DISCLAIMER: All My Children and its characters are the property of ABC. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Entry for the BAMboard August One-Shot challenge. From Gabrielle's POV.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

In The Eyes Of The Child
By Megs


-----October 21, 2029----

The sunset across the horizon has left the beautiful display of reds, oranges, and a smattering of purples along the ridge of the horizon. The color scheme is almost as breathtaking as seeing the colors against the background of the sky scrapers all from my window of the Slater Casino penthouse.

I can't help but smile as I look at the beautiful scene before me. I feel like taking out my paint set and putting to paper the beauty before me, but refrain. I'll do it another day. Having plans for the next day helps me get up in the mornings. It's been getting harder and harder to do lately and until today I haven't thought about why.

As I look out at the slowly coming to life city, I wonder.

Tonight I feel like drowning my sorrows and loneliness away in the bottle of wine sitting behind me on the side table.

Why not indulge? It has been years since I've been able to drink the finest French wines. I even had the wine I'm sipping shipped over just for this occasion.

My name is Gabrielle Williams-Montgomery and today is my 21st birthday.

Unsurprisingly I am spending it alone.

I really shouldn't have expected anything more than a phone call from my father, a deleted phone message from Mom and her new family, and a card in the mail from Miranda.

Miranda Williams-Montgomery, my older estranged sister. Miranda Williams-Montgomery, I roll my eyes at her name. It seems ridiculous for her to keep the name Williams if she despises it as much as she does. Oh, and does she despise the name Williams. I can't really blame her. She despises the name Williams almost as much as I despise the name Montgomery.

Then again the last few birthday cards and holiday cards she only signed as Miranda Montgomery, so perhaps she has changed her name back to her original name. While the name on her birth certificate—after she was given back to Mom, and man was that a F**ked up way to start your life being raised by your mom's supposed best friend my head reels at the thought. But I digress.

Miranda has most likely taken back her birth name, Miranda Montgomery and done as she's wanted to since she was thirteen, gotten rid of Williams. While I have kept Williams. After all my birth certificate always read Gabrielle Amelia Williams-Montgomery.

For our individual hatred of our last names and for many other reasons, we are no longer speaking. Thinking back I haven't actually spoken to Miranda since I was seventeen.

To be completely honest we stopped getting along when I was five. It went downhill from our bickering over toys and who got to sit where at the kitchen table to Miranda's choices in boyfriends, my choices in friends, to how much I despised one Mary Margaret Stone for ruining my happy family.

It wasn't until I was sixteen that I realized how much I hated Miranda and Mom for accepting and loving Mary Margaret when they couldn't or wouldn't accept or love my Mother, Reese Williams.

It was the night Miranda tried to get me to admit that my mother was the actual cause for our parents to break up not Maggie, (as Miranda and Mom call her) and that Maggie helped mend our broken family. It was that night I realized how much I despised Miranda.

It wasn't fair.

It was my sixteenth birthday and although I may have acted like a bitch to Mom for inviting Maggie to dinner and excluding Mother, I was entitled.

My Mom, Bianca Christine Williams-Montgomery and my Mother, Reese Williams-Montgomery, were together for what seemed like my whole life back then.

It was only when I was fourteen that they divorced.

I know Mother hadn't been living with us for nearly a year before that but it was almost like she was traveling for work a little more rather than she no longer lived with us.

The point was that Miranda and Mom both seemed so happy to have Maggie back in their lives, in our lives, that I learned to hate them for it. They were happy now that my mother was no longer living with us. They were happy to spend their Friday evenings with Maggie having popcorn and playing games, rather than with my mother. To me it wasn't right that a tradition my mother started with us was continued with Mary Margaret.

What bothered me more was that Mom was trying and Mother wasn't even there to see it. Mother was always on Mom's back about working late. Had been since I was little, it wasn't until Mom started seeing Mary again that she tried to come home early.

At first I was thrilled that Mom was coming home earlier that I didn't really even mind that Mom's friend Maggie came by twice a week to have dinner with us. It wasn't until Mom sat me down two months later with Miranda sitting on the opposite end of the couch from me that I found out Maggie wasn't just Mom's friend. They were dating.

Maggie in that instant became Maggie, Mary, or when I was looking to cause trouble, Mary Margaret. Maggie hated it when I called her Mary so I started doing it all the more.

Mom was mad. So was Miranda.

I didn't care.

Mary would come over at least four times a week after that and Mom and Miranda were thrilled. I seethed quietly while listening to them talk during dinner. Mom tried to bring me into the conversation but after the fourth week of my continued insults to Mary Margaret she stopped trying.

