Title: Be Loved
Summary: The story behind the locket. – A companion one-shot to "Beloved"
Disclaimer: I always forget these things! I don't own the characters and I only partially own the plot for Ghostward from "Beloved". The other half belongs to the wonderful, the fabulous, the absolutely perty Brelsk. Though she will deny everything.
Author's Note: The two one-shots can be read seperately but I can't guarantee they'll make much sense so good luck!
As a child I had always wondered at my father's large, weathered hands and my mother's worn, demure fingers. They were a contrast, in every sense, but each crack of my father's hands nestled just right with the simple curves of my mother's.
My father's hands crafted houses. My mother's crafted dinner. My father was loud where my mother was soft. My father stern and wide. My mother joyful and small. I wondered at them each and every day of my childhood. And, in my mind, one could not exist without the other. It was only fitting that when one passed, the other would shortly follow.
My father had passed first. A new illness ravaged the township every winter; each one more grueling and fearsome than the last. My father had never been sick a day in his life. I had wanted desperately to believe he would survive this but even I had known, somewhere in the back of my mind, that his days were numbered.
The more the illness ravaged his body the more worn my mother looked. I helped where I could but ultimately it wasn't enough. My father passed on December sixteenth. My mother, though never having contracted the illness (a miracle in and of itself), passed on December twentieth.
And now, here I stood, completely still above their graves on the eve of Christmas day. Coated as I was in a layer of pale snow, I had lost all sensation in my toes and fingers.
As fitting as it may be for two people so obviously meant to be, to breathe the same air, to fit so perfectly and beautifully in a world as ravaged and wicked as this, to live and to die together, I was angry. They had left me. And I was lost. I was not prepared and I selfishly wanted them back.
I returned to the still and silent house. It was built solid and lay amongst a ten-acre plot just outside the city. It would fetch a decent profit at auction and I hated myself for thinking it. The door groaned and the floor creaked. Dying embers in the fireplace cast an eerie glow and contrasting shadow that emphasized the emptiness of this place.
I sat in my father's chair, swaddled in a quilt my mother made, with a bottle of whisky my father had vehemently told me to never touch. The need so desperate to release some of my despair I moaned into the tired, empty room; the sound heartbreaking and desolate to my own ears. I felt disgusted with myself.
I stared with glassy eyes at my parent's door on the other side of the space. I had not touched it since the kind doctor had removed my mother's deathly still body. The door was open barely a crack. It had never managed to stay closed.
Something within the foundation had shifted years ago and it just couldn't stay latched. My father had tried everything, even replacing the doorframe entirely (that had taken him an entire summer season). My mother had laughed every time he closed that door and it would pop back open.
She always told him, "A door will stay closed if it is meant to. Clearly that door isn't."
In my drunken haze I stumbled to the other side of the room. I pushed the door open and a bitter wave of sorrow swallowed me. I was engulfed in the breath of the tiny space, wrapped in rosemary and sandalwood.
I choked on the knot in my throat and staggered over to their bed. I collapsed just as a heavy sob broke my ribcage. I felt like a little boy living in a bad nightmare. I curled against the covers, shaking as though I was possessed. Eventually I fell into a deep and terrible slumber.
I awoke some time later with a heavy tongue and a cracking face. My chest felt weighted with rocks. My stomach was roiling and my lungs hurt. I feared I was dyeing too.
I sat up and kicked my feet to the floor. The room was freezing and I could see my breath. The fires had burned out and night had fallen. I could see the faint flicker of a gas lamp outside the door. I stood, collected wood, and stacked it as my father had taught me.
I went to my mother's vanity, the one my father had built for her, and retrieved the matches. I lit the gas lamp settled on the tiny table. An envelope with my name scrawled across the front caught my eye. There was a noticeable bulge in the corner of the carefully folded package. The chill of the room forgotten, I sat heavily upon the tiny stool.
I didn't move for a long time, just fingered the edges of the heavy paper. It somehow registered that this was real, this was my mother's handwriting, and my hands weren't shaking because of nerves.
I lifted the box of matches again, they rattled in their little prison. I struck one of the long sticks and left it to lick at the logs. I sat again, still freezing, the growing fire crackling behind me, and stared at the vanilla paper and the heavy black ink.
Smoothing my fingers over the lines of my name, I flipped the heavy envelope over and released the red wax seal. The room was starting to warm and I found myself perspiring considerably.
I pulled the strong woven paper from its casing. A thin gold sparkling chain drifted with it and a heavy oval locket plunked to the table. I lifted the jewelry and thumbed the engraving. I recognized it as a piece my mother wore often. I hadn't seen the bauble itself many times but the chain was unmistakable.
A grave sigh built within my lungs. I held it for some time before freeing it to the waiting air. Relief and anticipation replaced its spot in my chest. I set the locket back on the vanity. Releasing the creases of the paper, I laid if flat next to the necklace.
My mother's delicate handwriting danced across the paper in flowing black ink.
My dearest Edward,
I had hoped I would never have to write these words. If you are reading this it means I was unable to continue on without your father. I am deeply regretful that I was not stronger. I hope you can forgive me. I hope you can forgive us both.
Edward, my darling boy, my son, you are a man now and I had hoped that you would have found someone to care for you by now. Unfortunately, as this is not the case, I can only give you a mother's advice. Sell the house, the land, every thing and any thing you can bear to part with. Start over somewhere new. Find a lovely, kind and gentle woman. Have many children. Live well. Love strongly. Grow old. Die honorably.
I leave you this locket in the hopes that you will keep it with you always. Your father gave it to me the night you were born into this world. I give it to you now so that you may go with the knowledge that you will always be loved.
Be safe my son.
I wrapped the chain around my hand. I stuffed the letter in the pocket of my trousers. I stumbled to the doorway, inhaled deeply the scent of my parents one last time, and closed the door. And this time, it stayed closed.
End Author's Note: A little pull at the heartstrings for you all. I normally do not write anything so short but it just kinda fit, ya know? I hope you'll let me know what you think. I'm always excited for any feedback you're willing to give.