Monday's child is fair of face,Tuesday's child is full of grace,Wednesday's child is full of woe,Thursday's child has far to go,Friday's child is loving and giving,Saturday's child works hard for his living,And the child that is born on the Sabbath dayIs bonny and blithe, and good and gay.
It's been years since she thought of that rhyme, so many years that she'd thought she might not remember the words. Words that her mother had repeated to her every so often, while a young Marie had listened raptly, enraptured by her mother's lilting tone and the sounds her fingers were coaxing from their old, second hand piano.
Once, she'd asked her mother which child she was, secretly hoping that she was a Monday's child, squirming at the thought that she might be a Sabbath child. A gay child. Funny how adults were allowed to say it but not her.
"Anna Marie, you're a Thursday's child, baby," her mother had replied, fingers churning out a playful version of an old Johnny Cash song.
"Full of woe, mama?" she'd asked, the words still not familiar enough.
"No baby, that's Wednesday, you're Thursday's child. Far to go."
Well she had certainly taken that to heart.
"Hey. Hey!" yelled Logan, twisting around quickly to jostle their sons apart with one arm. "If you lot fight one more time …"
Their sons, surly, rambunctious at the best of times, pulled apart and slouched against their respective windows. "He started it," her youngest mumbled from under his breath, stuck in the middle and hating it.
"Do you want me to end it?" Logan threatened, fingers tightening on the steering wheel. Not only has this been a long drive, but their destination is … not to Logan's liking. And it's showing.
She thought of intervening, of maybe suggesting a pit stop to let the kids run around and tire themselves out - stretch their legs. But that would not only mean that their journey would take even longer but would also give Logan a chance to pull her away from their audience and convince her to change her mind. And her mind is so tumultuous right now that he'd persuade her too easily.
"Look, maybe we should stop for a while," he gritted out, hand going for the signal.
"No!" she said quickly, "don't. We're close anyway."
He glowered at her, not liking it but accepting it anyway - though reluctantly, and put both hands back on the steering wheel.
"Mama!" yelled a voice from the back, "he bit me! You son of a bitch!"
"Are you sure?" he asked once again, furrows birthing on his forehead, his lips thin enough to vanish completely.
She has to think about it. "Yes."
"What're you going to do if …" that's the biggest worry for him, the 'ifs.' The danger she's about to face isn't something he can kill and make better, what's inside the quaint little house with the ivy trellis growing up the side wall isn't Magneto, or Sabretooth, or Mystique, this is something else entirely - deadlier in a way - and he wants to protect her from it. Like always.
The 'ifs' shake her trembling nerves; she reached down, searched for a hand, found one son's fingers and gripped it tightly. Felt the stickiness of his palm, coated in cola and potato chips, ground her. "I have to Logan."
He blinked, looked ready to argue, looked ready to yank her away from the doorstep and bundle them all into the truck, drive back home and make her forget about this.
She rang the doorbell before he could.
"Just a minute!" singsong-ed a once familiar voice, the Southern tang reminding her of home, making her wish her kids had it too, rather then their brash New York accent.
She gulped, took a wary step backwards, felt Logan's eyes on her, ready to pull her away if she gave him a sign.
The door opened.
"Oh …" said the woman who had opened it, a woman who was both familiar and a stranger at the same time. Dumpier then she remembered, her hair streaked with grey now but the same shade of brown as Marie's, more lines on her once pleasantly plump face but still the face of the woman she had once called mother. "Oh …" she said again, as if stuck in a dream. Her eyes travelled dazedly off Marie and onto the children around her, three dark haired boys who were squirming and tugging at the father's scuffed leather jacket.
Marie opened her mouth to speak, felt nothing but air whoosh out of her. "Mama?" she finally croaked, her eyes blurring as she begged for silent permission to enter. To be allowed to enter.
Her mother blinked, her eyes roving from grandson, to grandson, to grandson. Noting that while the boy whose hand Marie was holding was stocky and tall for his age, like his father, the oldest had a playful smile that was all D'Ancanto charm, and the youngest had a set to his jaw that she remembered well from raising Marie herself, a more stubborn child had never been born.
"You're father is out," she replied, blinking nervously as she looked up and down the road.
The big man, a little older then she would have liked for her daughter - her daughter's husband … hopefully, bristled as he saw where her eyes had wandered, but said nothing. She opened the door wider, let the family inside and closed the door quickly behind them.