Miranda would yell at me after Mary left. Miranda would hug Mary Margaret goodbye and more often than not I'd be on the couch, as long as my mom didn't force me to show Mary out, and just wave dismissively in salutation.

If it hurt Mary, I didn't care. Why should I care? In my eyes she was the woman that ended my parent's relationship. I wasn't stupid or blind. I knew that Mary had been a part of my mom's life long before my parents were separated. I also know that they were together before Mom met Mother.

I never cared that Mary had been a part of my Mom's family long before I was even born. The past didn't matter anymore. We were living in the present and their future and in that future Mary did not have a foreseeable part. Or I had hoped she wouldn't.

Sadly she did. Although I don't know how...

Mary is obnoxious. She has this delusion that she's hysterically funny and Mom doesn't help matters by indulging in her delusions. She works more than Mom does and Mom never complained in front of us or argued not like she used to with Mother when she needed to go on business trips to the states. To top it all off if having one Mary Margaret Stone isn't enough, there is an almost carbon copy, except he's male and her son.

Yes, Mary has a son. Leonardo (Leo for short) Frances Stone. He's ten now. His birthday was last week. I sent him a gift card to Barnes & Noble. He likes to read, or he did. I haven't really talked to him since he was eight.

So, as I stand by the large floor to ceiling window with their Venetian blinds I take one last look out to the Pine Valley skyline before moving to flip the switch on the wall and watch as the large panels close blocking out the glow of the city night life. The room is now only lit by the lamp on the side table by the couch in the sitting room. I look around the penthouse suite that my father gave to me and I wonder how I got here.

How I came to be alone on the anniversary of my birth.

I think back as I learn against the wall and observe my quiet suite. I've been living in Pine Valley for nearly three years now. I left Paris after…after…

I tilt my wineglass over and swallow the rest of the red liquid. I need something stronger.

Walking into the sitting room I move to the bar that I set up myself this afternoon and open a bottle of Grey Goose vodka and pour myself a tumbler. I hack for a few moments after throwing it back.

I wonder silently if I had stayed in Paris would I still be alone tonight?

I could be out with my brother, I know this, but I decided to stay in. Why, I'm beginning to wonder. Being here alone leaves me with nothing but quiet and time to think about everything I'd rather forget.

Ian and I have gotten close. It took a long while for the both of us to understand our parent's motives, but it took us less time to realize it wasn't our fault for them and spent the rest of our time getting to know each other. It wasn't that we didn't know each other. It was just that we weren't close. After all I had only seen him the few times Mom brought Miranda and me to Pine Valley.

Ian would laugh at me if he saw me coughing while drinking. He'd pity me for trying to drown my sorrows away too.

Ian is a great guy. His girlfriend doesn't know what she has in him. He's sweet, caring, gentle, passionate and smart. He also has a wicked sense of humor that is nothing like Maggie's. So what if Ian is an avid party boy?

Not that I'm not one—a party goer that is.

I am, when I'm not working. Even then I've refrained from drinking illegally since the drinking age here in the United States is twenty-one.

I had so missed having a glass of wine with dinner after I moved State side.

Picking up the bottle of wine I had shipped over from Paris and my shortly forgotten glass, I sit on my couch and wonder. I wonder what my life would have been like if I had accepted Mom's relationship with Mary. Accepted that Mother was not the woman I thought she was.

Maybe things would have been different?

I wish things could have been different.

I feel the tears burning the back of my eyes but do nothing about them. If they fall so be it, if they don't all the better.

I forget both my glass of wine and the bottle for a moment. I wrap my arms around myself and pull my knees up to my chest and hold them tight against me as I do my best to curl into a ball and stop the sobs that have begun to wrack my body.

Why did I come to Pine Valley? Why?

I came here because I couldn't stay in Paris. Not after Mother's accident and subsequent death. Not after Father died three days after her in the same hospital room. Mother died instantly, it was a relief and torturous to know. Father did not die instantly. He lived for three days before, due to complications of injuries sustained in the car accident, he too died.

Paris, France had taken from me everything I loved. It took from me first my happy family as I'd always known it. Then it brought Mary into my life before it did the ultimate injustice and stole from me my Mother and Father in the same accident.

I couldn't stay. Not there. Not after that.

Not when Mom was happily moved on with Mary Margaret and starting a new family with her and Leo. Not while Miranda didn't even bat an eyelash at Mother's death or her own Uncle's death.

Not after I screamed at them all. I said hurtful, horrible things to Mom, Miranda, and Mary. I had been so full of anger and pain that I lashed out unfairly and have never been able to retract my words or offer my sincere apologizes. Not now nor then.

