Chapter 5: Abandoned Past

My waffles popped up from the toaster beside me and I snatched them up, tossing them onto a plate. I retrieved utensils from the kitchen drawer and balanced a container of maple syrup on my arm as I slid my breakfast onto the kitchen table. I could hear Dad's familiar, slow strides coming down the stairs as I dropped into a chair. I listened, hearing him unlock the front door, get the morning paper and tread down the hall into the kitchen. He looked up from the paper and looked surprised to see me awake.

"Oh… good morning Mara. Didn't expect you to be up this early on a Saturday," He explained, moving over to the counter and opening a package of ground coffee.

"Dad, it's ten. It's not early," I pointed out, beginning to methodically cut my waffles into bite-sized squares.

He shrugged when I said this, and continued busying himself preparing his usual morning coffee. I shook my head before dousing my waffles with syrup, then spearing a piece and popping it into my mouth. Just as I was about to enjoy the next mouthful of my breakfast, the shrill ring of the phone erupted throughout the still silence of the house. My dad groaned.

"Get that, would you kiddo?"

I nodded and scrambled up from my seat, reaching for the cordless phone.

"Hello?" I said into the receiver.

"Oh, good. You're up. It's me," I could hear Kiel's familiar bouncy voice on the other end.

"Hey Kiel," I greeted her before walking down the hall and into the living room, my dad not seeming to notice.

"So, what are you up to today? Any plans? Hot dates?" She questioned.

I rolled my eyes, "Nope… no plans or hot dates."

"Then you can come with me in town today, right?" She waited for a reply expectantly.

I put my hand over the receiver and called down the hall to my Dad.

"Dad…Can I hang out with Kiel today down town?" There were a few moments of silence and I could tell he was thinking about it.

"Sure, honey. Just be back by 6:00. We're having guests over for dinner," He finally called back.

Guests over for dinner? I shrugged it off, deciding it was probably some people from his work. I lifted my hand off of the phone before speaking again.

"Yeah, I can go."

"Wicked. Brody will be at your house around 1:00. We'll all meet up at my place," She said simply.

"Uh, Brody?" I said unthinkingly.

"Yup, but listen, I've got to go. See you at 1:00."

Click.

She was already gone.

I stared at the phone like a moron, my mind not completely functioning. Kiel had always been a sneaky sort. I sighed and blew my bangs out of my face. I was still kind of thrown by what had happened last night… Not that I should have been. I mean, nothing out of the ordinary happened. I dropped Brody off at his house. That's it. No kissing, hugging--- no form of any intentional contact for that matter. So, why was I freaking out? I'd already established that Brody was off limits. Fine… let's move on. But for the first time, my heart was completely against anything my head seemed to reason. I sighed and traipsed back into the kitchen, clicking the phone back into its base. My dad was now settled into a chair at the table, and he looked up as I walked in.

"I'll be leaving at 1:00," I announced, grabbing my plate from the table. All trace of my appetite had dissolved after talking with Kiel.

"I'll be running a few errands today. But I'll be back around the same time as you to get ready for dinner," He said, lifting his coffee cup in midair. I nodded numbly, not bothering to ask about who was coming for dinner and why. I scraped the remains of my waffles into the garbage bin and placed my dishes into the sink, promising myself I would clean them up later.

"I'll be in my room if you need anything," I said before turning to the doorway. My dad nodded in response, absorbed in the newspaper in his hand as I trailed down the hall and up the stairs to my room.

