DISCLAIMER: All My Children and its characters are the property of ABC. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: After reading the replies to the story I posted for the August One-Shot Challenge, I found myself thinking about Miranda's take on the situation and what it would be and the idea wouldn't die.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
In The Eyes of The Sister
-----October 21, 2029------
My foot has not stopped tapping against the hardwood floor of my kitchen since I moved in here nearly an hour ago. My eyes have hardly moved to look away from the small item that sits before me on the marble counter. It's bright green color in dark contrast with the black and white marble of the counter top and the surrounding back or egg shell colored walls that I know surround me.
My name is Miranda Mona Montgomery and I don't know what to do.
The phone sits before me untouched. My fingers itch to take it. I will myself to take it. I have been for the last hour.
So, I sit and stare at it, almost in wonder. I wonder why I am unable to just pick up the small green cellphone.
I sigh. I know why I can't pick it up.
Today is October twenty first. It is my sister Gabrielle's (Bell's) 21st birthday. So here I am. Sitting in my kitchen staring at my cellphone willing myself to pick it up, dial her number, and wish her a happy birthday.
Still, I sit and stare at the phone, frustration beginning to creep into me as my fingers begin to drum against the countertop keeping time with my foot.
It isn't right. She is my sister. I should call and wish her a happy birthday but
I angrily run my hand through my hair, ruffling my bangs with my nails, the solace of the back of my eyelashes a welcome comfort from the visage of my cellphone.
It is just a phone, but it holds with it a barrier that has been erected for years.
I admit that this barrier was not always there.
There was a time where I could easily pick up my phone and send a quick text message to my sister, to annoy, comfort, entertain, question, or greet.
Now, I can't even contemplate calling her on her birthday.
It has been a long time since then though. Gabrielle was not afraid to tell me how much she hated me during her teenage years. I guess I couldn't blame her. To her I was pulling away from her and turning to my friends or my then boyfriends.
I am four and a half years older than her. By the time she was entering high school I was already in my freshman year of college. The age gap between us has always been our biggest downfall.
I felt that I couldn't turn to my little sister with my problems because I wanted to spare her any further drama or difficulties as she went through puberty. That is solely my fault, as Mom always told me that I should confide in Gabrielle, but I never could bring myself to tell her everything I longed to.
I remember birthdays past, one in particular, where I spent the entire afternoon while Reese took Bell outdoing whatever they did togetherbaking her her favorite brownie cake. It was hard work and took me several tries to get right, but I did it.
I looked a fright but it was worth it. Bell loved itwell she loved my fourth try at it. The other three had nice little spots on the balcony for the birds.
Mom helped, as much as Mom could help.
Mom, after all, is a Kane woman, and although her culinary stills far outrank Erica's and Aunt Kendall's they certainly did and do not outrank mine. Well, then again with Maggie around forcing Mom back into the kitchen to learn, Mom's skills may be beyond my own now.
I was eleven and everything was just starting to fall apart.
That particular birthday tradition stopped on Gabrielle's fifteenth birthday. Reese was gone and Maggie was starting to play a larger role in all our lives again.
I knew that Mom and Maggie had started talking again when I was fifteen.
I smile fondly in thought of Mom and Maggie. Mary Margaret Stone, my mother's other half. The love of my mom's lifeas far as I'm concerned.
They are happy and I couldn't be more thrilled for them.
I just spoke with Maggie the other day.
I needed help understanding a specific passage in one of the required readings for class and she explained it easily to me. The conversation quickly moved from my first year med student studying to life. We easily got caught up on each other's lives. I asked about Momof courseand Leo.
Leo, for all intents and purposes is my little brother. He is Maggie's only son and is the sweetest little boy. I miss him, Mom, and Maggie terribly. I talked with both Maggie and Bianca about them spending Thanksgiving weekend here. They said they'd think about it. I hope they come.
I snicker as I recall the rest of our conversation. Maggie and Leo moved into Mom's house a year ago but apparently they had left one box packed. They just unpacked it yesterday, on the year anniversary that Leo and Maggie moved into the house, and celebrated. While I laughed and asked if they'd just lost the box somewhere and found it. Maggie commented, with Mom sitting right beside her, "Well, you know how your mother's memory is getting in her old age."
I imagined the quick slap my Mom was sure to deliver to Maggie's forearm even as she laughed. The imagined image of the two together quickly changes to a remembered scene of the two together one afternoon when I was seventeen and held a snoozing Leonardo Frances Stone to my side on the couch.