Not after it came out that Mother had been sleeping with Father for nearly ten years.

Apparently all those business trips to the United States were just as fruitful as Mother always said they were. I laugh bitterly at that recalled statement Mother offered Mom after one of the many trips state side.

Aunt Kendall divorced Father around the time Mom divorced Mother. I should have known. I should have listened or paid more attention but I didn't.

So I ran away. I shut Mom out. I stopped taking her phone calls and deleted the messages she left. I couldn't handle it all. The public scrutiny! The lack of remorse in Mom and Miranda!

Damn it all to hell Miranda didn't even attend the funeral! I screamed, a lot. I was the very epitome of a Kane woman that Erica knew I'd always be.

I had to sit in the front row with Ian and Mother's brother. He didn't even acknowledge me as his niece. I cried through the entire ceremony and through Mother's Eulogy, the one I delivered, not her bigoted brother.

Mother left me everything. Father left Ian and I everything, split evenly of course.

It had surprised me when Mary showed up at the funeral. I had expected her to be having a drink somewhere with Miranda and Aunt Kendall. It was mean of me to think so, but I had ever reason to believe they would be rejoicing in Mother and Father's deaths.

What surprised me more was how comforted I felt when she grabbed my wrist and squeezed as they handed me Mother's ashes.

Mom had my other hand in a death grip but its strength had not offered me the comfort Maggie's few seconds had. I remember looking at her through my peripheral vision and seeing the deep sorrow etched upon her face and willingness to support me through this rough time.

I wondered then, for a moment, why I had ever thought to hate Maggie. That moment was short lived because before I could stop myself I had forcefully tugged my hand away from her and spared her a glare that told her to back off before stalking away.

After the funeral when I had returned home with Mom and Mary behind me, Mary asked me what I was going to do. What I wanted to do. I was grateful for her support even though I didn't let her know it. Hell, I was even bitchier to her that day than usual.

In no uncertain terms I told her that I would be moving to the United States.

"Why…?" She asked me, seemingly curious.

"I'm taking over Cambias Industries' US division."

Mother had gaped and had pitched a fit. To which I was both grateful for the opportunity to yell and scream and have an opponent who yelled and screamed back at me. I didn't bother to stay. I grabbed the few belongings I could not live without and left.

I passed the room Leo stayed in when he and Mary stayed in the house. He was standing in the hallway with tears in his eyes as he hugged the Shrek doll I had gotten him for Christmas, he loved it so much Mary often times mentioned he didn't sleep without it. My throat had closed with emotion as I looked at him, he didn't say anything he just looked at me. I couldn't help but recall how I had been in his position when I was twelve and Mother had packed her bags and left. I did what she did with me to Leo.

I kneeled down, put my bag on the floor, and wrapped him tightly in my arms and told him that I loved him. I did love him. He was a male carbon copy of Mary Margaret but he was, for all intents and purposes, my little brother and I loved him. So I let him know how much I loved him and that I'd stay in touch. I ran my hand through his long sandy brown locks and then picked up my bag and left.

I wonder if Maggie wrapped him up in her arms as he cried against her shoulder like Mom had done for me the night Mother left. I wonder if he ran away from Maggie back into his room and locked the door and hugged Shrek to him tightly, like I had done but with the stuffed red robin Mother bought me when I was seven.

Ian's shock at my appearance at his hotel room at one in the morning that night was apparent but didn't last long. That night we both cried for our losses and rejoiced in our gain of each other. To which, I realize, is one thing I can be grateful for happening in the last three years.

"Happy birthday to me." I raise my glass to the empty room and swallow its contents in three swallows.

I am Gabrielle Williams-Montgomery and today I am twenty-one.

I am celebrating my birthday alone. I am the richest woman alive. I am the CEO of Cambias Industries, Fusion Cosmetics, Enchantment, Chandler Enterprises, Courtland Electronics, on the Board of Directors for Apple Inc. and Vice President of Trustees in Exxon Mobil Inc, and Honorary VP of Slater Casinos which Ian Hart Slater is CEO and President.

Ian wanted nothing to do with Cambias except get his father's Casinos back from Ryan Lavery. It took a year but without much trouble we had taken back Father's Casinos as well as the companies that had once been owned by Cambias but were given back under Mom's directives.

Mom was pissed. Not that I can blame her. I threatened to close down the Miranda Montgomery Center for Women, which had grown to have nearly fifteen sites all around the world, in spite. Miranda had even decided I was worth talking to and called me to rant and yell at me. I hung up on her and ignored her next five calls.