They sat facing each other, the coffee table between them. Priscilla on one side and her daughter's family on the other. The boys fidgeted in their seats, already bored and slumping against their parents. She was too curious to keep quiet. "Are they -?"
Marie looked up sharply, "yes, they're mine."
"But - but how?" she stammered in bewilderment, remembering those weeks that no one mentioned anymore in the D'Ancanto household. Those weeks where her child had to be fully clothed and wrapped up like a mummy in her own house. Unwilling to leave her room - no, that was another thing that was never discussed here.
"I took the cure - a while back. Years ago."
Priscilla gasped, "but why didn't you come back then?" The man bristled again, mumbled something under his breath that made Marie give him a sharp look and motion towards the garden. He glared at her, a frightening glare that made Priscilla swallow nervously, and took the children outside. They ran ahead of him, a clatter of feet and limbs, fighting to be the first out the door, the littlest one reached it first, shoving the door open so hard that the stained glass windows shook.
Marie watched them go, not really seeing anything. "Because I'm still not human, remember?" she asked bitterly.
Priscilla's eyes widened, she looked down at her hands, "you know he didn't mean it. He would have told you himself, except you were gone. Damn near broke his heart Anna Marie … and that note you left …" A cruel note from a hurt child. Unforgiving. Throwing the blame around, unable and unwilling to understand the torture they had been going through. She had locked herself in her room but they had had to leave theirs every now and then, for work, shopping … Facing people's accusations when they didn't know what was wrong with her themselves or how to help her. Facing people's taunts and threats when a couple of days ago they had been their friends, neighbours … family.
"Broke his heart?" the girl - no, woman, in front of her asked incredulously. "What about mine? I was sixteen years old and my own father called me a monster for something I had no control over."
Priscilla winced, "he didn't call you a monster. And he - he really regretted it."
"Still? Does he regret it still? Do you? Do you miss me still?"she asked, her voice yearning but unsure.
Priscilla nodded, "of course we do."
Marie looked around the room, her eyes wandering to the photos. The one of Priscilla and her husband on their wedding day. Their godchild on her graduation. Priscilla's Grandma Rose's 95th birthday, a mere 3 weeks before her death. "Right," she said, eyes travelling from picture to picture. None of which were of her.
"I have them," Priscilla said quickly, feeling her cheeks redden with shame. "We didn't throw them away … it's just … people - they would … so-"
Marie nodded, lifted a shaky hand to take a sip from her glass and then put it down on the coffee table. "I think this was a mistake."
"What? No. No. What do you mean? Have I … did I say something?" Marie got up, moved towards the patio doors to collect her family, Priscilla moved with her, shuffling quickly to block her path. "You only just got here … I can't lose you again … Marie."
"You know mama; you know why I wanted to come here? Because I'm pregnant … A girl. To be honest, when I had the boys I didn't really think of you, didn't even have the time. But it's - it's different when it's a girl, isn't it?" Marie hesitated, her hand floating down to cup the barely noticeable swell of her stomach. "I kept remembering you and how you raised me, songs that you used to sing to me, games that we used to play … My boys … I was young when I had them, and we both knew nothing about kids in general, we had to teach each other, guess the rest and just pray that they'll turn out alright." She chuckled, "I know we must have gone wrong somewhere though. You should see them fight. Brawlers - all three of them, and they fight dirty too."
"What're their names?" Priscilla asked carefully, her ears devouring the stories of her grandchildren. Picturing them at a younger age, making things up because she had a bad feeling in her gut. Maybe the youngest took after Marie the most and had been a wan looking baby with reed thin limbs and big, sorrowful eyes. Maybe the eldest took after her grandfather, Priscilla's father, a soft-spoken gentleman who still opened doors for women even when he had to keep both hands on his canes. Maybe the middle one took after Priscilla's husband, quick to anger, but just as quick to forgive and forget.
Marie's eyes closed. "I don't think … I think it's best if you don't know."
"Marie! Don't do this," Priscilla pleaded in alarm. "I have a right to know my grandchildren; you can't take them away from me!"
Marie's eyes flashed, "they're my children." She stilled, breathed out her anger and looked regretful at her outburst. "I left. Yes … But you never came after me - you never looked. You never even tried … did you mama?"
"I - we -" Priscilla studied the ground, cheeks as red as a Southern sunset.
