Hello everyone! Here is the very last part of our story! ~Savy and Ally
Part 12: Normal, Eccentric People
5 years later
“I’m home, Mom!” Ten-year-old Ava cried, as she barged through the front door and threw her books on the entryway table.
“In the kitchen!” Emily called from the other room. Ava walked into the kitchen, and went straight for the refrigerator, where she grabbed an apple.
“How was school, honey?” Emily questioned, as she cut carrots to put in that night’s dinner.
“Fine. What are you making?” Asked Ava, as she sniffed at the pot on the stove.
“Stew. Uncle Sam and Aunt Zoey are coming over for dinner.” Emily dumped a plate of chopped carrots into the stew.
“Where’s Dad?” Ava wanted to know.
“He’s in the backyard with Ben.” Ava gave Emily a quick hug, and skipped towards the back door. Emily watched her little family through the kitchen window. Ava chattered to Nathaniel, as she swung on the swing. Three-year-old Ben was stuffing leaves into his mouth, as he toddled around the yard. Emily cringed, hopefully those wouldn’t make him sick later. Emily reflected on the past five years. She had married Nathaniel four years ago, and Sam had married Zoey six months after the arrest. They had a daughter that was Ben’s age, and a one-year-old son named Danny. She had just recently seen on the news that the professor had been found guilty of the other two murders. It was amazing really, how well they had all recovered from the murders. Just then the doorbell rang, breaking her reverie.
They sat around the dinner table, joking and teasing like normal people. No one would ever have guessed that five years earlier they had all gone through a traumatizing, life changing experience.
“Come on, Maddie. Open your mouth and take bite. Please!” Sam begged, while trying to get his three-year-old daughter to eat a bite of green beans. She shook her head vehemently. “The green beans are good for you, they’ll make you grow big.” He tried to reason with her. Emily chuckled.
“Good to know you’ve become better at recognizing the proper food to give kids, Sam. Remember the time you gave Ava cake and cheetos for dinner?”
Sam made a face, “Yeah, I remember.”
“Did you really do that, Sam?” Zoey asked incredulously. He nodded, and Nate laughed.
“Even I know better than to give a little kid cake and cheetos for dinner. The worst I’ve ever done is ice cream for lunch, at least that has calcium.”
“The cake had some fiber in it, I’m sure.” Sam argued, as if that somehow made it better. The whole table had a good laugh over this, at Sam’s expense. “Hey, at least I had the guts to actually ask my wife out on our first date! Unlike someone else I know!”
“He didn’t have to, it was a blind date!” Emily defended Nathaniel.
“Except that you knew who you were going out with, Em.” Sam pointed out.
“It’s not like I would ever guess in a million years that you would set me up with your best friend!” Emily said sarcastically.
“Actually, I’m not the one who set you up with Nate.”
Emily gave him a quizzical look, “What do you mean?”
“Ask Nathaniel.” Sam said, pointing to his friend.
“Well… I kind of… what I mean is…”
“He paid me to set you two up on a blind date.” Sam interrupted.
“Sam! I can’t believe you charged your best friend to set him up with your sister!” Zoey admonished.
“It’s not my fault he’s such a sucker! He was willing to pay, and I was willing to take the money. It was a fair deal.”
“How much did you pay?” Emily asked.
At this point Nathaniel’s face was turning bright red with guilt and cowardliness, “Uh, $50.00.”
“Well, at least now I know I’m worth $50.00 to you.” Emily chuckled.
Sam snorted, “Yeah, that was before he had to live with you everyday. Now he knows what you’re really worth!” Zoey gave him a playful slap, and the rest of the evening was filled with joking and laughing.
That evening, after Zoey and Sam’s family had gone home, Nate tucked the kids into bed, while Emily enjoyed a cup of tea in the kitchen. She had brought her photo album with her, and decided to look at the pictures. She smiled when she saw the first photo was of her and Ross’s wedding day. Her dress was terribly outdated today, and her hair was in a bad perm, but she looked young and radiant. She was smiling at Ross in the picture. She flipped through a few more pages of wedding pictures, but paused when she reached a picture of Ross holding Ava. Ava was only a few hours old, and was sound asleep. She was snuggled in Ross’s hands, red and tiny. Emily smiled, and turned the page. What she saw made her laugh, it was a picture of Ava on her first birthday. She was happily dumping her birthday cake on her head. There were several baby pictures of Ava; Ava taking her first steps, Ava riding piggyback on Ross’s shoulder, and Ava splashing in the kiddy pool. Emily reached a photograph of a coffin with a bouquet of roses on it, and almost cried. It was Ross’s coffin. She turned the page quickly, and saw that the next photograph was of her and Zoey. They were making funny faces at the camera. The pic had been taken a few weeks after Zoey had been kidnapped, and her face was still pretty bruised in the photo. Emily took a deep breath, and a tear slid down her cheek. That had been such a difficult time, one she didn’t wish to relive. The next picture was taken at Zoey and Sam’s wedding, they were cutting the cake and laughing. They looked so happy, none of the strain of the past year showed on their faces. Emily turned the page, and saw a photograph of her and Nathaniel’s wedding. They were standing in front of the church, and Ava was with them. Emily smiled, it had been such a pretty wedding. In the next pic, they were all sitting on a hospital bed. They were focused on one-day-old Ben; Emily looked exhausted, Nate seemed deliriously happy, and Ava appeared to be the proud older sister that she was. Emily skipped to the back of the album, and saw the most recent picture. It had been taken just a month earlier, and was a photo of their family, with Sam and Zoey’s clan. Emily stared at the last picture and sighed with contentment. Life was good.