If Only Tonight

Life After The Storm: Chapter Seventy Seven - By Your Side

Life After The Storm:
Chapter Seventy Seven: By Your Side

"Hey, there you are! What are you doing?"

Having changed in to a pair of shorts, Matthew had been looking around the quiet house to see where she had gone off to. He had grown sick of seeing his leg covered in bandages, and had decided to wear shorts while no one but Mia was around to see the bluish purple mess that covered his leg. Walking bare foot on to the deck, he saw her sitting with her legs in the water looking through something.

"I snuck in to my parents' room...and I found an album." Mia said, looking sheepish.

"You snuck in to your parents' room, at the cottage they gave you?" He gave her an incredulous look.

"It feels weird being in there." She mumbled.

"Like your parents are going to appear out of no where and tell you off for being there?" He teased.

"Knowing my mom, it could happen."

"So what is that?" He asked, sitting beside her and pushing his own legs between the metal rods that made up the fence. The water felt refreshing. He had been envying Mia for days, and now with his bandages off, he was quite content.

"It's pictures of when Max and I were little." She showed him.

"Is that you?" He pointed to a little girl sitting beside two other kids. Her glowing green eyes looking at him.

"Yea. That's Max." She pointed out her brother. "And that is Elena."

Flipping the page, Matthew saw a lengthy page of text.

"What's this?"

"That…is my mother's favourite poem." Mia answered.

"You Will Forget Me..." He read aloud. "Really?"

"Yea...she told me that when I was ten. I had asked her if she could read me a story since she always read one to Max. She said that she would read me a different kind of story." The green eyed girl shrugged.

"You will forget me; will thank me for saying

The words which you think are so pointed

With pain.

Time loves a new lay; and the dirge he is


Will change for you soon to a livelier


I shall pass from your life -I shall pass out


And these hours we have spent will be

Sunk in the past.

Youth buries its dead; grief kills seldom or


And forgetfulness covers all sorrows at

Last." He read the last stanza of the poem.

"Wow...that is painfully beautiful." Matthew muttered, looking over at her.

"I know. When I was little, I cried for a week when I asked my Dad to explain it to me." Mia admitted.

"So why is it in here?" Matthew flipped through to the next page, which held more photos.

"No idea. I think my mom put it there."

Turning the page, Matthew grinned as he saw the pictures.

"You're dressed as a pumpkin? You look so cute! And he's a lion." He told her smiling.

"That was from Halloween." She laughed looking at the picture.

As they viewed the rest of the photo album, he found Mia looking at him.

"Can I show you something?" She asked, her eyes held a certain sadness in them. She missed her brother, Max.



As their time in her country had started to come to an end, Mia had not decided how she would be able to show him this one part of her life. It had been a lucky coincidence that upon searching her parents' room for any trace of Max, she had found the album. She had been missing him intermittently for the duration of her stay. Seeing the paths in the woods, she would recall the time she had tumbled down them landing at Max's feet after tripping on a tree root.

When she had asked him to come with her, his eyes told her he understood. Having lost his own sister, he knew how it felt to miss someone who wasn't around anymore.

Wearing a black leather jacket, over black jeans and a loose shirt; she noticed that Matthew had matched her. The air had been a little chilly, so he too had pulled on his leather jacket, a pair of jeans – which he wasn't too thrilled about having just gotten in to shorts, along with a black shirt showing underneath. He had stuffed his aviator shades into his pocket.

Parking her Challenger outside the cemetery, she had taken Matthew's hand. It was the first time she had brought anyone excluding her family to visit Max's grave.

In his other hand, Matthew held on to a bouquet of white tulips, which she had helped him pick out. Tulips were her brother's favourite, though Mia never understood why. Tulips have an understated elegance; she could hear Max tell her. Lilies and roses are elegant, tulips are not; she had told him back then.

Walking to the middle of the small burial grounds, she led him to her brother's resting place. It was near another fence, which held trees behind it.

Gently, Matthew placed the flowers in front of the headstone, before taking hold of her hand again.

"I should have known I would find you here."

The familiar voice shocked Mia out of her reverie. She looked over only to find her mother walking towards them. Great...just perfect, Mia thought wearily.

"Hello...Mother..." Mia mumbled, as the older woman came to stand in front of her.

"Well...aren't you going to introduce us, Mellenia? Where are your manners?" Her mother asked, intimidating her. Her mother's grey eyes analyzed her and Matthew before settling back on Mia.

