|posted on 11-Nov-2001 10:45:21 AM by Sargasso|
|TITLE: That's The Way It Is|
AUTHOR: Sargasso (obvious pseudonym, but hey...)
CATEGORY: M/L AU
SUMMARY: Liz is a smart child pushed to extremes by her parents. Her father is a business entrepreneur, her mother is a socialite. Feeling like she is just a showpiece for her parents, Liz withdraws into herself...and then one day at a routine business function, she meets...
DISCLAIMER: I got the loose idea of Liz's situation based upon the story of Adragon de Mello, who was pushed to excel by his father. I got the characters from the show, obviously. Don't sue, I'm just a poor college student...
Eight years ago…
Professor Casey frowned as he saw the little girl standing in front of the lecture hall, talking while gesturing to diagrams on the blackboard. She couldn’t have been more than eight years old, with soft brown hair pulled into pigtails and large brown eyes. There was something wrong with the whole picture – she was so short that she had to stand on a box, and her voice was clear and high enough to make her age – or lack of it – all too obvious. Casey hadn’t wanted to let her guest lecture. But his colleagues had insisted.
“The girl is amazing, Frederick! You have to see her.”
“She was written up in the Journal of Science.”
“She’s brilliant, a member of MENSA in fact…”
Well, she was brilliant, Casey had to give her that. She knew the subject as well as any of his colleagues, and spoke with clarity and precision. He knew that his students were amused, that many of them – the females especially – were taken with the child’s waif-like stature and her shy smile. And they were awed, certainly, by this girl who hadn’t lived half as long as they had yet could easily surpass them in intellectual conversation.
But she was just so young!
Casey snuck a glance at the parents, who were standing off to the side. Just as he had suspected and feared, he caught the looks of fierce pride and superiority on their faces. And somehow, Casey instinctively knew that it was all their doing. So that was it, then. This was all just some big ego boost to them. And at their daughter’s expense! What kind of parents were they?
The clock struck three o’clock; the room was instantly filled with the sound of shuffling feet and rustling papers as students packed up to leave. The girl stepped off the box and bounded over to her waiting parents. Casey watched, half-expecting them to pull her into a congratulatory hug for having the nerve to stand in front of one hundred plus students and lecture on categorical perception in linguistics.
A female student walked over to them and began carrying on an earnest conversation with Liz’s parents. Too far away to distinguish any words, Casey’s curiosity got the better of him. He walked on over to hear what they were saying.
“- wrong. It’s just a big power trip for you.”
“Excuse me,” Jeffrey Parker interrupted coldly, “but since when do you have the authority to pass judgment upon others?”
“Quite right,” Nancy Parker added icily. “We’ll thank you to keep your noses out of other people’s business. It would behoove you to not talk about that of which you have complete ignorance. You will only succeed in making a fool of yourself.”
Grabbing her daughter’s hand, Nancy Parker stormed out of the room, followed by her husband. The student watched them go, apparently frustrated. She finally slung her backpack over her shoulders and left, clearly upset.
Shaking his head, Casey picked up a blackboard eraser and wiped everything clean for his next class.
He wished the best for Liz. He really did. But with those parents of hers...
Elizabeth Parker sighed as the clock struck three in the morning. Her eyes were aching from staring at a computer screen for so long, her head hurt, her back ached, her fingers were cramping up. She was just tired, period. But she was only halfway through the report she was writing on the efficiency of certain antibodies…
Sleep could come later.
Liz rubbed the fatigue away from her eyes and took another sip of the caffeine-laden drink next to her on the computer table. Caffeine. Best friend of night owls everywhere, not to mention people struggling to finish a project/report/whatever at the last minute. Liz smiled sardonically as she thought of the cases upon cases of the drink tucked away in the closet. She had kept them handy for a few years now – they kept her plugging through the night.
At least her parents were asleep, meaning that she didn’t have to put up with working under their watchful – and often severe – eyes. Liz worked well under pressure, but that didn’t mean she had to like it.
Yawning, Liz typed in a few sentences.
Tomorrow they were going to Connecticut. A business party. Or something. Liz wasn’t sure, only that it involved lots of people standing around in suits and fancy dresses whispering self-importantly to each other. And she’d be the ornamental daughter, embroidered with good manners and high achievements. The family would be staying with the hosts of the party – apparently they were good friends, although that was news to Liz; she was under the impression that good friends actually saw each other once in a while. Adults had a funny way of doing things, that was for sure. But, eh. First time for everything.
She couldn’t wait.
Or maybe she could.
Liz wondered if they had anybody her age. Not that it mattered. She wouldn’t fit in. She never had. Sighing again, Liz brushed her hair out of her face and rested her head on the tabletop. She would rest for five minutes. Just five minutes, and then she’d finish the rest…
She fell asleep in two seconds.
[ edited 2 time(s), last at 3-Dec-2001 6:38:28 PM ]
|posted on 12-Nov-2001 1:36:42 PM by Sargasso|
|Thanks for the feedback, people! |
"If you don't get a 1600 the first time, you're going to have to retake it."
"Mommy, less than one percent of people who take it get a 1600, and they're all older than me."
"And you are going to be in that less than one percent bracket, Elizabeth. You're seven years old; you're going to be enrolling in college next year, and no college will accept you with substandard scores."
"No! You're overdoing the vibrato here, and not doing it enough here. You were flat in this measure - C sharp, Elizabeth, pay attention! You need to express the music emotionally!"
"Can't I take a break?"
"You have a concert tomorrow, and you want to take a break? You can take a break AFTER the concert. Now - play the Mozart piece, and play it until you get it right!"
"Mommy, I got a 98 percent on my geography test!"
"Where'd the other two percent go?"
