Mother's Day Bonus StoryDiscuss
This story takes place Monday night, the second week of Addergoole
Shira Pelletier came home from teaching classes to find her youngest daughter, and both her daughter’s babies, crying. Megan was singing softly to Carrig, bouncing him lightly on her hip, but her voice was cracking, and there were tears streaking her face and the baby’s. Chandra lay face down on the couch, sobbing theatrically; she peeked up at Shira when she came in, to see if Grandma would give her the attention Mom was denying her.
Oblivious to this, Megan turned to her mother, holding out Carrig awkwardly. “He won’t stop crying,” she says helplessly.
Sighing, Shira set down her bookbag and took her grandson. “Dinner?” she asked, expecting another excuse, but her daughter lit up.
“Let me deal with the kids first, Meg.” She tried to be gentle, but she knew it wouldn’t matter; her youngest daughter was no good at being told no.
Meg sighed melodramatically. “I’ll go get it set up.” She flounced out of the room, leaving her mother with the two children.
“Come on, Chandra,” Shira coaxed. “Help Grandma with Carrig, and then I’ll brush your hair and put it in braids.” Her other daughters had turned out fine, although she no longer knew if this was just a lie she told to soothe herself when Megan was particularly difficult. She blamed the girl's father. He'd seemed like a perfectly reasonable person at the time, but when Megan had come to the school seventeen years later, she'd been a spoiled, helpless, hopelessly undereducated brat.
Chandra sulked, but she’d spent her whole short life with both Grandma and Mommy, and she knew when she could get away with pushing and when she couldn’t. There was hope there, although she’d imagined herself past child rearing.
“Ugh, it’s his diaper. Fetch me another one, would you, love?”
“Told Mom he stank,” Chandra said, providing the diaper.
“I’m sure you did, honey. And she was busy.” She tried not to sound judgmental. She’d left the girl with her father, after all. And then, having, like Michelle and the others, agreed to stay out of it as best she could, Shira had had to stand by and watch Megan get treated like a pet for three years by a boy not worthy to clean her shoes. And when he'd gotten tired of her and moved on to someone new, what had Megan done but found someone else to treat like a pet in return? And she wondered why things hadn't worked out well with the boy!
She cleaned up Carrig, cooing at him softly, and diapered him. The baby, as he often did in her hands, calmed, making soft noises.
“Was cooking,” Chandra offered. “I helped.”
Shira smiled at her warmly. “I bet you did, honey.” She meant it, too. “You’re a good help for your Mom, aren’t you.” The little girl nodded enthusiastically. She was, and a good thing, too. Megan needed all the help she could get.
“She is,” Megan said from the doorway, sounding more subdued than was normal. “I’m sorry, Channi.” She sat down and began brushing the girl’s dark curls into something like order; in a moment of remarkable self-control for someone her age, Chandra sat still and let her.
“It’s okay, Mommy,” she said, her dark eyes and sweet little voice since and thick as molasses. A real charmer already.
“It’s just-” Megan was looking at her mother now, her eyes tired.
“I know, honey. You hoped Carrig would bring you and Taro closer together, and that he’d help you with the baby.” Like she’d hoped Chandra would bring her and that monster Shadrach closer together. “You know better now, though, don’t you?”
She looked stung when she answered, but Shira didn’t allow herself to regret her sharpness. “I saw him. With that sallow freckle-faced redheaded nerd.”
“It’s no surprise he’s found another girl,” she replied gently, “although I doubt that relationship will last. What I mean, honey, is that you have to stop hoping some prince will come and make everything all better. That sort of thing only happens in fairy tales.”
“Mom,” she said, with some of her brattieness back, that arrogance of youth, “we’re fairies.”
“No, Megan,” she said, with the infinite patience of motherhood, hoping that Chandra was listening as well, “we’re the daughters of the gods. And there’s a reason the Law says that a Child is its Mother’s responsibility until adulthood.” The Word for “belonging” and “responsibility” were different inclinations of the same symbol and sound in the Old Tongue; she hoped if she kept choosing to translate it as “responsibility,” eventually the idea would sink into Megan’s head (or, maybe, just into Chandra’s).
“Is that why you left me with my father?” Megan asked defensively.
“No, Megan. I left you with your father because I believed you deserved a chance at a normal, human childhood. And you seem to have enjoyed it, didn’t you?”
Megan frowned, and, with uncharacteristic thoughtfulness, paused before answering. “Yeah. I guess I probably wouldn’t have liked growing up here in the Village that much.” She ran the brush through Chandra’s hair again. “Do you think I should move back out into the world? To give Chandra and Carrig that life?”
Shira looked at the children, and smiled wistfully. “Eventually, yes. But I like having you here, as well.” With a start, she realized that it was the truth. “I kind of like being the grandmother.”
Megan smiled back at her, relived. “That’s good, because I don’t know how I’d do this without you, Mom.”
Shira laughed. “Oh, just wait. Some day, you’re going to have to be the grandma.” Someday not that long in the future, the way Regine ran things.
Copyright © 2009-2010 Lyn Thorne-Alder & Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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