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19 March 2009 @ 14:11
Fiction: The Poppins cycle: Vignette, soon after the marriage  
The Poppins cycle is a collection of short stories, vignettes, conversations and so on. The pieces can stand alone but collectively they also can stand as a biography of Mary Poppins. I had originally intended to post them chronologically once the full work was completed but I doubt I will ever arrive at a time where there isn't at least one more story to tell. So, I've decided to post them as they are finished. All stories in the collection will be tagged as being part of the cycle with either a title (for short stories) or a type note (for vignettes and conversations) and a time reference for anyone who wants to keep track of what order they go in.

As always Mary and Bert, Mrs Corry, the Bankses, etc belong to PL Travers, CamMac and Disney. All other characters mine unless noted in the individual story notes (ISN).

ISN: None, does what it says on the tin.

Mary turned over trying to find a comfortable position and realised that this was the first time she had lain in this bed alone. The weather had finally turned chilly today and Bert was gone to Covent Garden, to sell hot chestnuts to the patrons as the left the opera.

She felt a little lost without him in a bed that usually seemed much too small. Everything was much too small for the two of them in this room that was meant to be his alone. Most of her things were still packed away in her carpet bag, there was no space for them amidst the crowd of accessories for Bert’s myriad of trades.

She thought of all the places she could be. Snug in the nursery of Number 17, the measured sound of the children’s breathing, perhaps the wind in the tree outside the window, the only noises. Here, even at this hour, she could still hear the bustle in the street below, horses clattering, people shouting. There was only an hour or so (perhaps it would be more now that nights were getting longer, but she doubted it) when there was what passed for quiet, between when those who had been out all night staggered home and those who began work before dawn set out.

There was a draught coming in from somewhere, she would have to tell Bert tomorrow, but she couldn’t be bothered to go find and cover it now. When had she become lazy? It seemed she did so little these days, looking after Bert required little effort compared with the Banks children. At least he made certain she was getting some good exercise.

Her eyes swept the room again, she couldn’t tell if it was smaller than the nursery or if it only seemed that way because of the many things crammed into it. Did she want to go back?

No. But they definitely needed more space. Though bringing up the subject of moving would resurrect the circuitous discussion of her working. Or accepting the inheritance. There was no easy answer to how she could continue doing what she did and still be able to come home to Bert at the end of the day. Of course there was her duty, but that was separate to the issue of ordinary working and something she didn’t want to deal with either. And there was a simple truth that she wanted any children she looked after from now on to be her own, their own. But that would have to wait; there was no place to put a child here.

As she thought she twisted the rings on her finger, the one he had taken from a paintbrush to give her when he asked all those months ago and the plain gold one. She had refused to let him give her what he called a ‘proper’ one before, though when they said their vows he did anyway, to match his own. The paintbrush one was her favourite though, so much more a part of him than anything that could be bought.

She wondered if they could go and live in one of Bert’s paintings. Lately she had taken to going into the one of the park, if she was certain he would be out for a few hours, to do the mending or some knitting, just because it was always a pleasantly peaceful summer afternoon in there. But she liked the seasons and she liked being near her friends and relations. It was the same argument that kept her from suggesting they go to one of the other places she had made her home in years before. There was the inheritance, but neither of them liked the idea of it, something that didn’t feel as though it belonged to them.

There was also the fact that any of this would require Bert to change what he was. He had offered to, to give her the life he said she deserved. She replied that she loved him as he was, didn’t want to change him. He made her happy. It seemed like more than she deserved.

With that thought in her mind she rose out of the bed and dressed quickly. Once she did the buttons of her long black coat she automatically reached for her hat on the bedpost, then stopped. Crossing the room she took Bert’s other woollen cap from its peg by the door, pulling it down so that the bulk of her bun rested in the band to make it fit. She wound his old scarf around her neck (she had finished a new one for him a few days before and he had barely taken it off since) instead of her own.

For a moment she thought about walking, but decided her umbrella would be faster and time was important.

It was slightly foggy and that combined with the dark gave her good cover. Within minutes she was slipping out of a side street, crossing to the pool of light where Bert was preparing for those who would burst from the opera at any minute. Without a word she stepped beside him and began to help.

‘Mary?’ he looked surprised and then quickly took the bag of chestnuts she had been closing up out of her hands. ‘What are you doing? You don’t need to be here.’

She looked at him for a moment, a steady loving gaze. Through her mind flicked all the other places she could be, all of them places he couldn’t. She smiled.

‘I know, but this is where I want to be.’ With you.



kqp


 

 
 
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lady of the summer, princess of the morningdiana_hawthorne on 19th March 2009 15:00 (UTC)
Great story!! I love Mary/Bert.
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