TITLE: "Hope in a December Morning"
EMAIL: JenR13@aol.com
KEYWORDS: MSR/married. Character Death. Alternate Universe.
ARCHIVE: Sure, if you would like it you are welcome to it. Just kept it intact.
SUMMARY: A December day in the future.

DISCLAIMER: Mine? Yeah, right.

AUTHOR’S NOTES: Okay, this is second story I have written involving character death of some sort. It’s definitely an Alternate Universe story, taking place _way_ in the future. I got this idea after watching something sad on TV, so blame it on that. J.

"Hope in a December Morning"
(Begun: Feb 1999; Completed: Feb 1999)
By Jen

The day was cool. Cool, yet not as cold as it should be for a December morning. The trees had lost their leaves and I watched them whip by as I stared out the car window.
My mother always used to tell me that I'd get a headache staring out the window while we were in the car. Watching the buildings, trees and people go by in a whirl of colors. Going by so fast that your head spins.

Mom used to say that. "Used to" is the key word here. My mother is dead. She's been dead for almost six years, yet every time I think of her, it seems like it was yesterday.

It was another day like this, cool, yet not cold. Certainly not as cold as it should have been. A December day, exactly six years ago.

There was no snow. I wanted snow. Needed a day off from school. I, of course, shared the opinion of every eight-year-old on my block. We all wanted a snow day, yet the sun stared at us, telling us no. Yet, everyday I would hope.

My mom would pull me from the window where I used to wait for the snow to fall. She told me if I kept watching, it would never come.

"Some things come when you least expect it," she said. She would sit me down on the couch and tell me the story of how I was least expected, how I was her little miracle. That's how I got my name, she told me. Hope. A name I hated as a little girl, because it was different from all the other girls' names. Yet, now six years later, I treasure my name as the ultimate link to my mother. It was her idea. My middle name is my dad's contribution. Rose. A name he got when he brought my mother a bouquet of roses in the hospital right after I was born.

I always loved stories of my parents' early days. Of when I was born, of when I was little, and sometimes they would tell stories about them. Those were few; they almost seemed to want to forget their past. I was little, I hardly understood what a past was. I stopped asking questions.

That day, six years ago, though cold, was a normal day. I had my normal fifteen minutes spent gazing out the window saying it would snow "any minute now" and my mom had to pry my eyes away from the window to get into the car. She always dropped me off on her way to the hospital where she worked. I was proud of her. She was a doctor. One thing I knew about her past was that after she married my dad she changed her specialty to pediatrics. One bad thing about that was I could never "fake" sick; she always knew when I was lying.

My father on the other hand, was a bit different. I never did quite understand his job, when I was really little I just used to tell people he was a shrink, like mom's brother said he was. I was only three, and didn't understand he was really a psychologist. He had an office in our house, like that guy did on an old show I saw on TV Land, called "Growing Pains." The dad in that family was a psychiatrist. What the difference between a psychologist and psychiatrist is I had no idea, I never understood until I was about twelve and found myself wandering through my mom’s old medical books. They lay untouched in the living room bookcase, along with some of her other things. My father still refuses to touch or disturb them.

That day, six years ago, my mom dropped me off for school, making sure I had my lunch (I always forgot it, my father said perhaps it was because of my mother's choice of a "healthy" lunch), and drove off, smiling. I waved to her, and she drove off, reminding me I was getting a ride with Mrs. Kennedy because dad had a patient. A normal day.

I jumped up the stairs of my elementary school, joined my friends and didn't give it a second thought.

I knew something was wrong when the school nurse came into my class to get me. They didn't even page me over the loudspeaker. She walked into and interrupted the class, and asked that I be excused. She had a grim look on her face. A look I only saw once in my eight-year-old life.

I had gone with my dad to meet my mom at the hospital. She was busy, so we sat and waited in the waiting room. Turns out there were two parents sitting next to us in the waiting room, waiting for news on their son. My mother had to come out and tell them he had died. She had a grim, yet professional look on her face. One that was strong, yet the bearer of bad news. The school nurse's face held the same look.

I walked with her down the hallway, down the stairs, toward the principle's office. My dad was sitting outside in one of the chairs. He had his head in his hands. As soon as I approached, he looked up. I could see tears tracks on his face. He had been crying. My father never cries. It was at that moment I knew something was wrong. Very wrong. Like my Madeline book said, "Something is not right."

I reached him and he grabbed my shoulders and told me that something bad had happened. He shook as he said it, I could feel his hands trembling as they held on to my shoulders. The nurse watched on, with worried eyes toward my father.

His hands shaking, his voice unsteady he told me she was dead. My mother was dead. She got into a car accident on the way to the hospital and not too long after she dropped me off, she was hit dead on by another driver. I would learn years later it wasn't the driver's fault, that his brakes had gone out, and that he was paralyzed from the waist down because of it. But at that moment, I only thought one thing: she was dead. My mother was dead.

My father let his trembling hands fall from my shoulders. He fall back down into the chair and suddenly began sobbing uncontrollably. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. It must have been bad, because the next thing I knew the nurse was rushing to his side, trying to take his pulse. Shock, she had said. Shock. A word I wouldn't understand until I looked it out in my mother's books four years later.

I just stood there, not knowing what to do. I felt the tears fall my face. I was eight. I hardly understood some things, but I knew what death meant. It meant she was gone. And I sat down next to my dad and cried, like any normal person would do.

That was six years ago. Things have happened since then. My father still works out of our home. I walk to school now, no more rides. I have only been to the hospital where my mother works, and coincidentally died, twice since her death. Both times to visit my dad. When he got sick, my mother used to catch it before it got bad. But my mother wasn't here anymore. I was too young.

But as the years went by, things did get better. I became like my mother. I began to hound my father about his health, and began to appreciate the healthy lunches my mother use to make. I graduated middle school, and began high school this year. Yet, somehow I feel more mature than fourteen. My father says I know too much for my age. Maybe I do.

Today I watch the trees fly by as the car drives down the path that's become familiar to me. The gates of the cemetery are like a welcome sign these days. We park the car, my dad and I, and walk to the one spot that has become kinda a thinking place for us both.

My father bought roses to put on her grave, even though I tell him they just die.

"They never die, they just have too much beauty to survive," he once commented, and I know he was talking about some much more then roses.

He lays them on his grave and we stand there looking at them together, his arm over my shoulders. I push a strand of my red hair behind my ear and we just stare. We don't cry. That's grown old. Instead we smile.

"I bet she's happy," I say and he nods. We stand in silence some more. Then I ask the question I've wanting to ask for years.

"Dad, how did you and Mom meet?"

He looks at me, then shakes his head. "Guess we never did tell you that one. It's a long story."

"I like long stories," I answer and glance up at him, trying to read his hazel eyes. He remains silent.

"Washington, D.C.," he says so suddenly, it scared me. "We met in D.C. In the FBI."

"You were in the FBI?" I ask. This is the first time I'm hearing this.

"Yes." His voice is low and soft, almost wistful. Then he smiles. "It's really a long story. Let's go home and I'll tell you."

I look at him, and for once I see the spark in his eyes I remember seeing when I was smaller, the spark he had whenever my mother was around. He grips my shoulder tighter and together we walk to the car.

As we walk back, my father reaches into his pocket, places something in my hand, and closes it.

He lets go of my shoulder and go to unlock the car. I unclasp my hand to see what it holds.

A cross. A simple gold cross. The same cross I used to see around my mother's neck all the time. What stories it must hold.

I smile and look up at the sky. In mist of the December day, the sun is shining bright. And yet, I feel something falling gently. As I turn, I realize what's happening.

It's snowing.

"The End"

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