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Disclaimer: The characters Miss Parker, Sydney, Jarod, Broots etc. and the fictional Centre, are all property of MTM and NBC Productions and used without permission. I'm not making any money out of this and no infringement is intended.

1) Paper Snowflakes (the original, isn't a sequel)
2) To Dance In An English Garden
3) A Night To Remember
4) The Trick Is To Keep Breathing
5) Life In A Heartbeart
6) With Me (the last in the series)


Life in a Heartbeat
1/1
By Orania Lemke



She'd rested her head against the small glass window, and now sat staring out it without seeing a thing. Having enough, she pulled down the shade. Nothing but clouds, she thought with a sigh, then frowned. What else would there be outside an airplane? She'd been looking for something, that much was certain, but couldn't for the life of her think of what it was.

Everything felt odd, she suddenly thought. Quiet, too quiet.She shrugged it off and closed her eyes to nap. Just nerves.

~~~~~~~~~

She pushed open the front door and flung her keys onto the table next to her. Grasping around, she finally came across a switch and flicked it up, flooding the living room in light. Without a thought, she walked right through, heading towards the bedroom; a thought in the back of her mind suggested making a drink first, but she didn't even bother to consider it long enough to stop.

She stood in front of her closet, quietly choosing between the clothes in front of her. The pale blue pajamas were her favorite, but the silk navy nightgown was closer-fit, an appealing thought for some reason. Another moment of debating, and she grabbed the nightgown, slipping it on then moving on to the bed.

~~~~~~~~~

She walked into the Centre, immaculately dressed as ever. Her heels fell hard against the tiled floor, as she continued down the long hallways. Turning a corner, she passed an elevator, the elevator, but didn't pause, didn't flinch, didn't even feel the customary shudder. She heard the metal doors sliding open, and turned back to look. There in the elevator stood a young boy, no older than six, looking up at her with tearful blue eyes. She saw her hand reach out to him, wasn't consciously doing it, and watched in neutral interest as he in return reached out to her. Then, without a sound or moment's warning, the metal doors slammed shut, barely missing his tiny fingers, and there were horrible vibrations underneath her as the elevator fell, floor after floor down the shaft.

She opened to her mouth wide, screaming in panic and fear, but no sound came, and as she looked down, she found that she was in her nightgown again, but tiny black spots were appearing on the silky cloth, then spreading, faster and faster, until she was completely clad in black silk. She spun around, desperate to run...

...And found herself in a cemetery. To her right lie an open

mahogany coffin, surrounded by dozens of wilting flowers. Slowly, the same child sat up in the casket, and turned to look at her with sad, accusing eyes. His lips moved, and though no sound was audible, she knew with the utmost certainty that he was placing the blame of his death on her. Yet she felt no guilt or fright. In fact, it was as if she felt nothing at all. In state of perfect calm, she walked right past him, further into the cemetery, and as her hand loosened, a white rose she didn't even know she held slipped from her fingers. As the flower fell, it slowly morphed into a dove, flying up and away from her.

The ground under her bare feet began to change, from the warm thick grass to cold, hard marble. She blinked, and the scene began to melt away, revealing a dark chapel. She looked around calmly, observing the intricate designs and paintings of the obviously old room. She stopped, and couldn't figure out why, until she noticed the candles, row after row, steadily floating in front of her, just at eye level.

Looking down, she found a slim, white candle in her hand, burning slowly. Before she even knew what she was doing, she was lifting the flame to the wicks of the candles, one after another, until four were lighted. And, as each one began to glow, out from the shadows, as if from behind a thick mist appeared the figure of someone she loved. Sydney, Broots, the same young boy -she somehow now knew that this was her brother- and Jarod, all pale and barely visible, quietly staring at her. And instead of confusion, she was suddenly struck with understanding, as silent words wafted through her mind: Dead. All dead. Because you weren't there to watch over them...to protect them. Why she hadn't been there, she didn't know...Wait, she did know, the explanation was practically on the tip of her tongue, but it stubbornly held back.

She stood, looking at them, grasping for the explanation just beyond her reach, as they stood staring back, when the other candles rapidly began to light, one after another, of their own accord. And now children, some little more than infants, were appearing, as solemn as the others, standing close together, and observing her with wide, innocent eyes set in equally pale faces.

She wanted to reach out, to hug her friends, and rub the children's little hands to warm them; she wanted to stand defiantly between them and whatever menace had brought them to this state. But her feet wouldn't move, and her arms were frozen to her sides, and no matter how she tried, the emotionless tone remained set on her face, and no words could be forced past her lips. She couldn't even speak to them...

Speak. Sound. There was no sound, she realized. It was as if she was truly numb. Not an echo, not a footstep, nothing, for as long as she could think back.

Then, without warning, the candles all simultaneously blew out, and it was turning darker suddenly. The shadows were growing, hungrily swallowing up the dull light of the chapel and once again hiding the others, until she stood, alone, without even the feel of the marble between her toes, and nothing but black all around her. She looked down, and noticed with vague alarm that even she was disappearing into the shadows. Everything was disappearing, and her first true sense, exhaustion, was taking over with heavy force. Sleep...she just wanted to sleep...

Wait. Wait? Why wait... WAIT. No. Just sleep. Weak, weary. Just sleep... NO. WAIT. She looked about her in tired confusion, not even caring that she could now move. It was the sound that was attracting her, like a magnet, pulling her out of her haze. She tried to pinpoint it with her ears, but it seemed just beyond reach.

No, no, wait, there it was, barely. It was so faint. It came from no particular direction, but in fact from every direction. Like the ricocheting echo of a murmur from high above, at the rim of a chasm. But not just a murmur. No, it was growing louder and louder, more distinct, every word suddenly clear, until the sound was like a hammer in her mind.

"...hear me Parker?!" Parker, who was Parker?

"Fight, damn it!" It was a wonderful voice, deep and expressive. She thought that it must be wonderful to hear that voice laugh. A comforting familiarity. But why familiar...?

"God, breathe, Parker, please!" Parker. Her. She was Parker. And that voice...Jarod. A thousand pictures were suddenly rushing past, as though she were on a subway train looking at the passing ads. Then stopped, pulling her with it, and she was facing a scene, just visible despite the darkness, of two children kissing.

"Fight, Parker!" The scene was gone, and the exhaustion was back, yanking her further and further down into the darkness. But...

"Fight!" That was it. She had to do what he told her to. He should know, after all, right? The genius. The lab rat. Wonderboy. The pretender...She wanted to sob, and she was tired, god, she was so tired, but he was telling her to fight.

So she fought. She was running, pushing against the incredible force, while the darkness stuck resolutely to her. But she was stronger. A Parker. Daddy's angel. A daughter. A friend. A lover. A confidante...











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