• Published 12th Feb 2013
  • 24,174 Views, 3,417 Comments

My Little Marriage : Mary is a Mare - MerlosTheMad

Stan has been married to his wife, Mary, for nearly fifteen years. They're happy and live a very normal, almost picturesque life. Sometimes... life has a funny way of pulling a one eighty when you least expect it.

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Chapter 1 : Life As Usual

September 29th
Mary Morris’ Bedroom

Mary peeked out from under the unruly mess of her hair to look around the room. Her hands flexed tiredly from where they were tucked underneath her pillows.

Morning light just barely fell through the blinds and drapes, causing her to squint and look away with a groan. She stretched beneath the sheets, exhaling slowly, then rolled over tiredly in an attempt to get comfortable again.

The room itself was warm, but not unbearably so. Mary felt her husband roll over beneath the covers beside her, the most likely source of the heat. He was similar to a bear in that sense, among a few other things. For instance, every morning he acted as though he were just coming out of hibernation and his face was almost as hairy.

Drowsily, Mary pushed herself up and began to let out a great yawn. Even if she didn’t need to, it was a habit of hers to do so every morning and as loudly as possible. Every little bit of noise helped in the coming battle. Without looking at him, she began shoving her husband to wake him up. Often, nothing short of beating him over the head would do the trick, but she tried again anyway.

Stan Morris mumbled a half asleep complaint while rolling defensively to face away from Mary. The act elicited a groan of irritation from her, similar to her husband's. She ceased the hopeless fight, deciding that bigger guns would be needed today.

The room was quite spacious, but cluttered at the moment with various gardening magazines, quilting books, and fabrics, not to mention several plastic tubs and containers filled with even more odds and ends. Some of the clutter had come from her old home in Toronto, which they had sold rather than continue to rent it out.

She searched the room, and set her sights on the picture of her family beside the bed, one they had taken earlier this year in the summer. A small smile crept onto her face as she looked at her beautiful children and husband. His red hair was close cut in the picture, instead of tousled and long as it was at the moment. To his right, their brown haired and freckled nine year old daughter beamed merrily at the camera, and to the left was her son. You could barely see his eyes through the forest of blackish hair—it was dyed—which he had pulled across his face. Mary sighed while looking at him in the photo. At fifteen, he was at that rebellious age, and likely would stay that way for some years to come.

Beside the photograph sat Mary's clock. She looked at the time with disdain. Seven o' clock. On a Friday… Her thoughts turned the numbers and the day over slowly in her head.

Friday! It's still a weekday! The covers flew off of Mary in a blur of movement. "Aah!" she cried out. Why didn't the alarm go off? Did I not set it? What is the matter with me? It wasn't like her to sleep in so late, either. Her husband did enough of that for the both of them.

"Stan, wake up! You're going to be late for work!" Her husband snored his response back at her.

With one hand, she grabbed the broom stick that was kept beside the bed just for the purpose of jump-starting her husband. A slight wave of dizziness breezed past her tired mind as she readied it…

Mary shook her head to clear the fog from getting up too quickly, then raised the broom over Stan's large target of a body. She proceeded to give him a good thwack, with love.

Stan's skull gave a satisfying thunk in answer, as if returning a blown kiss. "Gzzagah-huh? I'm up, honey, mmwake... I'm awake! Wa’ wrong?" He shot upright and blearily stared around the bedroom.

Mary set the broom down unceremoniously in the corner. "The clock didn't wake me up! You've got twenty minutes to get to the station on time, love!" She gave her best ‘distraught housewife’ look and set him with a glare that could scare a rock awake; the man was essentially just that most mornings anyway.

Stan rubbed an eye, oblivious to being under her sharp scrutiny, but heard what she said. "Oh, shoot,” he mumbled, slowly swinging his legs over the bed’s side. “Where the crepes are my pants...?"

Mary smirked at her drowsy dear's awakening process, then switched her demeanor back and hurried out of the room.

With all haste, Mary rushed to the kitchen. Her bare feet glided her past the stairs even as she shouted loudly up them. "Anna! Bobby! Get up or you'll be late for school! Don't make me come up there!"

I'm going to have to change and get a shower after everyone else so they’ll still have time... The upstairs shower was broken, so they all had to share the one downstairs.

She continued past the stairwell and the still-working bathroom at a power-walk pace to the kitchen. She opened a cupboard and began pulling out breakfast. Tired thoughts struggled against the important ones seeking to get her family in order for the day, but she fought them off and stayed focused. I have to really hurry with everyone half an hour behind already.