I keep my eyes closed as I picture Mom and Maggie wrapped up in each other's arms dancing through the living room, Maggie's head rested on Mom's shoulder while Mom's leans against Maggie's temple. It was spontaneous. We had all been in the living room after one of our game nights when from the softly playing speakers in the walls came a song that had apparently been Mom's and Maggie's song while they were best friends in college.
Their eyes gazed into each other's for nearly the entire song until near the end they closed and Maggie's cheek found my mom's shoulder. They swayed back and forth slowly in the living room long after the song had ended, their hands clasped tightly together. It is an image that at the time was new as I hadn't seen the two of them together like that for thirteen years. The image has stayed with me since I was merely a child and has aged as I have aged.
No longer is Mom's hair a dark chocolate brown or cut just about her shoulders. It is now littered with gray about her rootsyears of being a Kane and living in Drama Valley Maggie often jokesand a shade lighter than it once was. Her face is no longer as pristine as it once was in her twenties. There are now wisdom lines in place.
Once years ago, I witnessed from behind a corner, Maggie tracing with the pad of her finger those same wisdom lines while whispering in a breathy voice how beautiful Mom is in her 'old age'. Mom's tears that I had only just noticed stopped as she laughed and fell into Maggie's waiting arms. Maggie comforted Mom against whatever was plaguing herwhich at that time was most likely Reese's continued journeys to and from the United States.
That memory, unlike the one of Maggie and Mom dancing in the living room, was a stolen one I now share with them. It is why, after all the years of Maggie's absence and the pain she'd caused Mom after she left, I accepted her back so easily into our lives.
I was sixteen and the happy family that I had with Mom, Reese and Gabrielle was falling apart around the seams a whole lot faster now.
Mom and Reese fought nearly every time they sat down to talk. Reese didn't appreciate Maggie's role in Mom's life and Mom didn't appreciate Zach's role in Reese's life. I think, even then, Mom knew about Reese and Zach. Though, at that time Reese was still Mother and Zach was still Uncle Zach. That changed when I was eighteen and Mom finally divorced Reese.
Reese fought the divorce, I'm sure no one doubted she would. She fought Mom for everything she had that was 'theirs'. Reese fought for the house and a large portion of Mom's money. I'm sure Bell still doesn't know what her precious Mother did to Mom's name while they were in court. It didn't matter though, because Reese was the one having an adulterous relationship while still married to Mom. And as much as Reese tried to insinuate that Mom was sleeping with Maggie, she wasn't.
Mom isn't a cheater.
Maggie well, Maggie was.
Now, after nearly twenty years the trust that my mom once had with Maggie has been restored. If it hadn't been, then they wouldn't be together. I know this and sometimes I wonder what life would have been like for Bell and Ias well as Mom and Maggieif Maggie hadn't cheated on my mom.
I wonder, all the time, if Mom and Maggie would have decided to have Leo together and if they would have decided to have more children.
I remember the day that Mom sat Gabrielle and I down on the couch to tell us that she was dating Maggie. I knew, of course. You had to be blind not to see how much love there was between the two of them. Apparently, Bell should get her eyes checked, because she was blindsided by it.
So blindsided in fact that she threw a fit.
I remember staring at her, mouth open and gaping as she screamed at Mom for ruining her happy familyfor driving Reese away from us, for bringing trash into the house and into our lives. For being stupid and trusting a lying, cheating whore. (So, maybe Gabrielle's eyes weren't as shut as I thought they were to Mom's past connection with Maggie.)
Mom blinked. She didn't know what to do, and I didn't know what to do. I knew what I wanted to doslap Bell upside the head for putting the barely contained tears in Mom's eyes because she was being stupid and selfish. "I Gab she's its Maggie's not like that."
I remember watching Bell storm out of the room and run up the stairs, slam and lock her door while I turned at the sound of a strangled sob. I turned and watched Mom flee from the room, even as I tried to stop her. She apologized and ran into her room. I remember chasing after her and trying to get into the locked bathroom. She stayed in there for nearly an hour before I finally gave in to my panic and called Maggie.
I was a twenty year old woman panicking because her mother had locked herself in the bathroom and I could hear herwhat I could just tell from the fierce soundwere body wracking sobs and whispered halfhearted reassurances of fidelity and being worthy of love.
