In My Life
Authors Note: Some of you wanted some answers as to how Ezra’s dad died, and how Maude became a doctor so that is the sole purpose of this little story. I guess it’s of a prologue/sequel type fic to Out of the Past.
We begin with the last line of Out of the Past. Same place, same location-this is written to answer some of your unanswered questions from Out of the Past and to tell a huge chunk of the story of Maude and Ezra’s dad.
As they got on the horses and headed back Ezra had one more question, "Now what is this I hear about you being a doctor?"
"Well, it’s a funny story, your father," She stopped for a moment to laugh slightly at the memory, however after a slight pause she switched gears. "Son, tell me, do you really want to know about our life together?"
Her question was given with such a tone that Ezra almost felt the need to really think his answer over, almost as if maybe he didn’t. "Yes, mother, I do," He spoke sincerely.
Maude took a moment. She already knew it would be difficult to relive to have to remember all these things about the man she loved so much and lost too soon. However when she did speak Ezra knew it would be an amazing tale-all the more amazing because it was no tale at all-it was truth, his truth, and he’d finally really get it. Maude was a quality storyteller and from the moment she began speaking they were both on there journey into the past….
"Luv, I can’t give you that food, you haven’t got the money," The overweight grocer chastised the thin blond girl before him.
"No deal, dearie, now I’ve got paying custumers waiting," He spoke in his thick British accent.
"Damn Yanks with those stupid accents," she muttered as she and began to walk away, paying utterly no attention to the massive crowd of strangers she effortlessly glided her way through, all the while ranting and raving about the general stupidity of the British.
It was only her rather abrupt halt and hasty (not to mention painful) trip to the ground that finally put an end to her raving. "Oh…Miss…Ah, am sorry ah just…oh…Lordy…ya’ll right?" As he extended his hand toward her in an effort to help her up.
"Ah’m fine," She spoke, her accent thicker as a result of her quickly rising anger, getting up, while ignoring his prooffered hand.
"Your from the states too?" He questioned eagerly ignoring her harshness entirely.
"Yes," she said absently as she picked up her small bag that held all she owned. Without giving him another word, or look she turned and began to walk away.
"From the South?" he questioned, following her.
Ignoring his question she asked one of her own, "Why are you followin’ me?"
"Because I want to talk to ya," He spoke genuinely, "I’m tired of havin’ nobody to talk to."
"You mean to tell me in a city of this size I’m the only person you can follow around while asking annoying questions?"
"So," He spoke ignoring her sarcasm, "are you from the south?"
"Yes," she said as she turned walked again. She was shaking her head in frustration when his voice once again interupted her thoughts.
"What’s your name?"
"Go away!" She turned and yelled.
"So, what is your name?" He asked completely unaffected by her tone.
"If ah tell ya will ya leave me alone?"
"No, probably not. Then again there’s a fair to middlin’ chance that I won’t leave ya alone if you don’t tell me. Anyway back in the store it sounded like you were hungry, I’ll buy you somehtin’," he offered.
"So that’s what this is about," she said accusingly.
"What?" he asked honestly confused.
Her voice, dripping with revulsion and sarcasm, responded, "What do you want in return for said food?"
He looked at her a moment before her meaning dawned on him, "No, ah didn’t mean it like that, I don’t want nohtin’ of cept some conversation," he paused a moment before continuing, "purely of the verbal sort, of course."
"You mean to tell me that if I’ll talk with you, you’ll buy me food?"
" Wow, you really must be lonely," she commented. "Well, where are you taking me to eat?" She turned to him with something of a smile.
"From the look in your eyes ah suspect it will be nowhere inexpensive," He spoke shaking is head, knowing suddenly that he’d created a monster.
"You are a very astute man…Oh, by the way, my name’s Maude Branston."
"Daniel Standish, at your service, ma’am," He bowed elaborately before her, and she laughed for the first time in a long time.
"That man you in the streets of London, was my father?"
"Yes dear," Maude answered with a smile.
"What happened that day, with you two?" Ezra questioned, curious.
"I made him take me to the most expensive place I knew of. I spilled my life story out to him and he listened, with complete patience," Maude could see the glint of curiosity in her son’s eye, so much like the glint that had been in his father’s eye that day in the restaurant, so many years ago…
"So," Daniel asked, "What brought you to this fine city," He said, his voice dripping with his thick accent and heavy sarcasm.
