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Thread: ***NEW***Leaves of September (F/L, S/L, F/N, original characters)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Posts
    489

    Post ***NEW***Leaves of September (F/L, S/L, F/N, original characters)

    Don't mind me.

    Just exorcising a few demons/plot bunnies.

    This is what happens when an idea won't leave me alone, lol, when I'm trying desperately to update other fics.

    Not related to the White Horse/Pretty Things-verse.



    Title: Leaves of September
    Rating: PG
    Warning: adult themes, angst, (multiple) character death(s)
    Pairing/Characters: original characters, past Fancy/Luis, Sheridan/Luis, Fancy/Noah, mentions of Sam, Grace, Kay, Maria, Ethan/Theresa, Little Ethan, and Jane
    Word Count: 4,146.
    Summary: prompt: disease. Which one of these doesn’t belong?







    Which one of these doesn’t belong?

    Sabina remembers those silly puzzles in grade school, how easy it was to spot the ugly little duckling in the midst of the beautiful swans, how obvious, how apparent that something just wasn’t right.

    In the third grade, she thought she had it all figured out, the secrets to the world.

    She couldn’t have been more wrong.


    ~*~


    Sabina was nine years old the first time she met her grandpa Sam, the first time she lay eyes on the seaside town of Harmony.

    She remembers the smell of salt in the air as she tucked herself close to her mother, clenched her fingers tightly in the thick wool of her coat as they huddled together beneath the swirling snowflakes, and Father Lonagin praying for the soul of the grandmother she’d never have a chance to know. She remembers the tears her dad couldn’t hide once the service was over and the protective arm he wrapped around her, the warmth and safety she felt snuggled close to him, and the man with the serious brown eyes that stared (and stared and stared) at her until her mother cleared her throat, and those intense eyes snapped back up to her dad’s face.

    “I’m sorry, Noah, about your mother. Grace was…she was an admirable woman.”

    Sabina remembers seeking out her mother’s hand, marveling at the fine tremors she felt as her thin fingers slid along the smooth skin, wanting to offer comfort for something she couldn’t quite grasp, and feeling the unforgiving winter wind biting at her cheeks, tickling her dark wave of hair over her chapped lips as her dad answered the man.

    “Thank you, Luis. I’m glad you could come.”

    Sabina remembers nothing more than the bitter cold after that, the violent shivers that wracked her small body once she was no longer under the protection of her dad’s embrace, the way her mother’s blue eyes lingered on the man with the unnerving stare as Sabina tugged impatiently on her hand, following the tracks made by her newly-met cousin Maria’s shoes to the car that awaited them, filled with family Sabina had only ever heard about in her daddy’s stories of home. She remembers the glistening sheen of unshed tears in her mother’s eyes as the car pulled away from that stone garden, and the way her dad wrapped his arms around her mother later that night and just held on, whispering to her until her silent tears subsided and her smile returned.

    She remembers her grandpa Sam’s big hand resting atop her head and his sad smile as he took her by the hand, led her upstairs and tucked the covers around her snug (as a bug in a rug) as she settled into her aunt Kay’s old bed for the first (of what would turn out to be many a) night, and she remembers the spicy scent of his cologne as he told her about her grandma Grace and how she would have loved to meet her.

    She remembers falling asleep under his watchful solemn gaze and thinking how funny it was, how odd, that some accident of nature had made her stick out, made her like that ugly little duckling that didn’t quite belong in the school full of swans with their blue, blue eyes, and the question whispered at her, visited her dreams (along with a pair of serious brown eyes).

    Which one of these doesn’t belong?


    ~*~


    By the time Sabina was ten, her mom and dad had packed up all their worldly belongings and moved back to the little seaside town to keep a closer eye on her (still) grieving grandfather.

