2002 (Anonymous Submission)
Growing up as a military brat was fun. We lived in Germany, traveled Europe and moved around. As a kid, Mom being in the Army meant “Mandatory Family Fun Days” and bike rides across Germany. Before 9/11/2001, no one talked about war. My dad had been in Desert Storm, but to 10 year old me that was “so far in history”. We moved to Texas in 1999, my dad drew the year in the concrete he poured for our front walk. We lived in the middle of nowhere. Cows were my neighbors. We didn’t mind because we still went for bike rides on Sundays and had family game nights. The only change was “Mandatory Family Fun Days” now took place at a lake with a water slide. What no one knew then was that my graduating class would have the longest in memoriam since Vietnam for our school.
On September 11, 2001 I was sitting in my 8th grade chorus class when our teacher made the announcement that a plane had hit the Twin Towers. Shortly after, the suspicion of a terrorist attack was announced, I was in history class. I remember Coach Jackson saying, “Ladies and Gentleman, pay attention, you are watching history unfold”, as we watched the news in class. That night my parents didn’t come home, the base had been locked down. At 14 I was in charge of myself and my 12 year old brother for the next 36 hours. We had no idea how much our lives were about to change.
In January of 2002 my mom’s company received their orders, they were shipping out. At first it was fun, helping mom pack her rucksacks. It was my job to stand on them to make sure everything fit. Five pairs of BCU pants, five jackets, ten shirts and as many pairs of socks as we could fit. The list was two pages long and the gear filled our entire living room. Once the last bag was locked with its small golden master lock they were set by the door. The orders had come, but no date was set.
I was 14 years old. Old enough to know how dangerous the desert would be for her, but too young to cherish the time we had before she left. Those rucksacks became a signal, if I came home from school and they were by the door, mom would be home by dinner. If they were gone, I wouldn’t see my mother for a year. Those huge green bags sat there by the door for over a month. I stopped worrying they would be gone when I came home. The rucksacks by the door became as much a piece of the decor as my dad’s ugly forest green recliner
It was a Tuesday, unusually warm even for a Texas February. They were gone. Over the next four years they stayed gone, more often than they were by the door. I felt a mix of relief and sadness. Finally, the anxiety of wondering when she would go was over, but now she was gone. My mother was in the signal battalion attached to the 4th Infantry Division. Her job was to go into the desert and rebuild the communications infrastructure that had been destroyed by the Taliban. She told us before she left that she wouldn’t be able to contact us as soon as she arrived and she didn’t know for how long we would go without talking. It was 3 months.
Over the course of my high school career I saw my mother only a handful of times. She was in Iraq for my first homecoming dance, in Egypt when I “fell in love” for the first time, in Germany when I felt my first heartbreak. Over time it became easier for me to ignore her calls than to answer. I knew she was a hero and I was and continue to be so proud of her service. But it was hard to not be angry. Being at the age a girl needs her mother most and not having her led to me feeling resentful of the career my mother was so proud of.
While my mother was across the globe, saving women and children from the terrorists, I felt alone. My mom was my hero,my best friend. Every time she said “Yes”, to Uncle Sam, it felt like she was saying “no” to me. How was I supposed to tell her I needed her more. More than whom? More than the Iraqis she was helping, more than the terrorists she was fighting? Living in a military town we were taught to be proud of our soldiers, be brave for them. If we complained we were only making their jobs more difficult. The problem with that sentiment, they never recognized, was that we didn’t ask for this. I wanted my mom but I never told her.
I can not tell you who my mother dreamed to be as a little girl, before she became a mother and a soldier. I can tell you she was the oldest of eight children, and that she is a twin. Veronica Lynn and Victoria Leigh, I only met mom’s twin once, she was nice but too quiet and she smelled like an ashtray. My mom, Veronica, worked in Westborough State Hospital when she met my father. We joke that they didn’t really work there but that’s definitely where they met. I can’t tell you how she felt the day she decided to enlist. I can tell you that she was the life of the party and we used to lay in her bed and eat junk food on rainy days watching some crime drama. I couldn’t begin to tell you what her greatest insecurities were. I can tell you that she was funny and she was always ready for the next adventure. I remember one night my mom came home, it was about 10 p.m., with an assortment of seafood. My brother and I didn’t eat seafood but when mom was in her “really good moods” there was no telling her no. That’s the night I tried shark steaks.
