Disclaimer: The only thing I own are my original characters.
Summary: Something was wrong but she didn't know what.
I really don't know what this is and I don't know if I like it or if I even really said what I was trying to in this piece but... here is something I didn't plan to write but did anyway. This takes place in my family universe but it really focuses on Lexie.
Sometimes, Lexie wished, more than anything, that her mother was still alive and she needed someone to talk to. About everything. Marriage and kids and life and what kind of dress she should buy for the latest hospital function or how much sugar she should really add to the cranberries on Thanksgiving because even after all of these years, it still didn’t taste like hers used to when Lexie was growing up.
She had people in her life she could talk to. She could talk to her dad but he still missed Susan so much that whenever she was mentioned, he got this immense sadness in his eyes and Lexie didn’t like to be the one putting it there. She had Owen and Sadie and even Meredith – the two finally becoming closer after all of these years – but they were married with no kids and their lives at the hospital were the only ones they ever seemed interested in having or talking about.
And of course, there was always Mark. It had taken years, and so much work, but she and Mark finally had reached a point where they were able to talk about anything to one another. But sometimes, they were both so busy – with kids and work and driving from soccer and football practices to piano lessons and cooking classes – that by the time they had a moment or two to themselves, they were too tired to talk and they would fall into bed together, almost instantly falling asleep.
Sometimes, Lexie had such an intense weight of loneliness pressing down on her chest, she felt as if she couldn’t breathe. She felt selfish for feeling that way though. She had Mark, her husband who she loved more than anything and who loved her and would do anything for her, and she had four healthy and happy kids who were her entire life. Why did she feel lonely? She had no reason to be and she was a horrible wife and mother for even thinking about it.
So she plastered a bright smile on her face, kissed Mark and all of the kids, and went about her life as if everything was how it should be.
Sometimes, she felt completely unattractive. She was thirty-six and had four children ranging from twelve to two and most days, she wore tee-shirts and jeans without doing anything fancy with her hair or even wearing make-up. Her breasts were larger from having children and breastfeeding them and her hips had more of a flare to them, too. Her stomach had the slightest pooch to it no matter how many crunches and yoga classes she forced herself to do. She would love to have another baby but sometimes, she stood naked in front of the full-length mirror in hers and Mark’s bedroom, staring at her body and questioning her sanity.
It certainly didn’t help though when she sometimes went to Mark’s practice so he could have lunch with her and the kids to see the women waiting to see him for their consultation appointments. Beautiful women with perfect hair and skin and bodies that Lexie wished she had. Even when she had been younger, she had never considered herself beautiful though. She had always been rather plain to her own eyes.
And then Mark would come out from his office, wearing dark blue scrubs and a grin, and the kids would run to greet him amidst a chorus of “Daddy!” and “Guess what we did today?”. Lexie hung back for a moment, watching, smiling faintly, feeling somewhat left out of the greetings Mark always got. She didn’t really go anywhere for them to miss her like that. When she had written her book two years earlier, she had gone on a few talk shows to promote it but she had made sure that her agent had always scheduled those for days when Mark, who she had been separated from at the time, had the kids so they wouldn’t notice her absence.
She looked at Mark and at how unbelievably handsome the man was. It only made her feel more frumpy and lonely. She didn’t know what was wrong with her lately for her to be feeling like this.
She wondered if he had ever cheated on her with someone beautiful with a flawless body and long legs. Someone who hadn’t had four children and who had no problem maintaining a perfect, flat stomach. But then Mark lifted his head and gave her that smile of his and she smiled back, hating herself for even thinking something like that.
“So what did you do today?” He asked in the minutes before dinner was served and it was just them in the kitchen. He was holding a glass of water in one hand and watching her, waiting for her to answer even though they talked to one another several times throughout the day.
Lexie was quiet for a moment, pretending to be completely immersed in locating the bottle of vinaigrette for the salad. What had she done today? She had taken Dodger to the vet’s office and then Sam and Max both had dentist appointments. After that, she had come home to start fixing dinner – where she had burned her knuckles on the stove – and when she had tried to write something, the blinking cursor had tortured her writer’s block and Ellie needed a thorn pulled out of her finger with tweezers.