Strapped for time, Mary hurriedly put together a lunch for her husband and son; she didn't have time to make and heat up the meal for Stan, though. Bobby's going to have to eat on the bus. The bag and lunch pail she carried out to the dining room table contained a can of ravioli and cold cuts for each respectively, with a few other odds and ends thrown in for good measure. She returned to the kitchen and pulled out Anna's breakfast—a bowl of Lucky Charms—then proceeded toward the bathroom.

Her husband was just coming out from his own quick shower. Stan hurried in the morning for the rest of them, but today was an even quicker rush for the man. Bobby, however, who should have been next in line, was nowhere to be seen.

Mary called after her husband when she didn't see him enter. "Stan! Have you seen your son up and about yet?"

Stan was half jogging back to their room, his lower half wrapped in a towel. Turning his head, he called back to her, "I haven't, sweetheart, not ye—" He cut short as his knee hit the doorway. Red flared across his face and he blew out his cheeks before devolving into a string of muttered expletives. Barely keeping himself from shouting, he managed to stumble back into the bedroom.

Mary made a pained, guilty expression for her husband, then shrugged and let out an exasperated noise. She trudged out of the dining room and up the stairs to her son's room. She stepped over several loose articles of clothing on the staircase as she went. I just cleaned these stairs yesterday… The thought came as she stepped over Bobby's idle skateboard, which had been left at the top of the stairs, again. An army of Anna's stuffed animals were covering its rear as well, which made circumventing the obstacle all the harder. Clothes and toys everywhere. I just can't wrap my head around how they do it.

Fuming, Mary pushed open the door to Bobby's room. Or, at least, she would have were it not for its unwillingness to budge. Which wouldn't be a problem if she didn't already know his friends had broken the latch a month ago. She glared at the knob-less obstruction of a door and pounded several times.

"Bobby, get up now! Both you and your father are going to be late and you need to hurry it up!" Mary paused briefly. "Answer me, young man!" The door itself was an ensemble of band posters and caution tape he'd gotten from Stan's road supplies. It almost made finding a spot to hit with her balled up fist a challenge. She heard a grunt from inside, followed by what she was sure wasn't a curse word.

Mary, a mother-on-a-mission, planted her fists on her hips in defiance of her teen son's refusal to respond. "Bobby!" she shouted.

"What the Hell, chill, Mom! I'll be right down!" There was more scrabbling inside his room.

"Robert Charles Morris, you do not take that tone, or use that language, with me! Ever! Do you hear?" Mary thought she heard a sigh from inside. But no answer. "Bobby!"

"YES! Yes, Mom, all right, just go, would you? Please?" her son's voice responded.

Mary tapped her foot in an earnest attempt to prepare to scold him, but sighed instead and went to get Anna. She pushed her daughter’s door open slowly and entered the light-cream colored room. Her daughter lay sprawled on the bed, stuffed animals covering every possible surface. It was mostly your typical fare as far as being a nine year old's room. However, the corner had an interesting half circle bench nook, with an old paned window offering a pleasantly wide view of their front lawn.

"Anna? It's time to wake up, honey. Breakfast is downstairs, okay?" The lightly snoring form of Mary's daughter ignored her plea and continued to remain immobile. "Ugh, you get this from your father…" She began nudging Anna's shoulder with one hand. "Come on, dear, we're all a little behind schedule today. Do Mommy a big favor and get up like a good girl, okay?" One eye opened to look at her.

Anna let out a huge yawn, for a girl her age anyway, and stretched after sitting up. "Okay, Mom..."

Still dreary, bedraggled and hungry, Mary let out the first sigh of relief that morning. She pecked a kiss on her daughter's forehead, while simultaneously thanking the stars she had at least one decently morning-minded family member. "That's my girl. Breakfast is ready downstairs too. We'll take you to school a little late today, okay?"

Her daughter grinned, her normal hyperactive state already beginning to show itself, then ungracefully tumbled out of the bed.

Mary paid the acrobatics no mind and instead went back downstairs, yelling at Bobby's still closed door as she passed. "If you miss the bus no ‘hanging out’ for a week, buster!" She only felt a little guilty for that, knowing she'd slept in too. But I won't tolerate that sort of attitude. Not now, not ever.

