Blueberry Yoghurt 5. On the Edge + Whipped Cream
story: Hell and High Water words: 1565 rating: PG13 (!warning!: mentions suicide) summary: Emily wasn't always alone
a/n: HEY GUYS I AM BACK after a long time away! I have been working on this universe for the last year and a half, so i thought i should start playing with my characters a bit!
The madness started slowly.
They were in the kitchen and her father was cooking. He was an uncreative cook; all he could make was eggs in various forms, but Emily loved it when he cooked for her. They were listening to Mozart’s Requiem on the radio and Emily was absently doing math homework, humming along tunelessly to the familiar music when her father’s head suddenly snapped up.
“Did you hear that?” He asked, wiping his hand on the kitchen towels and approaching the sound system cautiously.
“Hear what?” Emily asked, tapping her pencil against her homework and watching her father approach the radio. A burst of Latin from the radio delayed his reply as he tilted his head in an attempt to her the underlying melody to which he was responding.
“I thought I heard a voice,” her father admitted with a frown, crossing his arms. Emily tilted her own head, mirroring her father’s posture. She understood immediately that the voice her father had heard wasn’t part of the choir. Father and daughter stood motionlessly in the kitchen, listening as the choral voices joined and separated in perfect harmony.
Owen glanced at his daughter. “You don’t hear anything?” he clarified.
“Nothing,” Emily admitted, chewing her lips. “You know, Marsha told me that sometimes the presenters leave the microphones on by accident. You probably heard that.”
“You’d tell me, right?” He asked, quietly. Emily smiled. Her father, her strong, heroic father who had defended her country and saved her from nightmares needed her. She felt secure and happy as she nodded.
“Always,” She promised with a smile. He sighed, reassured, and went back to making the omelette. It was burnt and rubbery, but to Emily it tasted like home and happiness.
Emily went to school on Monday, and the house was in order. When she came back home on Monday evening, after eating dinner with Aunt Rachel, there was a large trash bag in front of the house. She narrowed her eyes at it and opened it carefully. The radios were all piled up neatly. Every single radio had been gutted of its wires, the electrical circuits torn apart carefully. Emily bit her lip.
“The radios were broken,” Her father informed her before she even asked. He wasn’t a very good liar.
“I know. I thought they sounded weird,” She agreed, smiling.
He blinked at her. Sometimes she reminded him more of his wife than he’d even thought possible. “How was Aunt Rachel’s house?”
“Noisy. The baby cries a lot,” Emily confided with a smile.
“You cried a lot too,” her father replied. Emily grinned at him. It was nice to know that he still remembered her as a baby, even if he’d only been there for three months.
“Good night, daddy.”
“Good night darling.”
She started appearing in reflections. He realised this when, a month or two later, he held up a plate to inspect its cleanliness. Her figure stood reflected in the kitchen, leaning against the counter behind him. He dropped the plate and spun around, but there was nothing behind him except a dirty counter.
He cleaned up the broken crockery.
Emily never noticed the absence of one of the plates.
In his dreams he was young again. In his dreams, Charlotte was still alive.
Ignore it and it’ll go away, she whispered into his ear while he was desperately trying to finish his homework.
That’s the worst philosophy ever, he’d countered, looking up for a brief moment. It was a mistake. Her eyes had a way of capturing him.
Is it really? She asked with a grin.
Emily came home from school on a Tuesday to find scarves and schals draped over every reflective surface in the house. They began to eat off paper plates. “Less dishes!” Her father explained with a smile.
“Are you okay, Dad?” She asked, quietly. He smiled at her, a smile that was far too bright.
“I’m fine.” He said through his teeth.
“Why is everything covered?” Her voice was soft and her tone was low. He sighed heavily. He looked at his daughter and smiled, though this smile was genuine and mirthless.
He put his head in his hands. He tried to compose himself. “I see your mother everywhere. Her face appears in the mirrors; her silhouette is reflected in the crockery and her voice echoes off the glass.” He looked up at her, expecting pity, disdain, shock. He should have known Charlotte’s eyes would have no place for those emotions. Emily leaned forward and held her father’s hand.
