But we carry on our backs the burden time always reveals. In the lonely light of morning in the wound that would not heal. It's the bitter taste of losing everything I've held so dear. - Fallen; Sarah McLachlan
Her dreams were almost as haunting as her reality was. As she watched the early morning filter through the curtains, she didn't dare move, just in case she was still dreaming. If she wasn't, her reality had just become a nightmare anyway, and she had been half expecting it to get worse some time during the night. Carver knew their secret, and that made her heart heavier than it was just moments ago. It was the reason that she couldn't answer his phone call. She couldn't afford to tear her family apart even more than it had already been torn.
In the span of a day, they had become the most hated family in Gracepoint. Not realizing what Joe was doing, she could take the blame for that. However, when it came to her children, she wouldn't let the town's hatred reach them. She couldn't. It would destroy them and she could never forgive herself if it did.
As she looked across at the room at her sleeping children, Ellie suddenly felt an overwhelming feeling of sadness for them. The one place they had known, they would probably never return to. She didn't know if she could ever take them back here, or rather if they could ever show their faces around this part of California ever again. Dylan was too young to understand that, or what his father had done. Tom had a better understanding of it all, but it still wasn't enough.
"I don't understand." Her son's words resounded in her head. "I don't understand what's going on. What am I supposed to do?"
Her eyes filled with tears and the bile rose in her throat; she shivered as she stepped out of the warm protective covers of the hotel bed. She absently left the bathroom door ajar as she emptied her stomach into the toilet, wiped at her mouth with toilet paper before flushing and sliding down the corner wall—the same wall she had found Tom huddled in yesterday afternoon.
"I don't know, sweetheart. I don't understand it either."
Her breathing was labored as she stared at the white tile wall, streaked with grey that made it look like someone had run their dirty fingers over the tile. It was sad that she was comparing their life to the color of tiles. However, she couldn't help comparing that it was almost as if someone had dirtied their spotless life and covered it with ash.
As soon as she heard his voice, she snapped out of her thoughts. "Tom." She wiped at her eyes. "What are you doing up? You're supposed to be sleeping."
He shrugged. "Are you thinking about Dad?"
"A little." Her voice was soft as she patted the edge of the bathtub. "And what to do next."
"Because of me we can never come back here, can we?" His expression was full of grief as he sat on the edge of the porcelain tub.
"What happened is not your fault, do you understand me?" Casting his eyes to the floor, she sat up. "Tom."
Biting down on his lower lip as a sign that he was listening, he nodded. "If I hadn't followed him, Danny might still be alive."
She shook her head, wishing for things to be different. "We don't know that for sure."
His eyes widened at her confession; he hopped up from where he had been sitting and took a step back from her. "You're wrong. Dad would never do something like that. He would never do something like that." The look in his eyes was begging her to tell him that was wrong. It was impossible for her to tell him that was true, only because she didn't know what would have happened.
Maybe Joe would have actually thrown Danny off the cliff, instead of using a boat. Perhaps he would have committed such a despicable act that there would be nothing left of him.
"He was twelve years old!" She had seethed, upon seeing Joe for the first time since he had confessed to murdering Danny.
Twelve. The same age as their son. What scared her was that it could have been her son instead of Danny. Instead of sitting in a hotel room, she could be grieving the death of her son. Yet, he was still standing in front of her. His voice broke. "Danny was my best friend."
"How could he-" Tom inquired in frustration. "How could he be dead?" Hitting his hands against the porcelain sink, tears ran down his cheeks. She got up quickly; he fought against her as she wrapped her arms around him, but she only held him tighter. His knees buckled as they sat down right there on the floor, both crying now.
So this is the end of the story. Everything we had, everything we did is buried in dust, and this dust is all that's left of us. - Eyes Wide Open; Gotye
They took the back way of town; just for safe measure-though it was barely six am. Dylan had woken just after they had a good cry, which just added to the fact that they couldn't stay cooped up in that hotel for one more minute. So they had packed up their only belongings and were on their way.
The change of scenery was almost liberating. The air was still heavy; sadness still lingered around them, but now they could have a fresh start. Tom continued to stare out the window, his mouth set with a heavy frown. Dylan was picking at the edge of his blanket, sometimes looking out the window and pointing to a tree or a car. He often had a quizzical look on his face, mostly because the places they drove by, he had never seen before.
She had bought something on the way out, as soon as they were far enough from Gracepoint. They sat in the car, picking at their food. Now the bag sat in the passenger seat, ready to be discarded at the next stop. After another five hours in the car, she parked in the hotel parking lot and threw away the bag before waking her sleeping children.
Tom sluggishly walked beside her, while Dylan snoozed on her shoulder as they walked through the doors of a hotel. A woman with short black hair, was standing behind the lobby counter. As Ellie approached, the woman looked them over with a gentle smile.