A disgruntled voice followed Mary back down the stairs. "What?" it shouted.

Grumbling, Mary tugged on her long hair—which was currently loose—without realizing it, a sure sign that her patience was wearing thin.

Straightening his county sheriff's uniform, Stan walked out of his room with a slight limp and caught Mary at the bottom of the stairs.

"Your lunch is on the table, love," Mary cooed jokingly.

Stan gave her a quick kiss while walking past her. "Thanks, Mar." The black bag that was beside the table found its way into his grasp and was shouldered quickly. Meanwhile, he also tried to grab his keys, lunch, and wallet, with admittedly some success. "I'll see you after work. Love you." He was headed out the backdoor even as he still clumsily juggled the various articles.

Mary's memory caught just as the door closed behind him, which she quickly reopened and yelled, "Don't forget to stop and go shopping after work! The list is on the dash and we're out of everything!"

Stan spun again to look back and wave while nodding, his lunch held in his teeth.

"Oh, dear, look ou—" Mary winced. Too late. Stan had run into the side of the fence gate. At least he only dropped everything this time instead of hurting himself again...

Mary walked back inside, shaking her head. She felt bad asking him to get the groceries, and felt nervous about it. That man always gets some of the strangest things aside from what is on my list. The store is on the way to the station, though... The conclusion of that stream of thought spared her from too much guilt. That, and if he didn't go, her family of unruly little monsters wouldn't have anything but graham crackers to eat until she could shop after he came back with the car. Her family did have two vehicles, but they tried not to drive Stan's truck much lately, after it had started making noises.

Mary strode back into the dining room where Anna was busy eating. The brightness in her eyes was already picking up as she continued to wake up. By the time she was at school, the girl would be a spitfire of energy. For now though, her attention was stuck to the television.

A bang announced that the bathroom door had opened, and sure enough, Bobby strode out. He paused after seeing his mother, then continued sullenly past her toward the backdoor.

"Well good morning to you too," Mary said cheerfully. She waited a moment for an answer, but he remained silent. "...Oh, shoot, I forgot your breakfast!" She looked worriedly in the direction of the kitchen. Her son rolled his eyes as if to say 'don't bother' and picked up his lunch and school bag. Slinging it over his shoulder, he left her and headed for the door.

Mary shot for the kitchen. There has to be something... Ah hah. She grabbed her fortuitous find from the box she'd brought to her last quilt meeting. It’s still good, surely it’ll do fine. She managed to get to the backdoor before Bobby left.

"Here." Mary held the confection out. "Pay attention and be good, all right?"

Bobby eye-balled what she held out to him. "A muffin?" he questioned sourly, but took the offering all the same with a neutral grunt. "I gotta go, don't wanna be late." The door swung open and he slouched his way outside, continuing the slothful gait all the way down the street toward the bus stop.

Mary frowned after him. "I love you...! Be good!" The door shut hesitantly under her grasp. Raising that boy gets more difficult every day. She massaged her head as she walked back inside, but suddenly came to a stop. Gah, I still need to get dressed and shower and everything! A glance at her watch told her the time. 7:20. That’s plenty of time.

Mary had been forced to forgo a shower. Somehow, the water had conveniently stopped working after Bobby had gone. She braked and came to a stop at the intersection that would take her to Anna’s elementary school. It was late September, and school was still in its early phases of the school year. Beside her in the truck, Annalise bounced, watching the sparse, rural countryside pass them by.

"So, Anna, do you know what you'll be learning about today?" The light turned green and Mary shifted the truck into second gear. It growled forward across the road, gaining speed weakly. The vehicle burped after they made cruising speed, then produced that strange clunking noise and rattled. The mother looked down worriedly at the stick shift as she drove on, then shifted her attention back to her daughter.

Anna, meanwhile, tried to look like she hadn't heard anything from her, and paid close attention to the window.

"Anna?" Mary prodded.

"Noooo, I dunno..." Anna twiddled her thumbs as if to try and dodge the question.

"Oh, well what have you been learning lately, sweetie?" Mary spared the girl a glance from driving to get her attention. When no answer came from her 'preoccupied' daughter once again, she continued. "Anna, you have been paying attention in school, haven't you?"

Trees from the thinning west coast forest gave way to the flat of a field used by the school, and then the parking lot. This all gave way to the school, which came into view from around the bend.

Silence continued to reign in the old pickup truck as they approached.