"Well, when I was fourteen my parents died and I wanted to travel the world," She said shaking her head, as if in acknowledgment of her naïvety and stupidity. "Anyway, I brought all the money I had and every possession I owned and now," She stopped her inhaling of the food he’d bought her to reach down and take hold of her bag, "This is all I’ve got left. And now I’m stuck, don’t have the cash to leave, wish I did."
Daniel had an expression on his face that wasn’t sympathetic but empathetic. Maude liked that.
"So," Maude decided it was her turn to start asking questions. "What brought you here?"
"Oh, I suppose not that different from what brought you here. I just came. But my parents were still alive. You see I’m the youngest of six sons whom, my Daddy always seemed to favor more then me. He always said ‘you can’t do it, Danny, I ain’t in ya,’ the man was convinced I couldn’t do a damned thing. I guess, at sixteen, I decided I wanted to prove him wrong. So I went to the first boat I could find-us livin’ right near Charleston Harbor, and got on the first one that would take me. I been trying to get home too, but I can’t seem to find anyone who’ll be willing take me, plus I don’t have much money," He sighed a little at his own story.
Maude in mid-bite, mouth full, opened her food filled mouth to comment, "No wonder you have no money, the way you spend it," She held up the food on her fork as an example.
Daniel smiled, producing deep dimples in his cheeks, the first genuine smile he’d had in quite some time.
They’d kept the conversation light after that point, laughing more often then not. And, though neither really wanted to admit it, neither of them really wanted to part when it was that time.
"Well," He light heartedly, "Can I walk you home?"
"No," She, her voice a mixture of anger and sadness.
"Why not?" He asked, a little saddened by her quick shoot down of him.
"Oh, because I have no home to go to," She looked downward.
"You mean, you live in the streets?" He asked, aghast.
She nodded mutely.
"But…that’s dangerous…I mean there are people…men out there…and it’s…I mean…"
"You’re worried about me?" Her eyes widened with shock, as she interrupted him.
"Well…," He stammered. "I suppose I am."
Neither one spoke for a moment, before Daniel ended the silence. "Well, my place is small, just kitchen and mah bedroom, but your certainly welcome…"
"I already told you, I won’t sleep with you…"
This time it was Daniel who interrupted her, "Honestly, is that all you think about! I’ll make up a bed on the floor, you can have my bed."
"Really?" She asked unable to hide her happiness at being able to escape street life for at least one night.
"Sure." He answered with a smile.
"Well, where do you live?"
"You slept in his home the first day you met?"
"Yes, and he was a perfect gentleman," Maude defended.
"What happened…later I mean?"
"Well, I guess I just never left. For months and months that poor man slept on the floor while I slept in his bed. We just kept getting closer and closer until one day we just started sleeping together, and exactly one year to the day we met we got married," She spoke with a smile, thinking back on that happy time.
Ezra couldn’t help but smile. It was a nice story, a really wonderful beginning, much better then he’d thought possible for his beginnings. However then a question she still hadn’t answered compelled him to speak once more. "You never did tell me how you became a doctor," Ezra commented.
"Oh, I didn’t, did I?"
London, 1841 (Maude and Daniel have been married for two months)
"I’m telling you, you can’t do it!" Daniel said, giving her the smuggest look he could muster. In truth the only reason he was galling her was because he absolutely loved that rarely seen look of absolute look of infuriation on her beautiful face.
"Yes, I can, you swine!" She cried unable to believe she’d actually married this sexist pig.
"Women cannot be doctors!"
"Yes they can…"She stopped for a moment, then suddenly a mischievious look came into her eyes and just a suddenly Daniel felt very afraid, and rightfully so. "And I’ll prove it!"
"How!" Daniel cried.
"I plan to get my Medical Degree," She spoke simply and calmly.
"You can’t, I mean, how much schooling do you actually have?"
Maude scowled, "Not much," she mumbled.
"And women aren’t accepted into medical school!" He argued further.
She scoffed at him, "Well, that doesn’t matter."
"Want to explain to me how it doesn’t?"
"You know, when I first came here I got a job as an actress, and you what, I’m a master of role playing."
"You mean to tell me for all the years of schooling it will take to pull this off, just to prove me wrong mind you, you going to dress as a man. No, I don’t envision that."