“Its okay, Dad,” she promised fiercely. “I see Mom’s ghost too.” Her ghost. He liked the sound of that.
He couldn’t get away from her. She was in the mirror when he shaved, in the radio when Rachel drove him and Emily home, in the shiny plates the Rachel still used. He tried to tell Morgan.
“You need to let go,” Morgan explained. “I let go: you have to too.”
“I’m trying,” he replied. “I’m really really trying.” He started crying. Morgan embraced him.
“Let her go,” Morgan just repeated.
I don’t know what I’ll do if I ever lose you, he’d whispered in her ear that one time. She’d smiled.
You’ll have Emily, she promised him. Emily will help.
But you are the anchor of my heart, he murmured. Without you, I will just drift away. He murmured. He imagined Chinese lanterns, blooming up in the sky in their glory. She turned around in the bed so she could look at him with a stern expression.
Don’t float away. She instructed him, her eyes dark and serious. Don’t ever float away. Let Emily and Morgan hold you down. Let them anchor you to the world, even if I am gone. She caressed his face. I don’t want the world to miss out on you.
He had a job. It was strange to have a job, but he liked it. It meant he could come in the evening and greet his daughter. It meant he could sleep on a comfortable mattress. It meant that the only things that scared him were the slamming door or his daughter shuffling cards.
It was strange to wave Morgan off, though. It was strange to stand on the other side of the barrier with his daughter, his sister in law and the niece that sat on his shoulders so she could wave off her father.
They drove home in two separate cars. He was on his own, driving slowly. Charlotte sat next to him, smirking.
“See, now you know how I feel,” she told him triumphantly. “Remember that time when I had to stay home because of Emily and you were called for a tour in Italy? I had to stand on the wrong side of the fence and wave you off too. I hated it. I was so worried about you. Rachel tried to build solidarity with me. I didn’t want any of it.”
“Typical,” he huffed. “She’s really lovely, you know.”
“Oh I know,” Charlotte admitted with a shrug. “I just never thought she was good enough for yur brother.” He shook his head with a smile.
“You’re even harsher than our mother,” he told her wryly.
“Someone had to look out for you while you were busy getting shot at,” she replied. They sat in silence for a while. Her hands were crossed in her lap and her feet tapped to some song in her head that he couldn’t hear. He sighed.
“Why are you doing this?” He asked, biting his lip. She glanced at him, brow furrowing.
“Doing what?” She asked.
“Haunting me. Haunting us. Emily and I are fine without you.” She chuckled.
“I’m not doing anything,” she told him, shaking her head. “I am just part of your mind, Owen. A figment of your imagination. If I was really here, do you think I would haunt you?!” He glared at her. She chuckled.
“How do I make you go away?” He asked, tilting his head. She smiled.
“I have no idea,” she admitted. “I am, after all, just in your mind.”
“Well this is just great,” Owen grumbled. “You know how bad I am at lying. How the hell am I going to pass my next psych evalve?!”
Charlotte wasn’t there to provide a snarky answer. Owen just stared at the road in front of him, willing his mind to bring her back. He didn’t like sitting in the car on his own.
She didn’t reappear.
She was dead.
“Morgan’s dead. His plane got shot down during the Rorke Offensive. He was dead on impact.” Rachel cried when she heard the news, holding her toddler to her chest. Emily sat still, trying to stomach everything.
Owen realised all the oxygen in the room had left.
He left a note. He was quite proud of it actually: he felt that it tied up all his loose ends. He included a special little note just for Emily.
It wasn’t that you didn’t anchor me down; you were the best anchor that any ship could hope for. But even an anchored ship can be wreaked in powerful storms.
It was simply far too stormy for me.
He jumped. Gravity pulled him down to earth, but for a second he felt free. And then it was all over. He hoped Emily would understand.