Disclaimer: The characters from the series ‘A-Team’ and any other characters used from television and film belong to their relevant owners and are used here only for pleasure and not for profit. The same applies to any song lyrics used in the stories. Any similarities with real life characters or situation is unintentional and coincidental.
Summary: A visitor from Hannah’s past triggers a suicide attempt, which reveals the true source of her problems. Leaving Face and Murdock feeling defenseless to help the woman they love.
Rated: PG 13
Warning: angst, mental illness themes, trauma, with some vague references to childhood violence, rape, suicide attempts
Comments and constructive criticism welcomed: email@example.com
Hannah seemed to be getting better. The sanitarium allowed her to come and go as she pleased, and it was no longer necessary to break her out. That was a disappointment to her because she enjoyed the scams that Hannibal and Face came up with, and it would keep her guessing. Face thought he was going to have to pull a kidnapping scam on her just for her because he knew how much she enjoyed them. He relaxed when he entered her suite, but when he realized someone else was there already, he wished had knocked. He studied the stranger who was seated on the sofa. She was pretty; she had jet-black hair and a slightly olive complexion, and she seemed familiar somehow. She seemed to know him, though. Hannah got up and greeted him, saying “Face, boy do I have a surprise for you. Do you remember my sister, Maranda?”
Sofia’s kid, her only daughter that she had with Miller. She looked like her father, but he could see something of Sofia in her, too. Of course he remembered her. How could he forget the eight-year-old who planted a big wad of chewing gum in his hair in less than five minutes of meeting her? He was forced to sport a buzz cut for several months because of her. She was one of the reasons he never came back to visit the family after his reunion with Sofia shortly after he and Hannah found each other, but he couldn’t remember the other reasons.
He tried to excuse himself to give them some privacy, but Hannah wouldn’t hear of it, and so he stayed. He watched the women transform into little girls as they remembered past events and filled each other in on recent events in their lives. It had been almost ten years since they had spoken, that was when Gerald Miller died, the man who adopted Hannah and married Sofia. Face desperately wanted to get away from the girl talk, but he sensed that Hannah wanted him to stay. No, he checked his gut feeling again, not wanted, she needed him to stay. Face was getting the hang of Hannah’s ‘vibes’ as Murdock called them. He sensed that she was drawing strength from him, and he looked at her closer. She was strained, and this visit from her sister was tiring her.
Face then said, “I hate to interrupt you ladies, but visiting hours are almost over. Hannah’s getting tired, and you can come back tomorrow, Maranda.” Not that visiting hours ever meant anything to him and the rest of the guys. They came whenever they felt like it. Face insisted on taking Maranda back to her hotel when she made an attempt to call a cab. He was going to find out what had upset his sister. Hannah was visibly relieved but obviously confused as to why, as she walked her guests out the door, saying, “Come back tomorrow and we’ll have lunch and go shopping.”
Maranda seemed thrilled by that prospect and said, “I’m going to hold you to it.”
Face whispered to Hannah, “I’ll be back in a little while. Okay, sweetheart?” Hannah nodded.
On the way back to the hotel, he wasn’t able to get much out of Maranda. She was a flake just like Sofia. Face had to remind himself that Maranda was family—his cousin, in fact. He wondered how was it possible for the three of them to come from the same gene pool as he listened to her ramblings. It was obvious that she loved Hannah and was worried about her. But the thing that bothered him most was why wait ten years to speak to one another. Maranda would go on and on about how Hannah did things for her and how she’d protected her. Face asked himself, ‘Protected her from what?’ He was relieved when he got rid of her.
On his way back, something in the back of his mind told him that he had to hurry and be with Hannah. When he got back he literally ran into Sarah, who was out of breath. She said, “I was about to call you. Come with me.”
Face saw the look of terror in Sarah’s eyes as she quickly explained, “They’ve taken her to the infirmary.” Face chased after her asking, “Why? What happened?..Tell me!!” He grabbed Sarah by the arm, pulling her to a stop, forcing her to look at him. Sarah pulled away from him and in a calm voice she said, “Hannah, attempted suicide twenty minutes ago. We got to her in time and….”
