Silent Uprising

Allen watched the news with keen interest. Connor and Finian were sitting on the floor, playing. He’d done this for them. He knew that change would come too late to prevent them from losing Connor. However, he hoped that the change would open up opportunities for both of his sons that they might not have in the world they currently called home.

Maeve came in and sat beside him on the bed. “This your doing?” she asked, nodding at the news story. All over the city, quiet resistance was stirring. One by one, people were refusing to bow to the oppression under which they’d all lived for so long.

Giving her a wan smile, Allen shrugged. “Not mine alone,” he said. “I only played a small part, Maeve.”

Frowning, Maeve shook her head. “You need to take better care of yourself, Allen,” she said. “Your condition is so delicate right now.”

“I need to help anyway I can,” Allen countered shaking his head. He sighed and shook his head. “I’m trying to make a better world for our boys, Maeve.”

“What use is a better world if they lose their father in the process?” Maeve said. Then, she shook her head and headed back out of the room.

Allen looked down at Finian and Connor. Connor was sucking his thumb and Finian was scowling at them. “People who love each other can still disagree,” he said. “It doesn’t change the way they feel towards each other.”

Finian nodded and went back to his game. Connor stared a moment longer before doing the same.

Something She Won’t Forget

Maeve read the letter over again, just to be sure she hadn’t read it wrong the first time. Now, after all these years, the Agency was going to honor her husband for his service in overthrowing the occupying forces.

She’d known that his work had been important, not just to him, but to everyone. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been willing to risk so much to do what he had done. It was something that had stayed with her long after his death. Now, with both of their sons following in his footsteps, the Agency was ready to honor his sacrifice.

A faint smile touched her lips and she sat down to write a reply letter. Wild horses couldn’t keep her way from the ceremony. Soon, everyone would know the sort of man Allen Pemberton Sweetin had been – something she would never forget.

Promises in the Early Morning Light

Finian scampered along beside Da, clinging to one hand. He was enjoying the music from the performers on the side of the street. It made him want to dance.

Da chuckled softly and glanced back. “Connor,” he called, “Do you want to stop and enjoy the music?”

Finian spun to face his brother. Giggling, he released Da’s hand and ran to his brother. Connor smiled faintly, hugging his stuffed bear a bit closer. He nodded at Da. “Is it all right?” he asked, his voice soft.

“Of course,” Da said. He smiled and made his way over to a market stall. While the children played, he’d get their groceries.

Finian released Connor’s hands and spun away, still giggling. Connor swayed to the music, twirling with his bear, like it was a dance partner. Finian danced around them in circles. When the music stopped, he bounced over and took Connor’s hand.

“That was fun,” he chirped.

Connor nodded and hugged his bear close once more. He gave Finian a shy smile and then bounced over to Da, dragging Finian behind him.

Ezra woke and blinked rapidly. He wiped at his eyes and frowned. It had been years since he’d thought of Connor. Where was his brother now? Was he safe and well? Had he died? Tears filled his eyes and Ezra grabbed a somewhat oversized stuffed bear from the little chair beside his bed. Hugging it, he choked back a sob. Somehow, somewhere, he would find his brother.

The Real Reason

Prompt: nourish you own ruthlessness

Finian frowned as he watched the man leave. He was carrying Connor. He looked at his parents and watched them. Momma looked the same as always. Da was crying.

“Da,” Finian called. He bounded down the steps and grabbed his father’s hand. “Da, where’s Connor going?”

“Away,” Da said, his voice cracking.

Tilting his head to one side, Finian said, “When’s he coming home?” Da started crying harder.

“That’s not helping, Allan,” Momma whispered.

“Sorry, Maeve,” Da said. He hiccupped and wiped at his eyes. “I… can’t, Maeve. I just – I can’t!”

Momma sighed and knelt down in front of him. “Finny,” she said. “Connor’s not coming back. He’s going to live with a new mommy and daddy.”

Finian frowned. Was this why they were arguing so often now? “Why’d you pick me?” Finian murmured.

“Because you’re always such a – a good boy,” Momma said.