While Maggie came rushing in and ran to comfort Mom, little Leo was back at Maggie's apartment with one of her colleagues, I found out laterI went upstairs and dealt with Gabrielle.
I think, in that moment, when I literally kicked the door that connected her room to mine open was the break in our relationship. I could no longer sit back and watch as Gabrielle did everything in her power to ruin something great for Mom, me, and her, because of her rose colored glasses where her Mother was concerned.
I demanded that Gabrielle grow up. She was sixteen, she wasn't this stupid and cold hearted. She was being blind about Reese and I told her as much even as she continued to defend Reese, preached to me a laundry list of all the things Reese did for us, all that Reese was to us. Gabrielle left out all that Reese wasn't to us, all that she wasn't to Mom, all that Reese had done to cause us trouble.
I tried to tell Gabrielle that Reese had left our family years before she left this house. She didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to listen to her praise the woman that I was doing everything to try and forget. It wasn't easy.
I loved Reese. I still do and I miss her.
Reese was my Mother.
Reese was the woman that helped raise me and was kind and loving. She tended my skinned knees and held wet cloths to my head while I was sick. But she also hurt Mom. She left our home four times a year to spend two weeks in the United States. A total of two months per year where she'd work and play with my Uncle Zach.
When I found out about the affair, I remember feeling lost. Like everything that I knew was crumbling down before my eyes and I couldn't for the life of me stop it. The happy family I had for almost all my childhood was a sham.
I open my eyes and look at the cell phone in front of me once more.
I miss Gabrielle. I miss her. I miss my sister and I want to reach out to her but I can't seem to make my hand pick up the phone.
I know why she's where she is. Or at least I try and understand why she is where she is. I know how hard it is to realize your entire childhood is just one big lie. I also know that for years she fought it tooth and nail. She didn't want the curtain to fall to reveal all that she thought life was, wasn't.
I think she finally understood when Reese and Zack died that the life she was trying to preserve had been dead for much longer than she could even imagine. I was already in the United States finishing up my last year of pre-med when Reese and Zach died.
I had been accepted into the NYU medical program and I was touring the campus and surrounding areas looking for apartments with Spike. Spike already lived in New York, but in his dorm room so he was showing me around. I got the call from Mom. I could hear Gabrielle in the background hysterical. I wondered, and still do, if Mom was standing just outside Gabrielle's room or if she was holding her and talking to me at the same time.
Gabrielle was eighteen, and had been accepted to several French and English Universities as well as some major colleges here in the United States. She hadn't told me which one she had chosen to attend but I figured that she would be staying in France, she hadn't ever showed an interest in moving to the United States.
Mom asked me if I was alright through the phone line but I had already dropped the phone and had collapsed into Spike's waiting arms. I woke up in Spike's dorm room with Spike pacing back and forth before my bed and an older gentleman sitting on the bed by my side taking my vitals. It was a very disconcerting moment.
Spike and I looked to make it back to France by the time of the funeral but could not get on any plane. New York and the surrounding states had been hit with a sever snow storm and the airports were closed. We couldn't even fly out through private jet. We wanted to drive to an open airport with flights leaving but the roads were too dangerous for either of us to drive inboth being inexperienced drivers that we were.
I called Mom and Maggie while Spike called Kendall. We tried to explain to them our problem. We wanted to be there but couldn't make it out. The soonest flight over to Paris was the morning of the funeral and we wouldn't land in Paris until that evening. It was a disaster. Leave it to Reese and Zach to die during a freak snow storm leaving it almost impossible for their children to attend the service.
Spike and I flew in together on the first available plane. We practically lived at the airport or in the hotel connected to the airport. We were in Paris as soon as we could be and the moment I landed I raced into Mom's arms and broke down. I hadn't cried, not once since finding out, until I was safely tucked into Mom's arms with Maggie standing dutifully behind us watching as Kendall hugged Spike to her.
I asked immediately after calming down where Gabrielle was but she was already gone. Mom was panicked while Maggie looked disturbed. Apparently Bell and Ian had left to unknown destinations together with the promise to retake Cambias from Ryan and Emma Lavery.
I wished them luck and tried to call Bell but she didn't answer. I called her several more times. She never returned any of my calls.
I sit and stare at the phone willing myself to take it.
I do. Its weight in my hand seems foreign but I must hold this same object for at least two hours a day.