She finally decided to locate the bottle – which had been in the refrigerator door the entire time – and when she turned back around, Mark was still waiting and watching her.
She gave him a smile and quick kiss on the lips. “Nothing,” she answered. “How about you? What did you do today?”
Sadie invited her to have lunch but her surgery was running longer than expected so after reading the surgical board, Lexie headed down the hallway towards the appropriate OR, carrying Max in her arms. Some attendings and residents she knew and passed smiled at her and said hello, asking her how she and the family was.
She recognized some residents that had been in the same year as her – now attendings and they smiled politely but few stopped to talk. Max in her arms was a huge reason as to why they didn’t. They were living two very different lives now. They were surgeons – walking around the hospital in their dark blue scrubs and air of superiority, snapping at interns to get them coffee. And Lexie, she may have had Dr. Sloan as a name – when she wasn’t being called Mrs. Sloan – but she had left the hospital years earlier to do the housewife and mom thing.
She didn’t belong here anymore.
The intense weight of loneliness pressed down on her chest and as she sat in the back of the gallery, looking at Sadie down in the OR below, her patient on the table before her, Lexie closed her eyes and hugged Max tighter and when she pressed her nose to her youngest daughter’s soft sandy blonde hair, she almost felt as if she was going to cry.
The summer got to be so hot that they bought the kids an inflatable pool the was shaped like a star and set it up in the backyard, filling it with ice cold water from the hose. The kids spent their days out there, splashing and playing and Lexie came out from time to time to make sure they hadn’t drowned and to rub more suntan lotion on their skin.
Mark came home one night from work and hours later, with the kids up in their beds asleep, he changed into his swimming trunks and told her that he’d meet her down there. She smiled and rolled her eyes at the ridiculousness that was her husband but she changed into her bikini anyway, trying to not look at her reflection in the mirror as she did so. At the last minute, she grabbed a tee-shirt and tugged it on over it.
Mark looked ridiculous, sitting in a kiddie pool with two beers on the grass on the other side of the plastic wall, and he grinned when Lexie stepped down from the back deck and crossed the yard towards him.
“Remember when we went skinny dipping in Derek’s lake that one night?” Mark asked and she laughed, shaking her head.
“We’re not skinny dipping tonight, Mark,” she said as she lifted one leg and skimmed her toes along the water’s surface. There had been a few mosquitoes and blades of grass that Mark had scooped out and the water was warm, sitting out in the sun all day.
“What’s with the shirt?” He asked, frowning, holding out a beer for her to take as she stood, shin-deep, in the water in front of him.
She shrugged, popping open the tab but not taking a sip. He looked at beautiful women all day. He didn’t need to see just how unbeautiful she was. She turned and slowly lowered herself down into the water, sitting down between his spread legs and leaning back against his hard chest. One of his arms instantly wound around her and his lips pressed a kiss to the pulse-point at the base of her neck.
“I love you,” he whispered in her ear and she smiled, blushing faintly.
“I love you, too,” she whispered back.
When his hands swept up under her tee-shirt then, she let him take it off. She was just glad it was dark so he couldn’t get a good look at her.
Sam had a nightmare and after running into their bedroom, he had fallen asleep on his stomach between them. Lexie laid on her side next to him, stroking her fingers through his hair and rubbing a hand down his back. Mark laid on the other side of Sam, also on his side, his eyes closing and then opening but then closing again.
She smiled faintly. “Go to sleep, Mark,” she whispered and he mumbled something but she couldn’t decipher what. “You have surgery in the morning,” she reminded him.
“It’s only Vivian getting some new breasts,” he said and she knew how tired he was because no matter how small or big the procedure was, Mark took every surgery with the utmost seriousness.
“And we don’t need you falling asleep at the OR table,” she said, leaning over and stroking her fingers through his grey hair. He turned his lips and kissed the inside of her wrist before looking at her. “Go to sleep and don’t get a malpractice lawsuit,” she whispered, smiling faintly as she looked at him and then at their son. “How did we get here?” She asked, still whispering.
