Que Sera Sera

Participants:

des2_icon.gif mara_icon.gif

Scene Title Que Sera Sera
Synopsis When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, what will I be. Will I be pretty? Will I be rich? Here's what she said to me…
Date November 22, 2018

Staten Island Trade Commission


Thanksgiving is about family. At least, that’s what Des has always been led to believe. She’s had the feasts, in fluorescent-lit cafeteria halls, surrounded by people married to their jobs, but never the sense of community about it. This year, she has a family. Or something that resembles one passably - if it’s squinted at hard enough.

Crackling merrily, a fire burns in a stovepipe hearth, heating a small area of space where a modest dining table has been set up. A picnic basket sits in the center, flanked by candles to provide a little extra light, and make it seem a bit warmer.

“C’mon! But don’t look up!” Des tugs on Mara’s arm, leading her into the space she’s prepared. Once she has her centered into the room, she grins. “Okay, okay, you can look now.” One arm sweeps out to indicate the set table, plates, silverware, and glasses she’s swiped from Alister. “Ta-dah!”

Brilliantly dazzled by the implication of the spread, the normally taciturn Mara stares in wide-eyed wonder for a moment. She forgets Des is holding her hand, forgets she's not alone in the room, and slips from her daughter’s side to slowly circle the table. Lips parted, Mara runs her fingertips along the surface of the table, touching one of the glasses, then picks up a too-nice-for-Staten-Island fork.

“You did all of this?” Mara doesn't simply mean effort, there's an undercurrent of something else, more opaque. “I'm…” slowly, Mara looks over to Des and sets the fork down on the table. “It's been years since I celebrated thanksgiving.” Her blue eyes sweep back to the spread on the table, fascinated by the way light glints off the silverware. “It was…”

And then nothing.

Mara looks up from the table, some of the wonder fading from her eyes. “Is… there food, too?” She asks hesitantly, as if uncertain of which answer she expects.

Des had expected a much more subdued response. Seeing Mara react this way makes her heart ache. (In the good way.) As the blonde circles the table, she smiles slowly. “Yeah. I snuck out to the mainland to stock up.” And is it really stealing food if you leave enough cash to pay for it?

Mara’s awe stokes Des’ excitement. She got this right. But she tips her head from one side to the other as if uncertain of how to answer the question about food. She aims to distract from that momentary quiet. “It’s sooort of Schrodinger's picnic basket right now,” she tells her mother. “I packed some food, but is it better than what I packed?” With Mara’s gift for the improbable at play… “I don’t know!” Des gestures to the woven vessel in the middle of the table. “Let’s find out!” With a flick of her fingertips, she lifts up the lid on one side. Then peeks, hoping for a miracle. But hot turkey sandwiches with gravy isn’t so bad.


????


The lid Des holds in her hand is glass, once having covered a pumpkin pie of a platter. The dining room table is set with four spaces, silverware out, fat red pillar candles lit at the center of the table, some silk autumn leaves wound around their base with plastic cranberries. The carpeting on the floor is rich, caramel brown shag, and the cream-colored furniture is accented by brass and wood. It’s dark outside, but the lambent glow of the television in the living room casts dancing shadows of unoccupied chairs and unlit lamps. There’s music coming from there too, an old song.

When I was a little girl

I asked my mother, what will I be?

It takes a minute for Des to realize she’s alone in an unfamiliar house. Though this house has wood paneling on its walls and shag carpeting, it isn’t the house of her nightmares. It’s nicer, wealthier. It looks like dinner was already served at some point, the plates have scraps of food on them, chairs are pulled out. There’s an empty wine bottle and one glass.

Will I be pretty?

Will I be rich?

That’s when she hears a sound that makes her heart leap into her throat. A hammering of a fist on a wooden door, not coming from the living room but rather from the kitchen behind her. A few more pounds, then muffled screams. Not really words, just panicked, keening noises of a terrified young woman.

Here’s what she said to me

“You’re a worthless little piece of shit! You know that!?” A louder voice, not muffled by a door, calls from the kitchen. She has a smoker’s rasp to her voice, speech slurred just as much as a bottle of wine might cause. “Stop crying!