The only one to talk me out of it was the same woman who is still under the impression that I despise her.

One Mary Margaret Stone is the only reason I didn't shut down the centers.

I wanted to. I wanted to prove to Mom that I could do what I wanted without her consent. I wanted to push her away further because she was still trying to reconnect and I'm still not ready for that. I'm not ready to apologize. I'm not ready to see her in person and hear her voice because I'll break down. I know I will.

Miranda tried to take Cambias from Ian and me in attempt to forestall my plan to shut down five of the Miranda Montgomery Centers. We crushed her in court. Mom, in her infinite wisdom, had given up Miranda's rights to Cambias while Miranda was still a minor and left it to Father. Father then lost it to Ryan Lavery in a card game. Ian and I then took it back. It had changed hands so many times in the last few decades that when Miranda tried to bring in her right as the original Cambias heir we shut her down by explaining that her birthright to the company was lost when Zach lost it to Ryan Lavery and we took control of the company.

It was not Miranda's insults and yelling. It wasn't Mom's screaming and questions of why? That stopped me from closing the Miranda Montgomery Centers. It was Maggie Stone's one phone call that told me to do what I thought was right.

I cancelled the closing of the Centers five minutes after listening to Maggie's message. I saved it. It still remains on my cell phone, saved with three messages Mother left me, and one message from Leo on my birthday last year.

Since then Miranda has not spoken to me. Maggie has not called again by herself.

I smile kindly thinking of Miranda. I do miss her sometimes. Miranda is attending medical school in New York. She wants to be just like Maggie.

I hope she succeeds.

Mom still lives in Paris and is still with Maggie. They have been sleeping together for nearly six years. For three years I haven't cared. Maggie and Leo have been living with Mom for a year now—in the house Mother built for us.

I'm not angry or upset, I'm happy for them.

They have found happiness with each other. At least Ian tells me that they seem happy. Ian still talks to Aunt Kendall, although their relationship was strained after Ian and I stole Fusion and New Beginnings from Aunt Kendall. She has a home in France as well—has for nearly eleven years—she sees Mom and Maggie often. She tells Ian they are happy and I hope they are. They deserve to be happy.

I never saw Mom smile as much as she does now while with Maggie while she was with Mother.

For two years I watched Mom smile and laugh more than I had ever seen in sixteen years of life. I hated Maggie for that. For being able to make Mom happy when I couldn't.

I grew out of that hate and have learned to respect Maggie for her ability to make Mom happy. To make Mom laugh and glow with a fulfillment she had lost for a long time.

I hated that Maggie was closer to Miranda than I was. I am Miranda's sister she was supposed to be close to me not confide in Maggie over me. Not get close to Leo and treat him better than she treated me.

I know that my own actions must be taken into account and I have. I was not pleasant company when I was sixteen. I was angry that my parents were getting a divorce and there was miraculously a band aid in the form of Mom's new girlfriend.

Maggie came in to the picture and everything got better and I hated her for that. I didn't want things to be okay or get better. I wanted them to go back to the way it was, before Maggie came back, before Mother left, just before.

I just hadn't realized Maggie was the before I was looking for, or should have been looking for.

Maggie had been there before me. She had seen, done, and been a part of things I can never now be a part of. She was there before Mother and she'll now be there after Mother. Maggie was there before Mom stayed late at work, didn't smile or laugh. Maggie was there before my Mom became my Mom.

I didn't realize that what Maggie was giving me was the Mom from before everything. The Bianca Christine Montgomery—I had never met before.

So I pushed the woman who looked like Mom, sounded like Mom, but wasn't MY Mom away. In doing so I know I hurt her. I know that I've hurt them all in my selfishness to keep my ideal childhood alive even while it's broken apart in my hands and has been for years.

I pick up the phone. It has to end.

I don't know what possess me to do it. Maybe the four glasses of wine and the shot of vodka or maybe it's just my growing need to not be alone anymore that makes me do it. Whatever it is that makes me do it, I'm glad it did.

The phone rings as I hold it up to my ear, my heart racing against my chest and my stomach churning in tight knots as it continues to ring.

"Bonjour, Bianca Montgomery, and Maggie and Leo Stone are not available to come to the phone right now so if you need us leave us a message." My heart catches as Leo's recorded message plays in my ears, the sound of my mom's laughter mixed harmoniously with Maggie's as they each say their names tears and fills my heart simultaneously.

"Mom…" I open my mouth to speak further but my words catch in my throat and my tears are once again falling freely from my eyes. When did I stop I wonder.