    Sabina remembers that first day in 5th grade, remembers ducking into the bathroom when the first bell rang, holding her shaking hands underneath the cool water and willing her heartbeat to slow down as she thought back to the argument she’d overheard her parents having the night before (you know I didn’t want to bring her back here, Noah…she can’t know…she can’t ever knowthis was a bad idea, coming back to Harmony). She remembers the door opening, and a voice, soft with knowing, gentle with sympathy.

    “The first day can be pretty tough.”

    Sabina remembers eyes the color of a Caribbean ocean staring back at her in the reflection of the mirror, a crooked little smile that eerily echoed her own, and a dark wave of hair that stubbornly sought escape from its pink ribbon.

    “We better hurry if we don’t want to be late.”

    She remembers the hand that tugged at her own, smooth and warm, and the way she tripped over her feet as they raced down the hallways, scooting inside the door just as the second bell rang, falling into the last two seats and giggling at their luck (they sat beside each other the rest of that year, and the next, and the next…) while the teacher merely shook her head and cleared her throat to welcome them to a new school year.

    Sabina remembers the first time she heard that name, Lopez-Fitzgerald, and how, when lunch time came, she faded away in a sea of admirers, a knot of old-time friends (which one of these doesn’t belong?) until that same soft voice spoke the sweetest words Sabina had ever heard.

    “Have you met my new friend Sabina?”


    ~*~


    Sabina remembers the first time she met Tea’s mom.

    It was Tea’s tenth birthday, and she was the only friend from school invited.

    Sabina remembers blond hair (shorter than her mom’s) and a pretty smile touched by sadness, the inexplicable ache she felt in her tummy just by looking into those shiny blue eyes. She remembers the way Tea’s kid sister Sofia crowded into the kitchen chair with her, made Sabina’s lap her home, and the smudge of pink icing that dotted the corner of her mouth as she grinned that crooked (guilty) grin of hers for the camera. She remembers Maria and Little Ethan and Jane and their protests that they were too big for cake and ice cream (birthday parties were for little kids). She remembers ten candles and balloons and presents and the cupcake that made Mrs. Lopez-Fitzgerald cry. She remembers Mr. Lopez-Fitzgerald had tears in his brown eyes too.

    She remembers the way Sofia left her lap to wrap her little arms around her mother’s legs, the way Tea tucked herself into her father’s sheltering arm, and the way Little Ethan and Maria pretended not to notice, their earlier teasing forgotten. She remembers Jane sliding into the chair beside her, nervously munching on potato chips, and Tea’s littlest sister, Catalina, plunging face first into the birthday cake and startling everyone into laughter.

    Sabina remembers Catalina’s sunny smile as she splashed Mrs. Lopez-Fitzgerald with bubbles from the kitchen sink, and the way Mr. Lopez-Fitzgerald watched them both with this softness in his oh-so-serious dark eyes, Sofia on his hip, Tea still stuck to his side. She remembers sinking back into her chair and missing her own mom and dad so much in that moment that she almost couldn’t breathe, and thinking…

    Which one of these doesn’t belong?


    ~*~


    When Sabina was twelve, she discovered Tea wasn’t just her best friend; she was also her cousin.

    Tea was ecstatic.

    Sabina was too, but she remembers feeling something else: a profound sense of confusion.

    She remembers asking Mrs. Lopez-Fitzgerald if it were okay to call her Aunt Sheridan, and the contemplative way she bit her lip before answering if you want…yes. She remembers wondering why she’d lived twelve years of her life without knowing about Tea and Sofia and Catalina and why it upset her mom so much to hear her aunt Sheridan’s name.

    Sabina remembers all the boys in the 7th grade vying for Tea’s attention (which one of these doesn’t belong?), nutty Mrs. Whizenhunt mistaking her and Tea for sisters (twins, no less!), and trying out for the junior high cheer squad and not making it. She remembers Tea turning down a position on the squad and spending the next few months in the chair beside her practicing the clarinet (it was a lost cause).

