themselves, anger and fear. Van sighed, thinking quickly.
"Kyra, I know you think she's making a mistake, and I agreed with you at first. But now, I can really tell she needs this. You'd be able to, too, if you'd leave this room. I know you don't feel like 'messin' with her', but sometimes you just gotta mess with people. Otherwise, she'll leave and you'll still be angry...which is never good. It'll just boil and boil until you can't take it anymore, and when that happens, you'll lose her forever. Now, do you want that? 'Cuz I know she doesn't." Van took a deep breath, his nerves rising by the second. Kyra was a difficult one to read. He didn't comfort her that often, and when he did, it made him sweat sraight through his clothes in a matter of minutes.
"If she didn't want it then why is she leavin', Van?" Kyra waited for only a second. She could see another good argument coming, and she didn't want to lose. Not this time at least. "I can't pretend I'm ok with it. She hasn't even told us why she's leaving. Now, will you leave?" Kyra gave him a hard stare, not showing any emotion. She couldn't risk Van getting into her head. He had done it before when she was angry with Cheyenne, and she was certain he was close to doing it again with her mother. She would not lose to this monkey. Van knew she had talked enough, and even if she hadn't, she wasn't going to say anything more. He stood up, feeling the corners of the envelopes poking his chest. He slowly walked to the bedroom door, reaching to open it.
"You should try, Kyra. Your mother deserves at least that much." Van left Kyra sitting on her bed. He knew Cheyenne would want to talk to her later, and he had said all that he needed. Van glanced over his shoulder, seeing Reba disappearing back into her room. He smiled to himself. She must have heard their conversation. She couldn't fight the need to comfort her family. No wonder she didn't want to tell Barbra Jean and Brock until she had already left. It would be too many people at once.
Reba carried her last suitcase down the stairs, setting it with the rest. She couldn't believe she had actually gotten this far. By now, she was sure she'd have changed her mind, or at least the kids would have tried to convince her to stay. She walked into the kitchen to pack a water bottle or two with her. She'd have to wait in the airport for an hour before she had to board the plane and the drive was half an hour. Two bottles would be enough.
"Hey, Mom, I'm home. What's for lunch?" Jake sat at the island, smiling at Reba. He didn't see the sorrow cross her face when he entered the house through the back door. She delayed telling him by taking a big swallow of her water. She had to look away from his happy face, knowing he would fall to pieces with her news. Cheyenne walked into the kitchen, but quickly stepped back out. She leaned against the wall, listening for how her mother would break it to her brother. "Mom, you ok? You look...What did Dad do now?" Jake finished his sentence with a sigh of annoyance. His parents were always hurting each other, never giving the other one the chance to call uncle or mercy.
"Uh, Jake, I need to tell you something, and you're not gonna like it." Reba paused, giving him time to register the direction this conversation was heading in. "I decided to leave for awhile, and I don't mean for a few days either. You'll be staying here with your sisters until Van can get the heater fixed at his house. Then you and Kyra will move in with your father. Unless ya'll come up with something different." Jake raised his hand, making Reba stop. He had his eyebrows scrunched together. He wanted to relish in the fact he had finally been talked to like one of the adults, but what came with it was not good news. Jake lowered his hand, licking his lips. It seemed to take forever before it finally hit him.
"You're leaving tonight, aren't you?" Reba nodded her head, her hands tightly wrapped around her water bottle. "You're not gonna tell me why either, are you?" Reba shook her head this time, amazed at how well he had read into the situation. Jake stood up from the chair, clearing his throat. He knew when she was ready he would know why. She would tell him everything soon, and if not then he could wait for however long it took. Not unlike the rest, he knew something had been upsetting her. You could read it on her face from a mile away, and deep down he had already dealt with anything that might come from it. "Well, I hope you'll let me know what's going on with you soon, but until then do you need help with anything? I can distract Dad and Barbra Jean." Cheyenne was surprised at her brother's calmness. How could he not yell or cry when he was losing his mother, the woman who tucked him in at nights and gave him cookies when he brought home straight A's? When Jake turned around, she saw it. He didn't want her to go, but he could get past his feelings so she could be happy. Jake stopped next to his sister, listening to his mother still in the kitchen. "We're doing the right thing, aren't we, Cheyenne? I mean letting her do this." Cheyenne closed her eyes, nodding her head. She would take a page from her bother's book. This had to be the right thing.
