Cory Green is 49; Rose Green is 36; Sam is 17
Previous update here
"Come in," Kyle called, in response to the light knock on the office door. He looked up from the computer and saw Allie standing in the doorway.
"Cory's not here, right?" she asked, looking around.
"No, he's gone to the bank," Kyle said.
"Thought I saw him down the road," she said. "That's why I came in now."
"What's happened," Kyle asked.
"Nothing," Allie said with a sigh. "I mean, no news on Melissa, if that's what you're asking."
"Well, Cory said you were keeping him updated..." he said, gesturing for her to sit down.
"Not that there's been much to update him on," she said sadly.
"How's he holding up?" Allie asked.
Kyle shrugged. "He doesn't talk about it much, but I know he's really worried about her. How come you got involved in this, anyway?"
"This is going to sound strange, but I feel kind of responsible," Allie said.
"You? Why?" Kyle asked.
"I've lived next door to Melissa's family for years. I knew the kind of arguments she had with her mother. I should have done something."
"Like what?" Kyle asked.
"I don't know but I should have done something."
Kyle shook his head. "You and Cory are as bad as each other."
"Meaning, Cory said much the same thing... but really, how could either of you have known she'd do this? Neither of you are the kind of person who'd turn their back on someone in real trouble, so you must not have thought the situation was bad enough to warrant intervening. You've done nothing wrong. Nor has Cory."
"I hope you told him that," Allie said.
"You're really worried about him, aren't you?"
"He's my brother, Kyle. The only one of my brothers I've ever even had a real conversation with. And he's been through a lot. I just don't want..." She broke off, shaking her head. "This all sounds stupid, doesn't it? I mean, I barely know Cory, but - "
"It doesn't sound stupid," Kyle reassured her. He started to say something else, then stopped as the office door opened and Cory walked in.
"Allie...?" He sounded far too hopeful, and Kyle wished Allie had left before he got back.
"Sorry, Cory," she said gently. "We haven't heard anything."
"Then why..? "
"I just needed to talk to Kyle about something."
She found him lying on the bed. "Are you ok?" she asked.
"Yeah, I guess," he said. "Just tired. We weren't busy so Kyle let me go early. I haven't been sleeping so well lately."
"Because you're worried about Melissa?"
"I know you don't like me talking about her, but - "
Rose gestured to the bed. Cory moved across a little and she lay down beside him. "It's not that I don't like you talking about her,"she said, "I just don't like what this is doing to you."
"I can't not worry," he said. "I can't just turn it off. You know that."
"I know," Rose sighed.
"It's been over two months. God... I was missing for a year after I left Sharla. How did Dad ever cope with not knowing where I was for a whole year?"
The same way we all did when you disappeared again last year, Rose thought, although she didn't say anything. Instead, she followed Cory's gaze to where her hand rested over the small bump of her stomach.
"It's not like we haven't got other things to think about right now, you know," she said, smiling weakly.
He returned the smile. "That's true," he said. They lay for a while in companionable silence.
"You know," Rose said, "For something that was so unexpected, you took the news really well. I expected it to be more of a surprise for you."
"But that's because I wasn't surprised," he admitted. "I already knew when you told me."
"I found the pregnancy test."
"The pregnancy test. When I emptied the trash the bag split open, and when I was cleaning up the mess, I found the positive pregnancy test."
"But... but I didn't use a pregnancy test. At least, not here. I never even suspected... I.. I went to the doctor, that's how I found out."
"But if you didn't then...?" For a moment, they just stared at each other.
Cory lept up off the bed. "No way! I don't... no!" He stormed out of the room. Rose scrambled up and ran after him.
---"No, it can's wait until morning,' Cory said, his voice tense. "I think you've left this long enough."
"You're still up?" Sam hadn't expected to find Rose and Cory waiting for her when she got home.
"Come here," said Cory. "We need to talk."
"Can it wait until morning? Because, I'm tired and - "
"What he means is," Rose said, "is there anything you should be telling us?"
"I think you already know the answer to that."
"Well, then why the - "
"Cory... " Rose cut him off.
He took a breath, then continued. "Sam, are you pregnant?"
"Yes," she said.
"Why didn't you tell us?"
"No reason to. It's all taken care of." She met Rose's confused stare. "What?"
"What do you think? We're talking about a baby, and you showed more emotion when you were picking your college courses. I don't get it."
"I told you, its taken care of. There's nothing to get emotional about."
"By 'taken care of' you mean..."
"... terminating the pregnancy? No, I'm having the baby. Matthew's parents will take care of it while we're in college, then we'll work out what we're going to do after that."
"Matthew's parents...?" Cory asked. "Do they know this?"
