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:: The Greening ::

written by Starlet2367 { e-mail // livejournal }

I sit on the hard wooden pew watching the prayer candles burn.

I feel bruised, achy, jittery. I haven't been sleeping.

I prescribed myself some sleeping pills, but I didn't take them. Instead, I threw them away when I found myself holding the bottle, watching my hand tremble as if it belonged to someone else. Thinking about taking every last pill and just falling asleep forever.

I know what that counselor would say, the woman the FBI requires me to talk to every so often. She'd tell me that I'm depressed. I'm grieving.

She'd encourage me to cut back on my caseload. Find a support group and talk it out.

I can do neither. For my work is the only thing that keeps me going right now. And where could I find a support group for what I've been through?

So, instead, I sit here alone, smelling the incense from the late afternoon Mass. In the main chapel, the priest chants the ancient chants in the falling light of the early spring day. The people murmur back to him in a holy call and response that offers me a small comfort.

I don't kneel. I haven't knelt in church since Missy died. Why lower my body? It would be only an outward sign of supplication. I am already broken on the inside.

I sit in a room off the main chapel, under the watchful statue of Mary. She stands in a robe the color of the summer sky, the color of my daughter's eyes.

Just for a moment I want Mary to be real. To step down from her perch and take me in her arms. To tell me everything will be all right.

Three endless months have passed since I held Emily for the last time. Since I pulled my cross from the dust in the bottom of that tiny coffin.

My mother, Mulder, Skinner-they watch me warily, waiting for me to break. But I can't. I've tried. God, I've tried. But everything in me feels dry, dusty. Barren.

Somewhere deep inside, I guess I feel like I'm not supposed to be affected by any of this. Because she wasn't really my child. She may have come from my DNA, but until that fateful moment when I saw the test results, I never knew she existed. I could have lived my entire life and never known I had a daughter.

But it's more than that. It's so much more. Like one of the sisters who tends this chapel, I've given my life to a greater cause. Personal needs and personal pains have, out of habit and even necessity, become secondary to the cause.

And I am far too adept at hiding my feelings to let down my guard now. "I'm fine" has been my mantra for more years than I care to remember. You could almost say it's the rule I live by. No matter how I feel inside, I must always appear strong, brave. The perfect Starbuck. The perfect first mate.

I know this has kept people away from me. I know it's earned me a reputation for being cold: The Ice Queen is what they call me at work when they think I'm not listening.

There are times I long desperately for a normal life. There are times I want nothing more than to sit on the porch in a linen dress and watch my godson play in the yard with his friends. I want to go out with my girlfriends for coffee and flirt harmlessly with the boy behind the counter. I want to put my cell phone in a drawer and find it years later, dusty and forgotten.

I have full blown fantasies about leaving the X Files. In my mind's eye, I can see myself handing my letter to Skinner. I can see the Hoover building growing smaller in my rear view mirror as I drive away. I can imagine leaving Mulder in the dark basement office just as I found him six years ago: sitting in the shadows like a misplaced professor, with his dusty books and ancient slide projector, glasses slipping down his nose.

And that's where the fantasy stops.

Because Mulder is the one person I've broken my rule for. He's the one person I've gotten close to. In this entire, fucked up world, there's only one person who can get past my barriers, my defenses, my "I'm fines."

Which is why this thing with Emily is so hard. It's driven a wedge between us, somehow. My defenses have taken over, and instead of gathering him to me for comfort, I've pushed him away. I've hidden my feelings from him, hoarded them around me like a cloak, blocking him out. Keeping Emily in.

Without Mulder, I have no one to talk to.

Except God.

What is it Lily Tomlin says? If I talk to God, I'm praying. If God talks to me, I'm schizophrenic. At this moment, I'm not sure which is the truth.

When I was a child I learned to pray to alleviate the pain of hiding my feelings. When life got too difficult, I took refuge in the church. I lit prayer candles, I said my confessions, I prayed. It was a habit I got out of as the years wore on, as I saw what I saw, experienced what I did as a result of my work.