"Anna, it's very important you pay close attention in school, okay? If you ever need help with anything, be sure to ask the teacher or myself when you're home." The truck came to a stop in a spot close to the side door of the school, creaking as it did. "Annalise?" Mary asked again, her daughter kept staring out of the truck's window.

After a moment, Anna answered. "Yes, Mom, I know." With the curt reply finished, both girls sighed as one.

Mary turned and smirked down at her daughter in response to the jinx, but Anna had noticed she didn’t react. She frowned and made to stroke her daughter's hair comfortingly... but stopped, deciding instead to just keep her hands on the steering wheel. Anna always sounds so mature, despite that silliness of hers... Herbert's probably to blame for that.

Stan's father, Herbert, was a very carefree spirit, to put it lightly.

Lost in thought, Mary peered out across the field outside the edge of the parking lot. The flowers waved in the wind there. The wild flowers around these parts were wonderful, even as the year slowly turned to autumn. A distant smile curved in her mouth as she became more distracted.

Anna opened the truck door and hopped out, but stopped short of shutting the door. "Hey, mom?" Anna began fiddling with the zipper on her coat while she waited for her to respond. Her mother just kept staring ahead with that distant look though, so Anna tried again. "Mooom?"

Mary popped out of her revery and looked at her little girl. "Oh, yes, Anna, I love you too. I need to go now, sweetie, Mommy's late for work."

"But, Mom, this is super-duper important!" her daughter groaned at her. "It's about the ballet stuff. I decided I don't want to do it anymore."

Mary blinked, having been caught off guard by the statement. Hurried as she was, she wasn't sure what to think. But Anna loves ballet practice. "Wha— Why's that, sweetie? I thought you really enjoyed ballet. Is it the other girls or—"

"Robert says that only little sissy girls do ballet, Mom." Anna flopped her arms against her sides, the gesture putting emphasis on her words. "I can't be a police officer or a soldier like dad if I'm a wuss!"

Mary grimaced. "You just ignore your brother. Don't listen to a word he says against what you do with your life, okay? You can be whatever you want to be when you're an adult. Hobbies don't change that, and you'll understand when you're older. But, pick something a lot better than a... soldier. Like a doctor! Just study hard and—" She caught the time on the truck's clock out of the corner of her eye. It informed her that she had precious few minutes to make it all the way to work on time. "I'm sorry, Anna, I need to dash, all right? We'll talk more about it later."

"But, Mom—"

Mary pulled the door shut. "No buts! Get to class! And I love you!" The rusted red truck backed up rapidly as Mary shifted it into reverse, and, then, the engine stopped.

Mary stared languidly out the window of the tow truck which had come to get her. She sighed, thinking briefly on the irony that she was now sitting where Anna had been a moment ago in her own truck. The stale-smelling vehicle rumbled down the road, until they finally came upon her destination: Green Thumb Gardeners. It was an independent business, and a small one, but she got to enjoy one of her favorite pastimes while working towards her master's degree: gardening.

Sighing yet again, Mary turned to thank her impromptu chauffeur. "Thanks, Mitch, I appreciate the lift to work."

The old hayseed she spoke to looked like a truck driver crossed with a lumberjack... and maybe a dash of Quentin Tarantino as a result of his big forehead. Mitch looked over and nodded to her thanks with a broad grin. "It's mah pleasure Mrs. M. I'll let you know first thing when I figure out what's wrong with yer baby, all right?" He tipped his Yuengling baseball cap at her smartly, a cheerful smile on his face.

Mary stepped out and shut the rickety door to the old tow truck. Despite how gentle she'd been, it slammed from its own sheer weight. The door startled her, causing her to jump. She held a hand to her chest to calm herself, then looked in over the rolled down window at the mechanic.

"My baby—? Oh, the truck, yes, thank you. I'll let Stan know that it died on me right away; he might swing by on his way home. Is that all right?" Mary chewed on her lip nervously, the reality of how late she was bubbling back up to the surface of her thoughts.

Mitch nodded, assuring her that was fine without a word.

Mary stood on her tiptoes and waved, calling after the slowly reversing tow-truck over the crunching noise its tires made on the gravel. "Alrighty, then. Thanks again for the lift, and take care... and say hello to Margaret for me too, would you? ...And tell her that I'll see her Sunday!"

"Sure thing, will do, Mrs. M!" Mitch chuckled, and waved a final goodbye as he finished pulling out of the gravel driveway that led up to the gardening store.

