Thursday, November 29, 2007

Prompt 206: What do you live for?/Theatrical Muse

My father died tonight.  I should have been there with him, we should have been there with him, Niko and I, Abby, Joe, all of us, but we weren't.  We were here, thousands of miles away and he was there alone.  No one should have to die alone.

No one will blame us for not being there with him of course, they'll say we couldn't have known, he was doing so well when Niko and I left, it's why we thought it was safe to come to the States.  But, we were wrong.  So, while we were here, laughing and having a good time, he was there, among strangers, alone.  I should have known better, I'm a doctor, I know all of the signs, why couldn't I see them for him?

I'll never forgive myself for not taking Abby and Joe with me when I went home to see him, for not giving him the chance to see the two people who have given me back my reason for living.  I would give anything to be able to rewind time and allow him the chance to hold his grandson in his arms, even if only for a few short moments.

The death's of Jasna and Marko was something we rarely talked about, I'm sure mainly because he wanted to spare me the pain of reliving them.  I know there were times he tried to bring them up, but, I always managed to stop him, and I know for many years he worried that I would never again allow anyone to fill the void their death's left in my heart.

How do I forgive myself now for not giving him the chance to meet the woman who makes me feel the way Danijela did?  For the longest time I know he worried that I would never know those feelings again, that I would never be a husband and a father again.  Why did I go alone? Why couldn't I have taken them with me so he could have seen that the one thing he had tried to tell me was possible all those years ago, the thing I refused to believe, really had come true? 

You were right, Tata.  All those years I wallowed in my grief, all those years I wasted on self pity, you always told me there was someone out there for me, someone who would make me feel the way Danijela made me feel.  I didn't want to hear you then, especially when you told me I would even know the joy of being a father again, because I thought to know that meant forgetting the babies I'd lost. Why couldn't I have said these things to you when you were alive? Why, do I always learn the lessons too late?


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Prompt 1: first time/Muses Erotica

(OOC...This is a revision of a post that I wrote for Ineffable Fandom.)

As he looked into her eyes, it was still hard for him to believe they were finally married, they had waited two years for this day to come and now it was here. Looking into her eyes he couldn't help but wonder if there were any woman more beautiful then she was at this very moment.

"I love you Danijela Kovac." He lowered his head, brushing his lips against hers as he whispered the words to her.

"I love you husband." There was no mistaking the slight tremble in her voice as she lay under him, her fear at the newness of it all still outweighing the expectation of what was to come.

"You are so beautiful." He threaded his fingers through the curls along the side of her face as he spoke.

"You know that I knew from the moment I saw you I wanted you for my wife." He kissed her mouth again before moving down to the hollow of her throat.

"Ah..." She released a slight gasp, she could already feel her body beginning to respond to his attentions in ways she had never known it could.

"How would you know that before we had even spoke?" She ran her fingers through his hair, before pulling him closer with an accompanying moan.

"I knew, you were the most beautiful girl there, even in your school uniform." He released a quiet laugh before placing the next of his kisses between her breasts.

"Then why did it take you more then a week to even ask me to sit with you for coffee, hmm?" It was becoming far too difficult for her to concentrate on his words.  When his tongue circled the nipple of one breast she moaned and whatever else she might have said was forgotten

"I was waiting to talk to you alone." Luka gave the nipple a soft bite before raising himself up on his forearms, a smile spreading across his face before he dropped his head to capture her lips yet again.

The give and take continued as the young couple explored each other's bodies. They had waited two years to become man and wife, two years to be together in this the most intimate of ways, they were in no hurry for this night to end.



Saturday, November 24, 2007

Prompt 182.3: Self discovery/Realm of the Muse

I ran away. If you had asked me then I would have denied it, but, it's true. I hated my life, hated the man I had become, and this seemed a way to escape. I tried to tell myself I was going to the Congo to help others but, even if I wasn't ready to admit it, in truth I was looking for a place to hide. Chicago had become too dangerous for me, too dangerous for those around me. Erin, Rick, how many more would have suffered injury or death if I hadn't left when I did?