His response was turning to go towards the infirmary. She said, “They won’t let you see her tonight.” Sarah was going to go see Hannah herself, to be with her.. friend, …yes, Hannah was her friend, not just her patient. But she saw that she could do Hannah more good here as Face tried to comprehend what had happened. Then he started remembering how she was earlier, and to himself he said, “I should have known.. She was trying to let me know all afternoon, but I didn’t see it….Why didn’t I see it?..”
Sarah asked, “See what? If you can tell me anything, you’d better tell me now. Hey! Where are you going?”
Face ran down the hall, saying, “Go to her, she trusts you. Hopefully, I’ll get some answers.”
His mind was racing as he made his way back to Maranda’s hotel. He blamed himself for it. He wanted more than anything in the world to share a connection with his twin sister and they were slowly but surely building one. The first test had come up that afternoon and he had blown it. He had failed. He angrily struck the steering wheel as he waited for the light to change. Then he remembered that the connection was still there, and he visualized himself sending her his strength, and after a moment, he felt as if she were receiving it. He started to feel calm now. The light turned green, and he thought one of these days they were going to have to reserve a room for him next to Murdock’s.
Maranda was surprised to see him, and she tried to offer him some refreshments. When he refused she was hurt. She was fragile and so much like Sofia, and he was going to have to be careful with her. When she offered him a seat, he took it because he knew she would be hurt more if he refused. He explained to Maranda that Hannah had hurt herself and that he needed to find out if anything they talked about could have upset her. She was losing it, thought Face as he comforted her, wishing it were Hannah that he was comforting. He let her cry as she explained that they were just talking about everyday things like sisters should. Then he remembered his earlier conversation with her and asked, “What did you mean when you said Hannah protected you?” Maranda became quiet, refusing to look at him. Finally, he was getting somewhere. He pressed her, and he had to use every trick in the book and even invented a couple of new tricks to get her to tell him what she knew. About an hour later he had pried a very horrific story from her. He wanted to die as he listened to how Hannah had been raped over the years by her father. How Hannah protected Maranda as much as she could from the man over the years, and how Sofia denied it. He remembered Gerald Miller; he was very handsome, and Face’s first impression of him was that of a used car salesman. Miller had been raping her from the time she was nine years old until she left for college. When he no longer had access to Hannah, he started raping Maranda. Face had taken comfort in believing that his sister had a better life than he did, but now that ideal was shattered. At the moment he wanted to find Miller’s grave and dig him up, revive him so that he could kill him again as he held Hannah’s sister, Gerald Miller’s daughter.
Once Face thought Maranda had finished crying, he stopped rocking her and gently said, “I’m going to go back to the hospital, and I want you to come with me. There are some nice doctors that will help you and help Hannah. You need to tell the doctors everything you just told me. Can you do that?” He smiled at her while trying to force the charm to turn on. After a little more convincing, Maranda finally nodded in agreement. When they got back to the hospital, he called Hannibal after handing Maranda over to Sarah. Then he found a bathroom and vomited.
Sarah returned shortly to be with him and explained, “Maranda is speaking to the doctor. What she knows is going to help Hannah a lot.”
Face nodded, not really interested in what Sarah had to say, and he asked, “Why didn’t Hannah say something before?”
Sarah sat down in front of Face and sighed before she started talking. “The mind is a wonderful mechanism. It will do anything to survive, even shut down parts of itself to ensure its survival as a whole until it can find a safe place to heal. That’s what your sister did. She shut down the parts of her life that hurt her too much, and now that she’s found a safe place, she’s revived that part of herself so that she can heal. You and your friends are Hannah’s safe place, her place to heal. You should be proud that she has chosen you. Many people don’t get as far as she has come in this period of time. And a lot of times people can never revive that wounded part of them, and that part of them is dead and lost to them forever. Hannah is lucky because she will recover and she is healing. Someday she will be whole again. She has overcome a tremendous amount of pain and suffering in just a short time, and it’s mostly because she’s had a lot of support from you.”
The image of a wounded animal in a cave hiding from and waiting for the predator to leave came into his mind as Sarah spoke. He hated the idea of Hannah hiding in a cave waiting for it to be safe. Face rubbed his eyes and looked at Sarah. She smiled sadly, saying, “You deserve a lot of credit. So do Hannah a favor and don’t beat yourself up over this. Okay?”
