The Other Side of the Mirror - part 1 (PG)

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The Other Side of the Mirror - part 1 (PG)

Postby Shadow » Sat Jan 24, 2009 9:18 am

Disclaimer: Moonlight is not mine and no copyright infringement is intended.

This story is meant to follow "Rose and Thorn", and is a sequel of sorts. But it ought to stand alone as well, if anyone wants to start here. It takes place in between "The Mortal Cure" and "Fated to Pretend."

You’ve lived with loss for most of your life, and you thought you’d come to terms with it; you knew joy and laughter with your husband, and when you were with him your pain stayed buried in the past. But now your husband is gone and you’re all alone, and the memories of loss are shadows blocking out the sun. Your world has changed, and the pain isn’t buried any more; the memories haunt you night and day, and how are you ever going to move beyond them?

Part one

The hospital corridor was bright, far too bright, and Rose’s footsteps echoed through the empty hall as she passed the familiar rooms. Her white hair was pulled back in a rough ponytail, her clothes were rumpled, and she was tired, so very tired. The lone nurse at the station glanced up wearily and nodded to Rose as she passed, then returned to her paperwork. Rose opened the door to Room 503 and stepped inside, letting the door fall shut behind her. She crossed the room, sat beside the bed, and took Richard’s hand in hers. Her husband slept peacefully, and she was grateful; the pain at least was gone. They both knew it was hopeless this time, but he’d still wanted the hospital, to try another treatment. If it had been Rose, being taken by the cancer, she would have wanted to die in her own home. She was glad that Richard was at peace here. She was not. She hoped he wouldn’t feel her agitation. Hospitals. I hate them.

Rose lay curled on her side in the hospital bed, her arms wrapped around her body, tears leaking down her face and into the long dark waves of her hair. It hurts so much. This can’t be right. Her body shook with her sobs. She’d lost Sam, she’d lost Mick, she’d lost everyone, and there had been no one left to help her through this. She moved one hand to touch the necklace at her throat, the little gold bird, wings outspread, dangling from its fine chain. “You were wrong,” she said. “Mick, you were wrong!” She yanked the chain hard, breaking it, and threw it across the room. Then she cried out in horror and rolled off the bed to the floor, searching for it frantically. She couldn’t lose the necklace, she couldn’t. She was almost blind from the tears but she found it at last, lodged halfway under the closet door, and she pulled it free with trembling hands. She held it close and leaned against the door, shaking. Some nurse would come into the room soon, no doubt, to fuss over her and help her back to bed, but for now she could be alone, and she could mourn. Mick, I needed you. Why didn’t you ever come back?

She sat in the uncomfortable chair at the police detective’s desk, her purse clutched in her lap, and tried desperately to stay calm. The detective looked through his notes, sighed, and shook his head. “I’m afraid there’s nothing to go on, miss, and I’m not sure I understand this concern about your brother. A man and his wife on their honeymoon – well, it’s not at all unusual for a couple to stay out of touch at a time like this, or to take a longer honeymoon than they’d planned.” Rose tightened her grip on her purse, frustrated, angry, and very frightened. The detective smiled at her benignly, folding his hands on his desk, and she said, “But he would have contacted me, told me he’d be late coming home. Something’s happened to him. I know it has.” But the detective wouldn’t meet her gaze, wouldn’t take her seriously. Would anyone? What else could she try?

The hotel was elegant and ornate. Rose inquired at the front desk, and learned that Mick and Coraline St. John had indeed checked in on their wedding night. “They checked out the next morning,” the clerk said, but no one seemed to remember seeing them leave, and no one knew where they had gone. Rose went to the room where they had stayed and stood for a long time in the doorway, looking in, picturing Mick, so handsome in his best suit, Coraline a dark beauty in her white wedding gown. Mick would have carried her across the threshold, Rose was sure. They would have kissed each other here – Rose walked into the room – and then fallen into the bed. Rose sat on the edge of the bed and touched the quilt. Was this the same quilt that Mick had touched? Was this the same pillow he had rested his head on, the last night anyone had seen him alive? Rose lay down on the bed, pulling the pillow close to her heart, and heard a soft exclamation. She sat up abruptly to find a maid in the room, a girl near her own age carrying a basket of cleaning supplies. “I’m so sorry, miss,” the girl said. “I didn’t know anyone was booked in the room this morning.” The maid turned to scurry away, but Rose called after her, to find out if she regularly cleaned this room. “Yes, miss, the days I’m on duty,” the girl said doubtfully, and when Rose asked about the night Mick had stayed there, her eyes widened. “I shouldn’t ought to tell you,” the girl whispered, “but it was ever so strange. I came in to clean and the table was knocked over, the phone was on the floor. And there was blood, miss, on the pillow and the sheet.” Rose stumbled back to the bed, fell against it, and stared at the linens in shock. Blood, in Mick’s bed . . . .