Now that I hold the phone in my grasp I wonder what I'm supposed to do with it. My fingers won't move. They just grip around the small rectangular device tighter as I stare at it. I fear I might break it if I tighten my grip any more.
"What are you doing?"
I turn on my stool to see Spike behind me. Spike and I have been living together for the last two years. Once I moved into the city we decided that living together would be better than me living alone or with a roommate I didn't even know and him in his dorm.
I've enjoyed living with him. We've always been close and the two of us together here hasn't been a problem. Except for when he tries to steal my boyfriends. Then we have problems. It's only happened once, but let me reassure you, it will not be happening again. Or else.
"What does it look like I'm doing?" I wave my cellphone around in the air so he gets the point.
"Oh, who you calling? That gorgeous piece of man meat from the clinic, perhaps! Hmm ?" Spike rushes to my side anticipating some good gossip. I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint him.
"No, I'm trying to call Gabrielle."
Spike's bright smile fades into a creased frown. "Why in the world are you calling that stick in the mud?"
I sigh he obviously forgot. "It's her birthday."
He opens his mouth in a silent 'O' as he nods his head and moves to grab an apple from the fruit basket. "So, how's that going?"
I understand why he doesn't like Gabrielle. I understand why I don't like Gabrielle, but I also understand that she is my sister and that I am always going to love and care for her. Spike at least talks to Ian. Although not as much as they used to.
"It's not." I explain as I put the cellphone back onto the countertop and wonder why.
Now it's going to take me another two hours to pick it back up!
"Here " Spike took the phone up off the counter, obviously seeing my distress, and played with it for a moment. When he hands it back to me I see Gabrielle's phone number highlighted in my contacts page. " for when you're ready. Wish the Wicked Witch a happy birthday from me too kay?" He pats me on the shoulder and leaves the kitchen, munching on the apple as he goes.
I sigh and look at the highlighted phone number.
Well I smile; this saves me from having to dial the individual numbers.
Today is October 21, 2029 and I cannot stop thinking about my sister. Today is her 21st birthday and no matter how much I want to dial her number and call her to wish her a happy Birthday I can't.
I'm just I look at the phone that now rests with Bell's contact information on the screen.
I'm not ready to take this step.
I sigh as my shoulders fall with the weight of my decision.
I stand up from the stool, my eyes still staring at the small phone, hoping that if I stare at it hard enough it'll dial the number for me and save me the trouble.
It doesn't and I turn my back on the cellphone and walk into the living room where Spike is waiting for me with open arms and a sympathetic smile.
Today is October 21, 2029. My younger sister's birthday. I want to call her. But I don't.
"Mira, Mira " Spike grumbles as he shakes my shoulder.
"What?" I open my eyes and close them to rub at them. We must have fallen asleep. I look at my wrist watch and realize it's nearly one in the morning. "Ugh don't people know that I'm a med-student?" I grumble as I sit up and extract myself from Spike's arms to stretch; while I notice him begin to rub at his own eyes and mimic my stretches.
"Why did you wake me up?" I groan as I stand up and help him when he extends his arm for me to pull.
"Your phone." He grumbles as he shuffles passed me towards his room. "Night " With his salutation he's gone and I'm left straining my eyes to hear what he obviously heard.
I hear my ringtone echoing into the living room and I spin towards the kitchen doorway. I see from the blackness of the room a softly illuminated vibrating phone buzzing on the countertop. My eyes widen as I recognize the ringtone. I rush into the kitchen and pick up the phone.
"He--hlo?" I clear my throat and try again. "Hello ?"
"Miranda ?" I feel my heart race against my chest.
"Mom what is it? Are you alright? Maggie ? Leo ?" I hold my breath as I await her answer.
"No, no, we're all fine." I sigh, thank god. "It's about your sister." My eyes widen and I turn towards the living room and away from the darkness of my kitchen. "Gabrielle."
The way she says the statement it sounds as if she'd expected me to have forgotten her name. If only she knew how I'd been thinking about her all evening.
"What's wrong with her?" Oh please don't let anything have happened to her. I feel myself begin to hyperventilate as my mind throws all the possibilities out at me. I should have called her. I should have called and wished her a happy birthday. I should have called sooner, tried harder I I
"She called tonight. She's she's going to come home."
"What?" I stutter as I shake my own thoughts from my mind and focus in on my Mom's voice.
"She's coming home." My mom repeats as if that was why I was asking for clarification.
"She's going to Paris?"
