Author: Kat Lee
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words Number Challenge: 51
Word Count: 1,240
Date Written: 14 August 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Spelling Entertainment, not the author, and are used without permission.
It's the fifty first time she has walked these steps, the fifty first time she has come to this spot with a heavy heart, her fifty first day without the man whose body lays, stiff and cold, six feet below the spot by which she now stands. Her head is bowed low. There are tears in her eyes, and yet, she only knew him for such a very short time.
She made the Peking duck today. It was a more difficult recipe than most are on her first attempt to make them, but the dish was well worth her time and effort. Her sisters practically polished their plates; she thought Phoebe might even take her tongue to the pot as she tried to find more where there wasn't. It was the first time she made it, but it definitely won't be the last.
And she knows she'll think of him every time she makes it. She remembers his smile each time she makes a dish from his grandfather's recipes which he was so kind to give her. She's always dreamed of opening her place. Now, when she dreams of doing so, he's always there beside her, guiding her, assisting her in every step, cooking together, and the creations they make together always wow San Francisco.
But dreams are all they are, and all she has left of him will always be her dreams and the few memories they made together after he finally came into her life as a ghost. Piper sniffles and shakes her head. It so figures that she would meet the perfect man for her after he's already dead! What chance does she have now, she wonders, of a happy union when she's met Mister Right and had to send him to Heaven? Do the Chinese even believe in Heaven? she wonders not for the first time. Do they have a different Heaven, or is it the same? And do Witches even ever get to go to Heaven?
She wipes at the tears falling from her dark eyes. As always, she's got plenty of questions but not the first answer. She sniffles again. "I miss you, Mark," she whispers, and she does. They only knew each other for such a short time; yet, he seems to have left a gaping hole that can not be filled in her heart. They should have gotten to know each other before. They should have fallen in love while he was still alive, but the women in her family have never had very much luck at all with love.
"Hey," a voice says suddenly in slightly familiar, broken English. "I know you?"
Piper looks up, and her heart jumps into her throat. She never thought she'd have to face this lady again, but before her now stands Mark's mother. "I-I'm sorry," she murmurs, more tears falling. She quickly wipes at them. She has no right to stand here mourning for the woman's son when she could never tell her the truth about how she knew Mark or why she came to her about him that day. "You knew my son, didn't you? You're the one who showed up asking about him!"
"I -- I did, Missus Chao," Piper stammers, knowing she has to be careful speaking with this woman. Mark told her that she very much believed in spirits, Demons, and the like, but Piper knows she'll never believe her if she was tries to tell her the truth. "He was a good man."
Mrs. Chao nods, but her almond-like eyes are focused on the sorrow in Piper's tear-filled eyes. "You loved him, didn't you?" she asks, cocking her head slightly to one side as she studies her.
"I . . . I did. Yes, ma'am." Piper lowers her head shyly. She had known him for such a short time, but she had truly fallen in love with him during those few days.
His mother smiles sadly. "I always wanted him to marry a nice girl like you."
"Mark said you always wanted him to marry a nice, Chinese girl," Piper blurts before she can stop herself.
Missus Chao's smile twists but only slightly. "I did," she admits, "but I really only wanted him to be happy. He never had a lot of luck with girls."
Just as she's never had a lot of luck with guys, Piper thinks, but then she finds herself focusing more on the first part of what Missus Chao just told her. "He is happy," she remarks softly.
"I know," his mother agrees. Piper looks up in surprise; their eyes meet. "I know they are happy, both he and his father. We miss them, but they are happy. We will be reunited one day."
"What makes you so sure?"
"Because we are good. You were good to my son, very good. I do not know how you did it, but you played a part in his body being found. You made sure my son rests in peace."
A sob breaks free from Piper, and suddenly, the older woman's arms are around her, hugging her. "I do not know you. I wish I could have. But I know you did right by my son. He would have done good to love you."
"I -- I have to go." Piper gasps and breaks free, pushing the flowers she'd brought for Mark into his mother's hand and running from the graveyard as swiftly as if there were ghosts chasing her. It's only when she's safely locked in her car that she considers the woman again. She doesn't know how she knows, but she's right, Piper realizes. They would have both done well to have met while Mark was still alive and gotten to truly love each other.
She touches her quivering lips at the memories of the almost kisses they shared. She tried her best to kiss him once, and he tried to kiss her, too, later when he was leaving. But it simply was not to be. Still, maybe Mrs. Chao is right. Maybe she will see him again one day. Maybe in death they'll be able to find what they never could in life. Maybe it's not too late. Maybe, when she sees him again, they'll finally be able to love each other as they would have had they met before.
Her cell phone rings. Piper reaches for it blindly. "Hello?"
"Piper!" Phoebe's frantic voice gasps into the phone. "We need you!" She can hear sounds of an attack in the background.
"Where are you?" she asks, drying the last of her tears from her eyes for now.
"Home! They're after the Book again!"
"I'm on my way!" Piper hangs up and starts her car. She still doesn't really have any answers, but her sisters need her. She'll always put her own life on pause when they need her, and she does so again now without hesitation.
Still, she thinks again of Mark as she pulls out onto the highway and the warmth of the afternoon sun touches her. A golden ray softly kisses her long, dark hair, and for a moment, Piper remembers Mark's sweet, gentle smile. He would have been a gentle lover, she knows, and given all of himself to a relationship just as she's always given all she has to any guy she's ever thought she loved. Maybe she'll get to love him truly one day, after all, but for now, she goes to her sisters.