Category: Sara Tancredi (Genfic)
Summary: Sara’s POV: What is the legacy of perfect love, and of its loss?
Author’s Notes: This is for liayso, who requested that I write a story about Sara and her mother. The story is now AU, as late Season 1 episodes revealed that Sara's mother did not die when Sara was young (as assumed here), and that her relationship with her daughter and husband did not end well. Also written for the philosophy_20 challenge, where I claimed the Prison Break General Series, for prompt #5, “Syzygy” ("The joining of two entities, without loss of identities.").
Her mother was tall and slender, and she moved like a willow in the wind.
Out in the garden, they gathered flowers for the house—pink roses and yellow honeysuckle, white gladioli and purple irises. Sara had her own small gardening gloves, and she was old enough to use the garden snips now. She wandered through the bee-swirl clouds of blossoms, considering and choosing the prettiest blooms. Her mother, close beside her, cut the bases and stripped the too-full leaves. Sara carefully watched the pruning angles and the techniques to try out on her own.
“How’re my girls?” her father called out, coming around the ivy-covered wall. Her mother’s smile grew at the sound of his voice, warmer than the sweet spring sun, and she pulled off her gloves and waited for him. Their eyes met, each pulling the other in with a slow dance of magnetic union. They clasped hands and kissed, before her father’s hand reached to bring her in and Sara was gathered into the circle of their love.
“What brings you out here?” her mother asked playfully, and Sara’s father ducked his head and grinned.
“I just wanted to say goodbye before I leave for the Retreat,” he said. “I hate having to leave you both behind, but at least it’s only for the weekend.”
“We’ll miss you, sweetheart,” her mother answered. “Just promise that you won’t be trading up on me while you’re there,” she winked.
Her father laughed, though Sara didn’t see why that was funny. He gave them both a kiss, his fingers trailing at the edges of her mother’s hair, and walked backwards and waved for half the length of the pathway.
Sara watched him go, the crinkles at the corners of his eyes fading in the distance as the sparkle left the air with him and the hum of tranquility returned.
“Mama,” she asked suddenly, “Who will I marry?”
“What?” Her mother turned toward her, eyes still on her husband.
“What kind of man? Why did you marry Daddy?”
“Oh,” her mother began, for this was an unusually unexpected question. “I knew your father and I belonged together on our second date. But it isn’t that way for everyone.”
Sara put down the pruning snips and looked at her mother seriously. “How did you know?” she asked.
“Well, he was so funny and interesting.” Her mother smiled as if she could see him in her mind. “And he looked at me like I was the most beautiful woman in the world.”
“You married him because he thought you were pretty.” That was logic an 8-year-old could grasp.
“No, it was more than that. Your father saw me for who I was, deep down. It was as if we filled in all the missing pieces of each other.” Sara looked alarmed at that, and her mother hastened to reassure her. “You’ll know, honey, when it’s right. You’ll marry the man that makes you feel most like yourself, the man you make happy just by being there. You’ll know.”
And Sara was satisfied. Things that she would Just know later were things she didn’t have to understand right now. She smiled at her mother and picked up her cutters. She could see a wave of blue in the back corner that would complete her part of the bouquet.
Years later now, watching her father over breakfast, she puzzles over the things her mother said. This man—so serious now, so impatient and distracted—how could he ever have been her mother’s perfect love? There is nothing soft or spirited inside him anymore, he is nothing like the man she remembers from that day. They barely speak to one another, passing serving plates, dishes, beverages and the like without words. They are in a rhythm of disinterested cooperation—or even a symbiotic dance— each performing the basics with little feeling or depth. They know, they anticipate, but they do not understand.
Sara has given up hope of recapturing the spark their life once held. It died with her mother, taking a piece of all of them with it.
She has seen him, late in the evenings—a glass of scotch clutched in his hands, his eyes puffed-up and red. His voice is rough then, her mother’s picture often nearby, and she knows the weight of the grief they don’t discuss.
He doesn’t really see Sara anymore, and he doesn’t let her see into him. He throws himself into his work when he’s away; when he’s here, he skirts her and edges through the rooms of their hollow home.
She struggles to thread her way to maturity, with little guidance from the only family that remains. There is resentment and unspoken loneliness; at times, frustration and anger find her too.
But watching him, still broken after so many years, she sees a hint of the answer coming in from the side.
Perhaps her mother’s perfect man is still here, revealed in the destruction her mother’s absence left behind. If this was that deepest love—the joining of souls that are distinct and yet are one—its proof is in the near-extinction of the half that remains.
It doesn’t make him a better father. It doesn’t excuse his lack of making his child come first.
But she understands it now. Even if not forever, for years the shattered soul still yearns for its mate. He might recover—when it is too late for his daughter—but for now, he is a shell in scattered pieces.
He aches and he misses. He forgets his duty to his daughter while mourning at the shrine he keeps to her mother’s memory. He is imperfect and no longer whole. He cannot save himself, and he has little left for his neglected child.
Though it hurts and scars and numbs her, Sara knows that his is the pain of loving too much.
And her mother, who knew that part of him always, quite honestly deserved nothing less.
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