Characters: Murphy, baby!Anna
Spoilers: Second City
Word count: 1671
Summary: It's times like this a girl could use a dog.
Author's notes: Over at dresdenflashfic, joyfulfeather once mentioned she thought Murphy would be a dog person, which gave me this idea. I wanted to use it for both the 'animals' and 'notes' challenges there, but it got pushed aside in favour of other ideas. So I wrote it for the amnesty challenge. A lot of presumptions on my part about Murphy's history and family life, based on the very little said on the series. Borrows a few things from the books as well but nothing that would spoil them. Also, it's, um, not a very happy fic. :-P
“Mom!” Connie Murphy bellowed as she closed the door behind her. “Mom, I’m home!”
She dropped her bookbag on the floor and took off her shoes, kneeling down to greet the wiggling mass of puppy who had bounded up to greet her. He was only a few months old and she’d received him for her 14th birthday from her grandmother. She’d called him Sherlock (she was in a detective novel phase at the moment and her dad couldn’t pronounce ‘Poirot’).
“Mom!” Connie yelled again, in between giggles as Sherlock wagged his tail and tried to climb up on her to give her kisses. “Mom?”
Usually her mother would have at least called a hello from wherever she was in the house. Connie frowned and stood up, calling a little louder this time. “Mom!”
Still no answer. Connie went to the kitchen first, the most common place to find Beatriz Murphy. She loved to cook. No Mom. She went to the laundry room next, then to the den and the bedroom. No Mom. Feeling a little anxious by now, Connie ran down to the kitchen again and opened the backdoor to check the yard. No Mom. She blocked Sherlock’s exit with her foot and closed the door. When she turned around, she spotted a note on the kitchen table she hadn’t noticed before. ‘For Constanza’. Connie relaxed. Her mother had probably just run out to do an errand.
Sherlock clicked after her on the linoleum as she picked up the note. It was in an envelope, which was weird. Normally she would have just scribbled something on whatever she had available. Beatriz was somewhat scatterbrained. She’d once written a sick note for Connie’s teacher on the back of an apple juice label.
Connie opened the envelope and found a lengthy letter inside. She sat down to read it, feeling sick. Sherlock licked her socks under the table.
By the time you read this, I will be gone. I’m sorry I couldn’t stay to say goodbye, but it’s easier this way. A quick break. I know it will be hard for you, but you’re a strong girl and I hope you’ll understand. I have to go. I think you know it’s been a long time since I was very happy. I’ve done my best to hide it, but you’re a smart girl and you’ve suspected. This was not how I expected life would be like. I love you and I adore you and I will never regret having you, but I can’t go on like this. I deserve to be happy and I can’t be happy living there with your father.
I’m sorry I can’t take you with me. I need to be on my own right now. You’ve always been your father’s girl; I think you will be happier with him than you would be with me. I promise I will come back to see you, when I’ve settled things on my own. I hope you’ll be able to forgive me, eventually.
There’s lots of food in the refrigerator, you just have to warm it up. Your father called this morning and said he’s on a stake-out, so I don’t know when he’ll be back. If you get into trouble or get scared, go to Mrs. Dane’s house. She’ll take care of you. I’ve left a letter for your father upstairs, on his bedside table. Make sure he reads it; he may not notice it on his own.
I love you, carina, and I always will. This isn’t your fault, so don’t even think about blaming yourself. You’ll try, I know, but this is all me.
Take care of yourself, and your father. I love you.
Connie’s hands were shaking by the time she was done reading it and she stared at it in disbelief. She got up suddenly, making Sherlock yelp in surprise and ran upstairs to her parents bedroom. She opened the closet – her mother’s clothes were gone. Every drawer she opened on her mother’s side of the room was empty.
“No, no, no, no!” She yelled. She couldn’t decide what to be – furious, panicked or heartbroken.
She ran back downstairs to the kitchen and dialed up the police station.
“Chicago Police Department, 27th District, how may I assist you?” A secretary asked, in a bored voice.
“I need to talk to my father,” Connie said, trying to keep her voice calm. “It’s very important. He’s Joe Murphy. He’s on a stake-out.”
“Joe doesn’t like to be bothered when he’s on a stake-out,” The secretary fussed. “Are you sure you want to talk to him?”
“Yes, it’s very, very important,” Connie repeated.
“Alright. I’ll see if I can get him on the radio.”
There was muffled noise in the background and Connie shifted from one foot to the other, waiting. Sherlock had picked up on his owner’s distress by now and was lying on his belly, little head on her foot. He whined in a concerned voice.
“Joe says he can’t talk right now,” the secretary said, a few minutes later.
