No Reason Not To Try

I didn’t really know what I was doing, but that didn’t seem like a good reason not to try. –Rapunzel, Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale

 

The first time she tried to follow the broken thread she ended up lost somewhere in the Salt Flats. Alex had not been impressed.

“What in heaven’s name were you doing?!”

She hadn’t said anything, just continued to stare off into the distance where the thread continued to flap in the wind.

“Mary.”

She didn’t even blink.

“Mary.”

The thread was still as golden as it had been when her sister had first noticed it. Star had always been the first to notice that kind of thing and then try and do something about it. When Mary was Comet, she had been more intrigued about the people then about the strings that had always floated from their fingers off into the distance.

“Mary!”

She continued to ignore Alex and stared at the one thread that had always been on her finger, the end clearly visible.

“Mary, what is wrong with you?!”

“Maybe,” she whispered to herself, “If I keep double checking old areas I’ll be able to find the other half.”

“Mary,” Alex sounded like he was barely holding on to his temper, “Would you please explain to me why you vanished three days ago and I found you in the middle of the Salt Flats?”

The anger and worry in his voice made it sharp and cruel sounding. (Alex had never been very good at vocalizing his worry for someone; it always came out like he was mocking them in some way.)

Mary didn’t even look at him as she finally answered, “I’m trying to find my purpose, Alex, that’s all.”

Alex opened his mouth to snarl something, but at the last moment paused and looked more closely at her eyes. They were glazed over and slightly feverish looking; her brow was damp as well. Alex lifted a hand and placed it on her forehead.

Mary didn’t even flinch at the sudden coolness, just closed her eyes and leaned into it.

Alex didn’t bother trying to find out just how high her temperature was; all he needed to know was that it was high enough to cause serious worry and that he needed to get her into an ice bath yesterday.

“I have to keep trying,” Mary murmured as Alex gathered her into his arms. She didn’t resist as he pushed her head down against his neck, frowning when he felt the intensity of her fever through his dress shirt. “Just because I can already see the cut ends of my thread doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t keep trying to find my purpose at the end of it.”

Tired Befuddlement

She was tired. So very tired.

It was probably because she’d stayed up late once more to watch as the stars came out. That in and of itself wouldn’t have caused this level of exhaustion by itself, but that hadn’t been all she’d done.

For one, you couldn’t see the stars come out in the city, which is where they lived, so she’d driven herself way out into the country, or what was left of the country this far inland. She’d been assured that the stars would be visible if she went far enough away though she still wouldn’t be able to see all of them like she wanted.

“Why do we have this much light pollution?” she’d asked her husband.

“It’s not just the light pollution, Mary,” Warren’d responded, “With a city this large we have to worry about the smog pollution as well.”

“Why did we decide to live here again?”

Warren had laughed and kissed his wife before helping her pack up what she was taking with her for her stargazing trip. He hadn’t been able to come due to needing to be at work for an important project earlier than normal in the morning.

It didn’t help that she’d stayed out, staring at the stars, longer than she had initially planned for. She’d almost decided to take a nap in the car and drive home after the sun was coming up, but had decided against it at the last moment. She’d be fine for the drive and she knew that Warren would worry if he didn’t see her before leaving for work even if all he saw was the top of her head under the covers.

Driving home had been easy to do safely, but keeping so alert had drained her more than it should have. She’d been having that reaction to a lot of things that had never given her any problems before. Now if only she could figure out why…

Winter’s Day

Bits of snow dropped from the branches, the cold of the wind helping to drive the powdered substance to glide off the houses that they passed in their walk. The wind picked up and more and more bits of snow fell from the trees, the houses, the lampposts. From certain angles it looked like it was snowing though the sky was clear and nothing fell from any point higher than the tallest trees.

It was a cold day and if the looks of the wind it was bound to get colder. Even now she could see people huddle further into their coats and scarves, hands that were already in gloves or mittens stuffed further into pockets to try and preserve what little warmth the smaller limbs generated on their own.

Mary was bundled up in her own winter gear; no matter how little she needed it not wearing it would make her stick out like a sore thumb and she didn’t want any undue attention. Her clothing looks slightly worn, but only superficially. Alex wasn’t about to let her go out in anything that wouldn’t do the job it was meant for, but he also hadn’t wanted to dress her up in name brands or anything too flashy. Not only was that far outside of her own comfort zone, he hadn’t wanted anyone looking too closely at her financial situation either. As long as people didn’t know about their connection then she couldn’t be put into the position of being used against him. He was likely one of the most overbearing and yet understanding people that she had ever met and Mary often wondered just how he had come by those particular personality traits when they were normally so at odds with one another.

This was a lovely world her sister had sent her to even if it had its own problems and issues to deal with.

The smog mixing with the clouds overhead made her sneeze slightly. It was probably going to snow that strange mud-snow that it had been doing for the past several days. Maybe she should have taken Alex’s advice and gone to school in a college town rather than a city?

