ff_carina_icon.gif elisabeth_icon4.gif

Scene Title Mother
Synopsis Elisabeth Harrison is confronted with the most painful of phantoms.
Date November 25, 2018

The Featherweight

Church of the Ascension, Docks

The New York Pelago

A cool breeze whisp across the deck of the Featherweight. The sea birds have gone quiet, stilled by a subharmonic tremor vibrating up from the deck of the ship, an emotional aftershock from Elisabeth Harrison’s jarring revelation that now stands ten feet from her.

Carina Harrison likewise resonates with a sense of uncertainty and tension. Her damaged, blonde hair whipping in the cool wind, damp and wavy from the moisture in the air. Her silent tears are from a complex mixture of emotions, restrained as best as they can be behind the stoic facade of a woman who has survived on that stony demeanor. But deep down inside, Elisabeth can still see the woman her mother was. Behind those sad, blue eyes is the woman that raised her.

Or, perhaps, a ghost thereof.

Aurora looks like she doesn't know which end is up, and she's backpedaled to a spot near the door as the others slipped out, crouching into a little ball with her knees to her chin to make herself a smaller target. Her wide hazel eyes are watching her mother and this woman that Mummy called Mom with a wary expression.

For her part, Elisabeth's eyes haven't left the sight of her mother's face. Battered as this version of her mother is… she's alive. And Liz never got to say goodbye to her mother, so there's a this sense of being disconnected, standing outside herself watching all this as it happens to her. Grief, loss, the surge of tangled joyous love that hits, they're too much to process all at once. "M-m-mama…" The stutter, almost completely conquered in childhood, resurges into her speech pattern now. And her hand flies to mouth to cover it even as she begins to step forward, aborts the movement, starts again, and once more stops herself. It's a weird little wavering dance of movements there.

And finally, without realizing that it was coming, she's hit by the tidal wave. Elisabeth literally sinks to her knees as they give out under her and covers her face with both hands to at least attempt to stifle the explosive sobs that wrack her whole body.

Carina remains stone-faced, even if there’s cracks in the facade. They’re represented by the reddening of her eyes, watering as they are as she fights back tears. Confusion is visible in the deep furrow of her brows and the slack-jawed cast of her mouth before she remembers herself. Shakily, Carina takes a step forward and remains silent, wary in the way feral animals are of strangers. Curious and cautious.

How?” Is Carina’s first words to Elisabeth in decades. When she was younger, she’d rehearsed how they’d be reunited, after the feds found her and her father. Later she’d rehearse the things she’d say at their funerals once their bodies were found. Eventually, she stopped rehearsing for days that wouldn’t ever come. The hope died with that too, hope that Elisabeth would ever be found, hope that her husband was still out there. But this was an unimaginable thing. This was a nightmare and a dream, both unable to be roused from.

Carina wants this to be real. That much is clear in her desperate reiteration, in the crack of her voice and the trembling of her hands. “How?” It’s a demand, not a question. She’s not asking Elisabeth either, she’s asking God. How dare you.

Shaking her head in the negative, Elisabeth fights for a composure that has deserted her completely. It's not pretty or delicate or anything but gut-wrenching. Aurora scoots into an even smaller ball, huge little-girl eyes on the woman speaking to her mother with the sharpness in her voice that Aura's only ever heard in Mummy's tone when people were shooting. Or when she was about to step into the road and get hit by a car. She heard it that time too. But it's scarier in the deep green of this lady's voice.

Sucking in a breath and holding it, Liz fights the rise of the hum around her, anxiety ramped into the stratosphere. Her heart is pounding so hard in her ears she can barely hear anything and there are spots in front of her eyes. BREATHE, goddamn it. When she brings her face out of her hands, it's to the sight of her mother… oh god, her mother. The tears want free again. Sitting on her knees in the middle of the room, she's not a soldier or a cop or even a mother herself in this moment — she's just a girl whose mother was obliterated in a fiery death and of whom there was nothing left to even bury.

"Did we go into the river?" Elisabeth asks in a choked voice. "I don't know exactly what happened. I can't remember. Daddy… tried to get us out. And then we were… somewhere else. This is going to sound crazy. Another world. Through… a wormhole." Because that makes any fucking sense at all. The words spill out of her faster and faster — she needs Carina to believe her. "They wiped our memories of where we were actually from. I…. think that world's version of me and Daddy had died. And so they wiped everything, made that world's version of you think we'd survived, and re-inserted us into their lives as if no one died." It's a ridiculous story. And yet it rings with truth. Her blue eyes are still flooding with tears that she can't stop. "And then you died… in 2006, Mom. You were gone."

Tears roll down Carina’s cheeks, even though her expression does not emote anything other than placidity and impassiveness. Her heart betrays her here like never before. “How could you know that?” Carina asks in a hushed whisper, taking a slow step closer. “How?” Once more, a strangled demand, but this one rhetorical. She knows the answer, and in spite of the insane story that goes with it, this world of the superhuman and supernatural has broken her ability to believe anything is impossible.

