Welcome To The Harem

Present Grief by Michelle Kiefer
Summary: Deslea's rec: "Teena Mulder is something of an enigma in fanfic. She tends to be either idealised or demonised, depending on who's writing her. This Blessing Way missing moment takes the far more interesting middle road."

Title: Present Grief
Author: Michelle Kiefer
Email: msk1024@aol.com
Episode: Blessing Way
Summary: "There is no pain so great as the
memory of joy in present grief." Aeschylus
Category: Post-ep
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Written for the Blessing Way episode challenge for
After_the_Fact. Other stories written by the list
member authors can be found at:

Thanks to dtg for beta. Visit my other stories at:
Maintained by the wonderful Jennifer

For years, I've thought about how I would feel on the day
I buried you. Long, long ago, I would have pulled the
trigger with my own hands and danced on your grave. Later
came the days when I was too numb to truly care if either
of us lived or died. Imagine my surprise to find today
that regret is the word that sums up my feelings best.

I'd thought the wounds had closed over. I have no illusions
of healing, but I hoped I'd finally developed enough scar tissue
to get through the days. But it seems only brambles and
thorns have grown up around the abandoned house that is my
heart, easily pierced by anyone with a sharp enough sword.

Looking back, I can just about see the brash young man who
stood on my doorstep with his arms full of orchids. Not once
did you entertain the idea that I would resist you. Well,
it never occurred to me either.

I suppose I loved you back then. To be honest, I can't
remember why. Maybe you were warm then, gentle and funny.
Maybe it just seemed like a good time to fall in love.
One never even considered the idea of not marrying, not
having children. No, back then, we did all the right things
in the proper order.

And I think we were happy in those early days. I seem to
remember laughing and scandalously making love on the sofa
in the broad daylight of a Saturday afternoon, wondering
what my mother would think of that.

Then there were the days of formula and playpens, the
sweet smell and warm weight of a baby in my arms. I
think those were my happiest moments: rocking my baby
boy to sleep, watching him toddle to the door
when you came home from work.

And if you came home less frequently, I didn't mind. I
had plenty to keep me occupied. The children had few
expectations and I could fulfill them all. Hot food,
clean clothes, a bath before bedtime--nothing I couldn't

After a while, I was actually happier when you were away.
It had become a strain, trying to keep the children quiet
and out of your way as you puffed away on cigarettes in that
study of yours. The men that you'd bring home frightened me,
no matter how charming and polite they might have been.

One man in particular was dangerous, his voice hypnotic as we
talked late into the evening after you had passed out from
too much scotch. How easy it must have been for him--a little
conversation, a few compliments, a firm hand on skin left
untouched for too long.

I didn't hate you then. I felt polite indifference, perhaps,
but not hatred. No, that came later when you asked me that
bitter, evil question. Which one? Which child? What part
of my heart could I part with? God damn you to hell, Bill.

And so you made the choice instead and my child was gone. Nothing
left but the little bits and pieces of a little girl's life:
a Brownie uniform, a Barbie doll, a hair ribbon. The days
were blurry with grief after that.

I found a picture last night as I sorted out your papers, some
sort of basketball team photo. Fox appeared to be fourteen or
fifteen in it, all elbows and knees and unruly hair. He knelt
in his green and white uniform, a basketball balanced on his

I realized as I gazed down at my son, that I can't recall
Fox ever playing basketball. I vaguely remember pulling the
shirt out of the washing machine, the wet polyester heavy and
slick in my hands. But I don't remember the games or the practices
or ever seeing Fox in the uniform. Where was I? Those years
seem hazy, as if I'm viewing them through a filter. It appears
that there is more than enough blame to go around.

And I can't even tell Fox how sorry I am not to remember, to
ask him how he got to the games, what he ate for dinner when
he got back from practice. Is he dead? The FBI says that he
most likely died in New Mexico. But today, I met a remarkable
young woman who seems to think he's alive.

Has she been a good friend to my son? She seemed earnest with her
pale face and bright hair. She seemed so positive that he would
be found alive, so sure as she walked beside me. You might think
that his mother would know if he was alive or dead, but my heart
has atrophied and I feel nothing. Nothing but regret.