This isn’t her nightmare. But it is someone’s. Color drains from her face along with the previous feeling of jubilation. Carefully, Des sets the glass cover back down with only the softest clink, drowned out by the shouting in the kitchen anyways. With her pulse pounding in her neck, she turns away from the table and starts toward the kitchen slowly.

As she clears the end of the table, her hand trails along behind her for a moment, fingers wrapping around the neck of the empty bottle.

Que Sera Sera

Whatever will be, will be

Sobs are now coming from the kitchen, and as Des comes around the corner of the doorway she sees a woman in her early forties with frizzy, permed hair in a slouchy brick red sweater standing in front of a narrow pantry door beside an open door that goes to descending stairs. “I’ll give you something to cry about!” The drunk woman says, leaning away from the door and hauling it open. Inside the cramped pantry, Des sees a terrified young woman with choppy blonde hair and pale blue eyes, face beat red and eyes streaked with tears. “Come here you little shit!” The drunk woman says, grabbing the girl by the arm. “Come here!”

The future’s not ours to see

Que Sera Sera

What will be, will be

The young girl, no older than five or six, is dragged from the pantry where she was being held and hauled over to the basement stairs. “Get in there!” The drunk woman howls over the sobbing pleas of the confused and frightened child who tries to dig in her heels. “No!” The woman screams. “I told you to stop crying!” Then, forcing the blonde girl to the stairs she adds, “The bad girl gets a time out!”

When I grew up and fell in love

I asked my sweetheart, what lies ahead

“Get down the stairs!” The drunk woman screams at the top of her lungs, hauling the child to the top step and then shoving her forward. “Get down there!” There’s an audible scream as the girl tumbles down the steps.

Will we have rainbows?

Day after day

The exchange leaves Des standing stunned in the doorway for a long moment, disbelieving the cruelty and the senselessness. Wondering in the back of her mind when she became this person, she finally shakes herself out of it. The person she is now doesn’t stand for things like this.

“Hey!” Narrowing her eyes, Des clutches the bottle in her hand even tighter, prepared to swing it as a makeshift weapon. “Leave her alone!”


Staten Island Trade Commission


There’s nothing under the lid.

Mara stares down at it, pale face flushed red, tears welled up in her pale blue eyes to stream down her cheeks. She’s trembling, vacantly staring off at a point in space. Contrasting sharply against her pale skin is the thin line of blood running from her nose and down her upper lip, and the bloodshot quality of one of her eyes.

The basket lid falls back into place as Des startles at the return to her own reality. The bottle in her hand has vanished, like the shag carpet beneath her feet and the wood panel on the walls. “M- Mom?” Des reaches a hand out tentatively to touch the other woman’s shoulder.

“Was that… you?”

Swallowing back a sob, Mara closes her eyes and exhales a ragged breath. One hand comes up quick to dry her eyes, and she slowly shakes her head in the negative. “No,” she’s quick to answer, “I— that never happened.” Scrubbing at her eyes with the heel of her palm, Mara pulls a bloodied hand back and looks nervous. She’s quick to snatch a cloth napkin off of the table, bringing it to her nose as if expecting — correctly so — that’s where the blood is coming from.

She swallows loudly, then looks to Des with a worried crease of her brows. “That wasn’t me,” she reiterates, shakily. Des isn’t as convinced. The girl looked exactly like her, down to the prominent nose and blue eyes.

“But she looked like you, didn’t she?” Des is a little uncertain, but not about that resemblance. “Here. Let me,” she murmurs quietly, taking the napkin from Mara and resting her other hand gently on her forehead while she works to clean her face and stop the flow of blood.

“If it wasn’t you,” she’ll take that at face value for the time being, “could it have been another… I mean, maybe that was… Rianna?” Her mother from this world may have had a radically different upbringing than the woman in front of her did. “Has—”

Des groans in frustration with herself. “I should be way more freaked out by this. What does that say about my life? Oh, just another weird vision about a life that’s not mine. No big deal.” She shakes her head and lets her hand drift from Mara’s forehead down to her shoulder instead. “This isn’t the first time this has happened to you, is it?”