When I was in the 7th grade my mom was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, I used to help her with her medications and bring her cold waters. After her last tour overseas she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. When I found out so much of my childhood clicked into place, she would leave to go to Walmart and come home with a new car. Or she couldn’t get out of bed for days at a time. Even on those crazy up or down days, we still laid in bed on rainy days and laughed. We could sit quietly for hours or never stop talking depending on the day. Serving overseas only served to exacerbate her symptoms. She was never quite the same.
Twenty years later, and our relationship is still strained. It is not completely one sided and if you were to ask her, she would say it is because I am just like her. Stubborn to a fault. To be honest, I never asked her to come home. I can not say with any certainty that she knew how I felt as a teenager. I also can not say she wouldn’t have retired the moment I let her know how alone I felt. I am now 33 years old, I have 3 children of my own and have built a life with the man I love. My mother has only met each of my children once. The last time she re-enlisted, I left Texas before she came back. I was living in Massachusetts for four months before she knew I had left the state. The truth is, I gave up on her. -Anonymous
Daughter Dearest Part 3
Pairing: Karl Heisenberg x Female reader (adopted daughter of Lady Dimitrescu)
Warnings: Mentions of sexual situations, Canon typical violence, Heisenberg being an ass, Swearing, Unprotected sex, Blood, Biting, metal bondage, Mentions of medical trauma, Death, Cadou experiments
Word Count: 2,521
Summary: To be a daughter of Lady Dimitrescu is to be above the common rabble. If only you could resist the charms of the man-thing she despises the most.
Tagging: @smileysam13579 @theravencawsatmidnight @vixorell
A scream greets you early the next morning. From your room high in the tower, you hear the commotion. Bela is ranting about something, and the poor maid who's receiving her ire will not survive the day.
You lay cocooned in the silken sheets hoping that she finishes this maid off quickly. Pressing your head deeper into the pile of pillows that you've surrounded yourself with in the night. Maybe today, the bed will devour you, as you wished eagerly for so early on in this nightmare. But no, you lay there listening to the cries and babbling pleas, no sign of them slowing anytime soon. Your sisters are in a mood this morning, and her wails continue for about an hour. Before finally, they succumb with a wet gurgle. Your sister's voices grow closer as Bela cackles in delight, Daniela snarls some complaint about the maid's taste, and Cassandra snaps for them to be quiet. You close your eyes a moment, a drop of dread filling you that you have to deal with them so early in the morning. Thankfully they pass your door, and you release the breath from your dead lungs, ignored for now. Memories, flooding back as you attempt to block out the goings-on of the castle around you.
Stabbing pain as skin is sliced open, paralyzed by some drug, and left to witness the horror of your ribcage snapped apart to implant the moving parasite in Mother's hands. Jaw locked in place, vocal cords unmoving, unable to even scream, your pain out.
You beg her with your eyes because your mouth cannot move, 'end me, please.' But silent pleas are ignored as the thing all but slithers into your chest. Curling itself around your weakening heart, vines growing into bones, muscle, and blood-soaked flesh. Roots filling arteries, feeding off the blood clotted there. You can't even scream as the pain overwhelmed your tired, broken mind. The cadou devouring your heart, leaving you a lifeless lump of flesh for a few days. A new rib cage, growing over your new heart; made of the cadou's vine-like limbs. Before something restarts and you are reborn a thing in the image of your Mother.
Your eyes snap open, the parasite in your breast wriggles as if sensing your distress. With a pained gasp, you clutch a fist to your sternum, you try to calm yourself and the thing inside you. After a few seconds of pain, it goes away, and you're back to the numbness that has become your constant state of being.
You can no longer lie to yourself that you're not going to get up. Unwrapping yourself from your silken cacoon you drift over from your bed to the massive vanity across the room. The curtains, still drawn, only allow a single beam of blue-grey light into the dim space.
The maids know you don't like to be fused over in the morning, usually because of the nightmares. The last maid who got too close had her jaw broken by a flailing hand. You had felt guilty for so long afterward you ordered the servants to leave you be in the morning.
You avoid looking at yourself in the mirror, having grown tired of the living corpse staring back. Instead, you busy yourself with the finery splayed over the mother of pearl surface. An antiquated brush, made with some animal hair bristles that more or less smooths your hair rather than detangles. Bottles of fragrant perfume that your Mother insists you wear, covering the smell of death that lingers on your flesh. Jewelry is haphazardly strewn about the surface as well. Most of it comes from wanderers or visitors who came to the castle, paying for their curiosity with their lives.
