Loss of Balance

Finding a balance between her professional life, something that was necessary to pay the bills and take care of her sons, and her time spent with her sons was very difficult. On the one side, she wanted to bury herself in her work completely so that she didn’t have to think about the hole in her life that used to be filled by her husband. She wanted to keep her body moving so that her mind didn’t have time to think.

On the other hand, she didn’t want to lose anymore of her sons’ lives than she already had. She had missed months if not years of her eldest’s life. She knew that he still blamed her for the divorce between Warren and her. Mary had never been able to sit down and really talk it over with Terry and not talking about it had caused the rift to grow.

“Mary, let me help, you don’t have to work yourself to death for this.” 

“No, Alex,” Mary sighed over the phone, “I need to work, you know that more than anyone else.”

“Mary, you’re missing the best years of Matt’s life, you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you made with Terry.”

Mary drew in a breath of air sharply, but said nothing as she carefully closed the cell phone in her hand.

She wondered if she’d ever find the balance that she needed in this life or if, when it did come, it would ever be allowed to last.

“Alex, you don’t understand,” she whispered to herself, the phone sitting on the table beside her, “My kind are not allowed to do anything other than make mistakes.”

The sun was high in the sky as she looked out the window, the rays beating down on her with a harsh glare as if to remind her of what she was even if she was no longer who she had been.


This was a combination of two prompts: the Dungeon Prompt: Balance and the Art of Succeeding in an All or Nothing World by Sreejit and the Light and Shade Challenge for this first Monday of the month.

Anonymous Gift – SoC

Mary smiled as she held the little boy in her arms for the first time. Warren smiled down at his exhausted wife, knowing that any threats she might have breathed at him-

(“Why did I want this? What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with you? Why did you let me do this?!)

-okay, maybe she didn’t so much as breathe them as scream them in the quietest voice he had ever heard her (or anyone else) use.

But this moment, standing next to her as they stared down at their little boy, their little gift from someone out there in the world.

It was worth it.


Inspired by the prompt for this week’s Stream of Consciousness prompt. Make sure to check it out as there is a guest prompter this week!

Extended Family

Mary didn’t talk about any extended family when she started dating Warren other than her older brother, Alex. As he didn’t have all that many relatives either, he didn’t find it odd that he was never introduced to any parents, grandparents or siblings. It wasn’t that odd in his experience to either not have family around or to be so estranged from them that they didn’t factor into any decisions you made.

His parents hadn’t been all that attached to him, but had worked long and hard jobs that kept them from one another as well. They weren’t bad people, but they weren’t very good at interacting with other human beings on anything other than a professional level. There were times when Warren honestly wondered how he’d come to exist.

Don’t You Worry

Alex worried about Mary.

(Alex always worried about Mary, it was practically encoded into his DNA for all that they had never met until they were both well into adulthood.)

Ever since the separation between Warren and Mary, Alex had been worried. There shouldn’t be any reason that he could think of for them to be having marital problems at. All. Much less ones that would require them to have a period of separation. So yes, Alex was very Worried, with a capitol W.

He knew that they’d had problems before.

(Somehow being unable to conceive a child had been something that they hadn’t wanted to broadcast and he had respected that. He’d never let them know that he knew…though sometimes he was certain they were just humoring him about his little attempts to know what was going on with them, but trying really hard not to at the same time.)

He’d known that Warren was having some kind of problems with work.

(Alex hadn’t known just what, exactly, those problems were, just that there was something not sitting right. He hadn’t been able to find out much more than that without letting anyone else know that he was looking. He didn’t want people to know that he was connected to Mary or Warren. It wasn’t safe to let that knowledge get out. Ever.)

“What is going on, Mary?” Alex murmured to himself.

He frowned as he thumbed through what little information he had been able to find out concerning his ‘little sister’ and her husband. The surprise pregnancy between them had been surprising to Alex as well as Mary and Warren. The fact that they’d actually found some way to visit him and talk about it.

He could still remember how that had gone…

“Mary! Warren! What a surprise!”

Alex had been both pleased and displeased to see them at the time. He’d had delicate operations going on and so wasn’t entirely certain when he’d need to go ‘off the grid’ so to speak. Then again, he was always happy to see his sister as she always reminded him that there was good in the world.

(She also randomly inspired him to donate more to charity and to foundations that looked into the cure of this or that illness.)

Mary was very pale and Warren had a pinched look to his face.

“I’m pregnant.” Mary whispered, her eyes almost as pale as her skin.

Warren did not look away, but stress lines appeared even deeper around her eyes.

Alex frowned at the couple, “Why is this bad news?”

Mary looked at the ground as Warren answered. “I’m sterile, Alex. It’s physically impossible for me to be the father of this child and yet, it is also physically impossible for Mary to even desire another now that she is with me.”

“I see…” And he did.

Someone, somewhere, had done something to either Mary or Warren that had caused this pregnancy and though it was obvious that the child had to have come about because of these two, it was impossible for the child to be of Warren’s own issue.

“I’ll try my hardest to look into this, but I’m not sure how long it could take.”

Alex wondered, now, if whatever it was that had caused the pregnancy and then the second one eight years later had been the cause of the dissolution of their marriage.