The store itself was located just off a highway exit and was the only stop besides a gas station, a Dunkin' Donuts, and Bart's Bed and Breakfast.

Mary started up the driveway to the entrance of the main building. As she went, she passed by garden ornaments large and small, some of which were of quite the exotic design. There was also pottery, a few pieces of outdoor furniture that were placed out for the nicer weather, as well as the plants themselves. The store's owners had all manner of garden tools and machinery in stock as well, but those were kept inside.

A stout, slightly portly woman stepped out of the front door to the establishment and regarded Mary with a knowing smile and one raised eyebrow. She spoke with a distinctly Irish accent. "Good morning, Mary. I take it from seeing that Mitch drove you in that you and that old, beat up truck Stan dares still call a vehicle had a bit of a falling out. Am I right?"

Mary returned the smile and hugged her mother-in-law good morning. "You could say that, Mom. It worked fine yesterday until that racket I told you about got even worse somehow, and then it just stopped all of sudden this morning. I wouldn't be as upset if the engine light had bothered coming on, but it didn't. It happened while I was taking Anna into school no less."

Agnes Morris was the establishment's co-owner, alongside Herbert. She gave the younger woman an appreciative nod. "Well, it's more than all right, dear, these things happen. Now, this is your third strike, though, so I'm gonna hafta letcha go you understand..." She stopped and set Mary with a grim stare, which Mary replied to with a surprised look.

After a moment, the stare broke into a rampant snicker and then a kind laugh. Mary deadpanned back at her for several seconds.

"I'm just kidding, girl. Honestly, you still really need to work on your sense of humor something fierce. Come on, we've got some new inventory we should trade out, and more plants and things that need to be winter proofed." Agnes shook her head, still chuckling, and turned to lead Mary back.

Mary followed her mother-in-law into the shop, rolling her eyes. She'd been grateful for the part-time job from her husband's folks after immigrating to America, but they were a great deal more down to earth than she was used to. This is going to be a long day, I can tell. She tiredly rubbed the back of her head as she set about going to work.

Lunch time had rolled around, and Mary was busy being preoccupied with putting mayonnaise on two pieces of toasted bread just as the phone in the kitchen began to ring. She looked out and around the house, but she already knew that both Herbert and Agnes would be outside or at the store. Shrugging, she picked up the cordless phone to answer it.

"Hello, Morris residence. Who, may I ask, is calling?" Mary asked the phone-line politely. A very familiar voice spoke to her through the phone.

"He WHAT?" Mary gasped and held a hand up to her mouth. Not that the school counselor that was on the other side of the phone-line would have seen it. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to yell. Bobby's really gotten into another fight?"

The voice reaffirmed what she'd said. "Yes, Mrs. Morris... We're unsure who started it, but we believe that Robert was one of the instigators. Nobody was badly hurt, but we'll need to see you or your husband after school."

Mary held the phone against her forehead for a moment in anguish. How do these things continue to happen? Leaning back against the kitchen counter, she put the phone back to her ear.

"Mrs. Morris? Are you still there?" the high school counselor spoke doubtfully into her receiver.

Breathing out slowly to compose her voice, Mary answered, "Yes, Mrs. Wilsmith, I'm still here. I'll let my son's father know... what's transpired. Is there anything else?" Mary laid more lettuce onto the sandwich and spread some mayo over that as well, not noticing how... tall her sandwich was getting.

"Hm, no, Mary, that's all I think... Oh, your cell phone's turned off, I believe. I couldn't reach you on it." Mary felt her jeans pocket to pull out the disorderly phone.

"Oh, well thank you then for... Shit." On the other side of the phone, a certain counselor's eyes widened.

"No no no! I meant, er... I left my phone in my truck this morning, I think. Heh..." Mary face-palmed and spun once on the old kitchen's tiled floor in frustration at her slip. Dammit— I mean, darn it. I haven't been in the service for years. She squeezed her eyes shut and shadowed banging her head against a wall.

"It's... all right, Mrs. Morris. Have a good day." The counselor hung up, her disapproving tone still ringing in Mary's ears.

The winner of the best mother of the century award goes to… Not me! Mary dejectedly set the phone down on the countertop and leaned back again to stare at the ceiling for a moment. One. Thing. After another, this week. She felt behind her for her lunch.

