Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Golden Girls
Character/Pairing: George/Blanche, Sal/Sophia, Charlie/Rose, Dorothy
Challenge/Prompt: beattheblackdog Amnesty: 3: Rush
Warning(s): Cannon Character Deaths
Word Count: 2,704
Date Written: 17 and 18 July 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
He whirls her around and around on seemingly magical dance floors that shift from clouds to dance floors and banquets they have attended together before to ones she's seen in the movies to floors so fantastic and shimmering that they can only belong in palaces. It feels like Heaven to be close in his arms again, and Blanche knows the only reason this could be happening -- or so she thinks. She doesn't want to actually voice the words, but if she is as she fears, at least she has eternity to spend with her beloved George at last.
He slows their dance, one hand still pressed gently and reassuringly to the small of her back, and caresses her smiling face with his other hand. "God," he whispers, "I'd almost forgotten how beautiful you are." Her eyes widen with surprise. "Don't look at me like that," he teases, still smiling. "I could never forget you're the most beautiful woman, Blanche, but a person sees things up here that almost makes him forget his life before. But I could never forget you." He draws his thumb slowly across her velvet soft cheek. "You're still the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."
She tries to laugh, but her laughter comes out sounding hoarse and far too forced. Nonetheless, she winks. "And don't you forget it again."
"I won't," he promises, his thumb now tracing her lips as though he's trying to commit every intricate detail of her face to his memory. "I promise. But it's just so hard waiting."
"You mean -- ?" Her heart skips a beat, and suddenly, she knows she's still alive. Her smile begins to fade. "Ah'm not gonna get to stay with you yet, am Ah?"
He shakes his dark head. "No, my sweet, I'm afraid not."
"Oh, George!" Tears brim in Blanche's eyes; he moves his hand up her face and softly wipes away her tears as they fall. "Ah thought for sure Ah wasn't dreamin' this time! You feel so real!"
"You're not dreaming, Blanche. Things have changed in your life, and I wanted to get a message to you, me and the rest of your family up here."
Her brow furrows. Her beautiful eyes narrow in on him.
"Stop that," he teases, smoothing her brow with his other hand. "You'll get wrinkles."
"Not if Ah'm only dreaming."
"It's more than a dream, but not quite reality, my dear."
"You're doin' that thing again, George."
"What thing?" His smile shifts to a teasing grin, and they both know what she means.
"Where you talk above mah head an' want me to just play along like Ah know what you mean."
"That's because I can't explain myself any better right now, darling, but one day -- when you do come to join us -- I will. You'll understand then, I promise."
Her frustration escapes in a sigh. "An' until then?" she asks, her bottom lip quivering as she tries to hold back the flood of tears behind her eyes. "What am Ah supposed to do until then, George?" He wipes away her tears as they start to fall again.
"That's why I'm here, Blanche. You're not alone any more. You have friends now. We've worked hard to get you four together."
Her forehead creases again; wordlessly, he smoothes it out once more. "What do you know about mah room mates?" she asks, puzzled.
"More than you already." He grins. "The four of you are meant to be together. You're to be each other's family right now."
"But Ah don't want them, George, an' truth be told, Ah don't want any o' these othah men Ah dally around with! None o' them can compare to you!"
"I know, my sweet," he tells her, raising her hand to his lips and kissing its back, "but that's the way it is to be for now. Promise me, Blanche. Promise me you won't keep trying to rush through life to be with me. Promise me you'll take the time to enjoy the years you have left. You'll find it easier than you believe now with those three ladies."
She shakes her head. "That's nonsense, George! They can't make up for what we've lost!"
"No," he agrees, "but they can share and ease the pain. You'll see. Promise me, Blanche? Promise me you'll live for me?"
"But Ah don't want to live for you!" she wails, stomping her foot as her dreamscape shifts yet again to their old home in Atlanta. "Ah want to be with you! Ah want you either livin' with me, or Ah want to be done with this world, George, an' be with you in Heaven!"
"There's only one way you can get here, baby. Promise me," he pleads again, cupping her face and still wiping away her tears with his fingers. "Promise me, Blanche, please! I haven't got much time left! They're calling me! Promise me you'll live for me so you can come to be with me when you die!"