Rose lay still in her bed for a moment longer, then threw off her blankets. If only she could throw off these memories as easily; they never left her, any more, and she didn’t know how much longer she could bear them. She pushed her hands through her white hair. Her hair had come down from its braid in the night, and it hung loose around her shoulders. She’d always kept it long, because Richard had liked it that way. Because Mick had always said that her long hair was pretty. Because . . .

She drove that last thought away, and the last memory washed over her instead. The hotel room, the little maid, the blood on the pillow and the sheet. Rose had nearly fainted, before the girl had anxiously explained that there hadn’t been all that much blood. But something had happened; something terrible had happened that night. Rose was sure of it. If they checked out of the hotel, why did no one remember seeing them go? Rose had wondered, all these years, if Mick had died that very night.

She put her hands back to her head. She had lost Richard almost a year ago. She was still grieving for him and she had expected that; she’d been as prepared for it as anyone could be. But she had not expected that all of her old losses would surge back into her mind as well, just as sharp and as strong as they had been so long ago. The letter about Sam. Mick’s disappearance, without a trace or a word. The terrible night in the hospital, when she’d found herself so utterly alone. The pain was so strong today that Rose longed to bury it in alcohol and pills, just as she’d done in the first days after Richard’s death. But she must not. She had students to teach today, and – oh God – that interview she’d scheduled. Why on earth had she agreed to do it? How could she possibly get through it, the way she felt today? How would she even manage to teach her students? Little Sophie was first today, and she was always the most difficult challenge for Rose. Then Grace, and Evan, and Tucker. Two boys today, thankfully; boys were always easier. Rose pushed her hair back and wiped her eyes. The children would have been practicing all week, she knew, and they were counting on her to be there for them. She pulled herself painfully out of bed.

So much for boys being easier. How had Tucker Bennett managed to discover jazz this week, of all weeks? Why was any fifteen-year-old boy, these days, interested in jazz at all? Tucker was generally obsessed with music from anime soundtracks. But he’d gone to visit his grandfather over the weekend, and had discovered his grandfather’s collection of old records. He’d spent half of his class time today talking excitedly about Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington, and all Rose could think of was how Mick had talked about the same performers when he was a teenager, how Mick had always had to be home by seven-thirty on Sunday nights so he could catch the radio broadcast of swing and jazz from the casino. All the teenagers had liked jazz back then; it was the music of the day, but Mick had loved it with uncommon passion. Rose glanced involuntarily at the closet where she still kept the things she'd salvaged from Mick’s apartment, so very long ago. His old 78’s. His sheet music. His guitar.

Tucker was now playing the Haydn piece she’d assigned him last week, and his new obsession with jazz had obviously not hampered his classical practice. Rose was impressed; she had never heard him play better. She sat on the piano bench beside him, watching his quick hands, his intent face. He even looks a little like Mick did, when he was fifteen. Tucker was lithe and graceful like Mick had been, but his hair, long in front, tended to fall in his eyes so often that Rose sometimes wondered how he managed to read the music.

She ought to assign him a jazz piece for next week. Rose taught classical piano, but she always tried to keep the children’s interest by teaching them to play the music they personally loved as well. She’d invested in sheet music from artists she was appalled by; surely she could manage to cope with a little jazz. But she couldn’t do it. Not today. When Tucker’s hour was up she told him to keep working on the Haydn piece, and she saw a quick flash of disappointment cross his face. She sighed. She should have at least given him a new classical piece to work on, but it would do him no harm to keep practicing the Haydn, and next week she’d find him something new.

She walked him to the door and watched him go, all boyish energy as he ran down the sidewalk. His brother had gotten out of the car while they waited, and he and Tucker had a brief wrestling match before tumbling into their harassed mother’s car. The mother waved at Rose as she drove off, and Rose waved back. Another car pulled into the space in front of the house, and Rose nervously looked at her watch, though she knew perfectly well what time it was. She wasn’t at all sure she was doing the right thing, letting this reporter interview her, but it was too late to change her mind now. She’d made the appointment, and the reporter was here. The young woman got out of her car, closed the door, and hesitated for a moment before starting up the walk.