Heaps of clothes, mismatched shoes, books, papers, CD cases… Everything was splayed across my bedroom floors and for the first time I seemed to notice. It was a dump in here and I cautiously picked through the mess, glancing at my digital clock. I had a couple hours until Kiel and Brody were going to pick me up and I don't think I'd be able to endure living with this muddle any longer. So, I started with the laundry. By the end of twenty minutes, I had managed to throw all my clothes into baskets, lug them downstairs, and start a load of laundry. Was I efficient or what? I glanced around my room, deciding what else needed immediate attention. I decided that my closet was getting pretty bad so I crouched down, rummaging through all my junk. A pile of CD's were already beginning to form beside me and I had found the matching shoe to my favourite pair of sneakers. Good progress so far. I dug out a few old magazines and a crumpled up shopping bag… and that's when I saw it. The familiar, creased piece of glossy card paper. I could feel my heart's tempo speed up and my breath get caught in my throat. How could I have forgotten? Now the memories flooded back… I had been furious. Throwing things around my room and slamming doors. They say it's normal to have that sudden angry streak after losing someone close. I remember I had started yelling at Dad for no reason… All my frustration, grief, confusion had melted into one thing--- anger. Maybe I had been angry at my mom. Then it had seemed like she had abandoned me and Dad so suddenly. But I think the real reason for my sudden feeling of hatred and anger was because I was sick of feeling so helpless. Crying, mourning… moping around. I didn't want to have to deal with it. So I just kind of blocked everything out, believing that it was everyone else's fault that I had been carrying around this sorrow and hurt for so long. I had taken this postcard… The one thing I had had in memory of her… and I had isolated it, shoving it into the farthest corner of my closet, wanting to forget it ever existed… and eventually I did. Until now.

My mother had always been the one person I could rely on. Her name was Marie Nerina Moretti, but family called her Mariella. Dark hair, olive complexion, almond shaped eyes… Beautiful. She was also Italian, and I had inherited her dark hair and olive skin. She had always been orderly, hardworking and consistent with everything she did. She would always be on time to pick me up from school and never forgot about anything. Thriving on excellence, sometimes it scared me how she could do everything so flawlessly. I remember the way I'd crawl into bed beside her some nights, and we'd talk… About anything. My dad would be snoring softly beside us as we spoke in hushed tones and eventually I'd drift to sleep, waking up the next morning, both Mum and Dad already gone.

She had died when I was thirteen. It had all been so sudden. Mum had travelled to Chicago for a conference for work. She'd been a psychiatrist and had always been really good at her job--- I guess it was because she connected with people. Her infectious laugh, the way she could make you feel like everything was alright, even if they weren't…That was my mom. She was expected to arrive back on an evening flight; 7:00. Dad and I were ready, just putting on our coats and about to head out the door and drive to the airport when the phone rang. I remember waiting at the door, listening to my dad down the hall pick up the phone.

"Hello? Oh hi Annetta… We're just on our way to the airport… The news? No, I haven't watched it in the last hour…"

Why was Aunt Annetta calling now? I caught fragments of their conversation and suddenly I could hear Dad scrambling into the living room, flicking on the television and flipping to the news channel. I could hear the voice of the news reporter and the light from the TV screen light up the dark hall. I moved towards the living room and I remember thinking that we'd be late to pick up Mum if we didn't leave now.

"Dad?" I called to him, wondering what had been so important on the news.

There was no response from him as I stood at the doorway impatiently. I then noticed the pinched look on Dad's face as he stared at the screen. I glanced at the TV to see what he was so concerned about and then I heard it… Those two words that sent my world reeling.

Plane crash.

My heart suddenly skipped a beat and now I knew what my dad had been so concerned about. Wait, could this really be happening to me? I listened to the news anchor on screen, reporting about a plane crash that had happened earlier that evening. All passengers had been killed.

"No…" I suddenly murmured. "No, they're lying!"

I started screaming at the TV, tears streaming down my face. I was hysterical but Dad didn't stop me. I could remember us sitting on the couch, enfolded in each others arms. But even he couldn't bring comfort after something like that happening. It took a while for everything to finally sink in. I'd wake up some mornings and expect Mum to be in the kitchen, singing along to the radio and cooking breakfast. Instead, I'd find my Dad, unshaven and dishevelled, moping around and locking himself up in his office. That same year, Dad had been offered a job in another town. I'd fought him on it. There'd been too many memories in that house, and I wasn't about to abandon them… especially since Mum had loved that place so much. But Dad had had the last say and we'd moved halfway through the school year. A new house, new school… new life. And I thought I'd left behind all the miserable memories. It wasn't that I had forgotten about my mother's death. It was more that I had chosen to block it out and not have to deal with the pain each day.