“Where?” Mark whispered back and though she wasn’t looking, she could feel how intently he was watching her.
Lexie continued rubbing a hand on Sam’s back as he slept. “I don’t know what’s wrong.”
“But something is wrong?” He asked.
She shook her head slightly. “I don’t know. I just…” she tried to gather her thoughts but there were too many and she didn’t know what to say first. “I’m such a horrible person.”
“What?” Mark sat up at that, staring at her.
Lexie continued watching Sam sleep. “We have four beautiful children… I have you… I’ve written a book, I’m technically a doctor… I shouldn’t want anything.”
Mark remained sitting up, his eyes still focused on her, not even blinking. “What do you want?” He asked and she finally lifted her eyes, looking at him, upon hearing the tightness in his voice – but it was tightness that came when he was nervous or even worse. When he was afraid.
Lexie was quiet and then she sighed softly. “I don’t know,” she whispered and that was the thing. She really didn’t.
“I have something for you,” Mark grinned, looking quite pleased with himself but there was an air of anxiousness to him as well.
The babysitter had been paid and was gone, the children were all asleep and Lexie was lying on their bed in the master bedroom, still wearing her black dress from their weekly Friday night date night. Mark had rolled the sleeves of his blue shirt up to his elbows and was now kneeling next to the bed. Lexie turned her head on the pillow to look at him, a dry smile on her face but amusement in her eyes.
“I bet you do,” she teased and he snickered as he dug around in his pants pocket.
“Now, I know I’ve spoiled you over the years with all of those little blue boxes-” she rolled her eyes and he went back to grinning as he held up a narrow bracelet of blue and purple beads with strings of black leather at either end. “But I saw this at the community center when I was picking Sam up from his class and I thought of you.”
Lexie stared at it, speechless.
Mark took her silence to mean something else. “Whenever I see purple, I think of you. I know it’s stupid but I do. You were wearing a purple sweater our first night-”
“I remember,” Lexie whispered and then tears sprung in her eyes so quickly, she didn’t have time to stop herself before she started crying. She sat up, her hands covering her face, and her shoulders shaking.
“Oh, shit, Lex,” Mark scrambled to sit next to her, shoving the bracelet back in his pants. He wrapped an around her. “I’m sorry. It was stupid.”
Lexie shook her head. “No, it’s wonderful. You’re wonderful,” she blubbered through her tears, her hands still covering her face, and she meant it. She didn’t deserve him.
“I just wanted to give you something,” he said softly, his lips against her temple. “It’s killing me that I don’t know what you want.”
That only made Lexie cry harder though and she wrapped her arms around him, hugging him. It was one thing for her to feel sad but she didn’t want to drag Mark into it, too.
They had a Fourth of July barbecue at their house as they did every year and everyone was invited. And as the kids ran around the backyard, chasing one another with squirt guns, the adults lingered on the back deck, finishing up the last of the hamburgers and chicken breasts that Mark had grilled and drinking the beers from the large cooler that had been set up.
Mark and Lexie sat in two chairs next to each other at the patio table, partially under the green umbrella open above them and Lexie sipped at a bottle of Corona as she kept an eye on the kids. Mark, Owen and Derek were talking about the upcoming football season and Mark’s hand sat on Lexie’s thigh, left bare from the shorts she wore, and on her left wrist, she wore the beaded bracelet, something that had made Mark smile when he saw it.
She laughed and talked with their friends and guests but then, Derek mentioned something at the hospital and suddenly, conversations had shifted to either the hospital or medicine and Lexie grew quiet, looking at the beer bottle in her hand, feeling Mark’s hand still on her thigh. She felt cold despite the heat and the weight on her chest began to hurt.
“What are these?” Mark asked as he stood at the bed, performing his best attempt at folding laundry, and Lexie turned from the dresser to see what he was holding. She blushed when he was holding one of her body-forming pairs of underwear. He almost laughed, twirling them on a finger. “Very sexy, Lex.”
She reached out, grabbing them and shoving them into the drawer where she kept her other lingerie. “They’re just something I bought. It keeps my stomach flat,” she said softly, her cheeks flushed with embarrassment, blood roaring in her ears.