"How can I help you this afternoon?" Her gold badge flashed against the bright lights of the chandelier, which revealed her name: Libby.
"I would like to reserve a room."
"Did you make a reservation?"
"That's okay. We just have to ask just in case you did." She paused to look at the screen. "We have two double beds on the first floor. Will that work?"
"That would be perfect, thank you."
"Don't mention it." Libby gave her a reassuring smile as she quickly typed in the information. "How long are you staying here in Redding?"
"Just for tonight."
"Alright. Heading somewhere special?"
"Definitely a place worth the drive." Picking up a key from underneath the counter, she placed it on the counter. "You will be in our Studio Two suite—room 212 will be at the end of the hall. Breakfast will be served starting at seven-thirty and ends at ten. The room will come to one hundred five dollars. How would you like to pay?"
"Cash." Digging in her purse, Ellie pulled out the envelope that she had gotten when they had stopped at the ATM, and pulled out a hundred dollar bill and another five dollars from her wallet before handing it to her.
"All right—you are all set. "Check out time is eleven o'clock." If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask." Libby handed her a receipt.
"Thank you." Ellie folded the paper receipt and stuffed it into her wallet. The chairs that her children had been sitting in was now vacant. As she looked around the lobby, her heart pounded then quieted as she found Dylan toddling around; Tom following close behind.
I think I need a new town, to leave this all behind... - Boston; Augustana
They shut the door to their hotel room, when Tom turned to her. "Mom? What's in Oregon?"
She sat down on the edge of the nearest double bed, setting Dylan on her lap. "A new start, maybe." Her voice was soft and laced with a tiredness
"Does this mean we'll never go back to California after this?"
"Not sure we will for a long time."
"But what about the house? Our stuff? My friends?"
"I want you to know that us leaving, is not a done deal." Ellie put the next part delicately, "Your father and I decided that it was best that we leave for awhile."
At the mention of his father, his expression faltered as he cast his eyes to the floor. "I just want things to go back to how they were."
"Me too." She sighed as Dylan squirmed to get down off her lap. He stood by her as his little fingers tugged at the zipper of his coat. She gladly helped him as she watched Tom pull off his own coat and cast it on the other bed, then laid down against the covered pillow; his back turned towards her as he tucked his knees in towards his body.
Dylan looked over at her quizzically, pointing towards his brother. Not understanding all that was going on, he unwrapped his dinosaur from his favorite blanket and walked to the side where Tom was lying. He began pushing his toy from side to side on the edge of the bed, but Tom only pushed him away, his voice barely audible, "I'm not in the mood to play right now."
Placing the toy beside him, Dylan picked up his blanket from off the floor, walked back over and leaned against her leg. Running her fingers through his hair, they watched as Tom slowly ran his fingers over the long spikes of the dinosaur, then pushed the toy aside, as if he had just noticed that he was too old to be playing with plastic dinosaurs.
"How about we go get something to eat?"
Tom barely turned as he called over his shoulder, "I'm not really hungry."
She licked at her lips dryly. "I'm not really either, but we haven't eaten all day. How about room service?"
"You never let us order room service." He called over his shoulder, curling back into a fetal position
"I think today is an exception." She nodded, watching him closely.
"Can we order anything we want?"
"I wouldn't say anything, but you can pick one thing from the menu." The thoughts of ordering in, seemed to temporarily bring back the happiness that they had lost. She watched as he searched his nightstand; coming up empty-handed, he walked around the bed and they finally located a menu from the top drawer in the other nightstand.
Sitting down, they looked through the menu together; Dylan pointed to the pictures here and there as they tried to decide what to order. It took a lot of going back and forth before Tom ordered Golden crisp waffles; an Asian chicken salad for her and some cheesy macaroni for Dylan.
When it came, they had a movie set up that they would all enjoy. They ate in silence, watching scene after scene. Halfway through the movie they had curled up on the boy's bed together and finished watching the movie together. By the time the credits rolled, everyone was asleep.
Around 2 AM she woke and tucked the boys in. then turned off the light and crawled into the other bed. In the darkness, she blinked tiredly over at her phone that had been turned off since they had left. Sighing, she reached for it and turned it on. Now that the shock had dimmed slightly over the past couple of days, a moment of curiosity took over.
Two missed calls. One message.
You're probably half way to wherever it is that you are now. You may driving still, I don't know. Right, why I'm really calling is because I didn't get a chance to tell you that I've decided to get the surgery. Not that any time is the right time to talk about something like that because clearly you're going through something far worse." He paused, as if he had been considering ending the message there." "Uh, last thing-you may think that nobody cares, but trust me there are people who still care about you and your family. That's it for now. See you around, Miller."