THE CALLISON HOME - LIVING ROOM
Mr. Callison?" Hannah Meadows spoke up as she stood in the doorway.
"Yes, Hannah, what is
it?" Charles looked up from the evening edition of The Daily
bit her lip and then nervously looked behind herself and into the foyer.
"You have a visitor."
"Well, don't just stand
there. Show them in!"
"I'm not quite accustomed
to being introduced in my own home," Francis said as she stepped into the
he gasped as he quickly rose from his seat to rush over to greet her.
"What are you doing here? Are you alright? Nothing's wrong, is
"I'm fine, if that's
what you're asking." She maintained her cool, calm exterior as she
walked further into the room.
"I-I'll leave you two
alone." Hannah nodded to Charles and then turned to smile warmly at
Francis before leaving the awkward couple to their privacy.
"T-then what do I
owe the pleasure of this visit?" Charles felt his nervousness begin
to build. The fact that this was the first time he and Francis had been
alone together in the same room since their separation was not lost on him.
"This is not a
social call." She held firm to her cold exterior. She was
determined not to show her husband that he could still affect her. Francis
calmly walked over to the mantle of the fireplace and casually scanned the
assorted pictures of their children at various ages. Finally, her eyes
fell upon a framed photograph taken at her wedding to Charles some 23 years
earlier. A slight smile crossed her lips as she remembered how happy she'd
been that day. However, the smile soon faded when she remembered the
nature of her visit.
"Well, are you going to
tell me what this is about?" He kept his eyes focused on her the
entire time. Oh, how he wanted to reach out and take her into his arms and
beg her to forgive him. Deep down inside, he knew that Francis was the
only woman he could truly ever love. How could he have betrayed
that love with Annabelle? How could he have been so weak? Her cold
demeanor towards him unnerved him slightly, but he realized that such behavior
was certainly warranted considering how much he'd managed to hurt her over the
past few months.
"I'm here to talk about Maggie," Francis finally spoke as she turned to face him, her resolve
strengthened. "About the boys, too, but primarily about Maggie."
"You actually have
to ask that?" She glared at him. "Why, everything's
wrong! Of course this separation...hurts me terribly. Oh, how I wish
things could be different. But, it's the children that are hurting the
most! Maggie's grades have dropped. In fact, they're
horrendous! H-how can we expect her to concentrate on her studies with
everything that's going on between us?"
"I-I had no idea Maggie's
grades were so bad." Charles covered his mouth with his hand as he
realized exactly how many people had been affected and hurt by his actions.
"Of course you
don't! You're too caught up with that..." she caught
herself. Francis refused to allow herself to get emotional. She had
to keep up her calm facade. "You're too caught up with your work and
with your personal life to pay her any attention."
"Things have been
rather hectic around the office lately what with those contract problems we've
been having with Thornton
Preston." And his relationship with
Annabelle. He carefully avoided mentioning her name.
"I-I guess I really haven't been there for her. I do see the
boys quite frequently."
"Well, you do work
with them, Charles. It would be kind of hard to avoid
them." In spite of herself, Francis found her tone tinged with a hint
of sarcasm. She swallowed hard and tried to keep the mood polite, yet
concerned. "From what I've heard, Trevor hasn't made a concerted
effort to spend more time around you than necessary." Okay, so it
"Um, yes, I
know." In fact, he knew all two well that both Reginald and
Trevor spent relatively little time at home, anymore. He'd tried to tell
himself that it was merely because of their respective love lives with Jillian
and Grace, but he had to admit that there were other reasons.
"Do you know that Maggie
herself?" He furrowed his brow and looked at her curiously.
Francis let out a heavy
sigh. Wasn't it obvious? "For telling me about...about...about
what was going on. She's convinced that if she'd just kept quiet, none of
this would have happened. You and I would still be together.
Our home would still be intact." Francis began to feel the
tears well up in her eyes and she quickly turned away in an effort to hide her
emotions. "S-she thinks we hate her for that."
gasped. "How could she think that? I could never hate
her! She's my...our daughter! I love Maggie with all my
heart. There's nothing she could ever do that would change
"Well, that's not what
she thinks." She bit her lip to keep it from quivering and choked
back her tears. "O-oh, Charles, where did it all go wrong? How
did we end up like this? W-we were so much...so much in love."
Charles swallowed hard as he
took in the depth of her emotion and pain. As his heart began to break for
her and the turmoil their lives were in, he gently reached out for her.
His hand hovered momentarily over her shoulder out of apprehension, but he
quickly brushed those thoughts away and allowed himself to give her a tender
display of support. That single, gentle touch, however, was enough to tear
through the defenses that Francis' had built up and she burst out in tears and
began to sob openly.
"O-oh, Charles," she
cried as she turned to face him.
Overcome with emotion, he drew
her into his arms and held her tightly as her tears fell onto his
shoulder. He tenderly stroked her hair and wrapped himself in the deep
intensity of the moment.
"W-why does this all have
to hurt so much?" Francis sobbed as she rested her head on her husband's
shoulder. "What horrible things have we done to go through so much
Charles closed his eyes as her
words reverberated in his head. In spite of all efforts to the contrary,
he was still hurting her...something he'd sworn he would do anything
to prevent. As he looked down at her, he realized that, despite his
efforts to console and comfort her, he was still only hurting her in the long
run. His resolve strengthening, he gently pushed her away and quickly
moved to the other side of the room.
"When did it
happen? When did you grow so cold and distant?" she asked as she
looked at him with tears in her eyes. "You were always the most
loving husband. When did you lose your heart? Where did our marriage
"I-I don't know," he
muttered and then looked away from her. He couldn't bear to see her in
After a hesitation that, for
both of them, seemed like an eternity, Francis spoke again. "I-I have
to go. I can't stand being here with you, in this house, after everything
that's happen." Slowly she looked around the room and remembered much
happier times that now seemed bittersweet. "Promise me you'll see
Maggie. Promise me you'll make her understand that none of this is her
"I promise," he
replied. He looked at her again and their eyes met, bridging the physical
and emotional gap that was between them. Then, without another word,
Francis turned and quickly walked out of the house leaving Charles alone with
his own pain.