Life in the Congo allowed me to escape into a world I hadn't realized existed. In the beginning nothing really changed for me, I worked my shifts, and once I was finished, I would drink until I was too exhausted to keep my eyes open, or until I found someone to fall into bed with. I'm not sure that I deliberately taunted death, but, I know I didn't do anything to avoid putting myself at risk, or those around me for that matter. I know I didn't see any of my actions clearly until after Carter and Gillian left Matenda, and by then it was too late. Sakima, Chance, Patrique, all of them were ready to put there lives before mine. Patrique went so far as to give his for me, and it wasn't until I thought it was my turn that I even realized, the gift I had been wasting.

It wasn't until I returned to Chicago that I really had a chance to realize how much I owed to each of them, how much I owed Carter for coming back for me. I think I knew then that I had to change, I owed it not just to Patrique's memory, but to those who had survived. They had to have seen some worth in me that I had lost sight of, and now it was up to me to find it again, to re-claim those missing pieces so I could once more become whole. I owed it to them, but, more importantly, I owed it to myself.

Friday, November 23, 2007

November Prompt 3: Love Eternal/ Ineffable Fandom

It was an anniversary he could have done without, especially now, what with having been gone so long, he needed to be able to give Abby and Joe his full attention, but he couldn't not with the date looming so close. A reminder that always came as a mixed blessing.  He had expected this year to be worse than years past if only because of his having gone back, but nothing like this.

It had been impossible not to go back to those places that he and Danijela had enjoyed all those years ago. Impossible not to search the faces for the one he hoped he would find among so many, even as he knew she would never be there.  Even with all the changes in the City he had still found so many reminders of her.

He was home now, back to his wife, his son, he had missed both of them more then he had thought possible, and yet he found his thoughts repeatedly returning to Danijela. How did he begin to explain to Abby, the rekindling of emotions the return home had brought for him? 

There had never been a time when his love for Danijela wasn't with him, he knew that, their love was eternal, they had known that from the moment they'd met, but, did Abby understand? She'd accused him once before of being married to a ghost, and he hadn't denied it because in his heart he had known it was true, Danijela would always be his wife, no matter how many years she was gone.

After fifteen years he would have thought it would have gotten easier, but it never did, and maybe that was his punishment for being the one to survive. So, he would do as he always did on this day.  He would go and light candles for all three of them, offer prayers of remembrance for the woman who had first captured his heart and the children who'd never had a chance to know life.



Thursday, November 22, 2007

Prompt 36 A: What is your greatest strength?/Canon Muses

"How do you do it?" John Carter looked like death warmed over as he approached, his eyes red rimmed, his clothing rumpled.

"Do what?" Luka Kovac immediately reached for the other doctor's arm.

"Let's go in the lounge, we can talk there where it's more private." Once they were inside he sat two coffee cups on the counter.

"How's Kem?' With his back to the other man he finished filling the cups, then carried them over to the couch.

"Not good, neither of us are, I don't think we can get through this." Carter picked up he cup closest to him as Luka sat it down.

"You will." The Croat's vote of confidence came quietly.

"Because you did?" John didn't mean for his words to come off as harshly as they did, but the bite was still there, in them.

Luka released a slow breath and sat his own cup back on the table before turning to fully face the other man.

"John, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that it's going to be easy, because it's not." Raking his hand back through his hair, Kovac took a moment to search for the feelings in himself that he worked so hard to bury, feelings he knew he would need if he were to help his grieving friend.

"It hurts so much." Carter's voice broke as he spoke, and tears began welling in his eyes.

"I know, I wish I could say one day it won't hurt, but, I can't." Luka reached over and firmly gripped the other man's shoulder as he continued.

"I can tell you that some days are better then others, and eventually you'll find a way to bury the hurt away, and move on with your life." He felt the tremble under hand, but it was to late to stop.

"But, you'll always have that raw spot, that emptiness, and nothing anyone can do or say will change that, so, all you can do is grieve.  Over time you'll find that is taking less and less of your day and that's when you can start looking forward again." When Carter's shoulder's sagged and the tears finally fully broke, Luka knew the conversation was over and all he could do for his friend in those moments was hold him, and so he did.  While he had conquered his own grief, what Carter was going through now was his alone, and all he could do was stand by him as his friend. If only he'd had someone to give him that strength in Vukovar.





