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Tidying Up (An Epilogue of Sorts.)

Magdalena Chef

Stratics Veteran
Stratics Legend
Her hands were pruny from the water and covered in bubbles. She held the plate in her left hand while the sponge made slow, lazy circles over the surface. She'd been cleaning it for a good ten minutes as she stared out the window into the gloaming. Her thoughts, as of late, elsewhere. Her mind a universe away from the tiny stone cottage and her life as it was now.

Sometimes the memories came back in a rush of vivid images, so real they could freeze her in her tracks. Sometimes they came at the most inopportune of moments, unbidden and unwanted. Maggy shuddered, shaking off the blackest one. It was a brain-favorite that played on repeat even more then a decade later. She quickly rinsed the plate off and went to place it in the drying rack when a voice startled her.


Maggy missed the rack completely and the plate made one full revolution before it would have shattered to the floor. She stopped it, instinctively, a half an inch from the wooden surface as she turned her head to the voice.

Bright blue eyes widened in his perfect face as he watched the dish dance unnaturally for a fraction of a second. She registered the surprise there and quickly pulled the tiny weave of magic back into herself. The plate shattered into a thousand shards.

"Silly Momma has butter fingers," she said smiling. His eyes darted to the locked chest in the hall. He knows she thought and I won't be able to keep hide it from him forever.

"What did you need my sweet?"

"I'm ready!"

"What shall it be tonight I wonder..." she teased.

"Tell me about the Girl-Who-Was-A Tree! I like that story, she's silly like you," his face lit up, the plate already forgotten.

"Let Momma tidy this up and I'll be right there."

He bounded down the hall and she heard him land on the bed with a dull thud. How swiftly time passes when measured through a child she mused. Marguerite picked up the biggest pieces and dumped them into a trash barrel before heading down the hall.

"I changed my mind, I want to hear about the Treasure Man and the Magic Map!" he announced and then promptly stuck his thumb back in his mouth.

She eyed him suspiciously. "Hm, that's a long one." He grinned around his thumb fully aware that it would buy him more time to be awake. "I think we should go with Tree-Girl."

"Pixie! The lady who sneezes and turns into a faery!" He snuggled into her, satisfied with this final choice.

Maggy laughed, shaking her head and began the story. His eyes were closing when she bent over to kiss his sandy colored hair, a perfect blend of hers and his father's.



"Tell me about your shoulder picture."

She stiffened, caught off guard.

"Is it like mine?" He sleepily turned on his side trying to show her.

"No sweetling," she combed his hair with her fingers, "yours is just a birthmark." Just a birthmark she reassured herself. "And that is a tale for another time, it's sleeping time now."

He was snoring lightly by the time she finished tucking the blankets around him and closed the door. Marguerite leaned against the frame for a moment and closed her eyes.

"It's a tale for never," she whispered, slowly opening them again and looking at the locked, warded chest. If she knew of some, safe place in the world for it, Maggy would've gladly rid herself of it. For now though, the safest place was with her, under her watchful eye.

Another unwelcomed image flashed quickly in her head and she shuddered. Maggy narrowed her eyes glaring at the chest and spoke to it. "I have no more time for angels and demons, Voids and wells and shadow wraiths, you understand?" The chest seemed to shimmer in response. "And you'll not have him, not if I can help it."

She gave it a wide berth as she walked down the hall and back into the kitchen. The sight of the broken plate made her smile. It was so deliciously normal. Maggy sighed and knelt on the kitchen floor, sweeping fragments of broken dish into a dustpan. This is what I want, broken dishes and bedtime stories, scraped knees. Marguerite dumped the shards into the trash and went outside to sit on the porch and wait. Peter would be home soon.
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