Normally, I'd feel like I would regret saying this... but the hel— heck with it. It can't get any worse today. Mary was ready to sink her teeth into her now finished bacon, lettuce, and tomato toasted sandwich, only to discover she'd built her sandwich twice its normal size and was unable to even pick it up.

Mary sighed, looking at the triple decker BLT, then set about dispersing the ingredients. "Just had to jinx myself, didn't I? Guess I'm having two sandwiches."

The rest of the work day went slowly for Mary. It was just a craft and gardener's shop, though, so it was always slow. In fact, it was more of a hobby for her, too, barely a job at all. But, it was also an excuse for her husband's parents to help them out financially, and they did need help at the store.

Even in the midst of so many surrounding farms and green obsessed wives and families, there was only a smattering of business. The fact the closest Home Depot was fifty or more miles away probably helped the most...

Mary stared up at the cloudy blue sky through the window tiredly. With all the bad luck weighing on her mind, the sun almost seemed frozen in the sky to her. She sat behind the counter, slouched lazily, with her hand pressed against her cheek and holding her up.

The door chimed suddenly, then in stepped Herbert, Mary's father-in-law. For whatever reason, he was carrying the ugliest, most bizarre statue she had ever seen.

Mary grimaced at the sight of it. "What is that ugly thing, Herbert? Please don't tell me you're going to try and sell it." She looked at what he brought in from the corner of her eye without moving otherwise.

"No, actually, I was going to put it outside the front door." Herbert grinned widely, then frowned when Mary failed to return it. "What? It's not so bad, it has plenty of appeal, and I think it's funny."

"You think everything is funny, Herbert," Mary replied flatly.

Herbert guffawed. "I most certainly do not!"

"We almost had to take you to the hospital last year because of a pun," Mary replied, shaking her head.

Herbert frowned in thought, then broke out into giggles. "The eggs-cellent omelet!" On seeing Mary's frown, he promptly coughed and calmed himself. "Ahem, well, either way, I like the statue."

To Mary, the thing was just an ugly old woman holding up an empty sign. "Explain to me how that's funny? Where did you even get it?" She grimaced at the woman's sneering face, which seemed to stare right into her soul. Creepy, her thoughts decided.

"An old antique shop, of course! Maybe it's cursed, eh?" Herbert gave a chuckle, then continued. "Wonderfully carved, though, isn’t it? And look at this!" The lanky old man grinned and pressed something on the sign.

Mary read out loud the message that appeared, "Far be it from me to rush your purchase, but I'm not getting any younger." She raised an eyebrow from where she sat leaning on her hand to give him a deadpan look. "Really, Dad?" she asked incredulously.

Herbert frowned slightly and scratched the side of his head, reaching for more to push the credit of his lucky find. "Well, there's others; look, if you press this one it says—"

Mary fell into her arms and moaned in exasperation.

"Aw, come on. What's got you down now? Usually you love my gags." Herbert crossed his arms sternly, putting on a rare look of seriousness. "This about Stan, or just the truck?"

Mary peeked up at him from under one long bunch of hair. "It's several dozen things, Dad. For starters, that house is falling apart, as nice as it is. Was. Could be."

"Oh, well we can fix whatever is wrong; the plumber's coming tomorrow about the upstairs shower, isn't he?" Herbert set down the ornament and scratched his head. "After that, there's just your house's siding that needs to be replaced, the stumps and overgrowth in the back gardens that need to be pulled... uhm, the electrical that went bad in the garage and the basement... Your new washing machine's on order too, right?" He tried to put on a reassuring smile.

"There was a mix up; that particular machine was out of stock. We need to go back and look for another." Mary mumbled into the counter. Fed up thinking about it she sat up and stretched, arms behind her head. "I appreciate the effort, Dad, really, but I just gotta soldier through all this; talking about it won't help any. Except..."

Herbert took on a serious look. "Bobby?" he asked her.

Mary nodded, regretfully. "How'd you know?"

"Oh, it runs in the family, trouble-making does." Herbert chuckled and leaned back on the counter. "Stan was a right creature from the black lagoon when he was Bob's age. Didn't grow out of it ‘til he joined up with the Army, neither. Sometimes it takes a hard lesson, or a harder head, to smack some sense into a man, Mary. I—"

Mary stood up and smiled at the old fellow. She interrupted him by putting a hand on his arm.

"Dad, I can't wait for him to learn the hard way." Mary's smile melted and turned in a worried look instead. "What if the worst happens? He picks fights and skips class. He's only in the ninth grade; he'll just get worse if I leave this alone. You can't make it in this economy without an education anymore!"

