Marie found herself sitting alone in the living room with her parents. She and Logan had talked and agreed that they would spend the night in her old bed. He reluctantly left her to go collect their things from the motel.
And now she looked from one person to the other, angry that they had lied to her all her life, although she understood why they would. If she had known the truth, then things wouldn’t have turned out the way they had.
“Tell me about my mother. What was she like?” Marie asked quietly. She had so many questions going threw her mind, but wasn’t sure where to start. “What was her ability?”
“She was a healer. Not like your man, though. She couldn’t heal herself,” Leah explained quietly. “It wasn’t very strong. When she touched someone else, she would heal small things. A cut or a bruise. It just depended on the size of who ever she was trying to heal, really. The smallest thing was a bird that had broken his wing. She had picked it up and, the next thing we knew, the bird was flying straight again, like it was nothing.”
Leah looked out the giant bay window into the afternoon sky, remembering something. “We found out when she was fifteen and I was seventeen. Tommy, our little brother, was walking home from school. He was only about nine at the time. Our school let out earlier than his, so we would walk and meet him half way. There was this house that we would have to walk by. They had this dog. Meanest mutt I had ever seen. Well, someone must have left the gate open or something, because when Tommy walked by, the dog got out and attacked him. We were just a stone throw’s away, so we ran to help him. I pulled the dog off and he ran into the yard. I closed the gate so he wouldn’t get out and Prissy was throwing Tommy over her shoulder. There was so much blood, but, by the time we got him home, the bite had healed so well, you couldn’t even tell. Besides the blood that is. It was only a few days after that we found the bird, so we knew that it wasn’t Tommy.”
Leah looked back at her, and Marie could almost feel the pain coming off of her. “I found out about my powers later that night. Tommy had woken up from a nightmare, and since mine and Prissy’s room was next to his, and my bed shared a wall with his, I was the first to hear him. We didn’t tell Momma and Daddy anything, so I had to calm him down before they heard him. He had been dreaming about the dog and didn’t want to be left alone. So I held him. And I just kept wishing that he would just forget the whole thing and we could go back to normal. Suddenly, I felt something strange, something kind of like a magnet. And then Tommy just passed out. When he woke up the next morning, he had no memory of what happened with the dog.”
“What happened to the dog?” Marie asked pointedly. She was a little nervous that the dog might have been able to do the same thing to another child.
“Prissy and I went to the house the next day, but the dog was gone and we never saw him again. Like he just disappeared. As far as I know, his owners saw what happened and got rid of him before he could bite again.” Leah shrugged her shoulders.
“And what about my momma? Who was she?” Marie got back on the subject even though it was obvious it was hurting Leah. But it was important. She needed to understand who’s blood was running through her veins.
“Your momma was a handful. You look a lot like she did. Except your hair. Hers was lighter. You got that from Owen.” Leah’s fingers twitched and Marie couldn’t help but wonder if she wanted to reach out to her. “She was a wild one, your momma. She didn’t like to take orders from anyone. I don’t even know how she was able to get through school the way she did. Straight A’s in every thing. She just couldn’t follow direction, and forget trying to tell her to be still. That girl couldn’t stand still if her life depended on it. When she was twelve, Momma started to let her stay home from church with Daddy just because she was tired of trying to get the girl to calm down. Of course, me and Tommy weren’t too upset. Daddy would make her scrub the floors. But she didn’t really mind, either. Said she would rather be doing that than sitting on those hard pews, anyway.”
“How did she meet my daddy?” Marie asked genuinely.
“I think I am going to go upstairs and make sure Marie’s room is suitable for her and her guest,” Ray interjected quickly, hurrying to make his way out of the room. Marie got the feeling that there were things that he didn’t want to hear about, and this was one of them.
“Actually, she met him because of me. When I was eighteen, I broke things off with Ray. You have to remember, we’d been together for a long time already. I knew I loved him, had known for years, but I felt like I needed to know what I was going to miss out on. I wanted to know what it was like to go out on a real first date with someone who didn’t know who you were, who hadn’t seen you at your worst already.” Leah paused, listening for any sign of Ray. “He said he understood, but I knew he was heart broken. He was nineteen and wanted to get married already. Well, your momma and I went out on a double date with a guy from the football team and his older cousin, Owen. I had to beg Prissy to go. She knew the football player and didn’t want anything to do with him, but he wouldn’t introduce me to his cousin unless he had a chance to talk to Prissy.
“Well, needless to say, Prissy and the football player didn’t hit it off too well, and it didn’t look like Owen even knew I was there. After that, everything started to go down hill.”
