Number of Prompt Chosen: 21
Title: Saving Mary
Word Count: 3427
Summary: Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes. The goodbyes are usually the more painful. Grief is a part of life however, but even angels know when it is time to let go. In the aftermath of World War two many were left alone and broken hearted. Mary Alice is one of those people.
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight SM owns I just like to play in her sandbox occasionally.
"Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes.
Why do the goodbyes have to hurt so much?
So we may learn from them."
She sat on the edge of her bed, staring at a framed image of him. The room was dim. He could hardly see anything for the first few minutes. The only light was coming from the open closet door. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he noticed more details. Next to her on the bed sat a black box; the lid hiding whatever it contained. He glanced around the room. He had never seen this place before. The one bedroom apartment was decorated tastefully as he figured it would be. Her bedroom in various shades of purple and pink, just as her childhood bedroom had been. Her two favorite colors. However, the morose woman sitting there was a far cry from the girl that he had once known.
The smile that he associated just with her was replaced by a sad frown that made her brow furrow and her whole body sag inward. Her usual colorful wardrobe had been replaced by a plethora of shades of browns and gray. Her long beautiful hair that he had loved running his fingers through had been cropped short to her chin, making her look much older than her twenty two years. But what was most noticeable to him was her eyes.
Her eyes had always been so expressive. He could always tell what she was thinking just by looking her in the eyes. They twinkled when she was happy or excited. They would grow harsh when she was upset or angry. They had truly been a window to her soul. So full of life. Now they were dull and flat and so full of pain that it nearly brought him to his knees.
I'm sorry. So sorry.
Slowly she reached to the nightstand and pulled the image to her. She swung her legs up on the bed and tucked them beneath her. She sat the picture down beside her; on his side of the bed, he noticed. She then moved the black box in front of her. She took a deep breath and removed the lid.
She pulled out a leather bound album and sat it down on the bedspread. As she opened the cover, he realized that it was a journal, one of his own from years ago. He'd kept many of them throughout his life. How she had gotten it, he wasn't certain. His mother had most likely given it to her after he had gone. She flipped to a place where the pages were slightly bubbled. Pressed there was the flower that he had given her the night of their senior prom along with a picture from that night.
She had been a vision that night. Her mother had been working on her dress for months. He still remembered her excited chatter about the fabric and cut. He had smiled down at her, making sure to nod in all the right places. She had chastised him for not caring. He had pulled her to him and told her it didn't matter to him what she wore as long as it was her that he was with. He had been awarded with a sweet kiss from her.
He touched his lips as if he could still feel her sweet mouth beneath his lips
She fingered the delicate bloom. It had once been a pale blue color, one that matched her eyes. Now just like those orbs, it was only a shadow of what it had been. Her small hand moved to trace his outline in the image.
He had only worn his dress uniform three times in his lifetime. The first when he had graduated from the academy and the second when he had escorted her to the dance. He had fussed and polished each surface on that thing. He hadn't wanted to be a disappointment to her. He had always wanted make her proud of him.
She pulled out a stack of envelopes. Those envelopes reminded him of his biggest regret. He had still let her down in the worst way. He had left her.
She had always told him that she was okay with it, that she understood his desire and need to serve his country. He had never really given her another option though. He had always wanted to join up, ever since he was a small boy. She had known that. She had been there through every step. She went with him when he signed up, watched him graduate at the top of his officer class. She had been happy for him, he didn't doubt that. Now that he was able to reflect, it was more that she was resigned to the fact of being a military wife.
The small ring that he had given her still glinted on her finger. She hadn't taken it off since the night that he had proposed. He had been so nervous. He had done everything the right way. He had gone to her house over a month before to ask her father's permission to marry her. He had been slightly petrified of the older gentleman's response.
Mr. Clark had sat in silence for a good five minutes after he had finally stuttered out the question. Whether the old man actually had to think about the request or he simple wanted to torture him, he never would know. All he knew is that he was suddenly clapped on the shoulder and told that he would make her a wonderful husband.
He had gone out and bought the ring that very day. The small stone wasn't much, it was all he had been able to afford at the time. He decided he would take her out to eat to the nicest place in town and he would get down on one knee. However nothing had gone as planned. The waiter had accidentally served them a shellfish appetizer and he had become instantly and violently sick. She found the ring box herself when the doctors had taken his coat. It was there at the hospital, from a bed where he asked her to be his wife. He was shocked that she said yes.
She played with ends of the blue ribbon that held the letters together. The same ribbon that had held together the small bouquet of wild flowers that day that she made him the happiest man on earth.
