Bridget's Days Ch. 10bypatricia51©
I smiled, wondering what would have happened had I been able to follow up on my impulse of that long ago evening. Probably for the best that I didn't have the chance. Things were confusing enough without the memory of having slept with my great-great-great whatever father-in-law.
I closed the book, locked it and set it beside the chair. Oh, there were so many other stories I wanted to tell, so many tales of the "ancestors". I looked across the room again at the picture of Mike and the companion picture on the other end of the shelf. A young me in a simple white dress with flowers in my hair clutched an equally young Mike by his arm. He looked so handsome in his uniform. The day we were married. After all that had happened, I was able to experience an old saying I had only been able to dream of for centuries: "Happy the Bride the sun shines on".
Darn watery eyes. You'd think my doctor could do something about those allergies. I pushed up my glasses and dabbed the moisture away with a tissue. Tears come to everyone, I know. No matter how blessed I had been in my life, the trials that I had undergone never left my memory.
The two times I had been rushed to the hospital after Mike had failed to duck fast enough...
The heart stopping knock on the door by a uniformed Marine Officer when Sean was shot down and was missing in action in one of those nasty little police actions that had filled the century...
The frantic call when Mary had skidded off a rainy road and hung between life and death for weeks...
The false phone call that lured me to an deserted town in an attempted assassination by someone in revenge for my actions as a CIA Agent long before I became human again...
Every skinned knee, fever, heartache, black eye, broken date, every disappointment my children endured...
Oh, but those memories were so outnumbered by the others. They filled my mind. Happy pictures of my children in school recitals and plays and church cantatas and choirs. The steps up from every level from kindergarten to Law School. Academy graduations and Commissioning Ceremonies and Doctorial Vestings. Awards and presentations ranging from perfect attendance at Catholic Youth to Medals of valor and Service, Police and Military and Medical and so many more.
Even those were crowded out by the more important memories, the simple ones. Walking hand in hand with Mike along the seashore, dancing alone together in a gentle rain. The first kick from our Mary, and every kick from all the children. Picnics and family outings of every size and shape and form. Shopping with my daughters and the hilarity of seeing Mike's grumpy face mirrored exactly by my sons as they impatiently waited for us. Watching them all grow up and fall in love themselves and the arrival of my grandchildren and then my great-grandchildren.
Even those terrifying times had times of joy. Seeing Stephanie come out of the operating room with a smile on her face and the announcement that Mike had "dodged another one". The incredible vision phone call from the Middle East when the screen had lit up to reveal my youngest; hungry, dirty and bandaged but with the reassurance that he was alright. That last moment in that town when I had run out of choices and was bursting from hiding with no thought but to take someone with me and then standing in shock as the cavalry arrived. The nights of kneeling by Mary's hospital bed, praying desperately for my daughter's life and then feeling her fingers touch my hair and her whispered "Mamma?".
I reached down with my left hand and touched the other book where it snuggled in another side pocket. I thought of another old saying I had always loved. "Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning." My night had been very long indeed, but my days had more than made up for them.
I relaxed, folding my hands in my lap. I looked at Mike again. Not that I needed a picture to keep his face in my mind. I closed my eyes, holding him before me, as handsome and as strong and loving as he had always been.
Those French doors must have opened somehow. I could feel a gentle breeze on my face. Well, Lisa was going to have a fit, but I wasn't going to get up and close them. It just felt too nice. I could hear the distant roar of the ocean. "Silly old woman," I thought to myself, "The sea is a hundred miles from here." But the rhythm was soothing and I felt myself being lulled to sleep.
My eyes struggled to open, then gave up and stayed closed. Now this was a fine-how-do-you-do. I didn't recall having done the "wake up and not know where I was or what the heck happened" since the fight with Thorfinn. Maybe I was just overdue after 65 years.
It did feel nice, wherever I was. The sun was warm on my face, even through my eyelids. I had never tired of reveling in the sensation of feeling the sun. On Mike's and my honeymoon I had ended up with a case of sunburn that made me look like a lobster. Poor Mike had spent the whole trip home from Bermuda slathering me in Aloe and scolding me for not respecting the sun.
The breeze felt wonderful too. I could feel my hair blowing away from my face. The scent was of fresh green grass with just a tiny hint of salt air. Speaking of grass, I seemed to be sitting on a thick carpet of it. I ran my fingers through the blades. There was still a faint film of dew on them, it must be early morning.