A knock at your door gives you pause as you turn, looking over your shoulder. You know it's not your sister's. They would just burst into the room uncaring of your privacy. It must be a servant here to ready your room for the day.
"Come in," is rasped by your sleepy vocal cords. You sound like one of the waifs wandering the dungeon, ever hungry.
It's your Mother's massive form that enters the tiny doorway. Once upon a time, this visual terrified you. Now it is commonplace. Sometimes, it even tickles you a bit. All this finery and wealth, she hasn't thought to widen the doorways to her size. Humor forgot you recall last night's conversation with your sisters. You stand, bowing your head as Lady Dimitrescu stands to her full height before you. She's not wearing her usual hat. She still wears her pure white gown that sinches tightly at her waist and flows softly down her round hips to the floor. The black rose corsage is gone for the moment. But she keeps her leather gloves on, as well as the simple string of pearls about her throat.
"Good morning, Mother," she doesn't immediately respond, and you know you're in trouble. She stands before you, silent and contemplative. You keep your eyes on the floor, both a sign of respect and subordination. You've crossed lines with her before, and you're lucky your cadou allows you the ability to heal quickly.
She sighs deeply from her nose, your fingers fist into the soft fabric of your nightdress.
"Daughter," she finally speaks, and you hear the disappointment in her voice. In a silent panic, you think she's finally discovered it, the meetings between yourself and Heisenberg.
"Yes, Mother?" It's whispered for the first time in a long time, fear coils its cold limbs about you. She's going to kill you or give you to Miranda to decide what to do with you. She takes one long step forward, stopping a few inches from you. Your eyes focus on the tips of her shoes, peeking out from beneath her long flowing skirt. But she surprises you again, threading her glove-clad fingers through your tangled tresses.
"When was the last time I brushed your hair?" You look up in surprise, the room feels less constricting, and the parasite masquerading as a heart inside your rib cage settles. Mother smiles, in that strange almost strained way. Like she's forgotten how to smile after all the years she's spent snarling at her 'family' especially at her 'brother'.
"Come sit, my dear." Her hands rest on your shoulders, and with gentle pressure, she turns you to face the vanity once more. Leading you to the plush cushion where you take a hesitant seat. When standing, you barely clear her hips with the top of your head, sitting she all but eclipses you with her size.
"Mother, you don't have to," you mumble, feeling just a bit childish. She chuckles softly. As she leans over you, finding the brush, it looks like a doll's toy clasped delicately between her index finger and thumb. Even with her massive size and overwhelming power Mother knows how to control herself. Starting at the back of your hair, she takes painstaking time. Separating the sections of hair and brushing the fine bristles through your locks. It's a strangely caring moment; the last time she had brushed your hair, you had awoken from your death-like sleep.
You're both silent. Save for the sounds of the servants outside, the occasional outburst from one of your sisters somewhere in the castle; you two are utterly alone at this moment. You do everything in your power to avoid the mirror worried about what you might see there. While there is a calm to this moment, it feels false. Alcina isn't your mother. Your mother is most likely dead, for all you know. Time doesn't make sense in the village, and you stopped trying to keep it after everything.
"What troubles you, my darling?"
It's the way she asks you this. You want to believe that she cares. In some demented way, she does. It's a part of her cadou that burrows into your body. So by extension, she is a part of you. She made you what you are.
"Just...dreams Mother," you finally respond, and her brushing stops. One massive hand moving from your hair to beneath your chin. A soft pressure she turns you to face her. When you lock eyes with her grey ones, you find your voice again. "I had a nightmare last night."
She tuts her bright red lips pouting as she considers you. Her thumb, brushing over your cheek. Before slipping a stray strand of hair behind your ear.
"I will see about Mother Miranda providing you with some medications to help you sleep."
The notion of Mother Miranda giving you some sort of concoction sets your nerves on edge. Your response is quick to change her mind.
"It was a short nightmare, Mother, I hardly remember it," a quick excuse, and when you finally remember why she's here. "I'm sorry for making you worry last night as well."
Lady Dimitrescu pouts at the mention of last night, she sighs but turns you to face the mirror again so that she can start brushing another section. You know you shouldn't bring it up, but it gets her off the subject of Mother Miranda and putting you to sleep.
"I was very concerned when the maiden returned unescorted. What happened?"
Her fingers work through strands of hair finding tangles, taking the brush to them in short strokes. One large hand coming to cup the bottom of your skull as she works through a large section of mats near the nape of your neck.
