A/N: Quick note, I actually got the idea for this while reading about Caligula. Go figure. And I hate the title, but what can you do, it's just to identify something anyway. Feedback s'il vous plait.
He walked in the front door and set down his briefcase and overnight bag in the hallway, slipping off his shoes in the slanting rays of the late afternoon sun. He stripped off his socks immediately after, hating the feel of them.
She was in the living room, curled up in the corner of the couch and reading a book in the sunlight. He didn't have to look at the cover; he knew it would be a biography on some crazy royal. She was obsessed with ruling madmen (and women) of history.
"Hello," he said, settling down in the chair on her left.
She didn't look up from her book. "Did you know that Caligula committed incest with his own sister when she was twelve? And then later she had to live with him as his wife. She even got pregnant."
He raised an eyebrow. "Is that so?" he said. "Quite a piece of work, that Caligula."
"It means 'little boot'."
"Caligula. It means 'little boot'." She turned a page.
She never said 'hello' or 'hi' or 'bonjour'. She would just quote him another random tidbit from her vast store of knowledge of crazy emperors. It was tradition, almost. He just nodded and resettled himself in the chair, studying her. "So," he tried finally. "How did the weekend go?"
She turned another page. He bit his lip and tried not to scowl. Not yet. "Could you put your book down for a sec and talk to me? I've been gone on a business trip all weekend, I missed you."
She obeyed. "She's not very good, you should fire her," she answered.
His mind blanked for only a minute before he figured out what train of thought she was off on. "It's been a week, give things a chance!" he exclaimed. "What did she do to earn such condemnation?" he teased.
She gave him a serious look, deadly serious. "She rearranged my room," she responded, softly and succinctly.
He took a deep breath, running a hand through his hair. He'd have to have a talk with the caregiver; this happened a lot and somehow he never remembered to drive the point home that she couldn't handle change well. Come to think of it, there were probably a few things to discuss with the caregiver that never made it into the primary interview. "I'll talk to her about it," he said, trying to appease. "It won't happen again."
"That's not all she does," she said ominously.
He waited for the drama to unfold. She didn't leave him hanging too long.
"I-I asked her for my breakfast story today, and she said she 'didn't have time', she 'had more important things to worry about than Oliver Twist with my toast'." She used air quotes and a prim voice as she spoke the woman's words.
He frowned. The breakfast story was extremely important to her, and after his discovery of how much she despised breakfast, a time-honoured tradition for years since she'd been in his care. This was not going well at all. "I'll talk to her," he repeated, starting to feel anxious about this person he'd hired to look after her. He knew he'd mentioned the breakfast stories.
"Soon?" she pleaded.
"Soon." Casting around, he changed the subject. "So what else did you do this weekend, besides deciding to fire the help?"
She giggled at that. "Um, on... yesterday we went to a movie. But I forget what it was, except that I liked it. Today we went to the park, and then we made some cookies, but they got a little burnt because we forgot about them while I was drawing you this." She reached for the coffee table and picked up a piece of paper he hadn't noticed, handing it to him. It was a bird, as far as he could tell; there was a melange of colour and shape on the page that a modern artist would envy.
"It's a masterpiece," he said, smiling as she puffed up with pride. "It's going on the fridge, front and centre."
She frowned a little. "What about that picture of us I drew? You gonna move that?"
He contemplated it. "We'll put them side-by-side, how's that?"
She nodded happily, settling back into the couch cushions and picking up her book again.
He sat back in the chair for a while, relishing the comfort of sprawling with his tie undone as he watched her read her book. She was frail from the sickness, which of course would never leave her ravaged body, but the medication she'd been on recently was helping like nothing had. This was the best she'd been in years.
He remembered the rough times, when she would have uncontrollable mood swings and scream and break things and rock back and forth. Sometimes on her old medication, she would suffer memory loss and forget where she was, or who he was. That had happened frequently around the time he started taking care of her, when everyone else gave up on her.
The little tic beside her eye had smoothed out some too, but it still showed when she was excited or stressed. Her glasses got thicker by the year, it seemed, and the premature wrinkles around her eyes and grey strands of hair in her wispy ponytail made her look much older than she was. She had never looked more beautiful to him.
He spoke up softly, almost regretful to disturb the quiet, sunny peace. "Do you know what day it is today?" he asked.
"It's Sunday," she said absently.
He got up and walked to the door as he spoke, leaning into the hallway to grab something. "Yes, but it's a special day. Can you think of what day it is, sweetheart?" His favourite pet name for her. He almost never called her Sandra, or anything else for that matter.
She gave him a lost look. She had no idea.
He walked over to the couch, holding the something behind his back, and sat down on the other end of the couch, facing her. "Give up?" he smiled. He produced a bright bouquet of flowers from behind his back and almost cried at her surprise and glee, with that slight undercurrent of bafflement that she always had. "It's Mother's Day. I love you, Mom."
A/N: It's a little late for Mother's Day, sue me. Greatness takes time. ;) I hope everyone took the time to hug their mommies on Sunday.