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Laurels
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Cause what you see isn't always the truth
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
June 6, 2015, mid-afternoon

"Kel, I'm sure we're good to go," Edie said.

"I know," Kelly said, looking around the hospital bed, "I just want to be sure."

"We didn't even bring much yesterday," Edie explained. "It was just an overnight stay."

Kelly looked back up after checking under the bed. "I know, but I want to be safe. Dad can keep waiting."

Edie walked over and patted Kelly on the back. "I'm ready. Let's just go home."

Kelly nodded. "Okay, sure. I'm not sure if Dad would have cracked a window or not."

"Kelly!" Edie said in a mockingly upset tone.

"Sorry, that was something Noah once said."

The two women began to walk out of the hospital room. Kelly sung a carrier bag over her shoulder. The bag had been used to bring Edie a fresh change of clothes. Edie turned to Kelly as they walked.

"Speaking of, have you heard anything about Noah?"

"No," Kelly said, keeping her gaze towards the elevators. "I haven't been watching."

Kelly stepped into the elevator with Edie. Edie looked concerned, her gaze darting around the elevator.

"Kelly, are you sure-"

"Mom, I'm fine," Kelly said. "I need to cut away for a bit and focus on other matters."

Edie was silent, and remained so as the elevator reached the ground floor and the two stepped out. They walked out of the hospital and through the lot until they reached Arnold sitting in Kelly's car. Kelly helped her mother into the passenger seat, then sat in the back. The three began to drive out of the hospital.

"Is everything in the house okay?" Edie asked.

"Yep," Kelly said. "Angie and Christian are looking after the home."

"And how's Ella?"

"She's fine," Arnold said. "She's been reading instead of watching the video."

"Oh, that's good," Edie said. "A child shouldn't be watching that footage."

"I don't think anyone should, but I think we've learned that we're always going to be tempted," Kelly said.

The car fell silent. Edie turned back and saw Kelly sitting in the middle of the backseat. She half-expected to see Kelly back to being five years old, sitting in a car seat and with a Berenstain Bears book in her hand. Instead, there was a fully grown woman who was staring forward with half-empty eyes. Edie glanced down a bit, then back to Kelly.

"Kelly, I-"

"No, mom, it's nothing," Kelly said. "Sorry, I'm just really embarrassed with my behavior this week."

"Kel, don't feel bad," Arnold said, keeping his eyes on the road. "We've all been really lousy this week."

"I know, but I feel the most foolish," she said. "I shouldn't have made such a big deal about watching the stream all on my own. Even if Angie was right that we'd have no other way of knowing exactly what happened to Noah, ignorance might have been better."

"No, I think we have a right to know," Edie said. "It's just hard to watch something so terrifying. We should have all taken turns. You know, watch in shifts."

"In hindsight, that might have worked," Arnold said.

"Yeah, especially since we now know roughly what happened the first few days," Kelly said. "Granted, I wouldn't want to be the one seeing him get shot by that girl."

"Well, no one would want to," Edie said. "But at least he made it out of that okay."

Kelly smiled, then sighed.

"Mom, Dad, what do we do?" Kelly asked.

"Pardon?" Edie asked.

"Now. Do we do the shift thing, or do we just refuse to watch?"

"I don't know," Edie said. "I'd rather not watch though. The little bit I saw was enough."

"I'll watch it," Arnold said.

"Honey," Edie began.

"No, it's fine," Arnold said. "I owe it to Kelly to help her out instead of retreating, and I owe it to Noah to show I care about him at the end."

"Dad, he knows you care about him. Why wouldn't he think that?"

"Yes, dear," Edie said, looking at Arnold. "Why wouldn't he?"

"Oh, um," Arnold stuttered. "I think he does, but I just figure it'd be best to watch."

Arnold glanced over. They had been driving for a few minutes and were now pulling back into their neighborhood.

"Look, we're almost home," he said. "Why don't we talk to Christian and Angie and come to a consensus? We know Angie has been watching, so maybe she'll help."

"Angie's been watching?" Kelly asked.

"You didn't see the video Ella posted?"

"No."

"Oh, well, yeah, she has," Arnold said. "On her phone when no one was around."

Kelly frowned a bit. Arnold tapped his fingers on the steering wheel. He perked up a bit when he saw the MacIntyre house.

"There we are," he said, pulling into the driveway. "Edie, how are you feeling?"

"Oh, I'm fine, dear," she said. "I think I could use a cold drink."

"Okay, I'll fix you something when we get in."

The three began to exit the car. Kelly grabbed the carrier bag for Edie and slung it over her shoulder. The three of them began to walk to the front door.

"A cold drink would be great," Kelly said. "You may want to take a nap as well. I can fix dinner."

"Oh, Kel," Edie said. "I'll be fine. I just-"

As the three approached the door, they all went silent when they heard the sound of something smashing.

"Christian?" Kelly asked.

Arnold pushed past Kelly and went up to the door. He shoved the key in the keyhole and turned it, pushing it open.

"What's going on?" Arnold said.

He froze in place. Kelly and Edie walked in after him. In the living room, on the floor, was Christian. He was clutching the side of his face, blood starting to drip down his head. Broken shards of glass littered the floor around him. Standing above him was Angie, her face turning red and her eyes watering. She was starting to pant, and her fists were curled by her side. In the corner seat was Ella, who was covering her mouth and sitting quietly.

"Angie!" Kelly shouted. "What the hell are you doing?"

Kelly moved into the room and knelt by her ex-husband, putting a hand on his shoulder.

"You son of a bitch," Angie muttered.

"Oh my god," Edie said.

"Edie, get a towel," Arnold said to her.

Edie ran back through the dining room and to the kitchen. Arnold stepped into the room.

"Chris, what happened?" Arnold asked.

"She hit me in the face with a glass!" Christian yelled.

"Angie, how could you-" Kelly began.

"How could I?" Angie yelled. "How could you?!?"

Angie stared at Kelly. Kelly felt her stomach start to sink as she met the frightening stare of the woman before her. Maybe being locked in her room was a lot preferable to being outside it after all.
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