"Of course, Jake. She'd do the same for us...always has." Cheyenne waited for Jake to climb the stairs before walking into the kitchen. "Mom, your bags are in the car. When's your flight?" Reba stole a glance at her watch, quickly counting the hours. Cheyenne swallowed the lump in her throat, already hating the number that would come from her mother's mouth.
"Two hours. Give or take an hour." Reba grabbed the grocery list from the refrigerator. She couldn't leave without making sure her family had everything they would need. After all, she didn't want them to think she was mad at them. "Well, I'm gonna go to the store. I should be back...in about half an hour. You know, depending on traffic." Reba flashed her daughter a sad grin before heading to the back door. Cheyenne quickly stopped her, blocking her path to the door.
"I'll do it later, Mom. We should all hang out before you have to go." Cheyenne glanced over Reba's shoulder, seeing Kyra standing in the doorway. Reba didn't think they would want to talk to her much less play games. They should be angry with her, and refuse to come out of their rooms until she changed her mind. Reba took a deep breath, ready to answer Cheyenne.
"Maybe play some Candy Land, Mom." Kyra's shaky voice filled the room, causing Reba to turn completely around. Cheyenne took the chance to guide Reba into the living room before yelling at Van to get the board games out. Reba pulled Kyra to her body when Cheyenne had to go upstairs to assist Van.
"Oh, Honey, I'm sorry. I wish I could stay with you, but..." Kyra squeezed her mother, wanting to burn the way she felt and smelled into her brain. Reba stopped talking. She couldn't finish her sentence without telling Kyra her secret, the reason she had to leave. "I'm just so sorry, Baby. I really did want to paint your room with you and spend the next three months doing all kinds of things with you...But this just couldn't wait another minute. Believe me though, I tried so hard. I really, really did try." Reba broke into silent tears, pressing Kyra's head into her chest while running her fingers through her hair. Reba kissed the top of Kyra's head.
"I know, Mom. We'll still do it when you get back. I just don't want to let you leave. I mean, who else will I have a decent conversation with? I'll miss you so, so much." Kyra could hear the rest of the family stomping down the stairs and slowly pulled away from her mother. She chuckled quietly as she wiped Reba's cheeks. "Don't cry, Mom. I know you need this because you wouldn't be doing it if ya didn't. Just promise we'll talk every day." Kyra bit her bottom lip, waiting impatiently for Reba's response. How she was letting her mother go was beyond her, but at this moment, it felt like the right thing to do.
"You can count on it. Now, how 'bout a game of Candy Land?" Reba smiled big before turning to help Van with the games. They played game after game, each pair of eyes constantly checking the time.
"We're here, Mrs. H. This is your last chance to change your mind." Van sat in the driver's seat, starring at the airport. Reba did the same in the passenger seat. Neither one would dare a look to the person next to them. It was hard enough spending the last few minutes of her time together.
"No, Van, the last chance would have been before I bought the non-refundable ticket." They both let out a quick chuckle. Reba reached for the door handle, but dropped her hand. She couldn't leave without telling someone why. She had tried not to do so, but it was against her nature. Her kids were hurt and confused. She couldn't leave them feeling both ways. "Van, I need to tell you why. Wither you decide to tell anyone else is up to you. I don't care. I'll be gone by then. Uh...I'm trying..." Reba swallowed her nerves, lowering her eyes to her hands. She had to fight the act she had played for so many years. She had to tell him. "I'm trying to let go..." Reba knew this would be hard, but she didn't think the words would get caught in her throat. She was glad when Van decided to finish the sentence for her.
"You still love him?" Reba nodded her head, a really low 'yes' slipping from her lips. Van patted her leg, opening his door. "Well, we should get in there before your plane leaves. You have someone to let go of, Mrs. H. You've waited long enough." Reba smiled tearfully at him, giving him a 'thank you'.