They hadn't had time for a big ceremony, just family at the courthouse, but he had never seen a more beautiful sight than her in that little white dress with the blue satin trim. He had never heard more precious words than those that they shared as they formed their union. They couldn't afford a honeymoon but their parents had put together enough money for the local hotel for a few nights. That night had been one that he could still recall with perfect clarity. She had given herself to him completely and he had taken all that she offered. Two days later he had left her crying at her parents house.
She sat the letters sadly in her lap and stared at the first one. She traced over his handwriting and closed her eyes as if she were straining to hear his voice. He had made so many promises in those letters. Promises of a shared future. Promises of love. Promises of security. For both her and the son that their love had created.
Damn it! If I had just stayed. If I hadn't been so reckless while I was there. I shouldn't have gone back out into the line fire. I had my own family to think of.
A silent tear streamed down her face.
I'm so sorry, my love.
He wanted to touch her. To kiss the tears right off her face. To tell her everything would be okay, but he couldn't. He never could. He would give anything to hold her and feel her heartbeat next to his, but it was impossible.
Please, God I know it's too late for saving me. But there's still hope for saving Mary.
It tore him apart, knowing that still after two years her heart was still breaking and there was nothing to he could do about it. He was, after all, only a silent observer in her life now. He didn't even always get the opportunity to see her, but when he was not there he was never really far. He had promised her forever, and that was one promise he intended to keep. His visits had become less frequent this last year but he knew that today would be hard for her.
Two years ago today she had placed his body in the ground.
She placed the letters back into the drawer and walked over to her dresser. She ran a brush through her hair a few times. She sat the brush down and she reached out to touch the wooden case that contained the folded flag. The same one that had rested on his coffin. She had fought with his parents about it. She had wanted them to have it but his father had been insistent about her keeping it, if for no other reason than to remind their son that his father had died a hero of the nation.
Hero? he asked himself bitterly. A real hero would have come home to her.
He felt an irresistible pull to the site of his burial. She began to fade from his vision.
No! He didn't want to leave her! Not yet.
He had no choice. His boots sunk into the few inches of snow on the ground with a soft crunch. His breath created small puffs of smoke. Though there were all the indications that he should fell the chill he didn't. He glanced around him, wondering why it was he was called here. Then he saw her.
She wasn't at her apartment any longer. She was kneeling there by his gravestone. Her black dress covered by her long gray coat. A white scarf was wound around her neck. The only color was the blush of her cheeks and the slight red color at the tip of her nose.
She reached a gloved hand out and wiped the gray stone clean.
May 18, 1920 – December 12, 1943
Loving husband, father and son. Your memory will live on forever.
She let out a deep sigh. "Andrew," she started, but her voice faltered.
It was the first time that he had heard her speak all day. The sound was like a fresh shot to his heart. The searing pain tore through him and the moisture pooled in his eyes. He walked toward her with hastened steps. He stopped behind his headstone.
She turned her face up to the sky as if hoping for heaven to send her the words she was looking for. "I don't know if you can hear me. It's not rational. Me coming and talking to a stone. It's not you. You aren't here."
Oh, but I am, my darling girl. I'm right here. You just don't know it.
"But I need to try. Try to talk to you. The day you left, you made me make a promise that I don't know if I'll be able to keep."
He remembered that day. She had gone with him to the bus stop. He wasn't the only one leaving town that day dressed in army fatigues. She had tried to be strong, but he knew that she had been fighting tears all day. It wasn't until that last embrace when they finally broke through. She had clung to him and begged him to come back to her. To not make her a widow at the age of twenty. He had whispered the promise that he wouldn't dare.
"You wanted me to move on, remember?" she asked softly.
Yes, he had asked her to do that. It had been the one dark spot on their last night together. She had railed him for talking like he wouldn't come back. He had argued back that he needed to know that she was taken care of.
"You told me that you wanted me to get married again. And I told you that I wouldn't ever love anyone like you. I was so mad at you that night. You know how I value promises and you made me say something that I knew that I wouldn't be able to follow through on."
He knew how she valued giving her word. It was one reason why he didn't let the subject rest until she had given it.
"I met someone," she said quickly, as if admitting a misdeed to a parent. "He's a wonderful man, Andrew. He reminds me a lot of you. He's a professor at the university. He teaches history. That was your favorite subject in school. I remember how you used to read every book you could on the subject. He's the same way. You would have liked him, I think."
She was silent for a few moments before she continued.
"He lost his wife a few years ago. He, he helps people that are dealing with grief. People like me," she paused as another tear ran down her face. "I'm still grieving for you, Andrew. I don't know if I can ever stop. Jasper, he...he understands. He makes me smile, Andrew. He fills a small part of my heart that was left gaping after you died. I want to be with him. But I feel somehow that I'm betraying you by loving him."