"Her family had just been killed by Heisenberg's monstrosity...When we were about to leave, she mentioned she couldn't find her mother's shawl-" her grip tightens at Heisenberg's mention, your hair gives a pang of pain at the roots, but you ignore the pain.
"So you stayed behind alone? Unaccompanied?"
Her voice has dropped in pitch, your muscles tense, your gaze locking onto the far left corner of the vanity. Mind racing to figure out some plausible lie. Something to soothe her.
"Daughter?" The word hangs dangerously in the air. She expects an answer. Or some form of groveling. With slow movements, you turn in the chair to face her. She's let her hands drop away. Till your own grasp them and bring them back up. Cupping them against your cheeks. Like the first time. When she found you awake, and in her joy, she pressed a joyous kiss to your forehead. A strangely emotional moment between the two of you that she had never reprised.
"I'm sorry Mother," you whisper, nuzzling into the palm of her left hand. She watches you silently, eyes glowing in the dark, the greys of her irises have turned to an acidic yellow. For a few tense moments, you think she's going to yell at you, bracing for her rage. But it never comes as again her thumb rubs over your cheekbone.
"You are a daughter of House Dimitrescu. That places you above anyone, including a lowly maiden. You will not put yourself at such risk again. Do you understand?"
You nod, unsure of your voice.
"You will have an escort from now on. One of the men from the village with go with you and stay by your side. Do you understand?"
You blink dumbly at her, and a small voice in your mind screams at this. You are strong, capable, you've survived in this house for God knows how long, hell you've survived the village this long.
"Actions have consequences dear," gone is the moment of caring, and she is back to the proud noble Lady Dimitrescu. She sounds like Miranda, her voice hard and brokering no bargaining. She turns you back to face the mirror finishing the last section of hair. She sets about braiding your hair, leaving a few pieces to frame your face, a face that stares hollowly back at you. She leans down, hovering beside you, hands on your shoulders.
"My dear, do not pout. You are still free to go and collect maidens."
Your argument is cut off by another knock at your door. This time you know it is a servant, most likely looking for the lady of the house. Mother sighs frustratedly through her nose. Turning to face the door, she calls out.
"Enter," she snarls with a rage that she employs for the servants.
"M'Lady," the quivering voice belongs to one of the servants. She's short with dark hair placed into a simple updo. She wears the traditional maid's garment. A simple black dress with a high-neck collar and long sleeves easy to work in, easier to remove when someone is hungry. Her hands clasped before her. Dark brown eyes cast down in fear. Even from afar, you can see her entire body shivering. The young woman standing in the doorway all but cowers beneath your Mother's glare.
"What is it?"
"A section of the castle in the lower halls has collapsed-"
"And you come to me why?"
Your Mother's response is biting. She's annoyed at being interrupted...and you feel dread seep into your bones. This maid won't last long if she doesn't spit out what she came to say.
"One of the village men came to look over it...he says the castle lacks the tools to fix it."
Dimitrescu snarls, bringing a hand up to her nose pinching the bridge as if a headache has begun to form.
"Rediculous, am I surrounded by fools. What could he possibly need?"
You wince as the maid all but begins to weep before her mistress. In a panic, you spit out the first thing that comes to mind.
"Maybe Lord Heisenberg would have something?"
The room goes deathly still at your suggestion. Your Mother giving you a cold, calculated look.
"Mother...I can go--with my escort, of course. But the castle must be kept in pristine condition...You recall Mother Miranda's last visit."
Your Mother looks like she could kill something...but at least her ire is on you rather than the maid. Who has taken the chance to flee from the room.
"And what makes you think that...thing would offer any of his tools?"
"I'm sure he would be looking for a reason to reenter Mother Miranda's good graces. After all, he is still at fault for the losses amongst the villagers."
She considers this for a moment before finally nodding. Her rage dissipating for the moment, your muscles relax for the time being.
"Very well, I will speak with Mother Miranda tonight, and you shall go escorted in the morning," you don't miss the intonation on escorted. But you bow your head in acknowledgment, insides roiling with the thought of having an excuse to go to the factory.
Happy with your hair, and the conversation's end, your Mother goes to the door. She glances back at you, eyes burning with an emotion you are not sure you can name.
"Daughter, remember, you are a Dimitrescu. That means you are above everyone. Even Heisenberg and his...man-like ways."
As the door closes behind her, you can't help the dry laughter that leaves you.
"Oh, Mother, I'm really not."
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