    She remembers braces and her first kiss (Jordan Estes), and the way her mom cried when she found out she’d told her aunt Sheridan the secret first. She remembers how upset Mr. Lopez-Fitzgerald was too, and the endless way Tea had teased him until he’d pasted on an uneasy smile (Daddy, don’t be so silly. If this is the way you act…). She remembers Sofia skipping through the Lopez-Fitzgeralds’ living room, singing at the top of her lungs (Sabina and Jordan sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G), and thinking to herself, So this is what having an annoying kid sister feels like.

    Sabina remembers that year as the perfect year, the calm before the storm, the year before everything started to unravel, and everything she thought she knew to be true turned out to be one big lie.


    ~*~


    Sabina was barely thirteen when it happened, The Crash.

    She remembers Catalina dropping Matilda (Sabina’s aging stuffed bunny, known in a previous life as Daisy) and crying for her. She remembers Sofia sitting all the way in the back, with the groceries and the few presents Aunt Sheridan had managed to sneak past Catalina and her, kicking her feet against their seat. She remembers Sofia giggling uproariously at her little game, and Tea begging her mother to put an end to it.

    “Mom! Make her stop!”

    Sabina remembers the rain that had turned to sleet then to snow since they’d left that morning, the way the windshield wipers beat back and forth like frantic bird’s wings, and Aunt Sheridan’s knuckles white against the steering wheel as she issued a distracted warning to Sofia, attempted to sooth Catalina.

    “Sof, leave your sister alone. We’re almost home, Cat. Matilda will be okay until then.”

    Sabina remembers the soft click her seatbelt made when she released it, the smile Catalina gifted her with when she’d snatched Matilda up by one floppy ear in rescue, and the fear in Tea’s blue eyes in the split second before she heard that terrible symphony of noise—the screeching wheels, the clash of metal against metal, Sofia’s ear-splitting scream (MOMMY!!!).

    Later, her grandpa Sam would tell her that the car had flipped three times before skidding to a stop on its side (Sabina, thankfully, doesn’t remember that).

    Sabina remembers little in the moments immediately following the crash, nothing more than impressions. She remembers the cold, the quiet, the blood (where was it all coming from?), and how very still everyone, everything was. She remembers hearing the sirens from very far away, wondering who was coming for them (Her grandpa? Mr. Lopez-Fitzgerald?) and praying they’d get there soon. She remembers she was still clutching Matilda desperately by the ear when she heard the first voice, called out weakly for help.

    “Oh my God, Ethan! That sounds like…”

    “Theresa, go get help.”

    Sabina remembers Catalina hanging like a little rag doll against the restraints of her car seat, blood dripping from her forehead, her golden hair a curtain that hid her face. She remembers Sofia whimpering from somewhere behind her. She remembers Tea so still, not a scratch on her, looking as if she were merely sleeping, and the horrifying fear that clutched at her belly as she stared at the girl she loved like a sister, silently willed her to open her blue eyes. She’ll never forget the screams of anguish and pain when her aunt Sheridan drifted back into consciousness. She knows she’ll remember that for the rest of her days.

    Which one of these doesn’t belong?


    ~*~


    Her memories of that Christmas are hazy, a blur of pain and medicines that lull Sabina into a blissful, welcomed state of nothingness.

    Sabina remembers experiencing that first horrible moment of clarity, the moment she awoke to a world that would never, ever be the same, no matter how much she wished it so.

    “I’ve already lost two children, Fancy. I won’t lose another one. It’s time she knows who I really am.”

    “She’s been through too much, Luis. When she finds out what happened…when she finds out, she’s going to be devastated enough. You don’t get to just change your mind.”

    “Listen to Fancy, Luis.”

    “Thank you, Noah. Finally. A voice of reason.”

    “Sabina deserves to know the truth, but not like this. Not yet.”

    Which one of these doesn’t belong?