Liz jerked awake, glad to escape the subconscious realm of her dreams. She felt sick and hot and feverish; her heart was pounding, and Liz placed one hand on her chest in an effort to calm it down. She glanced around, relieved to see that she was still on the airplane heading to Connecticut with her parents, both of whom were still asleep on the seats next to her.
Liz rested her head against the cool surface of the window and sighed. She was just the teensiest bit afraid of flying, a fear that her parents had, on more than one occasion, derided as childish. Privately, Liz agreed. She was ashamed of the way she felt.
She looked down at her hands. They were trembling.
Liz closed her eyes and tried to swallow the unnamed feeling that was rising in her throat, threatening to choke the very breath out of her. She wanted to cry; her chest felt tight and constricted. She pressed her fingers to the ache in her eyes and took several deep breaths. When she brought her hands away, the faintest glimmer of a tear could be seen.
All she ever wanted - all she ever hoped for, dreamt for...prayed for when she lay in bed with the shadows dancing on her walls...
A hug here and there. A pat on the back, a word of encouragement.
When was the last time he rmother had run her hands through her hair, kissed her on the cheek, called her "sweetie" or "honey"?
When was the last time her father had winked at her in that special way that only fathers did, drawn her up in a big bear hug, given her a piggyback ride?
They never noticed what she did right, only what she did wrong.
And yet - Liz loved her parents. She couldn't help it. She craved their acceptance stronger than any drug; she wanted to please them. Sure, there were times when she wanted to hate them, wanted to rebel and yell and stamp her foot in protest. But then there was that indomitable link, the one formed by flesh and blood, that chained her to her mother and father that neither sweat nor tears could severe. It was stronger than the hate that crowded in her heart. Or at least she thought it was stronger.
She just wished that they loved her back...
Max Evans had gotten used to not knowing who half the people on his family's estate were at any given moment. His parents were always inviting friends and partners and associates to spend the day or the weekend or the week or the month, and the only instruction they gave to him and his twin sister Isabel was to stay out of the way. This was fine for Max, who could care less about fancy dinners and bigwigs in suits and sparkling champagne in wine glasses. It was pure hell for Isabel, whose every waking moment seemed to border around those very subjects. When they were younger, Isabel used to get her fix by peeping through keyholes and between the stair railings - and describing what she saw to Max in excruciating detail, much to his dismay.
Now she was older, and didn't do that anymore. Max thanked his lucky stars for that. He wasn't sure if he could stand another diatribe on the shade of Patricia Wintergreen's dress and how it contrasted with her skin. He loved Isabel, of course, and they looked out for each other, but that didn't keep him from thinking that she was...well, a bit superficial. Underneath, she had a heart of gold, Max knew that. It just...took a while for it to show.
At the present moment, Max stood in the middle of the foyer. Not doing anything in particular, just thinking. Letting his mind wander. He felt sleepy.
But not for long. Isabel's voice jarred him out of his stupor. "Max," she said calmly, her blond head appearing at the top of the grand staircase in front of him, "you're finally home. Where were you?" She ducked her head out of sight before reappearing and running down the stairs. "Is Michael here?"
"Yeah, he's uh -" Max looked behind his shoulder. Michael was nowhere in sight. "Well - he was here..."
"I just made a detour to the kitchen," Michael's voice called out as he sauntered into the foyer, holding several eclairs that he had wrapped in tissue. "Eclair?"
Isabel shook her head, but Max took an eclair. "Michael got into trouble again at Chesterfield," he announced before devouring nearly the whole thing in one gulp.
Isabel watched him eat with a look on her face that bordered on revulsion. She made a distinct noise under her breath that sounded like, "Boys." She wasn't surprised that Michael was once again in hot water. His antics at his boarding school made Dennis the Menace look innocent. What really surprised her was that he hadn't been kicked out after all this time - but maybe that old saying really was true: money talks.
"It wasn't my fault," Michael declared, licking the chocolate off his fingers. "How was I supposed to know that wood is flammable?"
Isabel gave him a you've-got-to-be-kidding-me look.
"But you guys got to help me," he continued. "They're talking to my parents, and I got to think of something to say. What am I going to do? What should I tell them?"
Max shrugged. "I don't know...the truth?"
Michael scoffed. "Oh, come off it, Max. the truth is so overrated!"
"Honesty is always the best policy."
"Honesty may be the best policy, but insanity's a better defense." Michael crossed his arms. "Those stables were really expensive. Somehow I don't think Dad's money is going to have as much influence on the old fogies as usual. I need to come up with a convincing excuse."
"Tell them that neglecting to take your daily dose of Viagra causes you to lash out in harmful ways," Max offered.
"Tell them that you're a pyromaniac."
"Tell them that you were just appreciating the beauty of the fire, but that you had nothing to do with it."
"We'd better pull out," Isabel suddenly said. "Carlotta will throw a shit fit if she finds us in the foyer. I think she spent all morning cleaning it, and she'll accuse us of dirtying it up. You know how she is. Some old friends of our parents are coming over later tonight. Come on, we can talk in the gardens. Now, Michael," she added as they began gravitating towards the back doors, "I think I have an excuse to get you off. Pull a Freud and tell them that by setting the fire, you were just expressing your sexual insecurity..."
|posted on 3-Dec-2001 6:37:09 PM by Sargasso|
|Hi...well, people asked for an author's note, so I guess I'm leaving one... Anyway, yes, I'm planning on updating this story, but college finals are coming up in about a week and I really need to study for them (I've been ditching one of my classes to avoid this really creepy guy - who cannot take a hint, btw - and so I'm completely behind on the lecture and reading material there)...but hey - during winter break (three weeks! compared to the measly 1.5 weeks in high school, which I couldn't even enjoy anyway because of upcoming finals) I'll have nothing else to do except shop for presents...and this. |