He let out a shaky sigh. He had been waiting for this day to come now for two years. It was over due and he knew that. It was finally time for him to watch her move on. It would hurt his heart, but she had been sad for too long. If this Jasper character made her smile, then he couldn't be too bad of a guy. Just then a little blond headed girl in a red coat came into view. The child's eyes grew wide as she saw the older lady kneeling there. She ran to her and cupped her cheeks.
"Alice?" she asked, wiping away the tears that were falling down.
It threw him momentarily' her being called by her middle name. It really shouldn't have shocked him. She had always hated being called Mary. He supposed when she moved away it was her way of making herself into a new person. He couldn't help but feel slightly guilty though. That he had taken even her name from her.
"Why you sad?" the little girl asked in confusion.
It then hit him that this little girl knew his Mary Alice. That she knew her very well. The crunching of snow drew his attention away from the girls to a tall, blond man who was making his way toward them.
"Rose, why don't you wait in the car?" he asked the girl quietly as he regarded Mary...no Alice...carefully.
"But daddy, Miss Alice is cryin'," the little girl protested. He could detect a slight accent in both of their voices. Then he realized what she had called him. She had called him "daddy".
Alice looked up at him with sad eyes but a small smile played on her lips. Was this the Jasper that she had spoken earlier about? Was this little girl the only one that called him daddy? Or did little Jacob, his son, the son he never got to see while alive, also call this blond man that name.
Alice sighed and turned her gaze to the child in front of her. She placed a gloved hand on her cheek, mirroring the stance that the girl had almost exactly. She then leaned in and gave her a kiss on the forehead. Even in the circumstances seeing her with the girl made him smile. He always knew that she would make an amazing mother. She was always so patient with the young children.
"I'll be there in a few minutes, sweetie. Do like your daddy asked."
The young Rose looked between her father and Alice a few times before nodding. She turned to walk away only to run back the few feet she had walked and give Alice a kiss on the cheek. Alice hugged her for a few moments before she let the girl do as she was told. When the child was out of sight, the man whom he assumed was Jasper walked closer and bent down beside her.
"What are you doing here?"
"When it got late and we still hadn't heard from you, I got worried," he explained.
"I'm sorry," she said, looking at her lap.
He sighed and brushed her hair out of her face. "Are you okay, darlin'?"
She looked up and he swore she was looking right at him. "I think I will be." Her attention turned back to Jasper. "Give me just a few moments?"
"Of course. As long as you need, my love," he answered. Hearing him call her that did a funny thing to Andrew. It was almost comforting knowing that this man loved his little Mary Alice. That he would take care of her until Andrew could see her again. He thought Jasper would leave to join his daughter. He stood and Alice took his help getting up as well. He pulled her into an embrace. "I'm not making you evict him from your heart, you know? I know that will never happen."
She opened her mouth as if to say something. He placed a finger over her lips to stop her.
"No. It's true." He told her before she could look away from him he continued quickly. "And that's perfectly okay. He was your best friend, your husband, the father of your child and he will always be right here, with you. I know that."
She bit her lip nervously. He moved a finger under her chin and brought her eyes to his. "But you know that your heart is big enough for us all, Mary Alice Brandon." He leaned in and kissed her on her nose. "I'll wait in the car."
With that, they were alone again. She stood staring down at the headstone for a few silent minutes. He slowly moved to stand right in front of her. He slowly reached out and touched her face. She closed her eyes as he ran his fingers over her smooth skin. Her breath hitched. Tears filled his eyes. She could feel him. He slowly leaned in and pressed his lips to hers in a soft kiss. She took in a shuddering gasp.
He pulled away slowly. He played with her hair as he spoke to her softly. Hoping that this time she could hear him.
"I will always love you, Mary Alice." New tears poured from her closed eyes and he felt his own filling. "But it is time for you to let me go."
She opened her eyes then and she stared right into his. Then almost as quickly as it was there she broke the connection. He stepped back as she approached his headstone once more, sliding her hands into the pockets of her coat.
She softly touched the top of the stone before turning to walk away. Something fluttering in the wind caught his eye. He slowly reached out. The flower. He wondered if it would be allowed. He tried to hesitantly grab the bloom.
In his grasp, the dried leaves turned soft once more. He looked just in time to see the little girl and an even smaller boy run to her side. Though it was a bittersweet moment he smiled.
Thank you, God, for saving Mary.
The answer was immediate. You're welcome, my Son. Now it's time to come home.
He held the small flower close to his heart before she and her new future disappeared from his sight. He knew that this would have to hold him over until he saw her again. Many years from now when she could join him.
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