Rose scrutinized her as she approached. This was definitely Beth Turner; she looked just like her photographs. She was a petite blond girl with a good figure and the youthful beauty that was apparently a requirement, these days, for any reporter working in visual media. Rose had researched Beth Turner carefully, looking up her old Internet reports and calling the Buzzwire office to make sure that she still worked there. Buzzwire: it sounded sleazy, and it was, really. Most of the stories tended toward celebrity gossip. But Turner’s stories were better than the rest, and Rose had stopped looking into the past, and had made her decision, when she’d seen Turner’s report on the Franklin Hotel fire. Not the one about the sensational murder, but the one about all the people who’d watched the hotel burn that night, the story about what the old building had meant to each of them. The Franklin Hotel had meant a lot to Rose.

“Hi,” the young woman said, holding out her hand. “I’m Beth. Beth Turner. You must be Mrs. Delaney?”

“Yes.” Rose shook her hand. “But please call me Rose.”

“Of course. And call me Beth.”

“Won’t you come in?”

Rose led Beth into the front room and showed her to a seat near the piano. “Would you like coffee?” she asked. “Or tea?”

“Either, thank you. Whatever you’re having.”

“Tea, then.”

Rose retreated to the kitchen and stood still for a moment, leaning against the counter. Why had she agreed to do this? I’m doing a story on women who lived in Los Angeles during the Second World War, and how the war impacted their lives, the reporter had said when she’d called. Your friend Sally Albright gave me your name, and I’d so much like to talk to you. Sally Albright had been interviewed by Beth Turner and had thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Rose was not at all sure that she would.

Rose collected herself, made tea, and carried it out on a tray. When she returned to the front room the reporter was standing in the corner beyond the piano, at the wall where Rose kept some of her old framed photographs. Beth was staring at the picture of Mick, Sam, and Rose all together, the one taken just before Mick was sent to England. The last picture of the three of us together. A little stiffly, Rose set the tray on the coffee table, and Beth, hearing the clink of the tray, started and turned to face her.

“Oh. I’m sorry,” Beth said, and her face was no longer the simple beautiful icon that she presented in her reports. There was something else there that Rose warmed to: yearning, loss, and love. What had she seen in Rose’s old photos that had brought this out? “I’m afraid I couldn’t resist looking,” Beth went on apologetically. “Is this you, in the picture?” She pointed at the image of twelve-year-old Rosie.

“Yes, that’s me.”

“And are these your brothers?”

“Yes. Mick, and Sam. Mick’s the one in uniform. Sam got inducted the next week. They both fought in the war.”

“That must have been so hard for you,” Beth said softly.

Hard didn’t even begin to cover it. Rose turned to pour the tea, and Beth sat back down in her chair to accept the cup. Rose took a sip – chamomile, in the hope that she’d stay calm – and said, “I’m afraid I’ve never been interviewed before, and I’m a little nervous. Do you take notes, or use a video camera?” Rose hadn’t seen a camera, but Beth carried a large handbag, and there might be one within it. Rose had not thought to ask Sally about the details.

Beth pulled a tiny device out of her bag. “Just a tape recorder, for now. If that’s all right?”

“I suppose so.”

Beth turned on the little machine and set it on the table by the tea tray. Her hand was trembling, just a little. Was she nervous too? Surely not, after all the interviews she’d done. But she certainly looked nervous.

“Where do I start?” Rose asked.

“Well. You’ve probably been asked this question a million times, but it’s a good place to begin. Do you remember what you were doing when you heard about Pearl Harbor?”

“Oh yes. I was with my family. We were at the Franklin Hotel, having brunch. We always went there after church on Sundays.”

“At the hotel,” Beth whispered, and a strange look crossed her face. Was she thinking of the story she’d done about the fire?

Rose said, “I saw your piece on the hotel fire last year, by the way. The story was very well done. It’s still hard to believe that the hotel is gone. It was a big part of my life, once.”

Beth looked down. “It was a terrible night,” she said quietly. She seemed to look inward for a moment, as if in memory, and then she turned back to Rose. “You were with your family? Would you tell me about them?”