    Sabina remembers the struggle of blinking open heavy eyes, the looks of joy and shock on their faces, the tears in Mr. Lopez-Fitzgerald’s somber brown eyes when she latched on to the only point of their conversation that was truly important to her and pushed the question past a scratchy, dry throat, “What happened?” She remembers her mom taking her hand, combing her hair back from her forehead, ignoring her question with a too-bright smile.

    “Look who’s finally awake.”

    She remembers the moment it all started coming back to her, the sounds, the smells, the excruciating pain then numbness she’d felt as they’d pulled her from that crumpled husk of metal, and the glimpse of presents strewn across that gray stretch of road. She remembers the way she’d held Tea’s hand, until it had grown cold, until only they were left. Then she remembers the voice, soft and faraway, unknown yet so familiar to her (It’s okay…it’s time to let her go), and she screams.

    Sabina screams and screams until she screams no more.


    ~*~


    Sabina spent long months in the hospital after The Crash, becoming a shell of the girl she once was.

    Her mom rarely left her side.

    Sabina remembers wishing she would.

    She remembers long, painful therapy sessions (the pain of the physical helped her forget, for a while, the pain of her still-raw emotions). She remembers school books littering her bedside table and tests monitored under her grandpa Sam’s discerning eye. She remembers cards from her school friends, pictures from her cousins, the snow outside eventually melting and the sweet smell of the spring flowers drifting in through her open window.

    Sabina remembers the day she woke up to find Matilda (oh, Daisy) staring at her with her wise, blue button eyes, and the rough pain in her aunt Sheridan’s voice that first time (after). “What are you doing here?” she remembers asking the soft, comforting lump of fur.

    “Catalina sent her. She thought she might make you feel better.”

    She remembers stroking the bunny’s back, playing with her floppy ears, and shaking her head, holding her up for her aunt Sheridan to take. “She’s not mine anymore. Take her back.” She remembers her aunt Sheridan covering her hand, settling the bunny back in the bed beside her, taking the chair that her mother so often haunted.

    “No, Sweetheart. Daisy was always meant to be yours.”

    Sabina remembers the lump that grew and grew in her throat as she looked into those shimmering blue eyes, and the question she’d kept guarded close to her heart, waiting, just waiting for this chance to ask of her the truth, spilling out. “Did she know?”

    “She always wished, but she never knew.”

    “I wish she’d known.”

    “Me too.”

    Sabina remembers the tears they cried, together in that hospital room, for the life that never was, for the life that would never be, and she remembers the stricken look on her mother’s face when she found them there, in the dark as the sun burned low in the horizon and the shadows grew long.

    Which one of these doesn’t belong?


    ~*~


    Sabina remembers that day, the day she left the hospital for home, how frustratingly careful her mom was with her, how much she loved her dad for pretending it was just another day.

    She remembers Grandpa Sam and Maria being there, with their welcome-home smiles and lean-on-me hands. She remembers the way her mom cried out, appalled, when she ignored the ramp and struggled up their front steps, one foot forward at a time. More than that, she remembers the others’ cheers (way to go, Sabina…that’s my girl…relax, Fancy, she’s doing great), and the sense of satisfaction that carried her through the rest of that wondrously painful first last day.

    Sabina remembers, even though she’d like to forget, the hurt that warred with acceptance in her dad’s blue eyes when she told him of her decision, and the way her mother fought her every step of the way.

    She remembers Grandpa Sam driving her to the Lopez-Fitzgerald home, kissing her forehead, and leaving her standing there on the front step the next morning, with Daisy in her arms and her suitcase at her feet, and the way Catalina threw herself at them both while Sofia watched, quietly, soberly from her (their) disbelieving father’s side. Mr. Lopez-Fitzgerald just stood there, still as a statue, until Aunt Sheridan emerged from the kitchen, not looking surprised at all.

    “Sabina, you’re just in time for breakfast.”

    “We’re having scrambled eggs,” Catalina proclaimed.