"I wanted to try to understand you. Maybe wanted to try again, give my children grandparents who would fuss over them … But I don't understand you. I can't … Whatever my children might do, whether it be something I hate - even if it's something they've done wilfully, I could never go without seeing them. I would never stop looking for them."
"Marie …" Priscilla whispered, feeling tears make tracks on her crinkled skin, "we're sorry, sorrier then you know."
"You might be, but you're not sorrier then you should be. Not sorry enough to have my pictures up, not sorry enough to hate the people who drove me away. Not sorry enough to invite me and my family in without wondering what the neighbours might say." She saw her mothers tears, dug inside her pocket for the stack of wet wipes she always carried with her, gave one to the older woman. "I wish I hadn't come here, I didn't mean to come here to hurt you like this."
"No Marie, please -" she rubbed at her cheeks with the wet wipes, feeling the soapy slide against her skin. "Give us another chance, you're our only daughter - we have no one else."
Marie leaned against the patio door, breathing through her mouth as she watched her children run around the garden, digging up the perfect grass with their shoes, pulling off handfuls of flowers, lobbing rotten apples at each other while their father sat on the wrought iron garden bench, a cigar in his mouth, watching her.
"Family," she spoke softly, turning back to her mother, "are people who drive you crazy but will love you no matter what ... Back home, where we're from, I have two friends I consider as my little sisters. One of them borrows my stuff without asking, loses them and never pays me back. The other - well, she stole my first serious boyfriend from me and was seeing him behind my back for months," she grinned wryly at the memory. "I have brothers too - my cheating ex-boyfriend being one of them. The other one riles up L - my husband something fierce, always making comments about how he will eventually leave me and how I'm too good for him. We end up fighting at least once a week because of him. And older sisters … My husband was in love with one of them before me. For a long time too. If we fight once a week because of one 'brother' then the rest is because of her. Sometimes I get so jealous I can't get out of bed in the morning, you don't know how many times I've nearly left him because of her."
Marie sighed, a smile alighting on her sad face. "But they're family, so I put up with them just like they put up with me and my moods, and my occasional threats to run away every time there's trouble."
"Just like we ought to have put up with you," finished Priscilla softly.
Her daughter sighed again, saying nothing. "I didn't say goodbye last time … I think I owe you that. Papa too."
"You're staying till he gets here?"
"… I'll wait."
Priscilla hesitated, nerves tightening fearfully, "and then?"
"And then … I got to get back to my - family." Priscilla's breath hitched. "I miss them."
"Boys!" she chided, yanking one son out of the way of another's fist. "No fighting."
"I swear, it's like a goddamn zoo," grumbled Logan, leaning over laps and seats to make sure each boy had his seat belt on. "You okay?" he asked Marie.
"… No," she said, feeling her eyes water. "I don't know whether I've done the right thing. Logan … you should have seen her cry."
He closed the car door, ignoring the squeals of his children demanding food, drinks, sweets, music and probably his lifeblood too.
"Screw the right thing. Sometimes we just have to do what's easiest" he told her softly, pulling her against his side, looking up at the perfect box house in front of them with its twitching curtain. She slumped against him, arms wrapping around his waist tightly. "Too much has happened, for both of you, for you to try and go back to how it was. Sometimes you just have to give up, cut your losses and go separate ways … You were happy without them - and they … were happy without you. Maybe you shouldn't mess it up by trying to fix it now."
She leaned into him, her tears wetting his t-shirt, the truth a bitter pill she was trying to swallow. "When did you get so wise?" she asked softly, sniffling and wiping her eyes on is flannel shirt.
He smiled, leant down to kiss her forehead, "must have been your good influence. Now come on, let's get those whiny brats into a McDonalds before they eat the leather from the seats."
"McDonalds!" came three triumphant screams from inside. Followed by incoherent orders from its menu and screams to hurry up and start driving.
"Jesus, after number four we're getting you neutered," Logan grumbled, eyes rolling heavenward, loping towards the drivers' seat.
She laughed, looked one last time at the cookie cutter house she had spent her first sixteen years in and then back at the car, whose inhabitants she'd spent the rest of her life with.
"God I wish they'd all been born on Sabbath day," she mumbled as she opened her own door and got in.
And then it slid down. That pill.
Still bitter though.
AN: This one … is to the easiest way out. Sometimes, even if it doesn't feel right, it's the best way out.