But that pain had returned and I could feel tears beginning to sting my eyes and my body trembling as I tried to push down the sobs that were rising in my chest. I reached forward, my arm outstretched as I pulled the postcard out from its forgotten corner of the closet. My hands were shaking as I brushed away the remaining dust on the glossy paper. A terrible aching ripped at my heart and I gazed down at the picture in my hand. A familiar scrawl of handwriting covered the paper and on the cover side was a picture of Chicago, with its skyscrapers and hazy grey skies. The paper shuddered in my hands as tears poured down my face. I could feel my eyes, red and swollen, and my face burning hot as I tried to read the postcard through my tears.

Amore mio,

Chicago has been wonderful so far. Huge skyscrapers tower above me wherever I look. You'd love it here. This chaos reminds me of you… it's like a whole other world here. Well, I took a moment from my hectic schedule of meetings and sightseeing to write you this postcard. I hope you and Dad are managing to keep things together while I'm gone. The conference will be over tomorrow night so I will be on the next flight out. Don't forget your math tutoring and hug Dad for me. See you soon.

Love Mum xox

I stared blankly down at the postcard in my hand. What she'd written all seemed so carefree and untroubled. I held the paper so tightly between my fingers that my fingertips became white from the strain. The sobs were rising up in my chest again and I stumbled through my piles of CD's, clothes and sneakers before slumping onto my bed, my tears quickly soaking my pillow that I clutched helplessly to my chest. Things had finally began to regulate after her death… I'd managed to block things out---Things that I hadn't wanted to remember. I'd embraced the numbness that had helped me cope with all this. But this sudden shove into the past had taken me by surprise. I had been totally unaware and finally, all the force of bottling things up was making a comeback.

Tears continued to stream relentlessly down my face as I held the paper in my hand, the stiff glossy paper cutting into my palm.

See you soon…

I could feel that familiar feeling of anger and bitterness rushing over me. It was something I couldn't control. I fought it, gulping down my sobs as I clenched my fists until I was pretty sure my palms were bleeding. But even when I did that, I couldn't stop the wild anger that suddenly began to flow through me. I burrowed my head into my sheets and began screaming at the top of my lungs. They were enraged, desperate sounds that were loud despite the sheets that were entangled around me. My face was hot with tears and if anyone had seen me at that moment, they would have shipped me off to the loony bin right there and then. I then remembered the postcard and bolted upright, my hands trailing across the bed, searching for the glossy piece of paper. I found it bent and creased, wedged between the mattress and headboard of my bed. I smoothed it out across my leg frantically and placed it carefully onto my bedside table. My bawling had slowly demoted to a small pathetic sniffle as I lowered myself to the mattress once again, my hands sweeping the remaining tears from my eyes. I suddenly felt guilty, for blaming Mum like that. God, how could I blame her for fucking being in the wrong place at the wrong time? I could feel an empty feeling aching inside of me and I let my eyes flutter closed and every part of me seemed to hurt. Soon I was tossing and turning in a restless sleep, my forehead glimmering with beads of sweat and my hands wringing the sheets in their rigid grasp.


A/N:Sorry it took so long to get this chapter out, but I think it moves the story forward quite a bit. There is a lot more information to do withMara's past and history, seeing as I neglected to include that information in the first few chapters. Hmmm, so yeah. Let me know what you think. I really need some motivation to keep this story going, and I'm pretty sureI have a direction for the plot and such. If you have any ideas about what you want to happen I'm up for suggestions. Thanks for reading and I'm already working on the next chapter.... hopefully it won't take me so long to complete it. Don't worry- there's much more Brody/Mara action to come. -shifty eyes-

To my darling reviewers:

ZeilaE- Thanks for the extra long review. heh. I feel even special-er... Even if that isn't a word. Okay, so let me know what ya think of this chapter.... I'm not quite sure what to make of it thus far. I'm glad that you think the pace isn't too slow or anything, cause I'd hate to bore you. Please keep reviewing, dear. I'll love you if you do.

DropAHeartBreakAName- Glad to hear you like the story so far. Thanks for the motivation, love.

Idiot Pilot- Finally finished this chapter! I kind of haven't talked to you in a while, with you being away and all. Anyways, enjoy the new chapter, doll.

Sophie August- Thanks so much for all the constructive critisicm in your review. Hopefully this chapter will help to flesh-out Mara's character a bit more, seeing as it has a lot more to do with her past and what not. I'm also glad to hear you like Brody. He's one of my favourites too. -snugs-