I can't do this I realize suddenly. I move to hang up the phone and stop cold as the line is picked up.

"Gabrielle…Gabrielle…" Mom sounds desperate and out of breath. I imagine her clutching the phone tightly in both hands as she holds it against her ear wondering if I'm alright. I haven't called her in three years and the first time I do I can hardly speak into the phone the whimpers are too many too quickly.

The image breaks me.

"Oh Mom…I'm so sorry…I'm so sorry…" I sob into the phone and grasp the collar of my shirt tightly in my hand as I lay down on my couch and pull my knees up to my chest and remain in the ball I had created…I look at the clock…nearly two hours before.

"Oh baby, it's okay. It's alright." I know she's crying. I can tell. It's in the way her voice hitches the slightest bit.

"No…no it's not!" I insist. "I've been so horrible to you and to Maggie. I'm so sorry. I don't want to hurt you anymore. I don't want to hurt anymore. I…"

I must take too long to find the right words because when my mom speaks next it sounds as if she's looking to see if I've hung up the phone.


"I miss you, Mom."

"We miss you too." I hear a hiss of a voice on the other end. Mom quickly corrects herself. "I mean—I miss you. I miss you too."

I know it shouldn't bother me as much as it does, but Mom's quick reassurance that she alone misses me tells me how careful she's trying to be about her relationship with Maggie and my feelings about it. How could she possibly know that I'm happy she and Maggie are together if I only just admitted it to myself a few days ago?

"I miss Maggie and Leo too, Mom." I hear her sigh and the whisper on the other end from Maggie asking if I'm alright.

I roll my eyes up to look at the ceiling and wonder how I could have been so horrible to a woman who so obviously cares for my Mom, my sister, and I.

"Mom, can you put me on speaker?"

"Sa-sure…" Mom stutters, I've only heard Mom stutter a few times in the past. "Alright, you're on speaker."

"Afternoon, Maggie." I say and hear an unfamiliar gasp and then nothing but hushed whispers too far away from the phone. "Hello…? Mom? Maggie?"

"We're here, honey." Mom reassures quickly. "Maggie was just surprised."

I sigh, "I know I haven't called or written or well anything in a year and I…"

"No, honey. Not about that."

Now I'm confused. "Then about what?"

I hear Maggie chuckle, "You called me, Maggie."

"Do you want me to call you something else?" I hope not.

"You can call me whatever you like—albeit something that's not utterly unacceptable." Such as Bitch, I'm sure she means and I smile and chuckle. Maybe she is just a little funny.

"I think I like, Maggie."

"Then…" Maggie clears her throat and I wonder if she's caught a bug as her voice is rough and ragged as she continues. "Please, call me Maggie then."

I want to ask if Maggie's alright but I suppress the urge. "I was wondering if…" What was I wondering? If they could ever forgive me? Give me another chance? Help me find myself? Hold me and make it all better? "I wondered if I could come by sometime." I hold my breath as I await their answer.

"Come to the house?" Mom asks obviously as confused as I am at the proposition.

"Yes. Maybe spend a weekend. I mean, not right away…" I try and slow this down. Maybe moving too fast too soon isn't a good idea. "I'm going to be in Paris for a while." That's a lie. I had no plans to be in Paris at all until just about ten minutes ago but I realize I'll go gladly if they'll agree to see me. "We could maybe meet for a couple meals? Lunch…with the two of you. Or three of you when Leo gets out of school." Still nothing and I'm beginning to lose hope that things will ever be reconciled. "You know…never mind. I'm sorry I interrupted your afternoon."

"Wait!" They both shout into the phone and I pull the phone away from my ear and look at it for a moment before putting it back up against my ear.

"We're sorry…" Maggie quickly inserts.

"Yes, we'd love for you to come by. Spend the weekend or have lunch, dinner or breakfast. All three if you want." Mom quickly informs out of breath when she finishes her fast paced announcement almost afraid that I'd have hung up before she could finish. Well, I don't blame her. I've done that several times before.

I smile. An honest to god smile and I talk to them about my travel plans. I tell them I'll be flying in by the end of the week and staying for two weeks maybe longer. It really depends on how things go with them but they don't know that. They think it has to do with business and I let them believe that.

For now it's safer that way. But I have hope that things will work out. Especially as when I say my goodbyes I'm greeted with three happy exclamations of

"Happy Birthday Gabrielle…" And then the French rendition of happy birthday.

I cry through the entire song but I'm happy. I'm so very happy as I hang up the phone to promises of being in touch—and meaning it this time—that when I go to bed and wish myself one last happy birthday I won't have trouble getting up in the morning.

The End

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