But this world has also broken Carina’s ability to trust.

“We went into the river,” Carina agreed in a hoarse whisper. “I was unconscious. I— woke up in a hospital. Two and a half weeks later. I'd suffocated, had a severe brain injury…” her brows pinch together, eyes search the woman in front of her for the tells and quirks of deception or recognition of this side of the story. A story she professed to not know. “I woke up to a world where you and your father vanished without a trace.”

Carina wipes the tears from her cheeks, hastily, angrily. “I waited, I mourned, and then— I had to move on.” But Elisabeth can feel that deception in the tenor of Carina’s voice. She never moved on.

Sorrow is what shows in every line of Elisabeth's body language. But no recognition of the story itself. "I only know… as much as I've said. And only because someone told me," she admits quietly. "Or rather… showed me. Like a movie. I saw a crash. A bad one. And I think you hit your head. Daddy…" she trails off and says softly. "His face… when he knew he had to choose between us." She won't ever forget that expression, seen through the lens of an adult perspective. Her father had been forced to leave her mother to drown. That he doesn't know it and that Elisabeth herself doesn't actually possess the memory … at this moment, that is a blessing beyond compare. Liz is not even 100 percent sure that her father didn't die in the river… right now, she has to assume that the same thing happened to her as happened to Bright Liz.

"There were lights in the sky. Like the northern lights. And the rest is… just gone. I only have the memories of my life in that world. And the memories of… my childhood. Here, I would guess." After all, they wouldn't be so different.

A swift look toward Aurora and Liz forces herself to her feet, slowly fighting for some semblance of equilibrium. Aurora looks afraid and Liz can't have that, shooting her daughter a reassuring, albeit small, smile before returning her eyes to her mother. "I'm so sorry," she tells her mother, gaze drinking in the way the woman looks though her silent tears still slip down her cheek. "I didn't know… you were alive here. I wouldn't have …" Just shown up like this? Not like there were exactly options. Except perhaps for complete avoidance. Could she have done it? She managed with her father in Bright… but not really. She used to spy on him sometimes. Being handed this is both joy and agony. "Are you…. Okay? Now?"

Elisabeth sees so much of herself in Carina’s eyes. Not in the way she did growing up, but in the woman that Elisabeth has become: a trauma survivor and soldier. Carina compartmentalizes her pain in the same way, by eliding her stare from Aurora, but ignoring the emotional topics and questions, refusing to acknowledge the knife in her heart and soldier on.

“It comes and goes,” Carina says far belatedly, struggling to make the words come out of her mouth. “I was in physical therapy for two years after the accident, had to learn how to walk again. Used to take medication for… phantom pain. But they'd stopped making that when the world up and ended.” Her blue eyes track the creases in her daughter’s face, jaw ever so often unsteady.

Elisabeth knows the symptoms of oxygen deprivation on the brain. Personality shifts, phantom pain, memory loss, physical impairment. It's a buffet table of injuries that vary from person to person. None of which are pleasant and all of which are life-changing.

“Is she…” Carina asks with an uneasiness in her voice, looking to Aurora and back up to Elisabeth. She can't avoid acknowledging the child's presence anymore.

The litany of problems that come with oxygen deprivation is horrible. And that her mother — her brilliant legal mind stolen from her and her bubbly, funny personality changed so irrefutably — makes Elisabeth's chest ache. Is she…? Liz has to parse through what's being asked with that query. Her own mother never knew, so far as Elisabeth was ever aware, that Liz had a power. So it's not the first thing that comes to mind. The first thing that comes out of her mouth to her mother is an age.

"She's six."

"Six and a half," murmurs the little girl. Petite and perhaps small for her age, Aurora stubbornly remains curled in a ball in the corner, peering up over her knees.

Elisabeth's expression eases a bit into a true smile. "Okay, okay. Six and a half, Tink." She rolls her eyes just a bit. The Tinkerbell nickname is Kain's doing from when Aura started tinkering with radios with him during Wasteland, and now it's stuck to her petite pixie of a child. "Aurora, this is… my mom. Your nana. Her name is Carina." She's uncertain what her child will call this woman. And the uneasiness in her mother's expression brings a furrow to her brow. Then it hits her what Carina was more likely asking, and Liz nods slightly. "She is. We don't know what her ability might be, but…" She shrugs a little and shifts her weight on the balls of her own feet now. "So am I." Because maybe it changes the way her mother looks at her. Elisabeth isn't sure how she'll feel about that.

Carina’s expression flashes with shock. “I meant— is she yours.” Blue eyes flick to the child, then up to Elisabeth, and finally Carina’s mask starts to crack. Her jaw trembles, hands unsteady, and she takes in a slow and shuddering breath. “You're— ” She fails to find the words.

“I thought it was because of my accident.” Carina whispers, and it's clear that education about Evolved abilities isn't great here. Without the Company in the picture, that's understandable. “I thought I— is it sound for you too?” She's clinging to this one thing they share in common, as if she were just talking to a stranger she'd casually met. This is normal, she tells herself.