Monday, November 19, 2007

Prompt 10.1 Photographs and Memories/Writers Muses

Photographs and Memories

by Jim Croce

Photographs and memories
Christmas cards you sent to me
All that I have are these to remember you
Memories that come at night
Take me to another time
Back to a happier day, when I called you mine

"Do you Danijela Viljac take Luka Kovac to be your husband?" Sitting here now, in my father's house, all these memories come flooding back. You were so beautiful, and after waiting so long, you were finally mine.  It's like a dream.  Even with you standing there in front of me, I still can't believe that the time we have talked about for so long has finally arrived.

But we sure had a good time
When we started way back when
Morning walks and bedroom talks
Oh, how I loved you then

The memory of waking to you in my arms on our first morning together.  You were still sleeping, and I remember thinking I had never seen you looking more beautiful then in that moment before you opened your eyes. When you woke up, you laughed at me, you kept saying how awful you looked, but you didn't, not to me. All I could think of on that morning was of the lifetime of other mornings we would have together.  I couldn't know then, that for us our lifetime would only last five years.

Summer skies and lullabies
Nights we couldn't say goodbye
And of all of the things that we knew
Not a dream survived

You gave me such beautiful babies, did I tell you that enough?  Jasna, she would have grown to look just like you, I know she would have.  I remember holding her on that first night we brought her home, she was so tiny, and I was so afraid that I would hurt her.  You were there though, with your soft words, and lullabies, and together we raised her to be a daughter any parent would be proud of. She loved Marko so much. We had so little time with our baby boy, I regret that so much, and it's a guilt I still struggle with after all these years.

Photographs and memories
All the love you gave to me
Somehow it just can't be true
It's all I've left of you

How can I ever apologize enough for not listening to you when you wanted to leave, for not realizing that nothing was as important as what we had between us?  You already knew that though, it's why you wouldn't leave.  You could have taken Marko and Jasna and gone to your parents, or mine, but, you didn't, you refused to leave for me, for us, for what we had between us, and it cost you all your lives.

But we sure had a good time
When we started way back when
Morning walks and bedroom talks
Oh, how I loved you then

I don't want to remember those times though, not now, not here.  Here I can can remember how it was in the beginning, when we were young, when we thought we had our entire lives ahead of us, when we still believed that love was the thing of fairy tales.  Only here can I find those memories.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

One Photo/Canon Muses

A. You keep a photo album of memories from your life. If you could only keep one photo, what would it be? 

(Continued from Theatrical Muse prompt #205)

"It's hard to believe you've been gone so long." Luka's words came quietly, and if Abby or Niko were to overhear they might very likely think he had someone in the living-room with him despite the lateness of the hour.

"It was so hard going back, Danijela."  He tried to smooth one of the ancient creases out of the small black and white photograph as he held it.

"It seemed everywhere I went there was a reminder of our life before Vukovar."  He found himself pausing as if he were somehow hearing his wife's words of response before he continued.

"I know, it's been twenty years, and so much has changed, but, so much stays the same, in a way, too much stayed the same." He touched the tip of his finger to his lips and then to hers as if he could transverse time to actually reach her.

"The coffee-house is gone, but I went to our church, and the park.  Danijela, I spoke to the Priest, I'm still struggling with re-finding my faith, but, I know I will find my way back to what I had, what we had.  I want Joe to know the comfort that the church and faith can bring him, that it brought to Jasna and Marko." His voice broke forcing him to stop yet again.

"I want Joe to know about you, and about Jasna and Marko, you'll watch over him for me, won't you, take care of him, like you took care of our children when they were small?"

"Luka?" Abby's voice interrupted his conversation with his first wife.

"Look after them both Danijela, I miss you so much, and I love you all." He finished the conversation in an almost inaudible whisper before pocketing the photo as he rose and went to her in response to her call.

"You couldn't sleep?" She slipped her arms around his waist as he reached her, concern in her voice and on her face as she accepted his kiss.

"Jet-lag I guess, I didn't mean to wake you." He offered the apology quietly.

"You didn't, now, come back to bed." She took his hand before coaxing him back toward their room.