"Umm...Mom, this is Matthew." She spoke hesitantly. "Matthew...this is my mother, Chantal Brooklyn."

Matthew held out his hand to greet her mother, who reluctantly shook it. Before her mother could make any remarks, Matthew smiled apologetically.

"I'll let you two have a moment. Mia, I'll be right by the car." He kissed her cheek, giving her hand a reassuring tight squeeze before heading down to where the Challenger was parked.

As she brushed her hair from her face, Mia saw her mother's scrutinizing look on her hand. She had not thought to take off the ring, since she hadn't expected to see her mother. Uh oh, she thought bracing herself.

"Don't tell me...you're expecting, so the two of you decided to get married."

"No! I'm not pregnant! It's not like that, Mother. He loves me and I love him." Flabbergasted, Mia shoved her hands in to her pockets. "We decided to get married."

"From what your father said, I thought you weren't seeing anyone." Her mother told her.

"Things change, Mom. You have to call me to know what's going on in my life." Mia snapped at her mother's presumptions.

"So why bring him here?"

Mia looked up at her mother, the older woman's grey eyes scanning her before looking over to where Matthew was standing.

"Because he understands. He lost his older sister."

There was silence as they stood facing each other, years of unanswered questions between them. After spending so much time wondering, Mia decided to finally ask what had been bothering her.

"Mom, I don't understand why you treat me this way...why do you hate me?" She asked her mother, quietly.

The look of contemplation on the older woman's face told Mia nothing. Her mother's complex personality had always baffled her. She seemed so happy with her father, but around Mia, Chantal Brooklyn always seemed angry and out of her depth.

"I don't hate you, Mellenia." Her mother said, slowly, pushing the wisps of black hair back behind her ears.

"Then tell me why you don't bother with me."

"You're brother always told me I was too hard on you..." The older woman's tone indifferent.

"You still are." Mia said, looking at the ground.

"I don't hate you Mia. You just never seemed to need me when you were little. You were independent and whatever you aimed for you worked to get it. Max on the other hand needed me since he was born. While you were sent home, he was in an incubator. He needed my constant attention."

Her mother's response only served to confuse her further.

"You seemed to be fine on your own. If you got hurt, you would go to your father."

"So you don't like me because I was okay on my own?" Mia asked her mother, perplexed.

"No. You didn't need my care or attention the way Max did; so along the way I suppose I didn't quite realize that you and I had no relationship."

They were quiet. As Mia turned her mother's words around in her head, she found that she wasn't satisfied with the answers the older woman had given her. Deciding once and for all to put everything on the table, Mia made up her mind. She couldn't take the strained relations between them. Finally everything was going well between her and Matthew, all she wanted now was to sort out this last relationship that had her dreading contact with her mother, every time she came home.

"Mom, I'm going to be getting married soon. I just want to know if my mother is going to be there and be a part of my life." Mia finally found the courage to speak. "Because I can't keep asking you or fighting with you to be a part of my life. I want you to want to be there. If not, then fine..."

Watching her mother stare at the ground before looking up at her, she found herself caught in her mother's cold, hard glare.

"I'm sorry, Mellenia." With those words resounding with finality, Mia watched, looking crestfallen, as her mother walked away...out of her life.


Watching the scene unfold, as he stood leaning against the car, he saw her look broken. At once, he knew things had gone wrong.

The older woman, her mother, was making her way to the exit of the cemetery as Matthew headed for Mia.

Walking towards Chantal Brooklyn, to get to the entrance, he saw her give him an appraising look.

"Take good care of her." The older woman told him, her voice sounding hard.

"I will. I love her." He informed her. She nodded upon hearing this.

"Good. Make sure you never forget that." The older woman told him, her grey eyes glinting in the sunlight.

As the older woman sat in her car, the start of the engine sounding through the quiet area, he watched her leave.

Returning his attention to Mia, he walked to where she was still standing, hugging herself, her delicate features expressing her crushed feelings.

"That didn't go so well?" He asked, seeing the wet trails shining on her face. Her green eyes brimming with tears.

Unable to speak, Mia shook her head in reply. His own heart hurt looking at the pain in her eyes. She looked like her hopes had been trampled. Wrapping his arms around her, as he pulled her closer, hugging her tightly, Matthew could hear her sniffles as she cried soundlessly.

"Mia. I love you. I'll always be your family." Matthew told her, as he held Mia close.