“Connie could do sound too,” Carina says, without explaining who that is. The name is unfamiliar to Elisabeth. “Before— before they got—” Tears fill her eyes again, her hands shake, and she's starting to lose her grasp on rational things, starting to try and rationalize Elisabeth, here, and it's pulling her apart at the seams.

Oh! That first makes her grin a little. "Yes… she's mine." Elisabeth is proud of the little girl, and it shows in every line of her expression. And then she tips her head as Carina explains, shock rendering her mute again for a long moment. "You're… " Oh. Oh God. Swallowing hard, Elisabeth nods a little and starts to laugh — she can't help it. "Yes… it's sound for me too. Apparently, uhm, our ability has some dominant characteristics." She reaches up to wipe her cheeks, thinking of Joshua and of Cameron too. Wondering if Cameron and Aurora will have sound-based abilities.

But she tilts her head and asks, "Who is Connie?" And then that's less important than the fact that her mother is losing it in front of her eyes. And where Carina hesitated to trust, Elisabeth finally takes that step forward and wraps her arms around her mother. "It's… such a long, crazy story, mama," she whispers. She only ever called her mother that as a small child, but somehow… here and now, it's slipping out. "I'm so sorry to put you through this."

Carina is frozen through the embrace, her hair smells of cigarettes and the sea. Her posture is stiff, back straight, arms limp at her sides. There's a distant look in her eyes, like she's anywhere but here at the present moment. “Connie…” Carina says, and even her voice has a distant quality as she focuses on the mundane question. “Connie came after you and your father left. When I was in rehab, I hit rock bottom.” Carina is trembling, and Elisabeth can feel the subsonic microvibrations that comes with that, an expression of whatever it is her mother does.

“I got into debt. Gambling.” Carina swallows dryly, and as if possessed by another woman slowly reaches up and wraps her arms around Elisabeth. “Connie helped bail me out. Helped me stay off of Mr. d’Sarthe’s radar. He was… a handsome young man. Funny, kind. He helped me. He helped me heal.” There's a sudden sense in Elisabeth, a twist in her stomach as a thought lines up.

“The Vanguard killed him.” Carina explains, and before she gives any further context Elisabeth has pieced it together. Some people share the same fate, no matter what world it's in. “I never even got to bury him. I just— have his stupid Nicks jacket and— and a fucking pair of sunglasses to remember him by.”

Connie is Conrad. Conrad Wozniak.

Holding her mother tightly, the vibrations are familiar even if the scent and feel of the woman are not. Elisabeth tends to set the world to rattling when she's rattled. The inkling about "Connie's" identity confirmed when Carina says the Vanguard killed him, Elisabeth flinches slightly. She could never bury him either, his body lost beneath ConEd, but he has his own place deep in her heart. And then she's laughing quietly, because… of course Conrad Wozniak turns up somewhere in this story. Why the hell not? When she draws away from her mother, she's chuckling despite the tears that are still escaping to slide down her cheek occasionally. It's nearly automatic now, what with using her abilities to soothe fractious infants and toddlers for years, to emit an inaudible hum to calm her mother if she can.

"He was… a handsome young man indeed," she agrees, amused as hell. "In my world… he helped me learn how to use my power, too." Her hand cradles her mother's cheek. Some things, perhaps, are meant to be. "He saved a lot of people in my world, fighting the Vanguard. He was … an incredible guy. And he'd love that you have his jacket and sunglasses." Her tone is gentle, because she's uncertain how to deal with her mother in all this. Her seemingly fragile mother. "I'm glad that you had him. You couldn't have had a better teacher. Or friend."

Elisabeth wants nothing more than to simply climb into those arms and cry for all that she has lost… to hold her mother and be the child. But her mother clearly doesn't need that, and Aurora doesn't need to see that, and truth be told, the whole situation suddenly feels so awkward. Because it's her mother and yet not. Liz is not even sure… is this the one that she remembers from when she was 5? Were all those memories changed? She was… somewhere around 8 when the car accident happened… are all her memories before that of this mom while the later ones are the other mom? She's so confused.

“I still don’t understand,” Carina admits with a shaky voice, watching Elisabeth. “How… how you could know him, where you’ve been. I— I just…” She looks at Aurora again, really looks at her this time, sees in her eyes the daughter she lost decades ago to a twist of fate she doesn’t even fully understand. The tears come again, and this time it’s Carina who steps in to embrace Elisabeth.

Carina’s grip is tight - adamant — and shows no sign of release. Burying her face into Elisabeth’s shoulder, the older woman who had endured so much to get to this point collapses under the weight of her own past. All of the walls she’s raised over decades of hard living crumble like wet sand. Carina sobs into her daughter’s shoulder, fingers winding into the fabric of her jacket, blonde hair hiding her face as much as it can.

Neither of them have the capacity for true explanation right now, or understanding. Instead, there is just decades of grief replaced by something as painful, something more tenuous than the certainty of loss, something more precious than a lifetime of mourning. Carina is stricken with the one thing she’d promised herself she’d never give in to again.


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