DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of these characters. I do this only for my sanity.
AN1: L challenged me to write one of *my* stories using the lyrics at the end of this story as a prompt and I challenged myself to try something different, this is the result.
AN2: Before I worked on this idea I had to finish reading a wonderful book by Ann Patchett, The Magician's Assistant… kudos to anybody who recognizes (though it's probably obvious) the spoiler for that in here.
THANKS: Ann for the quick read through; it meant a lot.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
DEDICATED: Especially for L.

Ribbons Undone
By Debbie


Red hair blowing freely in the ocean breeze, you watch the two young women frolicking in the water's edge, happy and carefree.

You remember a time when nothing could have been further from the truth.

She hated you, or that's what you thought, and then, then the unimaginable happened. She came to you; one night after one of your many shouting matches, full of remorse, full of words; words that even now wash over you. All you could see were the dark, almost ebony eyes, full of hurt, full of her past.

Her words scalded you in their intensity, and yet, now, months later, you couldn't repeat a word she uttered. Her youth, full of pain; her teenage years, full of death; her twenties, full of loneliness; all there, all laid bare to your ears. You wondered then, as you wonder now, where her childhood went. And then you see it; it's right here, right now, here with you.

Here because you listened and didn't judge. How could you? You were no saint yourself. You heard her beg for forgiveness and you told her, no forgiveness, life is life, there's no need to look back. Never doubt.

She asked if there was a murder gene and you hugged her close. There wasn't much else you could offer, your words would only fall on deaf ears, and so you gave the best thing you had, your understanding and nothing more.

Later, much later, when she was there for you and your daughter, you told her of your own murderous genes, and how, if she wanted, she could help you prove they weren't hereditary. Ever.

And she did, taking your daughter under her nurturing wing. Talents previously hidden to you: patience, understanding, love, caring, all given without thought, to your flesh and blood, and your daughter accepted her with such easy grace you wondered just why you'd resisted her charms for so long.

You watched from a distance as she blossomed, as they both blossomed, within their easy friendship. You watched, as you watch them now, fall in love with each other; watched as she became the mother she had never had to your daughter. You weren't jealous, why should you be, in the safety of her love, your daughter fell in love with you once more; her Mom.

And you, you fell in love, the other sort of love, with her. Just like that, easy as shelling peas from a pod, you found an all consuming love for her.

And she, she fell in love with you, you hope.

The angst ridden young woman of your first years together, surprised you, often. When you least expected it, she'd appear with arms full of flowers, just for you, and you'd join your two girls in whatever they were doing that day.

Sometimes, she'd arrive on your doorstep, and take just you out into the desert, out to Lake Mead , and she'd grasp your hand and give thanks. Sometimes, you'd turn to her, and say the thanks were all yours. Mostly, you'd just sit, together, in silence but not silence, saying all the things your words could not.

Once, you were so deep in thought, she pulled an egg from your ear. Cool and smooth, she applied just enough pressure that you felt it push out from deep within. Just like magic, something so miraculous, from her to you. You shivered and she laughed, a sound so pure and so happy, you knew. Knew you'd do anything for the woman she had become.

You see them turn, one dark, one fair, to wave carelessly towards you. You see your daughter run off into the distance, galloping through the surf towards some friends and you remember.

Your daughter, a child damaged, just like her, by the death of a father, is growing up. Growing up so fast it scares you, and you know, you can see it in her eyes, the battle is only now beginning. Hurtful words thrown by kids in the heat of a moment usually flow right past her, helped by the knowledge another understands the pain, but sometimes, sometimes they cut deep.

And your child comes home, full of tears, crying that it's all too much, that she doesn't want to grow up, not tonight, not ever, and you hurt and you cry too. But she, she throws her arms around your daughter, around you, and whispers the words that make it all seem so much better. She tells your daughter she's a thoroughbred among a world of rogues, and your daughter laughs.

With her help, your daughter will have her time; it is her right, it is her due.

A shiver runs through you as you feel a soft thump to the side of you. You turn and she smiles; her eyes shine with the wonder of all that is unfolding and all you can do is smile back. She lifts a hand to your cheek and rubs her thumb gently to and fro. You press your cheek hard into the soft caress, surprised when you see a drop of moisture on her thumb. Not sure when the tears began to fall, you hope your gaze tells her it's a tear of happiness.

Her eyes darken with her love for you and you know she understands. She leans in and her lips touch yours for the first time; like the egg from your ear, it is magic, it is right.

A voice calls in the distance and you both turn to see your daughter beckoning her back. You chuckle and she touches your lips with feather soft finger-tips. She nods as you tell her to go, be free. You hear her laughter wafting on the breeze all the way back to the shoreline, to the waves that never stop.

So, you sit and you watch, as they run, through the ebb and flow of the tide, through the cool spring breeze, and you smile. It is their time, it is your time. Your girls, rising from a shell, a life ahead, a new beginning, and you'll watch and you'll wonder, and you'll love.


Ribbons Undone By Tori Amos

She's a girl
Rising from a shell
Running to spring
It is her time it is her time
Watch her run with ribbons undone

She's a rose in a lily's cloak
She can hide her charms
It is her right there will be time
To chase the sun with ribbons undone

She runs like a fire does
Just picking up daises
Comes in for a landing
A pure flash of lightening
Past alice blue blossoms
You follow her laughter
And then she'll surprise you
Arms filled with lavender

Yes my little pony is growing up fast
She corrects me and says
"You mean a thoroughbred"
A look in her eyes says the battle's beginning
From school she comes home and cries
I don't want to grow up Mom at least not tonight

You're a girl
Rising from a shell
Running through spring
With summer's hand in reach now
It is your time
It is your time
So just run with ribbons undone
It is your time yes my angel
It is your time
So just run with ribbons undone

Run run darlin'
Ribbons undone

The End

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