Hi! I really should not be writing this, as I have far too many things on my plate as it is. But this is a really short story (I'm thinking 3-4 chapters, tops) that was rather insistent about being written. This chapter is the set-up/prologue/whatever else you would like to call it and I hope you like it.
The title is taken from a Bing Crosby/Rosemary Clooney duet (I'm sure someone else has sung it at another time, but I'm using Bing and Rosemary as my reference and there's nothing wrong with that, so THERE! Umm… I'm not crazy, it's just late) off the album "Fancy Meeting You Here" (among others).
I own absolutely nothing.
Somewhere around 1920—she can't remember the year exactly; when you have an infinite amount of time, the years tend to run together—Mary had realized that the way she felt about Bert had changed. It had probably happened a long way back, around the time she had stayed with the had stayed with the Banks, somewhere between forays into chalk drawings and tea parties on the ceiling, something had changed. Bert had always been her faithful friend, no more, no less. When she thought of him, she felt a warm, affectionate feeling. But somehow that had evolved. She still felt warmly affectionate, but it was different—a not unpleasant fluttering in her stomach began accompanying it now. And God forbid he smiled at her. It's not a feeling she was used to. And around 1920, she admitted to herself something she'd probably known on some level for a good twenty or thirty years—she admitted that she's in love with her best friend.
As momentous as that revelation is, she didn't have time to dwell. As the financial crisis spread throughout the world, it seemed like the number of families needing her help doubled. The second she left one family, the wind whisked her straight to the next family. She made it to the park with whatever children she happened to be watching, but the visits were so brief that she barely had time to remember that particular revelation. For the time being, she was happy simply spending time with him and helping children as she was meant to do.
It all changed with the second World War. She hadn't thought it was possible for her services to be needed anymore than they had been during the Depression, but the times proved her wrong as families tried to fill the gaping holes left by fathers or brothers or sons. But instead of distracting her, as the business of the 30s had, every assignment pulled at her heart and she couldn't help asking herself what she would do without Bert. She didn't like the answer at all.
Late in 1949, she stayed with the Ferrer family—the family of a wealthy Spanish business man. The father had uprooted his family to move to London. Maria, the youngest, was too little to truly feel the change, but Miguel and Carmen, the other two children, missed Spain terribly. Mary carefully considered her plan of action and realized that it would be best to show them that London had a magic of its own, so of course they visited the park. She had watched them with satisfaction—the wind would come to blow her to her next post soon, she could feel it.
Later that evening the children all waved to Bert as he cheerfully walked away. Maria and Miguel accompanied him to the gate but Carmen stayed by her nanny.
At eleven, Carmen was just old enough to realize the intense longing hidden behind Mary Poppins' calm face. Carmen looked up at her nanny with an odd little smile. She may have only been eleven, but she was an old soul and her brown eyes seemed to carry the weight of decades behind them. "You like him very much, don't you, Mary Poppins?" she asked knowingly.
Mary Poppins didn't respond but she nodded stiffly.
"I'll get Miguel and Maria washed up for dinner," Carmen offered, grabbing her younger siblings and dragging them inside. "I think he cares for you very much too," she smiled before closing the door.
"Bert," Mary called. She would never be caught running, but her sensible boots definitely beat a rather quick rhythm against the pavement. She reached him just as he turned around. She glanced around quickly to assure herself that no one was watching and then pressed her lips nervously to his. She was pleased when his arms found their way around her waist. The shoulders of her heavy wool coat bunched up around her shoulders as she slid her arms around his neck to pull him close.
They married on the first day of spring in 1950. Neither Bert nor Mary could wait to start their life together—they had wasted enough time apart as it was. So they married in a small ceremony, presided over by Uncle Albert and attended by the Banks, now both with wonderful families of their own, and Ferrer children, along with a few of the sweeps. No one invited the wind or let it know, for fear it would take a disliking to the union.
The first month of their marriage was deliriously happy—spent settling in to married life and decorating a small, charming house. At the end of the first month, she felt the first gentle tug of the wind, pulling her from the core of her being towards her next assignment. But she wasn't ready to give up her happy home quite so soon into her marriage, so she firmly grounds herself and refuses to follow. The wind becomes more insistent but it's not a match for her will.
In August, Bert came home to a warm dinner and his wife tapping her foot impatiently as she waited for him. "Well, do sit down and eat your dinner," she chided, hastening him to his seat.