They both stayed quiet, during which Mary looked at the clock; it read half past two.

"I gotta go, it's time for me to get Anna and Bobby from school." Mary thought Herbert looked to her like he wanted to say something else about her son, but she continued. "Thanks, though, Herbert. You're sure it's completely alright I borrow your car?"

Herbert smirked and nodded. "'Course, I only take her out to get my schnapps and whiskey. You stop having places to go at my age." Chuckling, he dug into his coat pocket to search for the rogue car key.

Mary frowned at the wall. "Dad, alcoholism isn't funny; you should really go to a meeting about that or something..."

Herbert snorted and waved his other hand at her. "Too old. Besides, I'm not an alcoholic, Mary; I'm a drunk. Alcoholics go to all the meetings, while drunks go to parties." He gave her a wink, which managed to pry a laugh out of her. "Now where is that— Ah-hah, here yah go." Herbert held out the key to Mary, then shifted to a knowing smile.

Mary took the key and sighed. "I'll keep that in mind. Thanks, Dad."

Herbert paused for a moment, studying her. "Mary, if you do need to talk, Agnes and I are always just down the road."

Mary paused at the door, then took a step back and hugged him . "I know, Dad." She managed to give him a warm smile on her way out. "And thanks again!" She returned the wave Herbert gave her, and made her way out into the sunlight.

The rest of the day, thankfully, moved quicker than it had been doing.

Mary picked up Anna at school, and afterward, she was again faced with her daughter's complete refusal to go to ballet practice. That in itself wasn't an issue; she didn't want to stop her daughter from exerting her own freedom of choice, within reason, but it did mean Anna would have to come along to the high school while she picked up Bobby.

Once at the high school, Mary left Anna alone in the car with Styx playing on the stereo.

Inside, Mary tried her best to simply conclude the whole affair as quickly as she could before she got a headache. The counselor informed her that some of the other students had all confirmed that Bobby had initiated the fight along with two of his friends. She vowed to see him punished, and apologized for the trouble. Bobby had tried to make a smart remark in the school office, but was scared into submission almost immediately by a stare of doom from Mary. Thus, the wayward son and his mother were also told that he was to be suspended for two days. This was because such a fight had happened twice since the recent start of the school year.

The whole speech almost pushed Mary into holding her temples between her hands right there. They drove home in silence, except for Anna singing entirely off tune to “Come Sail Away”.

Mary pulled in at almost the same moment that Stan had also gotten home.

Stan stood at the side of the driveway, having stopped from entering after spotting the familiar car that approached.

Rolling down the window, Mary waved back and parked as he jogged up to them.

Stan bore a look of confusion on his rough face. "Mar? Why do you have Herbert’s new Chevy?"

Bobby beat his mother to answering him. "Mom broke the truck, Dad."

Mary glowered back at him, daring the boy to say another word. "It died this morning, Stan. Your father let me borrow the car to pick up the kids. The truck should still be at Mitch's. Also, Bobby has something to tell you when we get inside."

Stan raised an eyebrow, then set his son with a disapproving look, which in turn caused Bobby to look further away.

Finally parked, Mary got out of the car along with her two children, who moved with varying amounts of speed. They all started to head inside. For his part, Stan was already interrogating Bobby. "All right, so what did you need to tell me, Bobby—?"

Mary interrupted him. "Oh, wait a second. Stan, did you bring the groceries in yet, or do you need help?" She looked to the other car that was parked next to her father-in-law's.

Stan's own confused expression appeared again and then became blank.

Mary waited, then said, "You forgot."

Her husband nodded slowly to her and apologized.

Mary could feel that headache coming on...

Author's Note:

So, I would like to explain what drove me to write this story, such as it is. No ponies yet on a pony website? Madness...

It does not follow a pony to start with. It follows a mother and her family that undergo incredible circumstances. It starts rather early in those events, as well. So, for a little while there won't be so much interesting happening. Emphasis on a little while.

When I write, I take an approach to stories. I want to immerse you all fully, not take short cuts, I don't skip motives, and I try to cover everything that I possibly can; every single angle that might tie in. (I'm not perfect, but that's what I try to do.) So, for a little while, you see Mary's home life, and what she faces from day to day, before things get... interesting, so to speak.

Keep an open mind, enjoy, and most importantly, pony on, my fellow bronies.