mercer street

This is for @omeliafics theme of the week: meeting the parents. I also felt it fit well with Mother’s Day being today; hence, the timing! I needed some gaps filled in so I hope you like it!

A Mother’s Love

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“I didn’t know you were planning a visit, Mom,” Amelia says, logging her patient’s neuro exam on one of the iPads. Her mother had just walked into the ER, asking for Dr. Shepherd, to which April had pointed her in the right direction.

“I know, I know,” Mrs. Shepherd nods along with her words.

“Then why are you here?” Amelia turns her head, looking in her mother’s direction, but refusing to meet her eyes. Instead, they glare steadfastly at the wall just behind her mother’s shoulders. There’s a crack in the wall they still haven’t fixed. It’s been there long enough for some discoloring, and she fixes her eyes on it. There are too many emotions inside of her. She can’t do this. At least not here, in full view of everyone.

Mrs. Shepherd tilts her head, trying and failing to meet her youngest’s eyes. “Maybe we could talk?” She watches as Amelia walks a few steps away to set the iPad on a charger. “Please, Amelia.”

Exhaling deeply, Amelia makes her decision. “I know a place.” She turns quickly, motioning for her mother to follow. Amelia makes her way down the hall and up the stairs, then turns into a teaching room. “No one should come in here. Classes are in the morning,” she says, pulling out a metal stool to sit on. She waits for her mother to do the same and, after she does, Amelia folds her hands in her lap, looking up at her mother expectantly.

Mrs. Shepherd blows out a steady stream of air, fiddling with her fingers. It’s a habit she’s passed on to her daughter. That thought alone only serves to increase her feelings of guilt. “I lied to you.”

Amelia cringes. The last time someone had said that, it was Addison telling her she didn’t think she was good enough to be her surrogate. Of course, Addison had corrected it, saying she was important in her son’s life, but the fear of those words still linger. It’s because they are tethered with inadequacy and failure. She was never enough. She is never enough. “About what?” she asks, trying to keep herself calm, her breathing level and even.

“Why I didn’t come to your wedding.” She lets out a breath, finally looking her daughter in the eyes. The eyes that remind her so much of her husband; the eyes that remind her so much of Derek. “I told you it was because you two were on and off again. That you were rushing things.” She gently holds Amelia’s hand, letting out a little sigh of relief when she isn’t shaken off. “It was fast, but I know you. If it wasn’t serious, or serious enough, you wouldn’t have wanted to get married at all. I mean, I saw what happened when James proposed.” She shrugs. “He wasn’t the right guy. But Owen,” she says, pausing to squeeze her daughter’s hand, “Owen is the right man. He loves you so much.” A stray tear begins it trek down her mother’s softly-aged cheek.

“So why didn’t you come?” Amelia tries to keep her composure, silently cursing how her voice wavers.

Mrs. Shepherd sighs. “I didn’t come because of Derek.” Her blue orbs meet her daughter’s, mixing and melding in a way only mother and daughter can do. “I couldn’t come back, not after the funeral. I couldn’t face it.” She sniffles. “I couldn’t watch your father not walking you down the aisle. I couldn’t watch Derek missing his chance to fill in. But I should have. Because you are my daughter and I love you. I’ve loved you since the moment you were born, probably even before that.” She releases Amelia’s hand and moves her left palm to cup her daughter’s cheek. “I hope that, one day, you can forgive me.”

And, with those words, it’s as if the storm is lifted. The dam is let loose and all the emotions, all of the hurt, all of the fear, from that day is gone. Amelia starts to cry, loud, gasping sobs, as she allows her head to fall forward to her mother’s chest. Her body is wracked with sobs, emotions swirling in the vortex of her mind, but instead of feeling miserable, she feels relieved. Her mother is still her mother. Her mother loves her. She does not break everything she touches.

When they finally part, Amelia sniffles and wipes her eyes with the back of her hands. “Good thing I don’t wear a lot of make-up.” She chuckles, then meets her mom’s eyes once more. “Thank you. For telling me that.”

Her mother nods. “It’s the least I could do. I owed you an explanation.” She stands up, wrapping her hands around her daughter’s cheeks. She gives her daughter a tender kiss on the forehead, then steps back. “I’ll leave now. I just wanted to tell you that in person.” She turns to pick up her discarded bag, pulling it over her shoulder.

“Wait, Mom,” Amelia says, standing up quickly and placing a tiny hand on her mother’s back. When Mrs. Shepherd turns around, Amelia continues. “You could stay over, if you want. Owen’s off and my shift ends in twenty minutes. You could have dinner with us.” She stutters, worrying her bottom lip between her teeth. “I mean, if you want to. If you don’t have a plane to catch or–”

“Amy,” her mother cuts off her hurried words, “I’d love to.” Amelia exhales, the corners of her lips turning up. “So, I’ll see you in twenty minutes?”

Her mother nods. “I’ll be waiting,” she says with a smile.

Keep reading

t’s #WomensHistoryMonth, and we’re celebrating by participating in the #5womenartists campaign. This picture, up as part of our #NYAtItsCore exhibition, was taken by Berenice Abbott. Born in Springfield, Ohio, Abbott came to New York City at the age of 20, then began her career as a photographer during an extended time in Paris, where she worked as an assistant to photographer Man Ray. Returning to New York in 1929, she had her first solo museum exhibition at our museum in 1934. Our online collections boasts over 600 negatives and multiple versions of 300+ images printed by the photographer for her “Changing New York” series which was created by her for us under the Federal Art Project. Check them out by heading to our online collection portal.
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Photograph Information:
43.131.1.39
Berenice Abbott (1898-1991)
Federal Art Project
West Houston and Mercer Streets
DATE:October 25, 1935
A shantytown constructed near West Houston and Mercer Streets.