Summer and William were a picture of domestic bliss in the kitchen. Summer had been talked into cooking Thanksgiving dinner thanks to Elizabeth who had disappeared into her room to read the last few pages of Archie’s transcript.
Elizabeth was sat on her bed, reading the last words of a letter on the very last page, addressed to her and Summer, the tears landing on the page. Summer knocked on the door to see if she would mind giving a hand, she hadn’t anticipated finding Elizabeth in tears. She took the page Elizabeth had thrust towards her.
Summer read it aloud. “This story, it was never a story, not really. This is the story of your parents. Everyone had kept the truth hidden from you both. I have never agreed with this. This is the honesty that you both deserved. You are certainly not cousins, you are sisters.” Summer’s voice faded as she read the rest of the letter that explained that their parents had engaged in an affair that spread years, up to the point of their father’s death.
“Now I know why mom hated me.”
“It was me, it was me the reason they were fighting the day of the crash, it was my fault.”
“It was never your fault. They were full grown adults; they were responsible for their actions. You were a child, you never asked for what happened.”
“It explains why your mom is the way she is.”
“I don’t think so; I suspect she was just born the way she is. The worst part, I don’t even feel surprised that she did that. Nothing she does surprises me anymore.”
“We sure lucked out huh?”
“At least… well… at least we know the truth.” Summer struggled to find the words, she felt herself desperately reaching to be able to say something to make it feel better but that was all that she could come up with.
“Some truth…. I know we’ve joked about being like sisters, but being sisters, this is just weird. They had to hide it, I get that, I mean the stigma and that can’t have been easy. Once is a mistake, but twice. No offence.”
“None taken, its gross, like shouldn’t we have six fingers or something? I don’t know?”
“They were cousins, not siblings.”
“Doesn’t redeem their behaviour though, your dad was married.”
“So was your mom.”
“They are both our parents. I know they say you can’t help who you fall in love with but really, they shouldn’t have hidden the truth from us. We deserved to know.”
“We have a lot to thank Archie for. I can’t believe my mom kept dad’s secret even after he died. She never said anything, even on her death bed did she think to tell me. I just don’t understand how or why she did it.”
There was a knock at the door interrupting them. Summer wiped away the tears that she hadn’t noticed escaping. Simon was standing in the doorway. “William let me in, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing, I better get back to cooking, I’ll see you in a little bit.”
Summer padded softly down the stairs into the kitchen. William was stood chopping up cabbage when she walked in. She put his knife down and pulled herself into his arms, just needing to feel warm and comfortable.
“Hey are you ok? I know onions cause tears, but not cabbage, what’s wrong?”
“Oh you know, finding out your life is a lie.”
“You don’t need to be sarcastic with me.”
“I’m not being snarky, just found out a bitch of a family secret that they’ve been hiding since before I was born. This family is twisted. The weirdest part is I am not even surprised my mother lied to me my entire life.”
“Are you going to tell me what this is about?” Summer looked into William’s eyes. She relented and told him, for once she didn’t hide behind humour with every sentence, she just told him what she had found out as bluntly as she could manage, as emotionlessly as she could manage. Everything. Occasionally he would ask questions, but he just let her talk as she distracted herself with the cooking while she talked, trying to split her mind in two, one-part cooking the other talking.
The dinner was awkward to say the least, conversation was strained. Simon and William elected to do the washing up trying to encourage Summer and Elizabeth to talk. It took a glass or two of wine before they began talking, this time there was one thing they wanted to know, how each of them grew up. There seemed to be no untainted memories no matter how hard they searched.
It hurt trying to find something that didn’t feel like a lie.
Summer returned to college a little earlier than she had anticipated. She just need to distract herself. no matter she couldn’t shake the feeling of being betrayed by her family. Elizabeth had done exactly the same, submerging herself in work, rarely she would find herself confiding in Simon. However betrayed she felt, she wanted to know where she came from, there was one living parent it seemed after all.
Elizabeth called Summer, who was buried in mountains of coursework and transcripts to ask if she had spoken to her mum recently. Summer snapped, she has no intention of speaking to her again, it didn’t take her long to realise that Elizabeth wanted to talk to her mum, she wanted to get to know her. She couldn’t understand why she wanted to know her when she had betrayed them both.
Summer had buried herself so deep in her work that when she did come up for air William felt abandoned. Summer felt abandoned herself. Elizabeth was in contact with her mother even though Summer wasn’t, she was stubbornly refusing to pretend it was ok.
During one of Elizabeth and Summer’s strained phone calls, the topic of choice, Christmas. Elizabeth wanted to know if she was bringing William, in truth, Summer didn’t know they had barely spoken.
Elizabeth had to end the call quickly. Simon was standing beside her; her old diary was in his hands. A diary she had abandoned and hidden in a draw since the fire. Elizabeth turned pale.
“Why didn’t you tell me what happened?” Elizabeth’s face dropped, he had read her diary.
“You shouldn’t have read that.”
“Were you ever going to tell me?”
“No. Yes. I don’t know. I didn’t want you to know. I didn’t want the way you look at me to change.”
“Has it?” Elizabeth looked into his eyes she could see it; his expression was softer.
“Yes,” her voice was so small.
“How has it changed?”
“I never wanted to see that look in your eyes.”
“That is not the look in my eyes. Trust me. Do you want to know what that look is?”
Elizabeth shrugged, she felt smaller.
“I love you. What he did to you was wrong. I never want you to feel that way again, I want you to feel safe. I want you to feel safe with me.”
“I did, I do. I just… I don’t want you to think I am a kicked puppy or something.”
“You definitely are not. Trust me. You are anything but. You are the strongest woman I know.”
Elizabeth laughed, turning her back to pour a glass of water. He walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. “I don’t want you to think you have to hide anything from me. I love you.”
For those of you wanting to get your hands on the ending… here is the pre-order link for Darling Daughters! Releasing 22nd August 2018