2.16 Family Matters
November 28, 2010 § 2 Comments
After having not spoken to each other for many years, unintentionally, Sam Sekemoto invited Cora and Brant to the party he was hosting at his home. It was then that Cora remembered that long ago, when the newly-wed Sekemotos moved out of the Hallovin home, Sam had promised to show the family the house he had designed, but Cora had never seen it. Cora suspected Rayna had something to do with it, as she was still bitter and angry with Cora beating her for the heiress title, but they decided to go to the party anyway.
As soon as they walked in the front door and were greeted by a strangely pale, elderly woman with glowing white eyes, both Cora and Brant felt that something strange was going on. There was something unnatural about her, and it made Cora uncomfortable. She excused herself quickly, and went to find her brother-in-law. When she found Sam, at the top of the stairs, she was almost even more shocked than when she met his guest. Sam, who had said that he was always in love with Rayna and always would be, was openly flirting with Brant’s sister Sally amongst his guests.
For the second time in her life, Cora found herself standing up for her sister who didn’t care for her. For a second time, Cora found herself chastising a man for playing with her dear sister’s heart. But it would be the last time, as she was missing something more important to her than her sister’s feelings at that moment.
Brant, unaware of the conflicts revolving around his baby sister, was having a great time socializing with the Sekemotos’ neighbours. He was certain that he would walk away that night with a few more friends, most around his own age. But just as he thought this, a strange feeling came over him. Before he could call out for help, or ask any of his new elder friends if this was normal, absent-minded Brant realized just too late that he had died.
For the next week, the Hallovin was home was dark and sombre. The curtains stayed closed , and hardly anyone spoke. The children had just lost their father, but Cora had lost her husband, her best friend, and the rock that kept her sane and down to earth. She was a mess; she couldn’t get dressed in the mornings, and walked around in her housecoat all day, and she couldn’t clean up after herself either. Without Brant, she was lost.
At the end of the longest week of their lives, Charles decided to pick up the pieces. Though he was close to a promotion, he took a week off, and booked a trip to France for his family. He hoped that revisiting her family’s old hometown would help her, and though he didn’t tell anyone, he wanted to continue investigating the old Landgraab castle. In France, he and Madeleine took their silent mother on a picnic in a pretty, peaceful little grove that he had found. They didn’t bring up Brant’s name too often, but when they did, they shared their fond memories. Soon, Cora found herself able to speak again, but her voice was shaky, and her eyes were always dull.
After the afternoon picnic, though, Cora spent most of the trip in her room, her’s and Brant’s old room, with the door shut. Madeleine assured her brother that Cora was just burying herself in her books, and it was all part of the healing process. While Madeleine and Monte stayed at the base camp with their mother, Charles went off in search of Berthe Girard, the woman who had hired Charles to help her when he was younger, to see if there was anything else he could do. In the end, Charles learned that Berthe had passed away a few years ago, but her granddaughter was still – foolishly, they said – trying to unlock Admiral Landgraab’s secrets. Charlotte DuBois was happy to meet Charles, who she agreed was likely a descendant of Admiral Landgraab, and sent him back to his castle right away.
Charles was eager to solve this little mystery, especially after his father’s death. He spent a few days in the castle with a sackful of dried food and a tent, and combed the place for clues. He found a few artifacts and relics, and later Charlotte told him to keep them. Madeleine was a little afraid for her brother when he didn’t come back to the base camp the first night, but didn’t tell their mother. The last thing her fragile mind needed was fear that something had happened to her precious, older son. But when Cora decided to take her children up to the Hallovin castle on the fifth night, Madeleine frantically dialed Charles’s cell phone number.
Cora took her children up to their ancestors’ castle at sunset, and for a few minutes they all just stared at the ancient building, wondering what life was like when the castle was new, and its pale inhabitants were moving in for the first time. And as it began to get dark, Cora turned to her children.
“I’ve been looking for ads in the newspaper and online,” she told them, “for a nice, small home for a single woman who is going crazy.”
It took a moment for it to sink in, but Cora explained that she just couldn’t take it anymore. She had had a fragile mind since her teens, but after her mother’s death she became more and more mentally unstable. She didn’t want to be a burden to her children, and anyways, it wouldn’t be long until the reaper came to collect her soul, too. She had purchased a small home not too far from the Hallovin castle, and at the end of their trip in, she would move in. Monte and Madeleine would be young adults soon, and until then, Charles would be the head of the house.
Madeleine was miserable. Her father had died last week, her mother had just left them, and now Charles, with his promotion, was going to be transferred to a new town the day after Monte’s birthday. Three of the four most important people in Madeleine’s life were gone or leaving her, and the only person she left was Duncan. Duncan stayed the night more often, and usually without Charles’s consent, but Madeleine argued that she needed his support. Things were still a mess, and Madeleine and Charles began to argue. Maddie hated fighting with her brother, her best friend and her rock, but he didn’t understand Duncan’s importance. To Charles, Duncan was a mischievous boy who only wanted Madeleine’s body, but to Madeleine he was her shining beacon.
With every passing day, Charles’s days at the Hallovin home were numbered. Madeleine still wasn’t speaking to him by the time it was Monte’s birthday, and so there was no celebration. It just wouldn’t feel right without their parents, anyway. Monte, who still didn’t quite understand that his father was dead and his mother had left them, was content with aging up alone in his room.
At noon the next day, Charles was ready to go. His bags were packed and the taxi was waiting. He was ready to leave his recently shattered life in Sunset Valley behind, to start fresh elsewhere. He was happy to see Madeleine was in the foyer to watch him leave, even if she didn’t say anything. She looked like she might say something, but Charles didn’t wait for her. She had chosen her path with Duncan, and now it was time for him to find his own path.