Friday, 3 March 2017

The Miskin Legacy - Generation Four, Part Six: Those We Have Loved and Lost

Another year passed. One cool summer's evening, Mordecai decided to undertake some last-minute gardening before heading to bed. He was an old man now, and not as swift as he used to be: nowadays, it took longer for him to do all the little jobs that kept his garden so green and productive. 

Still, despite all the years he'd spent slaving away on his hands and knees, planting seeds and pulling weeds, gardening remained his passion and his call, and he never regretted a moment he'd spent amongst the plants. As well as bringing in steady income, it was a fun but calming activity that gave him a chance to be alone with his own thoughts. With three growing grandchildren in the house - as well as Miranda popping around every few days with her and Marnix's new daughter, Mindy - it could get quite loud and busy inside. It wasn't just Zara and Milo who occasionally needed breathing space.

As he stepped out onto the lawn, he noticed that it seemed particularly cold for a summer night. There was a definite chill in the air. Mordecai simply shrugged this off: weather could be a funny thing, after all. 






















Kneeling down to tend to his daisies and lilies, he spotted an bizarre bloom right in the middle of the flowerbed. A single red rose. Strange... he didn't remember planting that. As he reached out to inspect it, brushing a fingertip gently against its crimson petals, a voice emerged from the darkness.

"Those always were my favourites."

Mordecai looked up... and stared. Stood there before him, surrounded by blinding light, were two familiar figures. One was Myron, and the other, Montague - both looking young and healthy, as they had in the prime of their lives.

Trembling, Mordecai raised his hand, trying to reach out to them. Myron, smiling gently, raised his palm in a polite gesture of decline.

"Not yet, my boy. It will just pass through. You must wait a while."

Mordecai swallowed anxiously.

"You mean... I'm about to..."

His ancestors both nodded.

"I'm sorry," Montague told him. "When I heard that you would soon be coming to us, I was adamant that I wanted to be beside you when it happened. Myron felt the same way. Thankfully, the Reaper showed us some mercy."

"And my mum?"

"She... couldn't bear to witness the moment itself. But she is waiting for you, son - longing to see you again."

Mordecai suddenly felt very tired and weak. A dull pain was beginning to grow in his chest. Dazed and gasping, he began to lose balance, placing his hands onto the grassy ground to support himself. He looked up at his ancestors, and smiled weakly.

"I... I don't mind," he said. "I... I've had a good life. I lived doing what I loved, and I have such a wonderful family. I even got to see my grandchildren."

Myron and Montague looked at each other. Yes - he'd been fortunate.

"Yes," Mordecai concluded, his voice growing ever fainter. "It's time."

His arms gave way, and he keeled over onto the earth, laid amongst his much-loved blossoms and blooms.

"I... I love you, L-Lily... I'll be waiting..."

With these words, he closed his eyes, and crossed over.















Lily was stood at the kitchen window, sipping some tea. As she looked out towards the lawn, hoping to wave to her husband, she screamed - the porcelain cup slipping from her hands and smashing on the floor below. Wailing, she ran to the front door, threw it open, and dashed onto the lawn - with Milo, Zara and the triplets closely following. Hastily, they gathered around Mordecai's unmoving body.

"Mordecai..." Lily sobbed desperately. "No... no, honey... please, not yet..."

Milo knelt beside his father, and grasped his wrist gently, checking for a pulse. After a few moments, he lowered the arm again, looked up at his family... and with tears forming in his eyes, shook his head.

Lily howled in anguish, her knees giving way beneath her. Horrified, the entire family burst into loud, heartbroken sobs. 



 









As Zara helped her mother-in-law to her feet, she slowly drew the triplets to her side, and led them all back into the house, solemnly. Milo once again knelt beside his father, kissed his forehead, and pulled him up into his arms for one final father-son embrace.

__________________________________

For many weeks afterwards - with Mordecai now buried in the family graveyard, with blue flowers planted upon his grave - grief consumed the family. 

Lily would often stay cooped up in her bedroom, curled up in bed and holding the pillow where Mordecai had once laid his head. One thought plagued her mind. Montague and Rebekah had died together. Why couldn't she and the man she'd loved have done the same?

Zara would strum meaningless notes on a guitar, unable to find a tune to play or the words to sing. Milo dutifully fulfilled his role as a doctor day after day, caring for the sick and healing their maladies... but he couldn't help but remember the one person he wasn't able to save. 



 


















All three adults did their best to distract the children. They insisted that the triplets continue to attend school, to help take their mind off things - "but don't worry about your grades, darlings - just do the best you can." Whenever they could find the energy and drive, they also strove to raise the mood by playing games and drawing pictures together as a family. In addition, the children were permitted to bring over playmates... which led to Roxy Rhodes becoming a regular visitor.



 
















Roxy was rather at ease around death. Having grown up in a house that had seen a great loss, she understood how grief could affect people... but knew that, in time, it would pass. Until then, she made it her mission to keep Mackenzie happy. As she sat with him, playing silly board games or reading superhero comics, she subtly encouraged him to open up about how he was feeling, and to talk about his grandfather, and the happy memories they had made together. Her auntie had told her that it was important to remember those you'd lost as they had been in life, and not to focus on their death.

Sadly, in regards to her own loss, that wasn't something Roxy had been able to do.



 











One day, as they were playing "Don't Wake the Llama!", Mackenzie told Roxy about the way he'd used to follow Mordecai around the garden as a toddler, carrying a little green watering can and longing to help. After they had giggled together at the shared memory, Roxy looked up at Mackenzie - now wanting to talk herself.