She nods through her tears. Quickly, he presses his lips to hers in another kiss whose swiftness can not calm the hot passion they've always shared. They're still kissing when she wakes, crying in life as she was in her dreams and completely alone in the giant, empty bed they shared together for so many happy years.
She doesn't know how long she sits there, sobbing her heart out, until she realizes that there is a scent on the air she hasn't smelled in years. She sniffs through her tears, and her lips quiver up into a sorrowful smile. He was right, she thinks, focusing on the aroma wrapping around her head. What she just experienced wasn't a dream. George had really come to her! He had to have for how else could one explain the scent of his cologne drafting so heavily in the air?
She inhales the scent again -- she always has liked the cologne he chose -- and slowly wipes her tears away. His words seem to hang in the air with his scent and wrap around her mind. How is it that he knows about her room mates? How does he know about the girls, and how did he and the rest of her family, or so he claimed, work to bring them all together? Her brow furrows once more with puzzlement, and Blanche pays it no heed as she throws off her sheet and pads from her room.
Silent tears are still slipping down her cheeks, although more slowly now, as she makes her way to the familiar kitchen. God, it's a wonder she hasn't gained five hundred pounds since George passed, what with all the comfort she's taken in food. She pauses as she hears voices and looks through the doorway to the three women sitting around her kitchen table and the half-eaten cheesecake between them.
Sophia is the first to notice her. The old woman looks up across the distance directly into her eyes and seems to see her, really see her, for the first time. She nods. "You had the dream too."
"Too?" Blanche ponders quietly aloud.
Rose beams. "Charlie visited me in my sleep tonight. It's not the first time I've seen him, but he had a message for me tonight. And Sophia got to see her Sal too, didn't you?" Rose pats the old woman's hand.
Sophia wipes tears away behind her spectacles. "Ma," Dorothy croons, clinging to her other hand.
"Enough of this sadness," Sophia snaps, whipping her hands away from both Dorothy and Rose. "They don't want us sad. They want us happy! That's why they did this! Dorothy, cut Blanche a piece of that cheesecake. She needs it."
Dorothy complies as Blanche edges slowly into the room. "What do you mean, Sophia? They want us happy?"
Rose curiously tilts her head to one angle as she watches Blanche drift into the kitchen. "Didn't your husband tell you?"
"Tell me what?" Blanche asks innocently, and yet somehow, she suspects she already knows the answer.
"Charlie and Sal had the same message for us," Rose explains, pouring some milk for Blanche into the one empty glass on the table. She sets it in front of her place and looks expectantly back up at her. "They want us to be happy. They want us to live, Blanche, not just wait for them."
"Ah am livin'," Blanche murmurs, looking down at the slice of cheesecake Dorothy's placed in front of her now that she's sitting. "Ah go out every night."
"There's doing," Sophia speaks sagely, "and then there's living. Take Dorothy for example. She's constantly doing something, fussing at me, taking care of kids at whichever school she's currently working at, fussing at me, volunteering for this and that, fussing at me, fighting with Stan, fussing at me -- "
"Ma!" Dorothy cries indignantly.
Sophia shrugs, but then her smile fades as she stares at Blanche. "You go out every night, Blanche," she says softly, "and you probably get laid every night, but is your heart really in it?"
A tear slips down Blanche's face and splashes onto her cheesecake. Dorothy hands her a napkin, and she dabs at her eyes.
Sophia shakes her head. "You don't have to answer," she says with a gentility Blanche had not known the old woman still possessed. "You just did. I've thought for a long time now that your heart wasn't really in all those dates or with all those men. That's why it's a different one every night, and it's also why you never talk about any of them like you do your husband. You light up when you talk about George."
"Ah miss him so much!" Blanche gasps.
"I know, honey," Rose coaxes, reaching over and patting her hand now, "and he knows, but he can't stay with you right now."
Blanche's bottom lip trembles. It's all she can do to keep from breaking into great, gasping sobs.
"They all know how much we miss them," Sophia adds in a hushed, emotional voice. "That's why they visited us tonight, and it's why they wanted us together."
"George told me that -- " Blanche manages to say. She looks at the other widows through her tears in surprise. "You mean Charlie and Sal both told y'all that too?"