He reluctantly said, “Okay.”
Sarah could tell that he wanted to be left alone, and she got up saying, “You can see her in the morning. You can stay here tonight, and I’ll send word if there are any changes before then. I’ll send up some pajamas so that you can get some rest.”
He thanked her and was glad to see her go. He made his way back to the bathroom and vomited again. He started to remember all the little things that he had dismissed as quirks on Hannah’s part; how she hated casual contact with people she didn’t know. How she’d retreat further into her delusions when someone touched her during a delusion. The clues were there for everyone to see but no one was able to put them together, even back in college.
Hannibal walked into Hannah’s suite where Face was waiting for him. They had already cleaned up the blood and set everything as it was before. Face looked like hell warmed over, thought Hannibal as he sat across from him.
Hannibal asked, “How is she?”
Face didn’t look up and said, “Worse than ever.” He then leaned forward more and rested his elbows on his knees and stared at the floor.
No answer. After a long extended period of silence, Hannibal heard Face weeping. He moved over to sit next to him and pulled him over to hold him. Face then started bawling, saying something about how he should have known and how he should have protected her. Hannibal knew that this was even more serious than he originally thought. Face had never been this overwrought before, not even in the prison camps. When Face was able to speak again, he told Hannibal what he knew in as few words as he possibly could. Hannibal closed his eyes, trying to contain his rage, saying, “Oh, God.” When he remembered Hannah needed them, the waves of rage subsided enough for him to think clearly. His admiration for her increased a hundred fold. She had to have a lot of courage to love freely like she did. She had loved all of them and trusted them in spite of her past. He’d often wondered why it was so easy for her to call him ‘dad’ when she had what he thought was a father while growing up. Hannibal felt fatherly towards her during the short time he had known her, but in that instant he became her father in every sense of the word.
Face finally spoke up again and said, “Murdock is going to have to be told, and I don’t know how I’m going to tell him. Hannah’s everything to him and she’s going to need him.”
Hannibal cringed. Face was right, Murdock would take it hard. Hannibal looked over to him and said, “You stay here, I’ll worry about Murdock. You call me as soon as you know ANY THING.”
Murdock felt someone shaking his shoulder as he was waking up. It took him a few seconds to recognize the hushed voice. “Captain,.. Captain? ..Murdock wake up. Lets go.”
He sleepily got dressed and followed Hannibal out the window, wondering what was up. A mission discussion meeting, probably. He climbed into his customary seat in the back and stretched out. He let his mind wander around and found nothing that interested him at the moment and decided to go knock on Hannah’s mental door. When his mental image touched the door, it burned him. He sat up with a start, shaking his physical hand, wide awake. The mental door had been so cold that it burned to the touch. He then looked in the front passenger seat at Hannibal, seeing that he was worried. Then he went back to Hannah’s ‘door’ and tried to open it. He felt like he had been mentally electrocuted as he struggled to stay in his seat. Hannibal looked back to see what had happened and to see Murdock’s eyes tear up. He looked at Hannibal like a lost little boy and said, “I can’t feel her, she’s not there. Hannibal, something’s wrong with Hannah.” Hannibal wondered how on earth could he possible know.
When they got to the house, Murdock could tell that BA was scared when they got out of the van. BA rarely got scared, and when he was scared, something had to be seriously wrong. When they got into the house, Hannibal got down to business. BA had sat down and looked as if he were dreading what he was about to hear for the second time that evening, only in more detail. He stuck around just in case Hannibal had problems with Murdock. Hannibal explained to Murdock that Hannah had another breakdown and made another suicide attempt. Murdock was stunned and asked what happened. Hannibal struggled for words. He was having a great deal of difficulty dealing with it himself and here he was trying to explain it to someone else. But not just to anyone, to Murdock. He said, “She had a visitor today that triggered some real awful memories.”
Murdock remained calm and rubbed his forehead, knocking his cap off, saying, “I thought Decker’s not a problem for her anymore. Why would Decker jump-start her like that?”
Hannibal explained that it wasn’t Decker and that it was Hannah’s sister/cousin.