“What happened to Tommy? Was he a mutant, too?” Marie asked quickly. She had never known that she had an uncle. Leah and Ray had always led her to believe that her grand parents were dead.
“He went into the military straight out of high school. He spent four years with the Marines before being hit by friendly fire while on tour in Iraq. Do you remember when I told you that I had to go on a trip to see an old friend when you were around eleven? And I left you home with Ray?” Leah asked softly.
“Yeah. You were gone for about a week. Daddy and I ate pizza every night and stayed up late.”
“Well, that was when Tommy died. I had to go back for the funeral. Momma and Daddy begged me to bring you along, too, but I couldn’t risk it. There were people there who knew about Prissy who might have said the wrong thing. Looking back now, maybe it would have been good for you to go. At least you would have known you had family out there. Maybe you would have gone to them when you left.”
“What was it like for you? After I left?” Marie asked. She had always worried about that. This was a small town, and she had always wondered if they had turned on her family. “I know it must have been hard. Did anyone find out about your mutation?”
“No one found out about me, but it was hard. People tried to sympathize with us. But not because you ran away. For awhile, Ray and I were referred to as that poor couple with the mutant daughter. Cody’s parents were angry, of course, but they came to terms with what happened after he came out of the coma.” Leah smiled sadly. “Of course, I let everyone know that we were heart broken over the fact that you ran away. That we still loved you and wished that you would come home. After the first year, things settled down. Of course, everyone was careful to not even mention you. They acted as if you didn’t exist, and I think that hurt more than anything.”
“But what about other mutants? Hasn’t there been at least one around here in the last three years?”
“Yes, but the people of this town have perfected the art of hiding their heads in the sand when something would happen. Of course, none were dangerous to anyone.” Marie felt a stab of pain in her heart and Leah looked at her with sympathy in her eyes. “I know, Marie. It hurts. But it’s the truth. And you got control now. When did that happen? Did you just figure it out on your own?”
“Actually, it had to do with the memories that you took from me. You see, your mutation doesn’t actually erase the memories, but only suppresses them. I had an accident and had to gain complete control. Well, I wouldn’t call it an accident really.”
“What happened to you?” Marie could see the concern in Leah’s eyes.
She took a deep breath, knowing that she was about to scare the woman. “Did you hear about the mutants who attacked that facility at Alcatraz?”
“Yes. Don’t tell me you were involved in that.” Leah’s concern turned to fear for her child, and Marie knew that she should explain quickly.
“I was, but not until the end. You see, I hadn’t learned to control my skin by then, and I was beginning to think that I never would. Well, when they announced the cure, I decided to go ahead and take it.” Marie paused, letting the information sink in. She wasn’t sure how Leah would react, but when the older woman showed no sign of interrupting, she continued. “I decided against it and went to help my friends instead. Only, when I got there, someone very close to me had lost control and she became someone else completely. I ended up using my mutation to kill her.”
“Oh, Marie. I’m so sorry.” Leah stood as if to move to her, but Marie only shook her head, forcing the woman to sit back down.
“No. I’m not. Not anymore. I’ll have to live with what I did, but I also saved billions of lives that night, and I will not let myself regret that. If I hadn’t done what I did… Well, Logan would have tried to take her out. I was left with the choice of saving the man I love and sparing billions of lives or killing the woman who was my friend and teacher. I chose the lesser of two evils.” Marie grew silent again, trying to get her emotions under control. “But when I did take her life, I absorbed the person she had become. The person who was out of control. In order for me to be strong enough to control her, I had to learn to control my own mutation, along with those of other mutants I had touched. I have control now, but that was only after a couple of telepaths helped me unlock those memories you suppressed. My mutation was only acting as a defense mechanism because there was something missing.”
“I’m sorry I did that to you, Marie,” Leah apologized. “I wish it had been different, but I thought that I was doing the right thing at the time.”
“I know. And I’m not angry. Not anymore.” Marie reassured her subtly. Both women knew that things would get better between them, it was only a matter of when. “Look, why don’t I tell you about some of the better things that have happened over the years? There is so much more, so much good that you don’t even know about. And maybe you can tell me about my mother when she was growing up?”
“I’d like that,” Leah said with a smile, although Marie could still see the tears in her eyes. “And your man should be back anytime. Why don’t we talk why we get dinner started? He’ll be hungry when he gets here. Didn’t I always tell you? You want to keep your man, keep him fed.”
Marie couldn’t help but laugh as she followed Leah into the kitchen.
Later that night, as she laid in bed listen to Logan lightly snore beside her, there were still so many questions she had for her family, but those would wait. She wanted to spend the rest of their visit getting to know each other again. It had been too long. Tomorrow was another day.