"Yes " I can hear Mom's smile through the phone. "She oh Miranda it was wonderful."
By the breathy sound to her voice I wonder what Gabrielle could have said to her with one conversation that would leave her like this.
Then again, Mom has hardly spoken with Gabrielle in the last two years. Not by her choosing of course. Mom has continued to trygod bless her for her patienceand mend fences with Bell, but Bell's refused to meet Mom halfway.
There was a time I feared Maggie was going to leave Mom because of Bell's obvious hatred for her and how strained the relationship between mother and daughter was because of her. Thank God, Mom straightened Maggie out I snicker internally. I know what I mean.
Hell, the last time I talked to Gabrielle I was yelling and screaming at her because she was threatening to close down all of the Miranda Montgomery Centers for Women throughout the world just to spite me for missing Reese's funeral. Hell, I still don't think she knows how hard I tried to be there.
So, with one conversation Mom has such hope, is relieved of all the stress regarding Gabrielle. Gabrielle is a subject we often talk about. I'm given updates on how she's doing from Spike who gets the information from Ian and I tell Mom.
It's a game of telephone that we've all almost perfected. The point is, whenever we've spoken to each other about Bell, I can hear the strain in Mom's voice, almost feel her pain over the situation.
Now now all I'm getting from her is elation and such a high hope that I swear if Bell does anything to break it, break Mom again, I'll kill her.
"Oh, Mira she asked to talk to Maggie."
I need to sit. "And ?"
"She called her Maggie, Miranda. She called her Maggie."
"I I bet Maggie cried hearing it." I chuckle at the image in my mind's eye.
"Yea, I did you smart ass." I laugh all the louder at the sound of Maggie's voice coming through the line.
Gabrielle probably thought Maggie has a cold; she's so set on Maggie having a heart of stone concerning her. If only she knew how deeply Maggie cared for Gabrielle. I shake my head.
It won't do me any good to think about how horribly Bell has treated Maggie, how often she's broken Maggie's heart and hope with her callous words and actions. It'll only infuriate me all the more, so I stop thinking about it and focus on what they are trying to tell me.
This really is good news. "So she's going home to what?"
"Well, she wants to meet up with the three of us. Talk, have dinner, lunch breakfast."
"All three, huh? She must be in a good mood." I cringe at my tone and before Mom or Maggie can reprimand me, I do it myself. "I didn't mean for that to sound as bad as it did. I'm just saying she must be in a good place." Or a better one than she has been in.
"Miranda, this is such a relief I just I don't know what I "
I hear my Mom sigh and know that Maggie's just placed her hand on Mom's shoulder to keep her from babbling on. I smile at the thought.
"It's good news. She made first contact and wants to try. It's very good news." Maggie puts it simply but the lift in her own voice is one that makes me smile all the more.
"Yes, it is. I'm happy for you all."
That's when I look down at my phone and check to see if I have any missed calls. I don't.
Gabrielle didn't call me.
"She she didn't call you did she?" Maggie knows. How does she always know?
"No no she didn't." I feel like something horribly sharp has just run me through.
I hear Mom's intake of breath and realize that I'm taking away from something that is HUGE.
"Don't worry. I'm sure she'll call me later. I mean, it is one in the morning here." I try and joke it off.
"Yeah " I hear them both say, both aware that although this is great news for them Bell's made no move to contact me or mend fences on my end.
I hang up, promising to keep them updated on everything going on in my life. They don't want to risk losing touch with one child when just getting back in touch with their other child. I understand that and I know I will call them twice a week, as I always have, and send Leo an email every day.
I really do miss that little guy. Just as much as I miss Gabrielle.
Even as I lie awake in my bed, I can't help but think that not getting a call from Gabrielle is okay. She doesn't need to have called me.
Gabrielle calling Mom and Maggie leaves me with hope.
Mom and Maggie were her first step.
Maybe I'm her second?
I'll wait patiently by the phone for my call. After all, I have hope that I'll be her next phone call. Her next step and that's enough for me.
The call I was waiting for comes a month later as I'm walking home from my rotation at the New York Miranda Montgomery Center.
Mom has kept me updated on everything that has happened and the hope that was merely a seedling and just enough to get me to sleep is now a grown shrub as Gabrielle's original two week stay stemmed to a five week stay.
I freeze as I look at the name flashing across my phone's screen.
Return to All My Children Fiction
Return to Main Page