"Well, I do, I’ll do it, Daniel. Mark my words, I will do it."
Daniel Standish made one last attempt to stop his wife, knowing that if he allowed her to get her heels any more dug in that there’d be nothing or no one that could rip them from the ground. "Maude, this will take work, you hate work," She turned and gave him a look, and Daniel was incredibly happy that looks couldn’t kill, for, he thought if the could, he’d be dead as a doornail.
"Mother, you’ve got to be kidding me. You went through all the work of Medical school simply to prove someone wrong."
"Not someone dear, your father," Maude corrected.
"And you did it? I mean you actually have a medical degree?"
"I do indeed, even though it bears the name Markus Standish, but what can one do?"
"I don’t believe you’d that."
"Well, I did," She had very satisfied look on her face, and though Ezra was a little surprised she was proud (he didn’t think it was like her to be that way) he also wondered why she should not be proud what with all she had accomplished.
"Mother, you said before that you had many failed pregnancies before you had me," Ezra paused and as Maude looked at him she saw that this was a rather uncomfortable subject with him. "What happened when I was born?"
"You want me to tell you the story of your birth?"
Charleston, August 12, 1845
"Will you stop complaining about the heat, you’re the one who wanted to move back home," Daniel admonished to his extremely irate wife.
"Oh, shut up Dan, you’d be complaining to if you were walking around this place, nine months pregnant without rest all day."
"All day, you’ve only been awake a half hour," he retorted.
They walked a little longer before he exclaimed happily, "Here it is!" And took off toward a door marked ‘a2’. He opened the door to reveal a sparsely furnished, less than luxurious room. However it was there home now, and neither could say it was remotely close to the worst place they’d lived.
The two silently set down their rather small amount of possessions and began to unpack.
"What’s wrong!?" Daniel cried as he ran from kitchen to living room to where Maude’s cry had come from. She didn’t have to answer him when he saw her sitting against the wall, hands wrapped around her swollen belly.
"Is it time?" He asked quietly and apprehensively. If the truth were known he was scared. He’d almost lost her last time, he didn’t think he could live life without her.
"Yes, my water broke," she gesture slightly with her head toward the puddle of liquid on the floor a few feet from her. She noticed her husband’s less than subtle paling upon looking at the amniotic fluid adorning the floor.
"I’ll go get the doctor…"
"No…ahhh…," she was out of breath as a strong contraction hit her with severe force. "No…time…you…do it."
"Me do it? Do what? Wait a minute…No! I cant’! No…I have no idea and I just…I just…no," Daniel mumbled in the utter terror that tends to strike the male species when put into this particular situation.
"AHHHHHHH!" Maude out of breath and in some serious pain was in no mood for the show he was putting on. "Oh, yes…you will…Daniel! Now get your ass over here and look under my skirt and tell me what you see."
"I don’t want to, I can’t I mean…I…I."
"Oh, please it’s not…like you haven’t seen this before," Maude spoke. Daniel could think of no response to give her so he simply walked over and looked under her skirt.
"What do you see?" Maude asked.
"Nothing I’ve ever seen before!" He looked up at her with a horrified look plastered onto his face. "
"What…" Maude closed her eyes breifly while she breathed through the pain. "What do you see?!"
"A head…I think," Daniel said sounding more then a little bit unsure.
"You think!?" Maude asked, disgusted.
"Well, I don’t know it’s…well…yeah, it’s a head, the very top of the head," he finally concluded.
"Okay, that means I’ve got to start pushing," Maude told her husband.
"Yes, pushing! Do you have to argue with everything I say?"
"Yes, I mean No. I mean it’s just…"
"Okay," He said meekly as that beautiful face he’d looked into and adored contorted in pain as she strained to push their baby into the world. He moved to look and see if it was actually working. And to his shock and mystification it was. As she continued to push more and more of their baby’s head became visible. A moment later he heard himself saying, "The head is out!"
"It is?" Maude questioned happily pulling him from his reverie.
"Yep," He looked up at her with a huge smile.
"Okay," She sad happily but warily.
Daniel waited a moment before he realized she was making no attempt to continue pushing.
"Push!" He encouraged.