Murdock wrinkled his forehead, wondering why would that cause her to take a swan dive off the deep end. Hannibal explained the best way he knew how. After he heard about the rapes, Murdock was enraged and wanted to hit something or someone, anything. Both Hannibal and BA had to hold him down to keep him from hurting himself while he was fighting with Hannah’s demons until he had exhausted himself. When he was more manageable, Hannibal grabbed Murdock by the face, looked him directly in the eyes, and said, “Murdock, we can’t be this way. I understand how you feel. I want to go back and get that bag of pus myself and make him pay, but we can’t do that now. Hannah needs us, and we will be there for her. Murdock, she’s going to need you most of all. She needs you to keep yourself together .You understand?”
Murdock slowly gave up his struggle against Hannibal and BA. He hugged his knees and started to cry. Hannibal was right, and mentally he wandered over to Hannah’s ‘door’ and sat down, waiting for her to open it.
BA spoke for the first time since Hannibal told him and asked “Who is this low life so I can fix ‘im good?”
Hannibal said, “You can’t touch him, BA. He’s dead, and has been for some time now. I’ve never taken much stock in the afterlife, but now, I’m investing in it heavily. Because I want that SOB to burn.” Then turning to Murdock, he said, “Come on Murdock, let’s go to bed. We’re going to need all the rest we can get while we can.”
They put Murdock to bed, and Hannibal lingered as he watched his friend stare at the ceiling. He said, “Everything’s going to be all right, Murdock. I don’t know how, but I just know it. She’s not alone anymore. Hannah has been alone for many years and she has made it this far, but now she has the Team behind and in front of her. We all are going to be pushing and pulling for her in every possible way.”
Murdock closed his eyes and said, “I know… Uh, Hannibal?”
Hannibal waited. Murdock said, “Thanks.Th-thanks for everything.”
Hannibal nodded and left, thinking, ‘No problem. We did it before and we’d do it as many times as need be.’
Murdock wondered how could this be true, because she had given him no indication of her past sexual abuse during the times they were physically intimate. Then he remembered the first time they had made love. She had shown him her wounds, they were deep in her soul, and he didn’t understand what he was seeing at the time. She didn’t put a name on it, because it was easier for her to live her day to day life if she didn’t label the pain. Murdock understood that all to well, because he couldn’t bring himself to label his own inner pain. Because to name something, is to claim it. He understood why she didn’t want to claim this. He guessed seeing her sister and knowing that on some level that she had gone through the same thing, and knowing that the younger woman was in as much pain as she was, she could no longer ignore it. Hannah had named it and now she was forcing her sister to claim it to help them both. Murdock slept outside Hannah’s ‘door’ that night. By morning he felt her crack the door open a little.
Face looked at Hannah lying in the hospital bed with her arms restrained. How many times had he seen Murdock like that? Sarah stood up when she noticed him standing in the door and encouraged him to come in as she sat back down quietly in the corner with her clipboard. Face thought how he would love to smash that ever-present clipboard that recorded every little observation Sarah made. He reached for Hannah’s hand and kissed her lightly on the forehead, and her eyes flew open looking at him. She was lost. Face smiled easily, and in a soft voice, almost a whisper, said, “Hello there. You had quiet a night last night.”
Years of experience with Murdock had taught him that it was best to deal with mental episodes head on. Side stepping and ignoring them only made things worse. Hannah tried to rub her eyes but was stopped by the restraints as if to remind her why she was there. Face saw what it was that she wanted, and he found a washcloth and a basin of water on the table next to her bed. He wet the cloth and washed her face, happy to be doing something for her while forgetting about Sarah and her clipboard in the corner. He wiped her forearms and hands as well, then he started removing the last of the dried blood from beneath her fingernails from the day before. Hannah watched him do this while trying to feel something towards him, but all she could feel was numbness. She sighed and without any emotions, softly said, “I don’t know why I did it, but I didn’t mean to do it. All I wanted to do was stop remembering. It was just too much to deal with at one time.”
He continued cleaning her nails, saying, “The important thing is that you’re all right. We now know what the problem is and that you can start the healing process now.” Hannah nodded and stared at him in pure astonishment as he returned her gaze. She thought for a moment he was going to lift her up out of her pain and misery, and make everything all right but he couldn’t. She closed her eyes and turned her head away a little so that she didn’t have meet his eyes when she opened her own. He then found a hairbrush in one of the drawers and brushed her hair and adjusted her pillow. A little annoyed, she asked, “Are you trying to get a job here, or what?”