Sheepish and helpless to resist Des’ turnabout of mothering, the most Mara can do is lever herself down into a chair to make their height disparity less obvious. “No,” she reluctantly admits. “It’s…” This close, Des notices that Mara’s pupils are saucer wide, and she’s seen this sort of effect before. Most usually in the form of Tamara Brooks when she’s in full control of her faculties and pushing her ability. There’s a vein in Mara’s brow that isn’t usually there either.

“Des,” Mara says with a shaky tone of voice, “I— haven’t been entirely honest with you.” Her blue eyes flick over to her ostensible daughter, jaw unsteadied and gaze erratic, looking around the room. She wrings her hands together, fidgeting, shoulders hunched forward. “I can’t really control this,” comes with a small wave of her hands as if indicating the room around herself, “or— a lot. I’m… like a leaf on a river.”

“I… guessed that a while ago,” Des admits without judgement. The napkin is pulled away, examined a moment, then the corner folded in so she can press a clean edge to the bottom of Mara’s nose again. “You’re overextending your ability.” Her tone is even, and she forces the concern to stay in her chest and off her tongue. “Try to think about something that makes you feel calm. In control.” Whether or not that will actually work for Mara, well… It shouldn’t hurt anything anyway.

“Has it always been like this? Or just since 2011?”

Mara doesn’t answer. She closes her eyes, shaking her head as her fingers wind toward her palm, making shaky fists in her lap. For a minute, it seems like she won’t say anything at all, but at another touch to her nose, she looks up to Des with wide, dark eyes ringed with a sliver of blue. “I don’t know who I am,” is the most heartbreakingly Price family phrase.

Looking down to her lap, Mara’s face is flushed red with embarrassment and her brows trembling with anxiety. “Everything I believed about myself was told to me by Arthur Petrelli. I believed in him. I trusted him. But the more I’m here… the more I hear from people… the more I realize I can’t— I can’t trust what he told me.” Worried eyes raise to Des, and Mara shakes her head.

“I— woke up in a medical wing in… the Pinehearst facility in New Jersey. I was dead, Odessa.” Odessa, not Des. “There… there was a woman in the room with Arthur, it’s hard to remember her face, but she was dressed like a soldier. Everything’s so…” Mara brings a hand up to her forehead.

Odessa swallows back a wave of emotion. I don’t know who I am is something she’s said to herself and to others more than she can remember now. She knows how terrible that feels. To see someone else struggle with it makes fresh the heartbreak.

She listens, brows furrowing with her empathy. “He lied to both of us.” She tacitly includes Odessa Woods in this statement. “You don’t remember anything from before you woke up?” Maybe that’s what happens when someone’s dead too long. Maybe they start to forget? “My… My friends try and tell me the past doesn’t matter. That the things that I can’t remember aren’t what made me. But I know that’s… The things I can’t remember are still important, somehow. I won’t tell you they aren’t. But what we do with the memories we have… That’s just as important.”

Satisfied that she’s stanched the flow of blood, Des withdraws the napkin and wads it up in her hand, tucking the stains inside and away as though it never happened. “We have each other and we can work it out together.”

Exhaling a shuddering sigh, Mara nods and testingly dabs her fingertips at her nose, and they pull away clean. “Thank you,” comes in a whisper, followed by an aversion of her eyes down to her lap again. What Des said keeps Mara in thought, her brows scrunched together, eyes narrowed and lips pressed into a thin line. She doesn’t like where it’s led her.

“I think I’ve hurt people,” Mara confesses, looking up to Des. “When I came here, after— after Natazhat exploded, I was— I was nearly struck by a car. I can remember that if I think about it hard enough, but at the same time I remember driving the car and hitting a woman who— ” she sighs again, moving her hand back up to her forehead.

“When you left Raytech, was I… did I change?” Mara looks away, as if afraid to ask that question. “Have I always been like this? Is— is this me? Or…” Her eyes sweep from side to side, considering the possibilities. “Or… did something happen? I’m still me when I look in the mirror, but sometimes I… I…” Her voice cracks. “Sometimes I feel like someone else inside.”