I feel my eyebrow quirk as I think this. When did the church ever mention flukemen? Liver eating mutants? There was no way that the church could prepare me for what has become of my life. And there is certainly no way that living by the church's rules helps me now. Confessional? I can just see it: "Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. I let my dog be eaten by the Georgia equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster."

Now that I think about it, I realize that I'd turned away from my faith long before I joined the FBI. It actually started in med school. Med school forced me to look beyond my upbringing, to look for facts, to harden my heart, to view humans not as a divine combination of spirit and flesh, but as Cartesian machines to be taken apart and put back together. No more-or less-than the sum of our parts.

Oh, I still prayed. But I stopped going to church. I stopped believing in miracles. Miracles weren't tangible. You couldn't control them with the proper amount of medication; couldn't induce them with the proper surgical technique. They were random and unexplainable. And in the world of science, to prove yourself, you had to replicate your results, explain your actions so that other people could replicate them.

So as the years piled up on top of each other, I felt myself leaving my faith behind and turning, more and more, toward the tangible, knowable realm of science.

It makes sense in retrospect. Science gave me something to hold onto, a set of rules and order that imparted a sense of power and control over my life. It's simple psychology. Talking to God wasn't giving me any answers I could use. I could hardly write "God told me so" on my patient's charts or, now, on my reports.

By the time I was in the hospital dying of cancer, the cross I wore at my throat was a hollow testament to a faith I used to live. I left it there out of respect for my mother, and as a reminder to me that life was once much simpler.

But then that changed.

As I prayed with Father McCue in that hospital room, I felt some wall break down, some mask melt away.

My faith flooded through me like an undammed river. It didn't matter that it wasn't logical, that it couldn't be proven. It only mattered that I no longer felt like I had to do it all alone.

And now I pray unceasingly. I have put my life back into God's hands, along with the lives of those I love. My mother, my brothers, Missy, Emily. Mulder. What would he say if he knew that I--the enigmatic Dr. Scully--pray for God to keep him safe? To ease his pain?

I am reminded of the aria from Handel's Messiah. Handel could have written it for Mulder: "He was despised, rejected. A man of sorrow and acquainted with grief."

Yet despite Mulder's own acquaintance with grief, mine seems to be a mystery to him. He doesn't know what to say, doesn't know how to comfort me. The man invades my personal space constantly--always has. It's part of our game, part of our dance. Yet in this he has backed off. It is as if there is a line he can't cross.

In cloaking myself in my feelings, in hiding from him as I have been, I know I have drawn this line. Could it be as simple as not wanting to break our unspoken rule, the rule that says we don't infringe on each other's private lives?

And this is so private.

How could he-or anyone else-know what I felt when I looked into the face of my little girl? This is my pain, these are my memories. I remember the feel of her tiny body in my arms. I remember her face, shining, as I put my cross around her neck: a symbol of my faith, being passed on to my daughter, as my mother and grandmother had done before me.

So yes this is private. But it is also terribly, terribly public.

For the simple horror of Emily's existence is that she wasn't created out of love. The horror of Emily's life is that she came from the cold union of science and conspiracy.

Someone stole Emily from me and breathed life into her in a test tube. They incubated her in another woman's body, a woman who felt *my* child flutter and grow. Another woman birthed Emily, shared with her husband the bright miracle of life between them. My miracle.

And isn't that the greatest irony?

That if science had brought me comfort in the past, it has now brought me pain. It spawned a guinea pig of a child, stolen from my womb, and in the process, it stole from me the greatest power of my life: the ability to have a child.

I remember the shock I felt when I opened the file at my brother's house that Christmas Day. So dark a gift it was. My hands went numb and my head felt like it did when I took my godson on the teacup ride at the fair. It was all I could do to keep standing.

My child. My baby. For a stunned moment my mind scrambled to remember the few times I'd lowered my defenses, admitted my physical needs, shared my body with someone else.

I had never been pregnant.

So how could Emily be mine?

Yet the tests said she was. In this matter, the rules of science stood up for me. Emily was my child. She shared my genes and my sister's face.