“Well, my father owned a grocery store, and my mother gave music lessons. A family tradition, I suppose. She played violin. Sam worked at my father’s store, and Mick was working as an orderly. He was interested in medicine, then.”

Beth looked up, her expression intrigued. “An orderly? He was working in a hospital?”

“Yes, he was.”

“How old were you then?”


“And your brothers? It looks like they were a lot older than you.”

“Yes. Mick was nineteen, and Sam was twenty-five.”

“What did you first think, when you heard about Pearl Harbor?”

“I didn’t understand it right away. Everyone else was shocked and horrified, and that scared me, but I didn’t realize till later what it meant for Mick and Sam.”

“Nineteen and twenty-five,” Beth said softly.


“What was it like for you, when they left for the war?”

“It was lonely. Frightening. But it was exciting too. I was proud of them, of what they were doing. I knew it was dangerous, but I don’t think I really believed that anything could happen to them. I wrote letters every week, and they wrote back when they could, and I bragged about them to my friends at school. Then we got the letter. The one that said that Sam had been killed.”

Rose remembered that day as if it had been yesterday. She’d opened the door to find a uniformed man on the front step, holding a letter in his hand. He’d very formally asked her to fetch her mother or father. She’d gone for her mother, and Rose would never forget the look on her mother’s face when she’d seen the messenger. Rose hadn’t realized, until later, that the only question in her mother’s mind had been which one of my sons has died?

Rose shook her head. “It was so strange. We’d always been so much more frightened for Mick. He was a combat medic, with the troops on the front lines. It was a terribly dangerous position. Sam was a quartermaster, working behind the lines. We thought he’d be safe. But it was Sam who didn’t come home.”

Beth was looking out the window, her gaze very far away. “You must have been terrified for Mick, after that.”

“I was. I really thought I was going to lose him too. And it was a close thing. Mick was nearly killed in Italy, in a mortar attack, and when he recovered he got caught in the Battle of the Bulge.” The assignment in the Ardennes was supposed to have been quiet, safe, a place for Mick’s battered company to rest and recuperate. It had turned out to be the most dangerous place he could have been. Rose still had the letter Mick had sent from the Ardennes, so dark and so haunted that it had broken her heart to read it. I have never imagined anything so cold and the men are dying of exposure faster than they are from combat. Our supplies and medicines have run out. David Samuels has lost a foot to frostbite, and I don’t think he will ever forgive me. I remember the California sun and our days at the beach and all of it seems a far off dream.

“But he did come home,” Beth said intently.

“Yes. He did.”

“What was that like?”

“Oh, it was amazing. There was something terrible about it as well, because Sam wasn’t coming home – but when I saw Mick step off the train it was like the world was suddenly right again.” Rose closed her eyes, remembering how Mick had swept her up in his arms, how he’d held her, calling her name over and over again. She’d wept from the joy; Mick was home now, he was safe, and she could let go of her fears at last. She would never have to be afraid for him again, and all would be well, forever.

Rose smiled, lost in the memory, but then her smile faded. Because forever hadn’t lasted very long.

Last edited by Shadow on Tue Apr 28, 2009 4:30 am, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: The Other Side of the Mirror - part 1

Postby wpgrace » Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:16 am

Oh Shadow, this is lovely to see!

And what surreptitious fun it is "seeing" Beth interview Rose... and knowing what Beth knows. Each new revelation from Rose is thus new for us too... but Rose is in for quite a shock at some point, I'm guessing...

And where is Mick during all this?
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Re: The Other Side of the Mirror - part 1

Postby coco » Sat Jan 24, 2009 2:07 pm

Excellent continuation Shadow :D
Looking forward to more of this :)
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Re: The Other Side of the Mirror - part 1

Postby LynetteC » Sun Jan 25, 2009 12:01 am

How wonderful!

I could feel Rose's emotions, her loneliness and her despair over losing her brothers - first Sam and then Mick. It brought tears to my eyes - and I'm not normally one for crying!

How will she react when Mick finally reappears? Will she be relieved to see him, or angry that he never came back to her?

Please update soon.