"'Ere, Mary, what's this about?"
"Eat your dinner before it gets cold," she ordered. He obediently sat down and picked up his fork. "Bert, I-"
He took an ill-advised bite of his pot roast right before she said, "I'm expecting,' sending him into a coughing fit.
"Expecting what?" he asked after he finished choking. "A package?"
"Cor, Mar, that's the sort of thing you want to wait to tell a man until after 'e's chewed 'is food!"
"I apologize. I'll bear that in mind when-" She didn't get to finish her sentence because his fork dropped with a clatter and he sprung out of his chair to sweep her up and spin her in a joyful circle, placing many a kiss on her lips and mumbling "I love you, Mary Alfred" over and over again. She laughed happily and requested that he put her down.
Their happiness is short lived unfortunately. To get married without the wind's permission was one thing, but to have a child was an entirely different matter.
It was obvious when the wind found out that she was pregnant. The window panes rattled and the shutters of their cozy little house were nearly torn clean off their hinges. At first, Mary had shaken her head at the pure childishness of this tantrum, but it started wearing on her. Before she knew it, she was nearly doubled over in pain as she felt herself being pulled quite literally in two directions. Bert held her tightly, worry clouding his face, trying to hold her in place. Finally, she got angry, crossing to the window and flinging it open.
"Mary-" Bert started but she silenced him with a glance.
"Stop that this instant!" Mary snapped out the window. "This is hardly acceptable behavior. I have never disobeyed you before and I certainly do not deserve this sort of treatment. My family needs me now more than anyone else. Give me a few years of peace and then I'll resume my work. A few years, that's all I ask."
Apparently this was an acceptable compromise to the wind because it dropped off almost immediately.
Eight months later, Bert and Mary welcome a beautifully healthy baby girl. Bert had pushed to name her after Mary, but Mary had refused, insisting on a name she didn't have to grow into. They compromised on Rosemary Kathleen. Almost immediately, the little girl is nicknamed Rosie by her father—fitting, considering the pink-tinged cheeks she inherited from her mother.
The following five years are blissful—practically perfect in every way. They don't have much money but have enough to make it by. Mary, of course, made the perfect mother after all of her experience as a nanny, and Rosemary absolutely idolized her. And Bert made a wonderful father, doting endlessly on the sweet-tempered little girl.
Two days after Rosemary's fifth birthday, everything changed.
The breeze started as a gentle tug—just to remind her of her promise. Mary ignored it and continued to play with her daughter. But the wind continued to blow, more and more insistently and harder to resist.
Bert noticed that as the wind grew stronger, Mary's face grew paler, her frame thinner as she fought the pull only she could feel. She started moving as if it pained her and was hesitant to pick up Rosie. But she still fought off leaving, unwilling to abandon her family.
"Mary," he finally said one night as they got ready for bed and the wind howled outside. "You 'ave to listen to the wind. You need to."
"I beg pardon? I do not need to do anything!"
"Mar, I 'ate seeing you like this. It kills me to see you in pain. It's time for you to go."
"And what about Rosemary? I won't resign her to a motherless existence!"
"Motherless? You'd be 'ome every couple of months, Mary!" he argued. "I can take care of 'er while you're off!"
Mary opened her mouth to speak, but a gust of wind shook the shutters and she grimaced in pain instead. It went against everything she ever knew to fight the wind for this long and it got more painful with each breeze.
"Mary, go," he insisted.
"Alright. You needn't be so adamant," she sighed.
She packed her carpet bag for the first time in years, holding back tears as she kissed her daughter goodbye and then her husband. He thought she was so emotional because it was her first time away from her daughter, but it was more than that.
She insisted that he go inside, that she would not have him watch her leave without him. He went inside and she nearly collapsed with the effort of staying on the ground for a few more seconds. She could feel the spite and anger in the wind and she knew the second her feet left the ground, they'd never be allowed to walk the floorboards of the small house again. She couldn't bear that thought. She couldn't, wouldn't, leave her daughter to only remember her through stories Bert would tell her, and she couldn't let Bert think she had walked out on him to never return.
So as Bert closed the door and went to comfort Rosemary, Mary did what she had to. As the downstairs lights turned off, Mary did a quick bit of magic, erasing herself from their photos and, more importantly, their memories.
Oh, as if that's the end of the story...
Please do let me know what you think!
I hope you liked it!