I was almost tempted enough by the feeling of my surroundings to open my eyes now. But I didn't. I felt so calm and relaxed that I thought nothing could convince me to stir. Then...
"Bridget!" A deep male voice called "Get up me lass. Are ye going to sit there a wastin' the morning away? I thought I had been teaching you better than that!"
I bolted to my feet, my eyes wide open. The figure of a burly man stood a few yards away. His eyes twinkled with the laughter he had always been filled with.
"Well, Mary, at least she doesn't seem to be addled. At least not any more than she always was."
"Cease your blathering, Michael O'Brien," a woman's voice answered, as firm as she had always been. I smothered a sudden urge to giggle as I looked from my towering father to my petite and commanding mother. She was waggling her finger under his nose, as I had seen a thousand times before. She sniffed and turned towards me, her eyes betraying her suppressed mirth. Then they both held their arms out to me. Three steps and I was wrapped in my parents' embrace.
I finally managed to regain my voice as I looked at them both. "How... what... I mean... Mother, Father... what are you doing here?"
"Getting acquainted with your in-laws lass." My father replied. I felt two more sets of arms around me. I twisted and saw Pat and Mike. "And mighty good people they are," my father continued, "Even if the man cheats at arm-wrestling," he pretended to grumble.
"Ach, ye loon," my mother scolded again. "Be paying him no mind, Michael Gibson. He never could take being beaten at that."
Mike laughed merrily. "As I recall, I grumbled worse than that when he beat me."
Pat rolled her eyes and poked him in the ribs. "Indeed. The two of you are cut from the same cloth." She paused, and in a voice that summed up the feelings of all women towards their mates, she added "MEN!"
I marveled at the foursome. They were as I remembered them, Pat and my Mother beautiful, My Father and Mike strong and handsome. Joy seemed to surround them. They kept bursting out in laughter. My Father suddenly caught up my Mother in his arms and whirled her in the air as she giggled in glee.
I smoothed my skirt down. My skirt? I looked at myself. I was wearing a plain skirt that fell to my ankles. My bare feet peeped from under the hem and I curled my toes into the grass. I had on a loose blouse of some material that looked like linen, but like the skirt, felt like silk. I touched the ringlets of my hair that tumbled down over my shoulders. I felt like I could not stand still. I lifted my arms and danced around.
I sobered for a moment. Or rather, I tried. Even as I asked the question foremost in my mind, a reservoir of elation kept bubbling up from deep inside me.
"Dead? Ahh, that's not the word, lass," my father enveloped me in the bear hug that always made me feel so incredibly safe and loved. Even with my head pillowed on his chest I could feel him smile. "Just come home."
He let me go and I stood there, marveling at everything. Mike had sprawled on the grass and Pat was laying with her head on his stomach. My mother sat beside them. One hand was lifted to hold my father's hand. The fingers of the other were twined with those of my mother-in-law.
"How can you be 'getting to know each other'?" I asked. I looked at my parents. "You passed on 5 centuries ago. You two," I looked at the other couple, "Your funeral was only three decades ago."
"Time has no meaning here, Bridget," Mike told me gently. "We may have been here for minutes, or thousands of years. It matters not. We have as long before us as we ever had."
"Perhaps time does matter a wee bit," my mother smiled. "At least to someone." She gestured towards the eternal dawn breaking over the horizon.
I saw an achingly familiar form outlined by the sun. He was standing on a rise that led towards the ocean. He spread his arms and I began to run towards him...
Craning her neck to see into the room, Lisa whispered to her children to be quiet. "Grammie is sleeping."
"But I want to show her the flowers I picked for her," complained Mary, her chin quivering. She scooted by her mother and approached her great-grandmother.
"What is it baby?"
"Grammie won't wake up. And she's sleeping with her eyes open."
Lisa rushed to her daughter's side. One hand fell to the little shoulder beside her. The other covered her mouth. The elderly woman in the chair was asleep indeed, forever. Her eyes were fixed as though on some distant horizon. Her face was relaxed in complete peacefulness, except for her lips. Her lips curved up in the impish smile of a young woman seeing her lover.
(Thanks above all to my wonderful (and darn sexy) friend and editor Marian who has coped with my inability to type and my tendancy to wander off subject. It is thanks to you that this story is at all readable. Thank you Dotti, for your continual support and reassurances. Thanks to all the friends and readers who have told me how much they enjoyed Bridget; especially Rob Graham, who has taken every opportunity to keep me writing, and Captain Midnight and Benn Moreland, who have embarked on their own stories about Bridget.