Face smiled, saying, “No, the pay is lousy. And besides, you can’t fight me, and I like it that way,” indicating the restraints.
Hannah gave a small, half-hearted laugh and asked, “Any idea of how much longer I have to wear these things?”
Face answered “No, I think it’s up to the doctor.” Then he asked, “How do you feel?”
Hannah started to feel everything, and she struggled to keep her composure and answered truthfully, “Terrified.. It’s like I don’t know where I am, who I am, or what I am. It’s almost like someone had ripped all of that out of me and hid it from me.”
A wave of numbness washed over her, and she was relieved for it. Face thought that was possibly the best description of rape he had heard as he remembered his own rapes in the prison camp. But she was just a little girl when this started and she endured it for years and he was an adult and got away after a short time. The biggest part of her childhood was a prison camp. He pushed the memories and thoughts back and said, ” I’m going to help you get it back, and that’s a promise.”
She then asked, “Where’s Maranda?”
Face answered truthfully, “She went back to Boston this morning. We tried to make her to stay, but she ran away.”
Hannah closed her eyes in disbelief, saying, “I need to talk to her and make her understand that this is not her fault.” He looked at her in open-mouthed wonder because even in her present condition she was thinking of some one else and not herself. Face assured her that he would find Maranda for her, and she seemed to accept that.
Murdock and Hannibal walked in, followed by BA. Murdock walked right up to her bedside looking scared but delighted to see that she was awake and alert. He kissed her on the lips and asked, “How are you doing, Angel?”
She gave him a little smile and said, “Much better, now that you are here.”
Murdock fingered her bandaged wrist hesitantly and pulled his hand away when he realized he was doing it while saying, “I was worried about you last night. I wanted to be with you.”
Hannah felt a bubble of happiness float to the surface through the numbness and said, “I know, and I’m sorry. I just lost control for a moment. That’s all. I didn’t do it on purpose.” She reached for his hand, but the restraints had stopped her. Murdock quickly grabbed it and held on tight, and sat on the edge of the bed. Hannah then looked over to BA and Hannibal and said, “Come on over here so I can see you, I’m not going to break if you see me like this.”
Hannibal said, “You look great, kid. Murdock’s right, you had us all worried and scared out of our wits last night, but there’s no need to apologize, okay? We’re just glad that you’re going to be okay.”
BA added, “That’s right, little lady. We’re here for you. If you ask us to jump, we’ll ask how high.”
Face chuckled and said, “Don’t go that far. It’s hard telling where she might ask us to jump.”
They talked some, and when Face saw that this was beginning to be a little too much for her, he said, “She needs a break. Come on guys lets go find a doctor to get her out of these things,” indicating the restraints. Then he turned to Hannah, saying, “We’ll be back in a little while, okay?” She nodded.
Murdock said, “I’m staying.”
Face looked back, seeing the determined look on his face, and said, “Okay, as soon as we talk to her doctor we’ll be up in her suite.”
Murdock was grateful that they were not going to make him come with them. Then he turned his attention to Hannah. Neither of them noticed Sarah in the corner, and she decided not intrude. What she observed next was strange to her. He just sat there, watching Hannah, holding her hand and not moving.
Murdock had invited her in, giving her a safe harbor from the storm raging within herself. She accepted without hesitation, to his relief, but stayed on the outer edges of his soul. He enveloped her and soothed her as she rested, taking on as much of her pain as he could stand. He wished he could talk, but this place, the soul, was a place where language had no meaning. It was a place of essence—basic nature. Soon she was feeling stronger, strong enough to start radiating an inner energy. Murdock then started coaxing her, assuring her, until she finally went into a free fall to the center of his being. He cradled her there and coated her in his protection like an oyster does a grain of sand to turn it into a pearl.
Murdock felt a hand on his shoulder bringing him back to reality. Face was looking more than a little worried when Murdock focused his eyes as he heard Sarah somewhere in the room saying, “He’s been like that for nearly three hours. Just sitting there, not moving or blinking.”