"I'm so glad you're home, Luka." Abby slipped comfortably into the embrace he offered in response.

"I'm glad I'm home too."And as he said the words he knew truer words he could not have spoke.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Prompt #205: Talk about a moment in which you wished you had a camera/Theatrical Muse

I'm finally home again. How do I even begin to describe what it feels like after being gone for so long? For too long. Seeing Abby at the hospital, you would have thought we had been separated for years instead of only a few months.

A few months, I say that as if it is nothing, but in Joe's life it may has well have been a lifetime for how much he has grown. As I sat with my brother Niko tonight and looked through the album of photographs of him taken since I've been gone, I realized how very much I had missed.

Now though, in the darkness of the too quiet apartment, when everyone else has long ago retired to their beds, and sleep eludes me, I find those same photographs coming back to haunt me. I know it's not really the pictures of Abby with Joe that are the problem, and without even realizing I've done it, I find the small black and white of Danijela and Jasna joining the album on the table.

It's so unfair. I have so many reminders of Abby and Joe, and when it comes to those I've lost, I have one single photograph. Even now as I pick it up I can't help but notice how badly the years have treated it, from the frayed edges, to it's dog-eared corners, I know each one far too well, for it's all I have of them to hold onto.

I try to call up memories of Danijela and the children, hoping that they might somehow fill the sense of emptiness that I'm feeling, but, more and more, all that comes to me are the moments of their deaths. Why can't I remember the happy times?

I find myself wishing I had the power to go back in time, if I could somehow capture forever the moments that meant so much. The first time Danijela and I kissed, the moment I asked her to be my wife, the first time I saw her in her wedding dress, and the moment she said "I Do." There are so many other times, and I flip through this album in my mind, only to find it's pages blank...Jasna's birth, her first smile, her first words, her first steps, and then the arrival of our son, Marko, my sweet, sweet Marko. It's so much harder with him because he was with us for such a short time.

I look at Joe now and I can't help but see Marko in him and I find myself wishing I had just one photograph to lay beside one of Joe's. One small picture, so that one day I might say, this is your big brother, he would have lovedyou so much. I can still remember how Jasna was with Marko, and I know she would have doted on Joe too.

One day I'll show him her picture, and I'll tell him that.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

181.2.i: Cope/Realm of the Muse

"Abby? Can you hear me? I'm sorry, the connection isn't very good, how's Joe?." Luka pressed his cheek against the phone as he moved through his father's house.

"I can't believe he's walking already, I wish I could be there with you both, or you could be here." Picking up the her most recent letter from the stack of mail that sat on the table he quickly tore it open.

"I have it here." A smile quickly replaced the expression of sadness that had been on his face as he discovered the photographs that his wife had included with her note.

"Oh, Abby, he's getting so big." He flipped through the other pictures as he listened to her voice on the other end of the call.

"I wish you had sent one of you together, but, if all goes well with the construction, I should be home within a week, a week and a half at the most." He shook his head as he heard her sigh of frustration.

"Abby, I know, if I could leave sooner I would, but, we have to make sure Tata can get around on his own if he needs to...Abby, don't, I'm sorry, it's not that I don't want to, I just can't just leave this to Niko to do alone." He hated the sound of the anger that washed over his words, but, was powerless to stop it.

"I promise, as soon as I can leave I will. Kiss Joe for me, I love you too." He held the phone for a moment more as the call ended, they would get through this as they had gotten through so many other obstacles that had been placed before them.

"Only a little while more." He whispered the words as if she still might hear even though the call had been severed.

"Stay strong for me Abby, stay strong for Joe...I know you can do it, our love will help you cope with whatever happens, all you have to do is believe in yourself as much as I believe in you." He wiped the tears away before setting the phone back in it's cradle

"Just believe." He whispered the words a final time as he closed his eyes and pictured Abby in his mind, all he could do was hope she could cope with whatever happened until he got back, hope that she could stay strong, for herself and for Joe.  He was powerless to do anything more.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Prompt 35A: Who is your worst enemy? Why?/Canon Muses

I sometimes think I'm my own worst enemy, or I used to feel that, if only for the fact that I seemed to sabotage everything in my life that was working out for me. Relationships, my career, if I could derail them I would find a way to do it. I don't know, maybe I still do.