"Mac," she said, "thank you for sharing all your stories with me. But would it be OK if I told a story for a while? About two special people?"

"Sure," Mackenzie replied. "Who do you want to talk about?"

Roxy hung her head, blushing slightly with nerves.

"My mum and dad."

__________________________________

The Rhodes Brothers had been two of Willow Creek's most highly renowned business owners. Richard, the elder of the pair, took care of the numbers and the back-of-house side, whereas Charlie - being younger, more confident and more charismatic - had been the front man, travelling to conferences and schmoozing with clients. 

During a business trip to Tokyo, Charlie made the acquaintance of Miss Kiyoko Shimamura, one of the most successful and up-and-coming businesswomen in her home prefecture. Charlie, instantly smitten, frequently returned to Japan to pay court to her, and in time, the two fell madly in love - leading Kiyoko to move to Willow Creek, and eventually, become Mrs. Charles Rhodes.

Two years after their wedding, the couple welcomed their first - and sadly, only - child: a beautiful little girl. Roxanne Sakura.



 













Little Roxanne - or "Roxy", as her father called her - was doted on by her parents, and soon became the dearest treasure of the Rhodes family. Despite their work commitments, both Charlie and Kiyoko adjusted their busy schedules to ensure their daughter always came first, and spent many glorious hours caring for her, playing with her, and essentially cherishing every moment they had with her.

That said, they were still a young couple - keen to keep the romance in their marriage alive. One winter's night, they decided to go to the opera together... so Charlie approached his brother to ask if he and his own wife, Lavinia, would babysit Roxy. Since he and Lavinia had no children of their own, Richard was grateful to have an opportunity to spend time with his dear little niece, and accepted right away. Thus, after dropping their daughter off at the ancestral Rhodes mansion, with a bag full of books and toys, Charlie and Kiyoko each gave Roxy a kiss goodnight, and headed off to the theatre.

They would never come back.

 

 














Some idiot, drunk at the wheel, lost control of his car and ran into the Rhodes' - pushing them off of the road at top speed. An ambulance was called at once. Roxy still had vague memories of her uncle recieving a phone call, followed by hushed conversations with Lavinia, and then anxious waiting and frantic pacing around the house. When she'd toddled up to her uncle, indicating to him wordlessly that she wanted to know what was happening, he had simply told her, "Your mummy and daddy are in the hospital with the doctors. But they'll be all right."

Alas, he was wrong. Despite being rushed into the emergency room, nothing could be done to save Charlie or Kiyoko's lives. Mere minutes after their arrival, the couple were declared dead.

It was Lavinia who broke the news to Roxy, doing so as carefully as she could. 

"Your mummy and daddy are gone, little one. You will see them again in Heaven." 

Roxy didn't understand. Uncle Richard had told her that they were going to be OK. The doctors were going to help them. But now they were gone. Even at that tender age, this broken promise had a profound effect on Roxy. From that moment on, she suffered from an intense fear of doctors - refusing to ever set foot inside a clinic or a hospital. She was even nervous around Milo when she visited the Miskin house, but reassured Mackenzie that his dad was "OK - even if he is a doctor."

In accordance with Charlie's will, Richard and Lavinia were named as Roxy's legal guardians, and from then on, she lived with them. Richard was a laid-back, good-humoured fellow who liked to have a laugh with his young niece, but since he was now running a company alone, he was constantly busy with work - meaning he couldn't be with her or his wife as often as he would have liked.



 







  

 









Lavinia, on the other hand, was rather more strict - having come from a traditional noble family with high expectations for its members. As a consequence of her grief, Roxy had started acting out, and Lavinia saw it as her duty to keep her niece in line - both to keep her safe, and as her way of showing that she loved her. Unfortunately, her attempts to control Roxy's behaviour backfired, leading the child to rebel even further. As the years passed, this caused ongoing friction between the pair, and Lavinia's obvious frustration at Roxy's wild attitude often led the young girl to wonder if her aunt truly loved her at all.









 












Roxy had since spent many years of her young life trying to come to terms with her parents' death. Terrified that she may lose someone else as she had lost them, she made a promise to herself to never love anyone again. Friends were fine - but that was all. She would never marry, nor become a mummy. It would be too risky to ever let someone else into her heart.
_________________________________________

After Roxy had told Mackenzie the story of her parents' passing - tactfully neglecting to mention that final part, out of fear of upsetting him - it was time for her to head back home. Mackenzie, polite as always, showed her out, walking with her to the pavement.

"Thank you for telling me about your mum and dad," he told her, humbled. "It means a lot to me that you trusted me enough to do that."

Roxy smiled.

"Well, thank you for telling me about your grandpa That must have been hard for you, too. But it's OK. I know we can trust each other. We're best friends, after all."

Mackenzie's ears pricked up.

"Really?" he said, delighted. "You want to be my best friend?"

"Uh-huh," Roxy answered. "Sure I do. Best friends forever."

She outstretched her arms for a hug, which Mackenzie gratefully provided.

"Best friends forever," he agreed. Just as two heroes should be.


2 comments:

  1. When a theatre was mentioned I went straight to Batman and thought Roxy was going to be our new Dark Knight :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love the background you gave for little Roxy! What a poor girl! I'm so glad she has Mac!
    Also, it's such a sad day to see Mordecai pass... at least he's with some of his family now.
    Beautiful update!

    ReplyDelete