"What do you mean you can’t!?" He cried feeling that same terror of losing her again. It was a raw terror that scared him so much his hands began to shake and he started to get out of breath.
"I just can’t!" She cried, with tears. She was remembering now all the past tragedies and now she was as scared as he was, not for herself but for her baby.
"Why not?" He asked softly reaching over and gently, lovingly taking her face in his hands.
"I can’t do it, it hurts too much, I’m not strong enough," She was crying hard and breathing hard from the contractions that continued to come.
Daniel pulled her into a hug and said, "That’s such crap, you’re the strongest, smartest, toughest person I’ll ever know. So don’t give this up. We need this baby and this baby and I need you," He was crying now too but he continued, "So don’t you give up on this. You’re a doctor and you know you only need to give one or two more pushes. Darlin’, I know you can do this. My wife can do anything." His tears were still coming but she shook her head in affirmation and gave him the best smile she could, at that moment. She took a deep breath and gave the hardest push she could.
It was at that moment that the baby came out and landed securely in it’s father’s arms. "What do I do?" Daniel asked.
"Cut the cord attached to its belly," she said. "Tie it off on both sides, leaving yourself about an inch of space and then make the cut. Here," She reached, "I’ll hold the baby while you cut the cord."
Daniel looked hesitant but it only took one look at their baby for him to do it. When it finally done he crawled over next to her and wrapped one arm securely around her small frame. They were both still crying as she gently wrapped their little boy in a blanket. They could do nothing but stare at the child they never thought they’d have. Maude leaned her head against Daniel’s shoulder, while he whispered, "I love you," It was all he could say to convey his feelings and she understood perfectly.
Ezra was quiet as he listened to her finish telling about his birth. Then she turned to him and reached out and wrapped her arms around him, her eyes glistening with unshed tears. "I love you, Baby," She whispered into his ear.
"I love you too," He answered, honestly.
They stayed wrapped in that hug for a little while. However as they separated Ezra had one last question he needed answered. "How’d he die?"
Maude’s tears finally fell as she began this story…
Just outside Charleston, Christmas, 1849
"Daniel, you’ve got quite a little family there," Andrew Standish commented to his long lost son. "I’m proud of you."
Daniel paused in shock at his fathers words. When he’d seeked the man out after so many years he hadn’t expected to be excepted or anything remotely close but this was something. His father was proud of him? That was all he’d ever wanted to hear. He didn’t know what to say.
"Come on, boy," His father spoke for him, "Your mother has finally got all her boys and their families again and she’ll have both of are heads if we’re not at the table on time."
For the first time in fifteen years Daniel Standish sat at his father’s table with all his brothers and their families present. And for the first time ever, Daniel was happy to be there. His family had really surprised him, in the way they welcomed he and his family. He had been even more surprised in the way both his parents had liked, almost immediately his silver tongued, platinum colored haired beauty. However upon hearing her sharp tongue and quick wit all his father had said to Maude was, "You remind me of someone," and then turned and given Daniel’s mother a smile.
So, as Daniel Standish sat next to his four-year-old son in his parents home, with his wife on his son’s other side, and the rest of his family all around he couldn’t remember a time when life had been better. Supper ended quickly with the children in the family just aching to open presents and finally the wining won out and everyone agreed to end supper just a little early and open presents. Unfortunately, when Andrew offered that everyone stay over, especially with the children getting so tired, Daniel decided to leave and get there sleeping clothes so Ezra could be put to bed as soon as the present opening was done. Daniel said his goodbyes and exited the large home just outside Charleston and moved quickly toward his home. He wanted this trip to be as quick as possible, he wanted to get back.
It was thoughts on that particular subject that filled Daniel’s mind when he saw the little boy. He was probably his son’s age, Daniel couldn’t help but think when he looked at the tow headed little boy that bore an amazing resemblence to his own son. The little began to wonder across the street. Unfortunately, the little boy chose an unfortunate time to cross the cobblestone street as Daniel saw a huge stage headed straight for the small child. Daniel felt himself running towards the little boy, even as he felt himself absently wonder where the little boy’s parents were. As the coach hurtled toward the tiny child Daniel lunged at the little boy, effectively pushing the child to safety while throwing himself into the path of the coach. He heard a man and a woman cry out the name David. And he saw the woman run to the little boy he’d saved. Everything seemed to move in slow motion as the coach struck him, as he heard his bones cracking and felt the air exiting his lungs. Unconsciousness didn’t grip him, though. And as the David’s father came to Daniel, Daniel heard the man speak to him.
