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This is where I stand
By still_nina


You cry when you turn to your son and tell him to ask Olivia what she wants for dinner.

You cry when you set your alarm for seven, only to realize that you don't have to, because there's no one to wake for school.

You cry when, without the alarm, you wake up at seven anyway.

You cry as you are sitting on the floor in Olivia's room trying to feel close to her and failing.

Your son finds you, with your head against the wall in that stupidly empty room.

"Ma?" You look at him, and you see that he's worried, but you can't answer him. Your son is home and you're overjoyed. You want to hug him close and never let go. You want to take him to Disney Land as if fulfilling the dreams your son had ten years ago, would make you feel whole once more. And you can't. You can't connect, you can barely function. You look at him and your heart skips a beat, you're so happy to see him, but as soon as you put your hand on your chest, to tell your heart to calm down, you remember the heartbeat you'd rather feel beneath your fingertips. "This is ridiculous." You watch him, as he paces in front of you; the worry in his eyes is easy to see. He pulls his phone out of his pocket and instead of wondering who he's calling, you wonder where he got it from. It's not the phone he had before he went to prison and you hadn't really had time to get him new stuff. You watch him, as he stops pacing, waiting for the other person to pick up. "It's me. No, she's… I don't know. Can you just come here? Hello?" You watch as he looks at his phone for a second, before he snaps it shut. He's smiling for a second and then he looks at you. His eyes are sad, but also determined. "Do you know what she said? She asked 'Is Natalia alright?' and 'Are you alright?' and then 'What do you need me to do?' That's what she asked. Nothing else. She didn't even reply when I asked her to come here. No one has ever cared about us like that." He kneels before you and tries to dry your tears with his shirt sleeves. "I don't know what happened to the two of you, but the way you are right now? This can't go on." He sighs as the only thing you can do is cry harder and hide your face in your hands.

He stays in front of you. His hands on your knees, just holding onto you. You wonder how he turned out so well. The time he's spent in prison has not taken away the sweetness that has been your light for most of your life. You just feel like you're at the bottom of a very deep well and any light just takes forever to reach you as you shiver in the darkness. You don't know how long you sit there and maybe you fall asleep, because suddenly, she pulls you into her arms and you have no idea where she came from.

"Where's Rafe?" You're still blinking against the light in the room, but you know it's empty.

"He took Emma to see the cows. She said she has to teach him their names." It's a good answer. It's the kind of answer you wish you could hear every day. "You're scaring him, Natalia." You feel her kiss your hair. "You're scaring me."

You close your eyes again. You are scared. "I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize. Tell me what's wrong." She leans her head against yours and for a second it's the only thing you're aware of.

"I miss you. And I miss Emma." You search blindly for her hand. "I miss you." You finally find her hand and start tracing random patterns on her skin. "Whenever I think about… everything, it's all so complicated. There are so many things I can't fix, because I don't know how. So many things, I wish I would have done differently." You take a deep breath, knowing that you need to say these things if you have any hope of getting out of this hole you created for yourself. "It's all I think about, but at the end of the day… I just miss you. I wish you would come home." You take another deep breath. You feel like a runner before a race. You try to summon energy from everywhere in your body and focus it on the task ahead. And suddenly everything clicks. It feels as if you were broken, but just figured out how to put yourself back together. You just need to rebuild.

"Olivia, this isn't me anymore. I'm not the helpless leaf that gets twirled around by the wind with no control over anything. You taught me how to stand up for myself and about making a stand for something I believe in. Sometimes, I forget though. And I think I can trace every bad decision I've made recently to my fear and my inability to remember what you taught me." Your own words give you enough strength to open your eyes and sit up. You look at her. There are tears in her eyes and you're sick of seeing her in pain. It makes you sick to see her in pain. "I forgot, Olivia. I let Frank make decisions for me, when I was too confused to make them myself and I let you make decision for me, when I was too afraid to go after what I really wanted. And it caused all of us pain. I'm done with pain." Things are coming together in your head and it feels like everything is moving around you, even though you're sitting down. "I felt like I was trapped somewhere in the darkness. And I was waiting for someone to rescue me, to bring me back into the light and I knew it couldn't be you. Do you know how I know that? I know that because I know you. And I know that you think you aren't good for me, that you can't save me and that's okay." You move until you're on your knees in front of her. "I don't want to be saved, Olivia. I can rescue myself, because I've learnt to stand up for myself. I don't need anyone to guide me back into the light. I can get there on my own. The only question is how I will be received once I'm there. You are the only one who can answer that." You raise your hand and caress her cheek. "I'm making my way to you, Olivia and there's nothing you can do about that. You cannot run and you cannot send me somewhere else, because I know you want to come home and I'm telling you that you can. It's what you deserve and what I deserve and everything else, we can figure out together." You lean forward and kiss her cheek. "I've done a lifetime of crying in the last three days. I'm done."

You look at her and for the first time since the two of you have been drifting apart you're not looking for what you fear, but what you hope for. "I love you and I know that you have this idea in your head that it's not enough, but it is. Just come home."

"I want to."

"Good. Then come home."

"Okay." It's one simple word, but it means everything to you. You want to lean forward and kiss her, but you don't think you're ready for that. The hopeless romantic in you wants to have a first date and a kiss under the stars before you say goodnight. You want to take this slow and enjoy every minute of it.

"Okay. Then we should get your things back in here and we should talk to Emma and Rafe. I will tell Frank the truth." You look into her eyes and she isn't crying. Her smile lights up her whole face and you pray that you will see that smile for the rest of your life.

You stand up and look around the empty room and Olivia joins you. "I love you." Her words make you smile and you turn to her once more. "You said that you forgot how to stand up for yourself and maybe I've done the same thing." She reaches for your hand and you hold onto her. "This is where I want to be, Natalia. This is where I stand."

It is a promise and you know she will keep it. You'll doubt yourself, both of you, but will also remind each other of this moment and of this promise.

"This is where I want to be, Olivia. This is where I stand."

The End

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