“It’s… hard to explain.” Which is probably the understatement of the decade. Des shakes her head and takes a moment to compose her thoughts. “When it’s just us? You feel like you. Like you were when we went for dinner at Raytech and I found out who you really were. When we’re with others… it’s like you’re somebody else sometimes. When you were Sera, you were all out of sorts. Now? You’re tough as nails.”

All of that feels honest, but somehow wrong to say. “I don’t know if it brings out stronger aspects of you - if this is just how you are - or… what.” A tear rolls down her cheek and Des is quick to wipe it away with the heel of her hand. Her tears aren’t helpful here. “It’s like you’re…” A ghost. “I don’t know. Your ability is incredible.”

Mara makes a soft sound in the back of her throat, nodding along with the explanation. “I remember being raised by a family. I remember… growing up on Staten Island. I didn’t grow up on Staten Island,” she says with another crack in her voice. “I… but it’s there, like a dream. This uh, this woman… came by the Trade Commission a few weeks back.”

Struggling to recall the name, Mara’s pupils widen. “Eve.” She looks up to Des. “I… I think I had a conversation with her. But I can barely remember it. I know I talked about my family, though, but it felt like…” she shakes her head. “It feels like it was a dream.” Slowly calming herself, Mara closes her eyes and runs her teeth along the inside of her bottom lip.

“Ever since the lights in the sky,” Mara says as she opens her eyes, “I haven’t been able to sleep. I’ve had headaches, I’ve— I’ve felt like I’m being pulled apart at the seams.” All things she feared to confess, feared to worry Des over. But now, as the truth comes flowing, Mara is frightened. “I’m— I’m scared and I don’t know who to turn to for help.” And, as Des knows, asking is always the hardest part.

“Eve Mas?” Des frowns thoughtfully. There are tons of other women in the world with that name, but it would make a certain kind of sense for this one to be lingering around the Trade Commission. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, does it?

There’s more pressing concerns in what Mara’s had to say. “Everything’s changed.” She gestures with one hand toward the window and those lights. “I feel it too, but… not in the same way you do.” If she did, maybe she could help. At least neither would be facing the prospect of oblivion alone. Maybe that’s still what’s happening.

“It’s like the worlds are colliding. I… I saw myself die — again — in another life.” Now she begins to cry again and doesn’t hide it. What Odessa did to save James is heartbreaking. She didn’t have the strength to do it herself for…

“But we’re going to figure it out.” Des clutches Mara’s hands tightly in her own. “You won’t be torn apart. We’ll… We can talk to Richard. Or maybe someone at the Deveaux Society can help. They always seem to be a step ahead…”

Deveaux?” Mara’s eyes search Des’, and her hands grip back tightly. “N-No… No something about that— ” one of her eyes narrows, brow twitching, “not them.” Something about the name sits ill-well with her, but she can’t quite place why.

“I trust Richard,” Mara says with a confidence that most people who say that only do reluctantly. “He’s… he treats you well. I don’t think I trust anyone else with this secret. I— ” Mara furrows her brows, looking down to Des’ hands, then back up again. “Can I ask you something?”

Mara doesn’t wait for the explicit permission, the trust between them is an implicit one. “Are you happy?”

“Okay, okay,” Des murmurs placatingly. “No Deveaux.” Trust is an issue she understands well. And if she’s being honest, she isn’t sure she can trust them either. Richard seems to, but he hasn’t set himself up for disaster the way that she has.

Des considers this trust for a moment and smiles faintly, briefly. “Richard loves me, for some reason. He’ll take care of me and he’ll take care of you. We can trust him.”

Then, Mara asks that question, and the traces of that smile are banished. “No. Not for a long time. And I only have myself to blame for that.”

The answer has Mara’s eyes averting to her lap, then over to the basket lid that had gone forgotten on the table. Her brows furrowed, she tilts her chin up to get a better look inside the basket. Des can see as well, the steam rising up from food inside that wasn’t there a moment ago.

Mara looks back, squeezing Des’ hands. “Me either.”


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License