Winter’s Day

Bits of snow dropped from the branches, the cold of the wind helping to drive the powdered substance to glide off the houses that they passed in their walk. The wind picked up and more and more bits of snow fell from the trees, the houses, the lampposts. From certain angles it looked like it was snowing though the sky was clear and nothing fell from any point higher than the tallest trees.

It was a cold day and if the looks of the wind it was bound to get colder. Even now she could see people huddle further into their coats and scarves, hands that were already in gloves or mittens stuffed further into pockets to try and preserve what little warmth the smaller limbs generated on their own.

Mary was bundled up in her own winter gear; no matter how little she needed it not wearing it would make her stick out like a sore thumb and she didn’t want any undue attention. Her clothing looks slightly worn, but only superficially. Alex wasn’t about to let her go out in anything that wouldn’t do the job it was meant for, but he also hadn’t wanted to dress her up in name brands or anything too flashy. Not only was that far outside of her own comfort zone, he hadn’t wanted anyone looking too closely at her financial situation either. As long as people didn’t know about their connection then she couldn’t be put into the position of being used against him. He was likely one of the most overbearing and yet understanding people that she had ever met and Mary often wondered just how he had come by those particular personality traits when they were normally so at odds with one another.

This was a lovely world her sister had sent her to even if it had its own problems and issues to deal with.

The smog mixing with the clouds overhead made her sneeze slightly. It was probably going to snow that strange mud-snow that it had been doing for the past several days. Maybe she should have taken Alex’s advice and gone to school in a college town rather than a city?

She never removed it

It was when the leaves on the bushes outside began to change color that she knew.

“Mother, where are we going?”

“It’s a surprise, my darling.”

The smile felt more real than fake and it took everything Mary had not to let the tears in the back of her throat reach her eyes. She’d always been very good at lying and anyone who was as good at it as she was knew that the art in lying is in having just enough of the truth in it to make it real.

“Are we going to have to finish our homework?” her youngest asks, eager for a reason to not finish the packet sent home for the fall break.

“We’ll see, Matt.” She shares a grin with her eldest at the boy’s groan. What she doesn’t say and what her eldest likely already knows is that they will likely never return to this house that had almost become their home.

Matt didn’t remember living anywhere but here, he’d been so young when her husband had left and only a little older when his father had died. She still wore her wedding ring even though it was on the wrong hand. It was a plain enough band that many wouldn’t know that it had ever been a wedding ring in the first place. Her husband’s name was only clear on the ring once the band had been removed.

Mary never removed it.

Frustrated Protectiveness

She gritted her teeth, but plowed on.

“Alex-“

“Are you certain about this?”

“Alex-“

“You’ve never been anywhere here by yourself yet. Please let me send someone as your, ah, guide.”

“I’m not taking a bodyguard.” Mary said flatly.

“They don’t have to be a bodyguard…”

“Oh I’m sure that wouldn’t be their official designation, but at the same time be at least a Third Degree Black Belt on the side, completely learned without your needing it required.”

“There’s no need to take that kind of tone with me.” Alex protested, “I’m just- I’m worried about you, Mary. If anyone ever finds out about our connection-“

“And having a bodyguard won’t out me in five seconds?”

Alex sighed, “I just want you to be safe should anything happen.”

Mary softened, “I know, Al, but I’ll be fine. You seem to forget that I know more about fighting than every single person in your employ.”

“I don’t want you to worry about breaking the seal and hurting yourself!”

“I know how to fight without my ‘extra abilities,’ Al.” her tone was drier this time and less sarcastic, “There have been plenty of times where I couldn’t use them either, brother-mine.”

He snorted, “And that won’t draw attention to you either, I suppose?”

Now Mary laughed, “There are plenty of young women in this day and age who have learned how to defend themselves. Unless I start sporting a colorful costume or a mask, I’m fairly certain that I won’t draw any more attention to myself than your average college student who knows how to defend herself against assault.”

“I reserve the right to have someone tail you every now and then just to reassure myself at least.”

“By all means, check the CCTV footage if you must, just so long as you use that subtlety that I know exists within you. Somewhere, anyway.”

Lonely Library

It was lonely here. Likely because, though she could no longer feel her sister she knew that she should.

Alex didn’t often let her stay anywhere alone for very long. She was grateful for that, more than grateful.

She wasn’t certain what would have happened if she had been alone.

Mary (and it was very strange to think that was her name now) pulled out a book from the shelves standing in front of her and flipped through it halfheartedly. The story was one of those ‘old’ books written back before the turn of the century. Her eyes slid over the words and Mary didn’t absorb anything about them, couldn’t even tell anyone what they were talking about so she closed the old and valuable book and placed it back on the shelf in front of her.

“You know that book’s actually pretty interesting to read.”

Mary didn’t jump, didn’t even startle, when Alex spoke up from behind her. She simply nodded without even looking at him.

Even if she didn’t want to be alone, she had yet been able to talk overly much about anything.

Alex was mostly fine with that and continued talking about the book, the author and even how it had made its way into his family’s collection.