In that moment, I was forced to stare into the crevasse of my life. I was forced to question my dedication to the cause that had been my primal force for the last five years. The quest that had caused me to be abducted, had given me cancer, had put me in the path of Eugene Tooms and Donnie Pfaster and Duane Barry.

In the last five years I have become a pro at facing death.

But how am I at facing life?

Emily's death has shown me a twisted and inhuman future for our world, complete with government conspiracies, alien viruses, and women robbed of their most basic power. I wrap my arms around myself as I think this. I pull my coat tighter.

I suppose I should be thankful that Emily hadn't lived beyond those first years, hadn't lived to see more tests. Hadn't lived to see the future. I should be glad, shouldn't I?

But I never expected to feel like this. I never expected to look in her eyes and love her completely, unutterably, eternally.

And now that I know the truth, that there will never be any more babies, how can I be glad? Emily was my one, best chance to count tiny fingernails and toenails; to say bedtime prayers; to hold a warm, sleepy child to my breast in the cool of the evening.

How can I be glad, when the chance to fulfill a desire I didn't even know I was carrying, was wrenched away from me so suddenly? When I didn't even have a chance to say, yes, or no, or I don't know-can I think about it? Hell. I might have liked a house in suburbia with a handsome doctor husband and a golden retriever and a Volvo station wagon.

For so many years, I couldn't imagine myself a mother. Until the chance came, so breathtakingly, so unexpectedly, in the form of a little girl who looked just like my sister--and left like a wisp of the incense burning in the air behind me.

But to not have the chance to make the choice. To know that my poor, tired, violated body couldn't make a baby--even if I could make a more normal life for myself. To have the choice taken away before I truly considered it. It isn't fair.

It isn't fair.

How could God, in whose hands I put my own life, and the lives of those I loved the most, take this from me?

If this is how God treats his friends, then how does he treat his enemies?

As I think this, the heat of the pain rakes through my chest and opens my heart like a wound. And as this pain comes, so do my tears. Great gushes of tears. All the hoarded up tears from the last three months seem to press against my eyes, begging to be released like rain from a cloudburst over the desert.

My head falls into my hands and I let the great, wrenching sobs move through me, cleansing away everything I have lost--everything I have not gained--in this fight for Truth.

I cry for all the sticky-handed hugs I'll never get, for the first day of school I'll miss, for never getting to hold my own grandchildren. I cry for Missy and Samantha, for my own mother and Mulder's. I cry for Emily. I cry for Mulder. I cry for myself.

And as I cry, that parched place in my center begins to feel less dry, less dusty, less barren. The cloudburst of my tears washes through me, and that desert in my heart begins to green, just a little. Begins to heal. Just a little.

And as my tears slow from a downpour to a trickle, as I can breathe deeply again without pain, it comes to me that I'm still here, in the warm chapel, under the statue of Mary. And the light from the fading sun casts stained glass shadows across my shoulders, my hands. It refracts in starbursts on my eyelashes as I blink away the tears.

Here in this small chapel, in the dying light of the early spring day, I feel surrounded. Comforted. Enfolded. In my mind, I join hands with my mother, and Mulder's mother. In my mind, we're women grieving over the loss of our children. Grieving, but not broken.

I look up into the face of Mary, glowing in the candle light, offering me her wise and knowing gaze.

I never knew my child.

I will probably never feel a life grow within me.

But I am not alone in my loss. I am not alone in my grief.

I sniff again and scrub my hands across my cheeks. Wipe my nose on my coat sleeve like a child.

Then I kneel on the old wooden rail in thankfulness for my daughter's life.

As I close my eyes, I see all the people who have gone before me: my father, Melissa, Mulder's father. They have touched my life, have left an imprint just like Emily did.

It's as if I can see a great circle opening and closing: we are all born, and we all die, and somewhere in the middle, we help make each other whole.

It is a circle as old as the dance of time.

As the final chants of the Mass echo in the great room behind me, I push to my feet. I slip my purse strap over my shoulder, tie my coat closed, and walk toward the front of the small room. There I light a candle, breathe a prayer.

I leave the candle burning at Mary's feet.