He had never been able to find out everything about how the pregnancy had come to be and a part of him blamed himself for the ruin that had come to his dear sister’s life as a result.

Wish You Could See

image: courtesy of Janssenfrank and taken from Wiki Commons

Mary sighed as she knelt down in front of the gravestone. Her hands did not tremble as they cleared away the grass and weeds that tried to cover the slab of cement, though her fingers lovingly traced the outline of the letters.

“It’s lonely without you, Warren. The boys aren’t home as often as they used to be, busy with work and school and friends. They don’t have as much time for their mother anymore.”

Terry had graduated high school with honors and was now attending university, his long-time girlfriend off and studying her way through dancing, his job not ending just because he had less time on his hands. If anything, he spent more time with his boss than with his mother.

“I don’t mind so much, Terrance is really coming into what he wants to be and I think he would make you proud with his dreams of going into law. He’s not just going to leave it to someone else to fix the mess that has often happened in our legal systems.”

Matt wasn’t in high school, not yet, but that was more because he hadn’t wanted to skip grades than anything else. Her little boy was smart and often spent time over with his brother at his workplace. Terry’s boss didn’t seem to mind and even let the pre-teen help out as well.

Mary smiled once more at her husband’s gravestone, “It seems that I am nothing more than a thought they have now and then, but I know that they still love me even if I don’t quite fit with them anymore.”

With a sigh, she stood.

“I wish you were here to grow old with me.”


This is a dual inspired post, part of it came from reading a post by Oliana this morning (nothingness) and also from the Light and Shade Challenge.

Has Passed

Warren never met with Alex alone. Mary was always there between them, the link that connected two people who would have never met in any other way.

Sometimes, Alex wondered what would have happened had he been able to help Warren with whatever it was that caused him to drift from his wife and children. Maybe he could have done something to stop it from happening.

Of course, Alex could wonder all he wanted. Nothing would change the past or what had happened as a result.

Speculation means nothing when the time to act has already passed.

But I am leaving the regions of fact, which are difficult to penetrate, but which bring in their train rich rewards, and entering the regions of speculation, where many roads lie open, but where a few lead to a definite goal. –Sir William Ramsay


Inspired by the quote from the Friday prompt from Light and Shade Challenge. This little snippet of my Former Guardian universe is brought to you by the fact that I didn’t stay under the 100 word limit in my last response to this prompt. Hurrah for stories running ahead without authorization!

(I might be a little loopy today.)

How Do You Keep Going?

Wait just a moment and don’t think,
“How is this going to work out?”
Only take a moment to breath before moving on.
 
So you’ve been here before and failed
A moment in the past doesn’t mean you will again.
You can do this, you must tell yourself.
Slap those doubts right out of your head.
 

Sometimes Terry wondered if what he was learning would sit well with his mother. He knew without a doubt that his father would have understood. Warren had died trying to take out dirtbags like the ones he was learning to fight against. But Mary…

Mary had been a stay at home mom for most of Terry’s childhood and had only started looking for work after Matt had started school. Even then, it had only been part time until his parents had separated. Once she’d been the main bread winner for herself and her boys (before Terry had thrown an epic teenager snit fit and moved in with his father) she’d taken whatever hours she could without stinting her sons on time spent with them.

Sometimes Terry really wondered just when his mom had slept. He knew she ate, because she’d eaten with the boys ever night and tried to have breakfast with them on the weekends before running in to work. His mother is made of something stronger than he is even though he’s definitely her son. He’s been keeping his grades up and still working with his new boss on not only how to run a successful business and running all kinds of errands and getting to know people in his network.

(The local police didn’t know, but a lot of their ‘anonymous’ tips were from one local business man who’s seen enough go wrong that though he doesn’t have the health to join the force or go vigilante he wants to do something to make a difference.)

Terry is always tired in between school, work, learning the ins and outs of his future job (he will be able to make a difference once he’s old enough to enter the Police Academy and he will have the contacts and the know-how in gaining those contacts), spending time with his little brother, his girlfriend and getting any kind of rest.

How is his mother able to do everything when he knows she’s still mourning his father (divorced though they may have been at Warren’s death) and certainly not sleeping through the night. She still manages to look not any worse for the wear, unless you really know her and then you can see that the only thing keeping her from cracking right through the middle (instead of all along the edges) is her love and need to care for her sons.

“Terry?”

Terry looks up from where he had been frying a few eggs real quick to see his mother enter. Her hair was already brushed and she was dressed for work.

“I thought you might enjoy something to eat instead of drinking one of your smoothie drinks on the way to work.” he answered as he pulled the toasted bagel from the toaster and carefully loaded the fried egg on it.

Mary smiled at her son and accepted the breakfast sandwich, unsurprised that there was also some strips of bacon in it, “Thank you, son. I’ll see you after school today?”

“Yeah, I have today off.” Terry called over his shoulder as he moved back towards the carton of eggs to fry up enough for a sandwich for himself and his younger brother.

“Can you make sure Matt catches the bus?” Mary asked as she gathered up her keys and wallet.

“I’ll take care of it, Mom.”

Mary turned and pressed quick kiss to her eldest’s cheek in thanks before running out the door.

Terry watched his mother climb into the car and wondered again how she kept going.


Inspired by the prompt from DungeonPrompts last Thursday.