“I have to talk to him!” Connie yelled.
There was more muffled noise. “He wants to know if you or your mom are hurt?”
“No,” Connie said. “But - “
She was cut off by the muffled noise. “He says he’ll call as soon as can, sweetie. I’m sorry. He’s very busy.”
“But...agggh!” Connie yelled and slammed down the receiver. “This is all his fault! His fault!”
She slammed the receiver a few more times for good measure and began to pace in a circle. Sherlock had scampered under the kitchen table now, nervous. Connie had a silent conversation with herself and finally decided on a course of action. She picked up the receiver again and dialed another number.
“Hellooo?” A sprightly voiced woman answered.
“Grandma, it’s me,” Connie said.
“Hello, dear,” Grandma Murphy said, in her thick Irish accent. “Is somethin’ wrong? You sound out of sorts.”
“Mom’s gone!” Connie burst out, tears coming now that someone cared to hear her story. She wiped them away with an angry swipe. “I got home from school and she’s left me a letter and all her things are gone and she says she’s leaving me!”
“Oh, darlin’,” Grandma Murphy cooed. “Oh, you poor thing. Are you sure she’s gone? You know how she is...a bit wishy-washy. She may come back, yet.”
“I don’t think so,” Connie said. “She’s been so sad lately and not herself and...I don’t know.”
“Alright, alright. Hush now, acushla*. Where’s your father in all this?”
“He’s on a stake-out. I called the station, but he won’t talk to me. He wouldn’t even wait to hear what the problem was.”
“Oh, that boy!” Grandma Murphy spat. “I didn’t raise him to be such a eejit. You’re all on your own then?”
“Yeah,” Connie sniffed. “Well, I have Sherlock.”
“That’s good, love, he’ll look after you. Now, you just sit tight, dear, and I’ll be there soon as can be. I’m calling a taxi right now. I’ll be there by tonight, alright?”
Connie nodded, and then realized that wouldn’t transfer through the phone. “Alright, Grandma. Thank you.”
“No worries, dear. You just sit tight and stay calm. I’ll be there soon.”
They hung up and Connie wandered to the living room, feeling numb. Sherlock followed her, whimpering in a sad way. He prepared himself, took a deep breath and leapt onto the couch next to her, barely making the jump and wiggling his butt furiously to push himself the rest of the way. He crawled into her lap and licked the tears that had finally started to fall down her cheeks.
“Shhhh, shhh,” Connie tried to soothe her daughter. “Please stop crying. Please.”
The baby had been wailing non-stop since that last big fight with Rick. The last one, Connie reflected, in more ways than one. Anna had been asleep but it’d been loud enough to wake her up. Rick had stormed out and Connie decided she wasn’t going to be there when he swaggered back in, all apologies and smiles.
She couldn’t help wondering if this was how her mother felt when she’d decided to leave. This desperate, this unhappy. History just loves to repeat itself. This time, with one difference: Connie wasn’t going to leave her daughter behind.
“You have to stay for a minute,” she told Sherlock, who had gotten up in expectation of leaving the car. “Just for a minute.”
She bundled Anna up to her chest and hurried to the lobby of the motel she’d arrived at. A tired looking young woman was at the desk, flipping through a magazine.
“Excuse me,” Connie called from the door. She had to yell over Anna’s wailing. “Do you take animals?”
“Sure,” the woman answered, with a shrug. “Why not?”
Connie sighed in relief – this was the third place she’d tried and a woman driving alone in Chicago in the middle of the night was never a good thing. Even if she was a police officer and had a golden retriever in the backseat. She went over to the desk and checked in, trying to appear a little less crazy than she felt. This was hard, since she was constantly dancing in an attempt to soothe Anna.
Once she was given her key, she drove around to the room and allowed Sherlock to get out. He followed a few steps behind her as she grabbed Anna’s things and locked the car. She’d get her own suitcase in the morning. She just needed to sit still and calm down.
It took half-an-hour for Anna to finally fall asleep. Sherlock paced behind her as she walked Anna back and forth across the small room. Connie put her in her carrier to sleep. The silence seemed very loud without Anna’s wails and Connie collapsed on the bed.
“Hey,” she greeted Sherlock, as he jumped up beside her. She ran her hand over his smooth fur. “Thanks for staying with me.”
He whined softly and Connie decided he was saying something like ‘no problem’. She smiled at him, but the smile cracked as she lost her composure and tears welled up in her eyes.
“Thanks for always staying with me,” she said.
And, for the hundredth time in their friendship, he lifted his head and licked the tears off her cheeks.
*Acushla means 'beat of my heart' in Irish Gaelic.