He blinked hard trying to get the moisture circulating on the surface of his eyeballs again. He looked at Hannah. She was sleeping. Then he looked over to Face, who was asking, “Are you okay, Murdock?”
He felt Hannah still within him and was relieved to sense that she was going to take refuge for a while longer. Murdock sighed happily and said, “Yeah, everything’s good.” He was relieved to see Sarah was removing the restraints, and then he looked at Face, saying, “I’m hungry, can we eat?”
Face was confused by his sudden change in moods and said, “Yes, sure. Anything you want.” Murdock almost seemed chipper to him as he kissed Hannah on the forehead before turning on his heels to head out the door. Face turned to Sarah to quickly excuse himself before running after Murdock. Sarah shook her head, feeling sorry for Face because it seemed as if he always had more trouble than he could handle. Face caught up to Murdock and grabbed him by the elbow asking, “What’s going on?”
Murdock smiled as if pleased with himself and said, “Everything’s fine! Hannah’s fine, I’m fine, Hannibal is fine, BA’s fine and you will be fine, too, if you just let yourself be. Now, where’s the dining room in this place? I keep forgettin’. This place is so damn big, it’s a wonder that people don’t get lost here.”
Face thought ‘Oh, God.He’s really gone off the deep end now,’ as he chased after him once again.
one month later
Murdock was right. Everything was fine, considering, finer since the day they found her in the back of the van looking like a half drowned, starved, witless mass of human flesh and bones. Face was amazed at how attuned Murdock was to her moods. The memories of the rapes had made her more moody than ever. One minute she’d wanted desperately to be held, cuddled, and coddled, two minutes later she would scream at the very thought of being touched by anyone. They had one more razor blade to swallow at the revelations the memories had brought to light. The rapes had messed her up physically so that she could not carry a baby properly. The muscles that were needed to support a baby’s weight were torn and weakened. That was why his niece was born too soon and subsequently died as a result. Another one of Gerald Miller’s victims, thought Face, permitting himself to think for a moment what it would’ve been like if she’d lived. She would have been a happy little girl being a child of Hannah’s and a child of Charlie’s. He had no doubts about that. A doctor had told him that the problem could now be corrected surgically and she would be able to have more children. But what disturbed him these days was that she was seemingly behaving like Murdock… No, no, ..Not really, he reminded himself. She was acting like the Hannah he knew back in college. He was starting to remember how she really was. She’d do weird things he never quite understood, like how she spoke in numbers and riddles, her elaborate pranks, her obsession with probability—No one could beat her in card games. He remembered one time how she got even with a professor that was giving her a hard time—one of her simpler pranks, really—instead of egging his car she covered it in styro-foam that she had personally made herself. Shaping his car into an egg itself and she left a sign that simply said ‘dodo bird’s.’ Her wit was so sharp that a person needed to carry around a set of encyclopedias to keep up with her and that was resurfacing daily. He wondered how he could have forgotten it or missed it.
Face entered Hannah’s suite and found a note on the desk telling him that she was in the garden. Next to the note was an open, well-worn book of poetry that was held together with duct tape, that was left opened with a poem highlighted. Something compelled him to read the short poem as he picked up the book and flipped it over seeing it was a book Charlie had given her, Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. He remembered how Hannah and Charlie would spend hours reading poetry to each other, and often they would end up composing their own after reading. They’d often write their own prose in the margins of the books themselves. He never understood what he perceived as their need of poetry. He flipped the book back over and read the highlighted portion:
“A Clear Midnight”
‘This is thy hour O Soul, Thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death, and the stars.
He turned out the door taking the book with him to find Hannah. He didn’t want to make it into something if it were nothing, but he had to find out if it was nothing first. Murdock was with her when he found her. She greeted him warmly, and then she noticed that he had her book.
She playfully said, “Since when are you interested in poetry?”
Murdock added, “Yeah, are you going in for a little self-enrichment, Face?”
Face flipped the book open and pointed out the passage he had read earlier, and while trying to keep the panic out of his voice, asked “What does this mean?”
Hannah took the book wondering why he was upset, and she read it with Murdock looking over her shoulder. Murdock gave a little smile as he read it. She looked up and said, “So?”