"Of course they know. It was their idea... or maybe it was Matthew's, I'm not sure. The main thing is, its taken care of."
"When were you planning to tell us?" Cory asked.
Sam shrugged again. "Soon, I guess... although you would have seen soon enough, anyway. Is that all? Because, its really late and I wasn't planning on staying up too long after I got back."
"I... I guess... "
"Ok... 'night, then." She started up the stairs.
Cory and Rose waited in silence until they heard her bedroom door close.
"What the hell...?" Rose started.
Cory just shrugged. "She thinks she's got things under control, I guess,"
"But... but she's having a baby! How can she be so calm? I've never seen anything like it."
"I have," said Cory. "That's the part that worries me the most."
He was waiting for her again when she came home the next night.
"Are you going to be up waiting every night now?," she asked.
"Maybe. I'm always awake until you come home anyway. I know you're going out to SSU to see Matthew... I worry about you driving all that way, especially at this time of year."
"I'm a good driver. You said so yourself."
"It's an awful road, even for a good driver. Do you know the number of accidents out there, in just the last year?"
"If you're worried about the state of the road, you should be talking to the district council, not me." She started to leave.
"Sam come back!" he said. "We need to talk."
"If it's about the baby, I told you already. It's taken care of."
"Not just about the baby, about everything. This last year... what I did. You've hardly spoken to me since."
"I don't need to. I already know what you're going to say."
"Try me," he said.
"Ok, fine, if that's what you want. You're going to say it wasn't your fault. You're going to say that you started drinking and you screwed everything up but you can't help yourself. Because it's an addiction and we should just let it all go and forget it ever happened. Because it wasn't really you and you have no control over it at all. You're going to say all that, and I don't need to hear it because I've already heard it plenty of times before."
"Not from me, you haven't," he said, gesturing for her to sit down. "And you won't. I'm not going to say that at all. What I am going to say that it was all my fault. Completely my fault. I was weak, I did something stupid... hell, I did a lot of stupid things. I hurt people I care about. I hurt you, and I'm so, so sorry for that. I don't know how to make up for that, but I do know that it is completely my own fault."
Sam just stared at him.
"It's an addiction," he added. "Not a get-out-of-jail-free card."
"Yeah, well not everyone sees it that way."
"I know. I'm sorry."
For a while, the only sound was the wind outside. Then Cory spoke again. "I've been honest with you, now I want you to do the same for me."
"Meaning, I want you to answer one question." When Sam didn't answer, Cory took it as an ok to continue. "Why are you going through with the pregnancy?"
"Would you prefer I didn't?"
"That's not what I said. I'm just curious... I know you, I know how much your career means to you. I also know you've said more than once that you don't want children. And I know you don't have any moral issue with abortion, at least not as far as I can tell from what you've said about it in the past. So, why? Is it because of Matthew?"
"Sort of, but... but he's not the main reason."
"Then, what is?"
She hesitated before answering "Melissa."
"Melissa? I don't get it."
"You know Mum never wanted Melissa... she would have terminated the pregnancy if you hadn't found out."
"She told you that?"
"Does Melissa know?"
"I guess so... it was never any secret or anything."
Cory let out a long slow breath.
"Sucks, huh?" said Sam.
"Yeah, it does."
"I... I thought if I did that, and Melissa found out, it would... I don't know... she might be hurt or something... you know, like it could have been her... or... I.. I don't know what I mean, but I just don't want to hurt her anymore. Especially not now."
"So, don't be too much like your mother. It won't make you happy in the long run."
"But I'm not like her. I just told you that."
"But that's the thing, you are like her. More than you realise. You're ambitious like her, you - "
"There's nothing wrong with wanting something out of life."
"There is when that's all you see. Sam, there's more to life than just winning."
"That's easy to say when you've never wanted to win." She started to get up. "I have to get some sleep. I need to go to the gym tomorrow before school."
"The gym? When you're..."
"My trainer knows I'm pregnant. I'm starting college three weeks after the baby's due, and I'm on a sports scholarship. I can't afford to let myself go. 'Night."
As she walked away, Cory realised that this probably meant that even her trainer had known about the baby before he had.
A couple of nights later, the sound of the ringing phone dragged Rose out of a sound sleep. Cory was already half-up, alert enough that Rose doubted that he'd actually been sleeping.
"Melissa..." he muttered, reaching for the phone as Rose glanced at the clock. 3.30am. Not a good sign.
Rose's fears were confirmed without even hearing the conversation. She knew when Cory slumped forward, the phone slipping from his hand, even though she could still hear a voice on the line.
She scrambled over to wrap one arm tightly around his shoulders, while with her free hand, she reached to pick up the phone from the bed where it had fallen.