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Epilogue to the Novel

We all go back to my mothers house. All of us. My dad too.

It feels strange, but no one seems to know what else he should do, where he should go. Even he seems at a loss-my father who seemed ready with an answer in nearly every situation-now seems lost, younger, a little faded. When we get to my mothers home on State Street, she and Spence disappear upstairs to their room. It is now Charlie and me and our father. Our father. Its dreamlike, bizarre, especially in this setting-my mothers house.

We get something to drink and the Charlie and I start to sit at the bay window overlooking my mothers backyard, but it is the place that we sit with my mother and Spence. It feels wrong to be there with my father.

Charlie senses this too. He gestures with a glass of ice tea. Lets go in the study.

My mothers study is where she does the work for her charity-The Victoria Project. It offers assistance to mothers who are widowed. My father sits on a chair and looks up at the bookshelf. There, on a high shelf, are his books that my mother kept after he died. My father chuckles, but doesnt look as if he actually finds anything funny.

Charlie and I glance up at the books then back at him.

Do you want those back? Charlie asks.

My father shakes his head, still looking up. That was another life. He drops his eyes from the book, looks at me, then at Charlie. No one knows what to say now that the danger is gone, now that the ghost is sitting among us.

My mother and Spence enter the room then. Its obvious my mother has been crying. Usually, such a sight would alarm and trouble both Charlie and me. My mother becomes depressed, melancholy she sometimes calls it, often and usually the tears are the first sign of the encroaching cloud, the looming mood that will tinge all that comes near. But instead of seeming flat, withdrawn, and slipping away from all of us, my mother, despite her pink-rimmed eyes, seems crackling, angry, alive.

She sits behind her desk which gives her a commanding presence in the room. My mother is not usually commanding. Spence sits at the chair to her right and places a hand on her desk in a show of support.

My mother looks at her first husband. What do you plan to do now?

He blinks a few times then offers a small shrug. I dont know. He shakes his head and once more chuckles without mirth. I have always known what to do with my life, even when it required leaving all of you. He takes us all in with his gaze.

Spence drops his eyes momentarily as if not wanting to intrude on this family scene, but then immediately lifts them back up and protectively scans the faces of the people he loves.

But now, my father continues, I dont know what to do.

My mother looks at him with an uncharacteristic steely stare. I knew you werent dead. I knew it. I knew it. She shakes her head, her jaw set firm, eyes flashing with that strange anger. I knew you werent dead. Do you know what that did to me? I lost myself because of that battle, because of the battle in my head that said you were alive when everything else said you were dead.

My father shakes his head, mute. None of us knows what to say. We all stare at my mother who seems so vibrant, twitching with emotions and questions.

She opens her mouth, her eyes glaring again, then shakes her head. We all need to process this. We all need to think. She sounds very authoritative, and again none of us know how to respond to this new Victoria McNeil, or perhaps this is the old Victoria McNeil.

Youll stay in town for a while, she says. There is no question mark at the end of her statement, and she gives my father a look that shows she will tolerate no dissension.

My dad, the one who had kept the Camorra on the run, the one who has managed to stay alive when so many others have died, looks relieved that someone is issuing the orders now. He looks at us, taking us all in, and he nods.

Deleted Scenes | Red, White & Dead | Laura Caldwell