Mark’s eyes raked up and down her body before looking at her face. “What stomach?”
And his tone was of the utmost sincerity. Lexie looked at him, about to start crying from so many things but she did her best to control herself. Her hands shook as she lifted her shirt and Mark took a step closer, staring at her stomach.
“I’m still not seeing it,” he shook his head.
“Mark,” she whispered, her voice shaking, and she rested her hand on the small pooch. “You look at perfect women all day and then you have to come home to me.”
He frowned, his eyes flashing. “What do you mean, I have to come home to you? What? Like it’s a chore?” He took another step towards her. She began to pull down her shirt but he stopped her, one of his own hands on her stomach now. “And those women aren’t perfect. Why do you think they all come to see me?”
Lexie looked away but Mark wouldn’t stand for that and his other hand went to her cheek, forcing her eyes to keep with his.
“You have never seen me the way everyone else does,” he said. “So why the hell can’t you see yourself the way that I do?”
She had no idea what to say to that so instead, she stood on her toes and kissed him.
Ally was at soccer practice, Sam was at his cooking class and Ellie was in her art class, which left Lexie and Max on their own for a couple of hours that afternoon. As Max played in the pool, Lexie brought her laptop outside, wanting to write, but again, nothing came to her. Nothing was happening in her life to inspire her. Nothing ever happened and she felt like nothing more than a lonely housewife who was sad because she was bored and there was nothing else to do.
Knowing that she couldn’t stay there or she would go crazy, she got Max dressed and together with her stuffed polar bear, Simon, Lexie took her to the playground and they climbed over the equipment together, Max squealing with delighted laughter as Lexie chased her back and forth across the shaky bridge that connected the two large sections. Lexie laughed and played with her daughter and when they were both breathless, Lexie took her hand and they crossed the parking lot to where an ice cream truck sat.
“Yum,” Max giggled as they shared a strawberry ice cream cone and Lexie smiled, nodding in agreement. “Simon wants, mommy!” Max held up the bear and Lexie laughed, pretending to let the bear lick some of the ice cream, too.
A bear that could eat ice cream… a polar bear that ran across bridges… draw bridges of castles with fire-breathing dragons chasing after him… him and a girl with curly hair and the brightest smile.
When Mark got home, Lexie was in the room that had been set up as an office, tapping almost excitedly on the computer and Ellie sat next to her, bent over a piece of white construction paper with a black pencil in her hand.
“Hey,” he said and Lexie beamed, standing up immediately to greet him. He smiled, too.
“Hi,” she felt out of breath and hyper and she kissed him before grabbing a stack of papers from the desk. “Look,” she then said, practically pushing the stack into his hands.
“What’s this?” Mark asked, looking at the papers, seeing typed outlines and paragraphs of text and then drawings that Ellie had done – mostly of a curly-haired girl and a white polar bear.
“I know what I want,” Lexie said softly to him and their eyes locked. “I don’t want to be left behind.”
Five months later, a couple of weeks before Christmas, Lexie sat at a table in the Borders bookstore in the mall, a camera flashing pictures and a line of children standing with their parents stretching out before her. A large blown-up version of her first children’s book, The Adventures of Max & Simon and the Haunted Drawbridge by Alexandra Sloan, was displayed next to her and a stack of the white hardcover picture books.
“Can we just get one picture of my family before we start?” Lexie asked the photographer, who smiled and nodded, gesturing for Mark, with Max in his arms, and the other three kids standing in front of him to join Lexie.
Lexie stood up, already smiling, and Mark grinned, shifting Max into one arm as his other one slid around Lexie’s shoulders, holding her close. Ellie and Ally stood in front of her and she wrapped her arms around them and Sam stood in front of Mark, giving an enthusiastic thumbs up as the camera flashed.
As she looked at her family, the weight slowly began to disappear from her chest and she couldn’t stop smiling. She had a husband who loved and adored her and four children who amazed and inspired her on a daily basis. There was no reason to be lonely. She knew that now. She had everything she could ever want. She knew that now, too. And she would never forget it.