Biting his lip, Finian stiffened. Momma was lying. He didn’t know why, but he knew she was lying. Connor was the quieter of the two of them. She’d kept him for a different reason. He couldn’t argue though, not without knowing why Momma had lied.

“All right,” he said, his voice faint.

Except When It Doesn’t

Prompt: The Cold Only Kills

Finian was crouching on the ground, watching the ants. They were always busy. “What are they doing, Da?” he said, looking up.

“Getting ready for the winter,” Da said, crouching down beside him. “They’ll fill their tunnels with food, so they won’t have to come out until the weather is warm.”

“Momma said they die in the cold,” Finian said, frowning.

Da smoothed his hair. “They seem dead,” he said. “Really, though, they’re just sleeping.”

“The cold doesn’t kill them?” Finian said.

Shrugging Da said, “Some die of it, but most of them snuggle up together and sleep.”

Momma called them, then, her tone vaguely scolding. As Da stood, Finian bounced to his feet. “Buh-bye, little ants. Sleep tight.”

He scampered up and caught Da by the hand. For some reason, he liked to hear that Momma was wrong. The cold didn’t only kill. Sometimes, things hid under the ground to wait for the cold to go away.

Watching and Wondering

Prompt: I wished for eyes that could see into a man’s heart

Finian frowned slightly as he watched his parents. He was sure they didn’t know he was watching. If they knew, Momma wouldn’t be yelling at Da. If they knew he was watching, Da wouldn’t be crying.

After a while, Momma stormed off. She was going to the market. Finian waited until the door slammed. Then, he made his way down the steps. “Da?” he said, tilting his head to one side.

Da looked up at him with wide, glistening eyes. “Finny,” he said. He forced a smile onto his face. Finian could tell it was forced, because he was still crying. “What’s wrong?”

“Why are you crying?” he said. He stepped over and took Da’s hand. “Did Momma hurt you?”

“No,” Da said, wiping his face. He sighed and shook his head. “She didn’t hurt me. We just had an argument and I don’t like arguing with your Momma. I’m sorry we upset you.”

Finian nodded. “I don’t like it either,” he said. He wished he could understand why Momma would get angry with Da. How could two people who loved each other so much, seem to hate each other at the same time?

Author’s note: I realized after I’d written this that Maeve comes off as abusive. She’s not physically abusive and was never more than very controlling of Ezra. Allan is just very sensitive – he means just what he says here: he’s crying because he doesn’t like arguing with his wife. It breaks his heart that they can’t come to some sort of compromise on this subject (just what… hopefully, I can reveal later). This story was partially inspired by “The Only Exception” by Paramore.

Remembrance

Prompt: don’t think your life didn’t matter

Finian looked up at the framed painting with wide eyes. He’d never seen anything like it before. It was strange and, somehow, wonderful. “Da,” he called in the sort of whisper that only a five year old could manage. “What’s it s’pposed ta be?”

His father smiled and looked at the card beside it. “Step back a bit,” he said, crouching beside Finian. He pointed and said, “Imagine this black bar as the railing of a ship. What do you see now?”

“It’s a sunrise!” Finian said, a hint of awe in his tone. “There’s the water and an island!” He looked up at his father. “Da! Could I paint like that some day?”

“Finny,” his father said, “you can do anything you set your mind to.”

“Ezra.”

Ezra startled out of his memories and smiled faintly at Morgan. “Sorry,” he said. “I was just remembering the first time I saw this piece. I was with my father.”

Morgan smiled and took his hand. “It had a big impact on your life, didn’t he?” she said.

Nodding, Ezra said, “He… still inspires me.” A faint smile touched his lips and he said, “I imagine, sometimes, looking down on me and… I think, he’d be pleased with the path I’m on now.” Chuckling, he drew her back and pointed out the railing of the ship on which he had sailed into the world of his own imagination.

A couple author’s notes: Just to remind you, Ezra was called Finian as a child.
Also, the painting used in this story was “inspired” by one at the Empire State Plaza. If you enter the concourse level from Madison Avenue, it’s on the back wall, on the right side, of that first room.