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Re: The Other Side of the Mirror - part 1

Postby lila » Sun Jan 25, 2009 12:26 am

Shadow, what an extraordinary way of continuing! Rose's emotions are raw, even after all that time, and the hints of Beth's expressions take us back to each episode in turn.
Rose still had the letter Mick had sent from the Ardennes, so dark and so haunted that it had broken her heart to read it. I have never imagined anything so cold and the men are dying of exposure faster than they are from combat. Our supplies and medicines have run out. David Samuels has lost a foot to frostbite, and I don’t think he will ever forgive me. I remember the California sun and our days at the beach and all of it seems a far off dream.

This fragment here makes my heart ache for Mick. It's amazing, really, how you can pack such a punch into three lines from a letter. When I read that, the images in my head were so vivid that I could almost feel the cold creeping in.

Here's for another quick update! *clinks champagne glass*
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Re: The Other Side of the Mirror - part 1

Postby Shadow » Sun Jan 25, 2009 12:42 pm

Thanks for coming along on this somewhat different style of sequel!

It's good to know that Rose's emotions are coming across, even though you've just met her. (I'm afraid I'm pleased she could bring on the tears, Lynette.) And I'm glad to hear you're still wanting more, Grace and coco! (But I can't tell you what Mick is up to just quite yet ....)

It was really lovely to hear that the letter fragment could have such an impact, lila. That's an extraordinary compliment.

Hoping to get the next chapter up tomorrow .....
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Re: The Other Side of the Mirror - part 1

Postby mitzie » Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:41 am

Great beginning! Rose is so haunted by the past, like Mick, but for different reasons. Great continuation from the other story, btw!! Love this one already.

Off to read part 2...

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Re: The Other Side of the Mirror - part 1

Postby Shadow » Fri Jan 30, 2009 8:15 am

Thank you Mitzie! Rose and Mick do have a lot in common in their lives .....
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Re: The Other Side of the Mirror - part 1 (PG)

Postby redwinter101 » Thu Mar 05, 2009 11:38 pm

What a lovely start, Shadow.

You establish Rose SO clearly in my mind. Your descriptions of her and her feelings ring incredibly true. I feel her pain:
Shadow wrote:She’d lost Sam, she’d lost Mick, she’d lost everyone, and there had been no one left to help her through this.
I loved how you tied up her age with her memories. It would have been easy to follow the path of memory fading with age but you have done the opposite - her memories sharpen and become more painful with time, taking over her thoughts, her dreams. She sees parallels everywhere - her students, the music. Beautiful.

And then Beth arrives - and you paint her so beautifully as well. She is nervous, unsure she is doing te right thing.

Shadow wrote:“Oh yes. I was with my family. We were at the Franklin Hotel, having brunch. We always went there after church on Sundays.”
I loved this. Such a wonderful connection - and such a jolt for Beth that Rose's memories are so identical to Mick's.

And then, as always, you weave the past into the story so beautifully - this time through Rose's memory of Mick's wartime letters and the announcement of Sam's death.

A lovely, lovely beginning.


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Re: The Other Side of the Mirror - part 1 (PG)

Postby Shadow » Tue Mar 10, 2009 10:30 am

Thank you, Red ... I'm so pleased that Rose, and her memories, made such a strong impression. I did enjoy finding the reflections of her memories in Mick's - especially in the memories that Beth knew about. I'm glad to hear you liked that part! Thank you so much for the wonderful comments.
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Re: The Other Side of the Mirror - part 1 (PG)

Postby NocturneInCMoll » Sun Apr 19, 2009 4:27 am

Loved hearing Rose's memories of her younger self's reactions to the war. She understood later what she couldn't understand at the time (like the significance of the soldier at the door). Off to read more...
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Re: The Other Side of the Mirror - part 1 (PG)

Postby Shadow » Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:38 am

I think my favorite part of writing this chapter was putting in Rose's wartime memories. So nice to know you liked that part!
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Re: The Other Side of the Mirror - part 1 (PG)

Postby draco » Thu Jul 09, 2009 4:14 pm

That was beautiful again. Very tragic and sad but still... she is still so full of love for Mick that I really hope he is convincing himself to go see her. It would do them both so much good. *sigh*
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Re: The Other Side of the Mirror - part 1 (PG)

Postby Shadow » Sun Jul 12, 2009 10:55 pm

thanks draco for going on with this new point of view! Glad you are liking this one too.
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Re: The Other Side of the Mirror - part 1 (PG)

Postby francis » Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:45 pm

This is such a heartbreaking and heartwarming story. So much love, but so much sadness too. I'm curious to see where this goes, what Rose is thinking about all this. She's in for a shock, I guess.
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