Murdock knew she had a deep appreciation and understanding of poetry and didn’t understand people who didn’t. He said in a philosophical tone while making overly exaggerated intellectual movements with his hands, “You see, Face, its like this. It’s about letting go. Letting go of the stuff that holds us down, holds us back, makes us heavy in our hearts, minds, and souls. It’s telling us to stop thinking and talking, and fly-y-y-y because thinking and talking doesn’t really get us anywhere. And you might want to do that sometimes because you do think and talk too much when there’s no need.”
Face took offense at this, but Murdock was right. He did think and talk too much at times when it wasn’t really necessary.
Hannah gasped as the root of Face’s concern dawned on her. She said, “Oh, no, Face. You thought.” Then shaking her head slightly, she said, “No, that’s not going to happen again.”
Face wanted to believe her, and she could see the doubt written all over his face.
She gave a warning glance to Murdock to tell him to stay out of it for now and said, “It’s all out in the open now. Everyone knows, including myself, for the first time in a really long time.”
Face looked questioningly at Hannah. He had a lot of questions that he wanted answers to but wasn’t sure if she was ready to give him the answers, and he wasn’t ready to ask them. The door was now open because he had just opened it, and he thought he might as well go in because he didn’t know if it would be open again. He then carefully asked, “How could you forget s-s-something l-like.” He couldn’t bring himself to finish.
Hannah said, “You want to know why I didn’t say anything back then?” She stared off into space for a moment as if deciding if she would say what was on her mind. She blinked, half smiling to herself, then looked Face in the eyes and said, “Yes, I did remember it then but in college, you were a stranger to me, and when I had gotten to know you, I felt it was too late. I didn’t feel it was important because I thought it was over and done with. I didn’t want to dredge it up again. At the time, I thought there was nothing anyone could do about it… I wanted to forget it, and in a way I did just that. After a few years it was as if it were erased from my conscious memory. I didn’t feel it was worth the trouble dealing with it because up until recently, I always felt that I was destined to die. Destined to be, if you will, a tragedy.”
Face met her gaze and asked, “And now?”
Still looking her brother in the eyes, she sat up a little straighter and said, “And now, I know I am destined to live.. Try to live a good life because I owe that much to myself.”
Face returned her gaze for several long moments. She did not look away; she was comfortable with herself.
He then looked at the book in her hand not quite knowing what else to say or do and said, “You get a lot out of that don’t you?”
Hannah handed him the book and said, “It’s gotten me through a lot of rough spots.”
Face flipped through the book and said, “Really?”
Murdock seeing it was okay to rejoin the conversation, and with some bravado said, “Poetry soothes the troubled soul of the raging beast within us all, Face. You ought to try it sometime.”
Hannah asked, “Will you read some to me?”
Face could not refuse her simple request, not after what he had just done. He said, “Which passage do you want me to read?”
Hannah told him to just open the book and read the first thing that he came to. So he just did that and came to another highlighted poem. He studied it for a couple of seconds before reading it. He thought it was a very appropriate poem, that is, if he understood it correctly. He proceeded to read the fifth stanza of ‘Song of the Open Road‘
“From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,
Listening to others, considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space,
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.
I am larger, better than I thought,
I did not know I held so much goodness.
All seems beautiful to me
I can repeat over to men and women You have done such good to me I would do the same to you,
I will recruit for myself and you as I go,
I will scatter myself among men and women as I go,
I will toss a new gladness and roughness among them
Whoever denies me it shall not trouble me,
Whoever accepts me he or she shall be blessed and shall bless me.”
Face was impressed with the poem. He thought he actually understood it and thought in an odd way that the hundred year-old verses applied to him. He was starting to understand Hannah’s love of poetry. As he continued reading aloud, he thought to himself he had been reading the wrong poets in high school. His teachers had taught the subject in such a manner that it sucked the life out of it, making him dread poetry. Hannah had just given him another gift, the gift of poetry. He glanced at Hannah, leaning back into Murdock while looking real pleased with the way he was getting into reading. For a moment he thought of Charlie and how he’d try to get him to join him and Hannah to go to poetry readings and how he’d repeatedly turn down the invitations. It was something else to regret as he continued and forgot about the problems of the world for the time being. Hannah was happy at the moment and that made him happy.