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Present day…

JONATHAN PRINCE WAS finally putting his life back together, picking whatever piece was still left after the tragedy of his children’s death, his marriage failure and his near mental breakdown.

It was a difficult process, because so many things had been damaged in the course of time; things that could never be fixed again, no matter how hard anyone tried. But at least, Jonathan still had his life before him. And surely, there was some dignity, even if only, in being alive.

With his new job at the mill and income looking up again, Prince figured that before long he would be living up to his financial obligations, to himself as well as to his son who was then living with his mother.

As the hour clock went off for break, he got out his phone and put a call through to his son. The phone rang a couple of times, but there was no answer. Perhaps Alan was asleep, or in a noisy joint unwinding and couldn’t take the call. Prince shrugged it off, decided he would call again after work, and then went on to do other things.

But by 4.30 p.m. that evening when he was still busy at work, his supervisor came around looking for him, with two police officers in tow. The officers introduced themselves politely. Then they told Jonathan that they had some terrible information for him.

“It’s about your son, Mr. Prince,” said the lead officer, Sergeant Hooper.

Jonathan sighed and frowned wryly. “Alan? What’s he done this time?”

The officers looked at him quietly, then at each other. They seemed uneasy.

“I’m afraid your son is dead, Mr. Prince,” said the second officer.

“What!?” Jonathan couldn’t believe he heard right. Something must be wrong, he began saying to himself. They must have gotten the wrong person. This must be a mistake. “That can’t be right, Officer! We spoke this morning, just before I left for work. What are you saying?”

The policemen paused with grave expressions in their eyes, their cold silence reaffirming the news they had just delivered.

“Alan’s body was retrieved from the river about an hour ago, Mr. Prince,” offered the first officer. “The ID on the body as well as documents in the car confirms that it’s Alan, Sir. Still, we would like you to come with us to identify the body; standard procedure.”

Jonathan Prince could not fathom what he was hearing. He stared on wildly, dazed beyond words, his incredulous stare shifting between the officers as he tried to convince himself that this was a rude joke, an unlikely prank someone had cooked up..

No…No…No…It can’t be real!” he whispered, heartbroken. “Alan? Dead? But what happened? Are you positive? Com’on, tell me this is a joke. Alan can’t be dead! He’s my only son!” Jonathan kept blabbing.

The officers shook their heads sadly. “Eyewitnesses at the scene say he jumped off the bridge this afternoon.”

“Oh, my God!”

“We’re sorry for your loss, Sir.”

Samantha Prince got the call from her estranged husband at a quarter past five o’clock. She usually worked until six most days, so was still pretty much engrossed in her work station when the call came in.

She paused with an uncertain and suspicious look in her eyes, wondering why Jonathan would be calling her. They’d not spoken for over two years since she officially filed for divorce. And even when she took Alan away to start staying at her place, he didn’t call her to complain or make an issue out of it. He and his son always kept in touch, of that much she was aware, and if his call now had anything to do with their pending divorce case, he could always take it up with her lawyer.

Naturally, she was inclined to wave the call aside, ignore it entirely. But she decided not to. Perhaps the call had something to do with their son, perhaps not. And speaking of which, she had tried reaching Alan since she left home that morning, calling multiple times on both occasions without any answer. As it was consistent with his disgruntled character, she didn’t think much of him not answering the phone. She’ll have a talk with him when she got back home. Hell, she was going to have to put a stop to his rudeness.

Now, Jonathan was calling. It bothered her somewhat, reasonably. Maybe he had tried reaching Alan as well without luck, and wanted to find out if he was with her just then. And if he was calling her because he wanted to be sure of the whereabouts of their only surviving son, then maybe she’d better answer the phone.

She did.

“Hello, Samantha.”

She immediately picked up the distressed undertone in Jonathan’s voice. “What is it?” she asked him cautiously. “What’s wrong?”

He paused, and she sensed the thread of tension. “It’s Alan,” said Jonathan thinly. “It’s our little boy.”

Samantha stiffened behind her table. “What about Alan?” she asked dreadfully, already afraid of the answer she might get.

But Jonathan could not bring himself to say it. He was standing just outside the glass door of the morgue in the City Hospital building, having just positively identified the deceased. He was fighting back the tears, restraining himself from breaking down on the phone. They’d already lost two young children tragically and he hadn’t forgiven himself for that. How in God’s name was he going to tell Samantha now that Alan was gone as well?

Jonathan Prince sighed in despair and clenched his lips.

“What about Alan, Jonathan?” her voice, almost yelling, came through the phone again.

“I think you better come,” he said. “Please come quickly.”

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