"Oh, dear Lord," The man said, "Sir, is there anything I can do for you?"
"I’m dying?" Daniel asked the man, almost as if trying to figure out if this was reality or not.
"I don’t know," The man answered.
"I am," Daniel concluded, and he was surprised when he realized he wasn’t that scared, though he sad. Especially when he thought that this man would get to see his little boy grow up while he would not.
"You saved my son, I’ll do anything you want, anything," The man said, realizing too, that this man would die because he saved his son.
"Would you go to my father’s house, we were having Christmas there," Daniel had a faraway look in his eyes, and they were somewhat glazed over from the pain he felt, "My wife’s there, my son too. I need to see them again. Could you please get them?"
"Of course," the man said quickly, feeling even worse now that he knew this man had a family, a son, "Where is your father’s home?"
"Just off this street about a mile west of here," Daniel spoke a little groggily, "It’s the Standish Place. My name in Daniel Standish, ask for my wife, her name in Maude. My father is Andrew."
The man left in a hurry. Meanwhile, some other men who had seen the incident had moved Daniel from the street to the sidewalk. Within fifteen minutes the man returned with Maude and Andrew and some of Daniel’s brother’s. When Maude saw the crowd on the side of the road she jumped from the horse she had been riding and ran towards her husband.
"Daniel!" She cried as she ran toward him. When reached the sidewalk the crowd seemed to part to let her through. She dropped to her knees at his side. Tears were already streaming down her cheeks as they looked at one another. "What happened?" She asked him.
Daniel took her hand, "There was a little boy, he wandered away from his parents, and into the street. A coach was coming. It was going to hit him. So, I ran out to him, and pushed him from the stage’s path, and instead the stage him me," He looked at her tears and felt her hand shaking. He knew she knew he wouldn’t make it. He could see her eyes scanning his wounds and her tears becoming more and more heavy. "Tell are little boy I love him, tell him about me," He implored to her through tears of his own. He stopped a moment and looked deeply into her eyes, "I love you."
"I love you, too," Maude spoke as she reached down to cradle his head in her arms. The world seemed to stand still in those last few moments. She leaned forward and kissed him. Savoring everything about him and there mouths met for the last time. Suddenly, too suddenly, she felt his lips go limp. His whole body went limp in her arms. It was then that Maude felt anger. Anger at those stupid people who let there child run away. The child who wandered into the street. And her husband who died saving someone they didn’t even know, a little boy who would cause their little boy to be fatherless. She looked down at his lifeless form and cried through heavy tears and tired sobbing, "Why, why did you do this? Why did you leave me? Why?" She felt hands trying to pull her away, but she would have none of it. She turned and saw her father-in-law. "No!" she screamed as she shoved him away and continued to rock Daniel’s body back and forth in her arms.
The day that Daniel was to be buried came quickly. It was a graveside service and his entire family was there as well as many of the friends he’d made over the years. Maude stood mute, unemotional in the face of such great tragedy. The only sign of how hurt she was, was the fierce grip she had on her son. The small child who was too little to understand what was happening, but did seem to understand that Daddy was gone (though he didn’t understand where he went to) and his Mommy was very sad.
As Ezra watched the box that he knew his Daddy was in be lowered into the ground he asked, "Mommy, why are they burying Daddy?"
His words were loud enough for everyone to hear and for the first time since the night of Daniel’s death tears fell down Maude’s cheeks as the only words she could get out were, "Oh, baby…" Before so many tears were falling that she couldn’t speak.
"That’s how he died?" Ezra’s voice was strained almost as if he too was about to cry.
"Yes," Maude answered through her own tears.
"I really asked you why they were burying him?"
"Yes, you did," She said, "I tried to explain death to you but it was hard to talk about and in the end you just didn’t understand," She smiled a little at her son through tears to let him know none of that really mattered now. Life had finally gone on. "Oh, honey," She turned to him, "Can you ever forgive me for the mess I made?" She said.
For the first time the Ezra could remember he felt no anger at her and answered simply but with total sencerity, "Of course," then paused to wrap his arms around her and added, "I love you."
"I love you, too, son."
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