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02 June 2006 @ 12:25 am
Numb3rs Fic: A Year of Grief  
Written for numb3rsflashfic Challenge #16 - Death


Title: A Year of Grief
Pairing/Characters: Charlie
Rating: PG13
Spoilers: UP, The Running Man
Summary: Every month Charlie feels the loss of his mother
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ

Other comments are housed at numb3rsflashfic.


January

The garage is bitter cold. Charlie's t-shirt is thin. His father brings him soup. Amita brings him a sweater. He ignores both. Don brings in a space heater, plugs it in, sets it on high and leaves without a word. An hour later Charlie defrosts into a puddle on the floor.

February

Charlie sits in her room whenever Alan leaves the house, which isn't often. He knows his parents' bed, knows which pillow is hers and crushes it to his chest until he hears his father's car in the driveway. If Alan knows about these intrusions into his private space he keeps it to himself. He won't ask. Charlie won't tell.

March

A thousand faces stare at him as he stands speechless at the podium. They wait for him to begin his keynote address, but all that's in his head is, "Welcome to tonight's keynote presentation. I'm Margaret Mannheim and it's my pleasure to present Dr. Charles Eppes..."

April

Amita tries to pull him under her umbrella and out of the rain, but Charlie shrugs off her gentle hand and keeps walking in the downpour. Already soaked, he figures he doesn't have to rush anywhere and no one will question the source of the wetness streaming down his face.

May

Spiraling out of control, he follows the petals, follows his Fibonacci numbers in the garden, seeking the comfort of familiar things in familiar places. He snaps a blossom off, but immediately regrets it. It's a living thing and he's killed it. The once perfect bloom will only wither and die now. Alan doesn't know why Charlie runs upstairs in tears, but he puts the discarded flower in water and places the vase beside his wife's picture.

June

Sleeping warm and content in the sun, peace erasing the early lines on his face, there is no fear, no pain, no death. Until he wakes. Every time Charlie wakes to a world without her in it he thinks it should hurt a little less. It doesn't.

July

Charlie can't wrap Don's gift. It feels too much like a celebration to open presents and it's too soon, too raw, for any of them to celebrate. He returns it and buys his brother a lifetime membership to his batting cage instead. Charlie broods. Don hits things. Charlie figures it's like paying for therapy for Don, only this way he'll actually go.

August

Charlie's desk is an avalanche of new term paperwork, ever growing, never ceasing. He stares at it, but it never goes away, unlike the assistants who slink off when he yells that no, his paperwork isn't ready for the dean yet. He finally loses it, pushing it all from his desk, wiping the surface clean with a sweep of his arms. He brushes brusquely past Larry, who is stunned by the carnage as he enters, and screams, "I can't do this!"

September

Charlie tosses the stack of unopened birthday cards left on his desk into the same long ignored drawer that holds the stack of unopened sympathy cards. He slams the drawer shut, impatient to forget the day, forget that she's not at home baking his favorite cake flavored with mother love and kisses. The cards haunt him though and he angrily yanks the drawer open, spilling the contents all over. He sits on the floor and feeds them all through the cross-cut shredder, little white paper diamonds and tears littering the carpet.

October

He is glass – shimmering, fragile and trying so hard to reflect on better days. The words, "Happy Birthday, Mom," are wrenched from him. He bends to lay the flowers down, but the physics of glass say it cannot bend and he breaks, laying in pieces on the grass, waiting to be found and put back together again by those who remain.

November

Dia de los Muertos. All Souls. All Saints. Charlie isn't sure what he believes, but he sneaks away and pays a medium to tell him reassuring things even if there's no way they're real.

December

Snowflakes snuggle into his curls for a long winter sleep. Charlie is a tree, silent and small amongst the sequoias. Immobile, the cold envelopes him, penetrates him, makes him feel then makes him numb.

=
 
 
 
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on June 2nd, 2006 07:30 am (UTC)
Confession
I wrote this on 5/31 just off a random idea. (I blame asemic since she did The Color Wheel and Seven Deadly Sins which got me thinking more about pulling structures from life.) I was trying to figure out where to post this and it hit me that I hadn't posted at numb3rsflashfic in a while. I mozied on over to see what the current prompt was and lo and behold – it's Death. Synchronicity. So to be honest, I didn't write this fic for that challenge, but it's a good match regardless.

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais
NV: BtVS - Cryingneur0vanity on June 2nd, 2006 05:46 pm (UTC)
Spiraling out of control, he follows the petals, follows his Fibonacci numbers in the garden, seeking the comfort of familiar things in familiar places. He snaps a blossom off, but immediately regrets it. It's a living thing and he's killed it. The once perfect bloom will only wither and die now. Alan doesn't know why Charlie runs upstairs in tears, but he puts the discarded flower in water and places the vase beside his wife's picture.

That paragraph really got to me. It's so human and real and raw.
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on June 2nd, 2006 06:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

One doesn't have to be Buddhist to feel bad about snuffing out life, no matter how minor.

I almost ended it early, but I liked the idea that Alan - older and wiser - could see that sharing that beauty with his wife honored her instead of focusing on the destruction and loss.

Thanks for your wonderful comment.

-Emma
the angst bunny: numb3rs-colbymakeitstopjamie on July 5th, 2006 05:57 pm (UTC)
Very nice story! I like how you gave snippets of Charlie's grife month by month. Very well done!
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on July 6th, 2006 01:07 am (UTC)
Thank you. I think this was yet another fic inspired by asemic's structured fic like The Color Wheel and Seven Deadly Sins. She's just way better at it than I am. ;-)

-Emma