Slowly, Rose and Sophia nod. "Picture it," Sophia speaks, waving a hand through the air. "Miami, Florida. 198xyx. Three women meet, because two answer the same ad that the first woman didn't really want to put up to start with. Then along comes a fourth, the mother of one of the three who have moved in together with nowhere else to go now that her home, into which her thoughtless daughter placed her -- "
" --, has burned down." She never mentions that she was the one who really started the fire or that she did so not because she was so exhausted of suffering in a place where people merely waited to die but because she was tired of waiting to be with her loved ones again. "They become friends, a new family for each, and together, they find out that maybe there is something still in life to keep them there or, at least, make the journey a little easier while it lasts. And those four women are smiled down upon by three Angels who only want the best for them, three men who loved them with all their hearts and who want only for them to be happy as they wait to be reunited, three men who would give anything to make the women they love happy again."
Blanche dabs at her eyes with the napkin Dorothy handed her. "So it really wasn't a dream," she whispers. "Ah . . . Ah thought so, especially when Ah woke and smelled George's cologne. An' now . . . " She holds one set of trembling fingers just before her lips. "Ah swear, Ah can still taste his kiss!" Ah'm nevah washin' these lips again!
Dorothy stares at her plate, unable to speak. As much as she loves the three women around her and doesn't like for them to hurt, she nonetheless envies them. The closest thing she's ever had to love with a man was the mistake of a relationship she shared for thirty eight years with Stan. She's never known the kind of love that would empower a man to be able to reach from beyond the grave to the woman he loved to help her try to want to live again without him.
Blanche peers through her tears at Rose. "You . . . You said this wasn't the first time Charlie's visited you?"
"No!" Rose fervently shakes her blonde head. "I've seen him many times!"
Blanche smirks. She's about to comment on how naive and gullible Rose can be when Sophia adds, "I've seen Sal several times too, but it's usually when the moon is full or I'm close to death that I see him."
"Ma, you haven't been close to death that many times!"
"More times than you know, Dorothy! Especially during my stint at Shady Pines!"
"That was a good place -- "
"Hush yoah mouth, Dorothy! Ah don't want you two arguin' not tonight, not now! So you have seen Sal several times, Sophia?" Blanche asks, leaning closer to her oldest friend.
The old woman nods. "Many times. And the stars are aligned right for it tonight."
Blanche's smirk shifts into a wry, little, almost smile. That sounds like something her Mammy would have said back when she was a little girl. In some ways, Sophia does remind her of the woman who raised her more than her own mother did.
"Huh uh! And you thought I was making it up!" Rose declares triumphantly.
Blanche shrugs. "It's not somethin's that's easy to believe in," she murmurs.
This time, Sophia pats her hand. "No," she agrees, "it's not, but you don't have to believe us. Believe in the man you loved and who loved you. Believe in what your own heart tells you."
Blanche withdraws her hand and places it over the sheer fabric of her nightgown covering her breast, right above where her heart beats. "It is hard to believe," she acknowledges, slowly shaking her head, "but Ah know in mah that y'all are right. It did happen." Her trembling lips lift into a smile. "They brought us together."
"Because they love us," Sophia says.
"And they want us to be happy," Rose concludes.
"Well, they're right about one thing."
Blanche reaches across the table and takes both Rose's and Sophia's hands in hers. She squeezes them. "Bein' with you three does make me happy." She looks up at Dorothy, who seems almost to blush.
The school teacher looks away, her gaze darkening as she once more longs for the kind of love her three best friends have had and lost. At least, they've lost it for now, but Dorothy knows those endless loves still await them after death. "Eat your cheesecake," she murmurs.
They eat in silence, but it's a filled silence instead of the empty once that's haunted this kitchen for so many years after Blanche buried her husband. It's filled with the occasional scrape of silverware against ceramic saucers, but far more so, it's filled with the comfortable silence of friends. Each woman glances at the others in turn. Dorothy still wants what the other three have had, but those three now recognize the truth around them. They are more than just new friends. They are a new family, and together, spending the time they must to await their own passings from this life and reunions with their husbands and the other loved ones they've lost will be easier than it ever was on their own.
"It's going to be a grand reunion," Rose murmurs, smiling wistfully, after she's finished her slice of pie.
"Oh, yeah!" Sophia exclaims.
"It's going to be beautiful," Blanche agrees, once more reaching across the table, taking their hands in hers, and squeezing them, "but you know what? So is life going to be with you three in it." They smile through their tears at once another, recognizing a new bond that not even death will ever be able to take from them.