The first time Abby and I were together, you would have thought everything was perfect between us, but it wasn't, it couldn't be, she knew that even if I didn't.  How had she put it that night?  I was married to a ghost? It was true.  It didn't matter that Danijela had been dead for almost eight years at the time we were together, in my mind we were still married and I couldn't shake the feeling that I was cheating on her when I was with someone else.

I had tried to open myself up to someone else before that, but it hadn't worked. As lonely as both of us might have been, I don't think either of us were able to walk away from those who still held our hearts.  For Carol it was easier, her love was still alive and in the end she made the decision to go to him instead of waiting for him to come to her, I couldn't do that.

Danijela was the first woman I had ever been with, she was my first love, and for far too long I had told myself that I could never possibly find anyone to equal what I had with her.  Maybe that was part of the problem between Abby and I when we were together the first time, I wanted so much for things to be the way they had been with Danijela, and they couldn't.  Danijela and I shared everything, Abby and I nothing, we might have been strangers for all we knew of each other's lives and I think that was the start of our downfall.  That and my love for Danijela.

I don't know why I decided to stay in Chicago, it had always been easier when I moved from place to place before anyone had a chance to wonder who I was or where I came from. I decided to do this though, I decided to allow people into my life, into my past, and while I knew it wouldn't be easy to change after so long, I never expected it to be as hard as it has been either.

Over the years that Abby and I were apart I tried everything I could to destroy my life, even going so far as to chase death in the Congo. I became my worst enemy because I hated the man I'd become and I had lost sight of the man who had married Danijela all those years ago. I'd like to think I'm finding my way back to him, or at least to a version of him who has made room in his heart for more than one love.  I know I no longer hate who I am, and for a long time I couldn't say that, and I think I couldn't ask for a better start then that.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Prompt 8.3: Insomnia/Writers Muses

It was hopeless. Luka threw back the worn quilt before sitting up and dropping his feet to the wood floor. The house was dark, but far from silent, and for several minutes he simply sat, listening to the sounds of his father's house. He hadn't wanted to leave the hospital, but, it hadn't made sense for both he and Niko to be there all night, and he knew that despite their personal differences, if anything happened his brother would call.

So, why couldn't he sleep?

The springs of the bed squeaked as he stood and when he wandered into the kitchen he found his ears picking out a familiar sound from his youth. As it's chime announced the quarter hour, he spotted the mantle clock that his mother had been so proud of, a wedding gift that she had received from her parents on the day she had left their home. The memory was another of the bittersweet ones that seemed to haunt him since his return, and as successful as he had been with keeping them at bay during the daylight hours, by night they besieged him.

He hadn't told Niko about his insomnia, there really wasn't a reason to, with all the differences between them it wasn't as if he could confide in him about anything like this. He ran his hand over the clock's smooth finish before walking away from it, the image of his mother sitting at the table polishing it easily coming into his thoughts. If only all of the memories that came were ones that brought a smile with them.

After grabbing a beer from the refrigerator Luka spent the next hour walking the rooms of the small house, picking up and putting down the small trinkets that sat on the shelves and tabletops. So many reminders of his mother even after all the years she'd been gone, a luxury he'd never had when it came to remembering his own family. Without even realizing he had done it until it was out and in his hand he fingered the small black and white picture of his wife and daughter.

So many of the memories stirred by this place were of things long gone, the thought lingered as he found himself in front of a picture of he and Niko as boys. Even something as simple as the friendship between two brothers had been battered and crumpled by war, then further left to fester as both of them had said things they neither could take back. Now, almost fifteen years later they had to decide if they were strong enough to salvage what they once had, or would that relationship or at least what remained of it, die with the death of their father.

Tipping his beer back, Luka found a bitterness in his mouth that he knew shouldn't exist. He didn't want to admit that his father was dying but experience told him it wouldn't be long. When had the man who had once seemed so robust become so frail? His shoulders sagged and he felt the tears he'd been fighting to hold back beginning to gain strength, soon it would only be he and Niko, the choice was his, did he really want to lose him too?