    Sabina remembers looking at Sofia, watching as the little girl’s hazel eyes softened, lit up with just the tiniest hint of a spark, of renewed life, and waiting, breath held, for a sign, a glimmer of acceptance. She remembers the gentle rush of peace she felt sweep over her when it came, and she took the little girl’s outstretched hand.

    “Yeah, it’s the only thing Mommy knows how to cook.”

    “No, it’s not,” Aunt Sheridan protested.

    “It is,” Mr. Lopez-Fitzgerald joined in with loving laughter, as Catalina and Sofia fell in beside him on the way to the kitchen.

    Sabina watched them all, their bond strong and enduring even in the face of the sadness wrapped around their grieving hearts, and remembers feeling included yet not and thinking still… Which one of these doesn’t belong?


    ~*~


    On Sabina’s fourteenth birthday, it rained and rained and rained (Which one of these doesn’t belong?).

    Sabina remembers thinking the raindrops looked like tears falling from the sky, the gray skies like morose little frowns of the heavens. She remembers her mom’s call, the catch in her voice, the teasing in her dad’s Make a wish for me. She remembers the droopy little flower Catalina presented her with at breakfast and Sofia’s handmade card, and she remembers the way Mr. Lopez-Fitzgerald (she couldn’t call him dad, not even in her head, not when she already had one, a dad as good as gold) watched her with concern as she crawled into bed beside her aunt Sheridan and pulled the covers up around them, tucked herself in close to the only person in the world that needed comfort more than she did.

    She remembers how he pulled the door shut behind him, told the girls to grab their backpacks, and left them in the solitude of that bedroom without a word. She thinks he might have called her school, but she doesn’t remember for sure. What she does remember hurts with the recalling of it.

    Sabina remembers her broken voice, piercing the silence, and the slender hand gripping hers tight as she told her the story of the boy she never knew, and the baby conceived to save him.

    “He had leukemia, and Luis and I, we were desperate to save him.”

    She remembers squeezing her aunt Sheridan’s hand, encouraging her to continue, and feeling her heart swell to bursting with more emotion than she could contain. She remembers the wet slide of tears down her cheeks, the hot heat of them as they dampened her hair, and the words that kept coming, whispers that ripped and clawed at all she thought she knew.

    “Your mom was married to Luis, and she had just found out she was having you.”

    “They were married? Did they love each other?”

    Sabina remembers the haunted look in those blue eyes, the hint of shame, and wanting to take the question back but not knowing how.

    “They did. Fancy and your father loved each other, very much, and they were happy, but when Luis found out about the leukemia, all he thought about, all he wanted, was to make it go away. All the drugs and the chemo…they weren’t working, and the doctors said we had one last chance, that a brother or sister might be a match.”

    “Was I a match?”

    Sabina remembers the tears that streaked the lovely face that bore so much sadness, and the hand that cradled her jaw.

    “We didn’t know, not until later. Your mom refused the tests that would tell us if you were a match.”

    “But I could have helped. She shouldn’t have done that.”

    “Your mom wanted to give you the best chance you could get, and she didn’t want you to come too early. I couldn’t fault her for that.”

    Sabina remembers persisting, and the smile her stubbornness brought back to her aunt’s face. “Still...” She remembers the realization washing over her suddenly, like waves rushing into a defenseless shoreline. “Tea was the baby wasn’t she?”

    Tea means gift of God. Did you know that?”

    “Tea was a match, wasn’t she?” Sabina remembers the multitude of emotions left unspoken in those Caribbean blue eyes, the answer to her question staring back at her, and the crushing ache she felt when the last secret unfurled before her, like a slow blooming flower. “It was too late.” The confirmation left her feeling cold and helpless, and she longed for the comfort of her mother’s arms even as she offered comfort herself.

    “Tea was born two months, three days too late. Your brother died the day you were born.”

