Flash Fiction: A Pale Shadow

Prompt: Power is the ability to walk way from something you desire to protect someone you love.

“I’m sorry.”

“Goodbye.”

They were words that had ceased to have meaning for Elizabeth Webber. She’d heard them so many times over the past three years. From her parents. From her friends. From everyone in her life.

Her mother was sorry they missed her ballet recital–Sarah had to go shopping for her Homecoming dress. Her father was sorry he’d missed the concert in which she had a Christmas solo–Steven had a ice hockey game.

Her parents were always sorry when they passed her over for Sarah and Steven. They were always apologetic and they tried to find ways to make it up to her. Mostly through gifts and money.

Material possessions and money became the way Elizabeth measured her parents love. The more she received, the more they loved her. It didn’t matter that they never said they loved her or that they were always too busy with Sarah and Steven to really care about her.

They’d said goodbye when leaving her at the Johnsons. They’d been offered the chance of a lifetime–to take care of soldiers in Bosnia. They’d always wanted to make a difference. Steven was in college by the time this happened, Sarah a senior in high school and Elizabeth a sophomore.

They’d only be gone a year–they’d keep in touch.

She didn’t see them again. A year in Bosnia led to one in Switzerland which led to two in Russia. After that, they decided they preferred Europe and were going to stay. Steven and Sarah decided they preferred Europe as well.

Elizabeth Webber lived alone in a cold and drafty studio. Her only family–her grandmother Audrey Hardy—had a massive coronary on Christmas Eve and died in the early hours of December 27.

She had no one else in the small town of Port Charles, save for a few friends and a couple of former friends.

She’d been sitting at Audrey’s bedside when she heard the news that Brenda Barrett and Jasper Jacks had fled the jurisdiction. Jax couldn’t be prosecuted for the murder of Luis Alcazar and Brenda wouldn’t have to testify.

She’d been making the funeral arrangements for Audrey when the murder charges were dropped and the divorce for both Jax and Brenda came through. Skye had a change of heart or something along those lines and had granted the divorce. Jason Morgan signed the divorce papers when it became clear Brenda wasn’t returning.

She was packing up Audrey’s house when she heard that Courtney Quartermaine was pregnant.

And that was the final piece of news that sealed her decision. Courtney Quartermaine was pregnant and she’d been sleeping with Jason for a little over a month. She said the baby was his.

It didn’t matter that even Elizabeth could tell the other woman was lying–that she couldn’t be sure if AJ or Jason were the father.

Jason didn’t think so. He believed Courtney.

Carly Corinthos had decided that she didn’t want Courtney and Jason together after all and came to tell Elizabeth that Sonny had blown a gasket when Courtney turned up pregnant. He’d all but ordered Jason to marry Courtney.

Carly told Elizabeth that Jason had argued very logically that the baby could be AJ’s. And Sonny had countered with a threat.

Carly had filed for divorce and came to tell Elizabeth that she was sorry for the way she’d treated her after Sonny had faked his death. Carly said that Elizabeth had had a right to know.

She asked Elizabeth if there was anyway to change Elizabeth’s mind–if maybe she’d try and give Jason another chance.

Elizabeth explained very simply that she couldn’t do that. She confided that she still loved Jason very much, but he was no longer the man she’d fallen in love with. The man that never would have slept with Courtney while they were each still married. The man that would never have let Sonny Corinthos order him around.

She couldn’t give their relationship another chance. No matter how much she loved Jason, she wouldn’t allow herself to settle for a shadow of the man he’d used to be.

She’d done that once before and it hadn’t worked out. She wouldn’t compromise who she was again.

She’d walked away from something she desired to protect someone she loved.

Herself.

And she wasn’t going to turn around.

The day Jason Morgan married for the second time, Elizabeth Webber got a flight to Venice, Italy.

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