SHADOW

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CHAPTER 13

THE HOUSE TURNED into a graveyard in the weeks that followed.

There was no cheer, no lively banter or healthy conversations. No quarrels or fighting, for that matter; just absolute, unnatural silence.

No one saying anything to anyone; all immersed in forlorn, lonely cogitations, reliving the fatal crash and mourning the departed children.

The funeral was a solemn, brief ceremony. And when the officiating priest asked if any of the family members would like to say a word in honor of the deceased children, all three of them declined politely.

And it was all well that they didn’t speak. What could be said about Timothy, a 10-year-old kid who’d been full of life? Or of Rachel, his little 7-year-old sister who was sleeping peacefully at the time of the accident?

What words could right the wrong or alleviate the sufferings they must have experienced that fateful night?

When he and his parents got back home later that day, Alan went to his room quietly, locked the door behind him wept bitterly. Oh, how he cried!

Mary, the house keeper, did the best she could to care for each member of the family through the very harrowing weeks they were recuperating.

She had to work extra hours. Sometimes, she didn’t go home for days, even after a private nurse was contracted to help take care of the family.

Mom remained holed up in her room for days at a time, refusing to socialize with visitors who came to condole with the family. She put everything on hold; her job, her relationships and even her life. Nothing mattered anymore.

She only had been to Alan’s room a couple of times (he’d never returned the courtesy) with the aid of crutches and supported by the nurse. But it was still a considerably difficult exercise for her, and also unrewarding as well, because her son completely gave her the cold shoulder on both occasions. So she decided to let him be, give him time to cool off.

Dad had not gone to check how anyone was doing. He just didn’t seem to care anymore. His ego had gone with the accident and what was a man without his ego? Jonathan Prince nowadays was mainly engrossed in his own predicament, feeling sorry for himself and constantly relapsing into a drunken state to numb the pains he felt.

The nurse, of course, wouldn’t serve him beer. But Mary sometimes felt sorry for him when he begged her, and opted to buy him some alcohol every now and then. At other times, too, Dad made the effort, put across a few calls and got himself a ‘handsome’ bottle of spirit to clear the dirt clogging his mind.

The man was a complete wreck.

Alan remained alone, caved up in his room and let the bitterness fester in his heart, growing to a dangerous level. Thus the family steadily grew apart. A deep crack had formed in the fabric of the Prince’s family that not even the most skillful surgical hands could suction up.

A couple of months afterwards, when Mom felt she had recovered to a great extent physically, she got up one morning after taking the few personal effects she could carry, called for a taxi and left the house.

Of course she had given a fair notice to Alan days before, with teary eyes and anguish in her quiet voice. Even tried to convince him to go with her, but he coldly declined.

“I can no longer live here, Alan,” she’d said, “under the same roof with your father. It’s killing me.”

He said nothing.

“Come with me, please.”

“No,” he replied. “I’ll stay. My dad would need me.”

She sat there a moment longer before finally leaving the room, picking her steps slowly.

And on the day she finally left , she left him with a hug, a warm and forlorn kiss and a wad of cash on the reading table in his room, plus a piece of paper in which she had scribbled her new address and phone number just in case he changed his mind or needed anything.

Alan stood at his window and watched in heartfelt dejection as the taxi drove out into the street. She saw Mom looking back and wondered if she was happy leaving, if she was going to miss him.

He missed her already, even though he didn’t make it obvious.

What about Dad?

What did he have to say concerning everything?

Not much. Dad only drank himself to stupor that night. And then he cried.

Then a few weeks after Mom moved out, the attorney came calling with some court paper. Mom, apparently, had filed for divorce.

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