    “What was his name?” she remembers whispering into the darkness, breathing in the scent of perfume clinging to her aunt’s neck.

    “His name was Marty.”


    ~*~


    Sabina remembers going home, the way her mother clung to her like a lifeline and sobbed with relief and happiness. She remembers her dad ruffling her dark hair and grinning down at her with all the happiness in the world shining in his blue eyes.

    She remembers how it wasn’t perfect (it never had been), and how she drifted aimlessly through the long days, weeks that followed, not quite sure where she belonged. She remembers the anger, the tears, the revelations that threatened to tear them all apart before they could be knit back together, into the family that they were, before.

    Sabina remembers fights and how could you’s and I wish you would have told me’s. She remembers I couldn’t’s, I should have’s, and I wish I had’s. She remembers I will’s and no more secrets.

    She remembers the pain of starting high school without Tea right there, by her side, and the unexpected joy of finding out she was going to be a big sister (for the first/fourth time) again.

    Sabina remembers it all; still she can’t help hearing echoes of the question, the one she can’t quite put behind her.

    Which one of these doesn’t belong?


    ~*~


    Sabina remembers returning to that stone garden, the one she first visited when she was nine years old.

    She remembers snow, pure and white, her baby brother Nathanial’s tiny gloved hand in her own.

    Three years had passed since Tea’s death, two since Nathanial’s birth, and Sabina still missed her as if she’d left her only yesterday (she understood, finally, how tears could coexist with laughter in the span of a single happy so sad day). She remembers the air was cold and crisp, and the children’s choir was practicing Christmas carols inside the church. She remembers tracing her fingers over her brother’s name, closing her eyes and saying a silent prayer thanking her sister for finding her, and placing a kiss between DaisyMatilda’s floppy ears before saying goodbye.

    Then her mother called her, and Sofia took her other hand, and Sabina smiled at her family waiting patiently for her just beyond the church’s steps.

    “Sabina,” Catalina stared up at her, newly fallen snowflakes glistening in her golden hair. “Tell them, how the ugly duckling became a swan.”

    Sabina remembers, the looks of expectation on their familiar (loved) faces, the tickle of snowflakes clinging like unspoken wishes to her eyelashes, and the brown eyes that didn’t look so serious, not anymore, not when you knew they held other things like love and regret and unending hope.

    “The ugly duckling didn’t become a swan, Silly,” she remembers Sofia saying before she even had the chance.

    “That’s right.”

    Sabina remembers the smile in her dad’s blue eyes as he scooped Nathanial into his strong arms, and the look of understanding that passed between her mom and her aunt Sheridan when she finally made the connection, put to rest that age-old question.

    “She was one all along.”

    “I thought the ugly duckling was a he.”

    “Sofia.”

    “What?”


    ~*~


    Sabina remembers.

    She never forgets.





    Feedback is adored!!!


    Thanks so much for reading!!!

  2. #2

    Re: ***NEW***Leaves of September (F/L, S/L, F/N, original characters)

    OMG! This was absolutely beautiful! This story was so captivating! Thank you for this!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Posts
    489

    Re: ***NEW***Leaves of September (F/L, S/L, F/N, original characters)

    TritonPrez,

    Thank you so much for your lovely feedback.

    I wasn't sure how this story would be received. In the beginning, I had a much different plan for it, but the character of Sabina just wouldn't allow me to tell it any differently. The idea wouldn't leave me alone, and I had to tell the story.

    I'm so glad you enjoyed it, especially considering it wasn't the most uplifting of stories.

    I like to think Sabina's ending was not without hope, though, and even though it wasn't your typical And they lived happily ever after story that you felt some of that hope when you read the last word.

    So...now that I'm finished thoroughly confusing you, lol, I'll end this message with a resounding thank you.

    I'm so glad you enjoyed Sabina's (and Sheridan's and Luis's and Fancy's and Noah's and on and on) story.

    Thanks again.

    Shae

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