Van sat next to Reba, watching the unfamiliar faces scurry past them. She had been listening to her iPod for the past forty five minutes. They hadn't spoken a word since they left the car. He understood completely now, and had been trying to decide who to tell. He bent over, resting his head on his hands. He looked at the floor, taking deep breaths. Van moved his head to the side, listening as Reba hummed along to the song. He decided the water bottle he stole was giving him a run for his money and stood up. Reba lifted her head to look at him. She removed the old headband style earphones from her ears. "I'm going to the bathroom. I'll be back in a minute." Reba nodded her head, placing the headphones back on. Van quickly left the redhead to search for the restroom.
Brock spotted the tall goofy man and nervous redhead halfway through the airport. How could she not say goodbye to him? Did they not have a friendship? Didn't he always say goodbye to her? Brock rushed towards his family, wanting to scream out their names. He decided against it though. Van looked defeated and miserable. Reba looked distant and wounded. Brock stopped running when Van left Reba. He decided to watch the woman for a minute. She was starring in his direction, mouthing the words to a song. Brock tried to read her lips, but it was hard. Finally he ventured towards her, taking slow sturdy steps. Reba fixed her gaze on his body as he made his way to her. She hadn't expected him to find out so soon. Van hadn't even given out the letters, yet. Reba took her headphones off, placing them around her neck. Brock knelt down to be eye to eye with her.
"You're leaving? Why?" Reba stared back at him, traveling through his eyes before she slipped the headphones onto his head. She kept her hands over the ear pieces, not allowing him to take them off. Brock realized she wanted him to listen to the song, and he recognized the voice instantly.
I thought it was over, baby
We said our goodbyes
But I can't go a day without your face
Goin' through my mind
In fact, not a single minute
Passes without you in it
Your voice, your touch, memories of your love
Are with me all of the time
Let me let go, baby
Let me let go
If this is for the best
Why are you still in my heart
Are you still in my soul
Let me let go
I talked to you the other day
Looks like you made your escape
You put us behind, no matter how I try
I can't do the same
Let me let go, baby
Let me let go
It just isn't right
I've been two thousand miles
Down a dead-end road
Let me let go, darlin', won't you
I just gotta know, yeah
If this is for the best
Why are you still in my heart
Are you still in my soul
Let me let go
Van stood at a distance, watching the two he called his parents. Reba must have let a tear slip because Brock was wiping her cheek with his thumb. He wondered when the overly tanned man had arrived. Reba lifted her trembling fingers to wipe Brock's cheeks with a light chuckle. Van could tell they were having a wordless conversation. They had known each other long enough to read the other ones' thoughts. Van wished they could be together. It was the only thing he could think of to make his mother-in-law happy at the moment. The only thing besides leaving. Van shook his head, starting to make his way back to them when Reba pulled the headphones away, and her flight number was called over the speakers.
"Reba, don't..." Reba placed a finger over Brock's lips, shaking her head no. She didn't want to talk anymore. He had his chances, and he never took them. He had showed her over and over again he had moved on. It was now her turn and she hoped this would work. She needed this to work. Reba bit her bottom lip, starring deep into his eyes. She allowed her hands to cup his chin. Reba leaned into him, softly placing her lips onto his. They kissed long, slow, and tenderly before a quick love filled kiss ended their connection. Reba used his shoulders to push herself up. She picked up her carryon bag and walked away.
Van stopped next to Brock, watching with him as their favorite redhead handed over her ticket before disappearing. "I miss her already, Mr. H." Van cleared his throat, handing Brock his letter from Reba. He waited quietly, hoping the older man would talk to him. He had seen the scene between the two, and he, himself, could see why his mother-in-law never had the chance to move on. Every time she came close his father-in-law would show back up, giving her false hope to cling to again. Van almost dislike the man next to him, but he just couldn't bring himself to do it. There had to be a reason his Mrs. H loved him.
"I've missed her since we decided to seperate, Van. It's not something that gets better with time." Brock patted Van's shoulder, walking over to the window to watch her plane take off. Van watched at Brock stood there until the plane had been gone for quite some time, the letter stuck between two fingers. He sighed, feeling sorry for Brock. He had just let the woman of his dreams go, and that, he imagined, was not an easy task to do. Van took one last look at Brock before making his way home. He had decided not to tell anyone. Some things were better left unsaid.