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Whispers and Ashes: III. For It All
By Whedonist


Nancy Delaney

"I'm pissed at you. Angry and disappointed, Daddy, and I shouldn't be 'cause you're dead. I've been cussin' at you somethin' fierce for the past week, but we shouldn't speak ill of the dead..." Nancy stopped the agitated tugging of the weeds around the headstone. Blinking, she tried to clear her vision through the tears. "I...you and God'll just have to forgive me for this one."

She shifted slightly, adjusting the weight of her body resting on her calves. Her knee protested under the weight, but she ignored the discomfort. There were more pressing matters to discuss as she sat at her husband's grave. The inhalation of the cold morning air caused a shudder to pass through her as she ignored the tears that snaked down her cheeks.

"Your daughter finally told me. She told me about Nikki, about why she got so distant, about the talk you two had when she was fresh out of the academy. The promises that you shouldn't have made her promise, but you did anyhow that took her away from me." The tissue balled in her fist, the skin of her knuckles turned white as it stretched over the bone.

"Patrick told me too..." she choked on the next words as they caught in her throat, "...that 'falling out' you two had when he was seventeen...how could you? He's your son." She stopped then, trying to find the words to move forward.

She couldn't find them though. There was so much mess to sort through and she didn't know where to start. The revelations her eldest son and only daughter provided a week ago still sat heavy on her chest. She couldn't decide where to start on the mass that'd been given form.

It had lived there for years. It started small, when Patrick shipped out for the Marines, doubled after Nora started to drift away, and metastasized year after year as two of her children cut her out of their lives. She always wondered what it was and what grievous error she made as a parent for her children to shut her out the way that they did.

She reasoned over the years that they were just private that way. Just independent and introverted. But to find out that it was done for a reason...reasons. They said protection...protection from what she wanted to ask, but the wound they'd tore into her chest stopped her from asking. Instead she'd focused on the multitude of lies they'd told her, lies repeated like gospel at Sunday Mass. She'd foolishly believed them.

"Should I have known?" Nancy's thoughts find voice and are carried along the wind. She hopes they go from her lips to her dead husband's or even God's ears. She doubts it though. "I should have. Should have known it somehow." Her lips press together as she bows her head. "I should have been able to put it together, at least with Nora. A good mother would have."

Nancy couldn't really speak to Patrick, but Nora, her "friendship" with Ann, her total disregard for the nice young men Nancy had tried to set her up with, and Dan's advances. She just thought her daughter was funny that way. "Funny," she ground out bitterly. The tightness across her chased ached.

"If I'd have known..." Nancy trailed off and sighed, "Well, I'm not sure what I would've done. It's not something I've had any exposure to. You know, T.V. a little and then Father Corbet has said a few things, Phillip, but what do I do about it now?" She waited, tracing the engraving of his name on the marble, and half expecting an answer. Her mouth worked itself open and she whispered, "I just can't understand why they'd choose this? Where'd we go wrong?"

To Be Continued

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