Things to do in Freehold

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Chapter Twenty:

Joey Grace (Evening of September 9, 1983)

“Liv, please, can we talk about this?” I cried out as I watched my wife pack two separate suitcases; one for her, one for Addie.

“There’s nothing left to talk about, Joe,” Liv said, clearly irritated. “You are a pushover, a pushover who obviously does not want to change, simple as that.”

“I do want to change though,” I exclaimed, taking items of clothing out of the suitcases while Liv wasn’t looking. “Just give me a second chance to prove myself to you.”

Liv had caught on to what I was doing and quickly yanked one of her dresses from my grip. “I have given you more than enough chances, Joe. A hell of a lot more than you probably deserve, to be perfectly honest.”

“You aren’t taking my daughter away from me,” I stated, in a stern tone as I stepped in front of her, keeping her from exiting the room.

Liv let out a hysterical chuckle. “Your daughter? You and I both know that I’m the only one who actually raises her.”

As Liv shoulder-blocked her way through me, I could feel my blood boiling inside of me. I began fuming out of each nostril and could only see a crimson hue. I hated her. I hated my wife. We never truly got along in the first place, but now, I had truly become sickened by her presence.

I was ready to chase after her when I had overheard the commotion, happening at the top of the stairs.

“No, I don’t want to live with you! I wanna stay here with Daddy!” Addie screamed at the top of her lungs. Her and Liv had been playing a game of tug-of-war with one of the suitcases.

“Addie, let go of the suitcase,” Liv demanded.

“No! I’m not leaving and you can’t make me!” Addie’s shrieks had grown louder and louder.

Liv pulled the brown, leather suitcase once more. Slipped or pushed, I was too far away to tell. All I could see was a disoriented Olivia Weston tumbling down each and every step on the stairwell. She fell and fell until she landed with a crunch. Her head had split open, blood flooding through the crack, and her right calf had faced the opposite direction.

It was a gruesome scene, one I didn’t want Addie to be looking at, let alone remembering for years to come. However, by the time I had made my way over to her, it had already been too late to shield her eyes from anything. She’d seen it all: the body, the blood, the blank stares coming from her deceased mother’s icy blue eyes. What scared me the most, though, was the expression it left on Addie’s face, or lack thereof. I wasn’t sure if it was the shock making her completely emotionless, or if she legitimately felt that little towards Liv’s recent fatality.

I hastily trod down the stairs, down to Liv’s corpse, with a new tear rolling down each of my cheeks at every step. I had tip-toed around her, attempting to avoid stepping into any blood, to get to a closet located underneath the staircase. It was there that I’d be able to find a large shearling blanket that I could throw over the body for the time being.

“Does this mean I still have to go to Grandma’s?” Adeline’s gentle voice traveled from the top of the banister, all the way down to the foyer.

Really, Kid, that’s all you can think about right now? I thought to myself as I scowled at her from down below. I then let out a sigh. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt with all things considered. She was only five-years-old, after all, and had never experienced grief quite like this before. I was still pissed, though. Not just at Addie, but the universe as well. You never truly know how deeply you care for someone until they’re lying on the ground, bleeding out, right in front of you. “No, Sweetheart. Why don’t you go play in your room for a while?”

Addie happily skipped away, out of viewpoint, while I headed on over to the telephone, located in the nearest hallway. Quickly, I dialed the numbers 9-1-1.

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