Charles sits back reading a magazine and holds a bear when a frame (like a movie reel) flashes through his mind.
There she is , Mae, his beautiful little sister. His breath catches; he loves her so much. He sees her run into the house at 456 Ivy Court. He quietly peers into her room as his father forces his body into hers. “Daddy don’t you are hurting me,” she shrieks and clutches her bear close. “Don’t hurt my bear; I will do anything daddy,” she says as her father pulls the bear and rips off an arm. “She’s dying,” Charles moans as he sees Mae lying in her blood. Charles runs at his father with the first knife he finds – a fillet knife.
“Stop you stupid fool. A fillet knife would barely scratch me.” His father chuckles.
The next frame slows and shows Mae lying in her bed hardly moving. “She’s still alive,” Charles sighs with relief. He brings her food and treats – nothing. He realizes what he needs to do for Mae. Shaking out the last of his coins from his piggy bank Charles goes to the store to buy Mae a new bear.
“Is there any way someone could sew a heart on the bear? It’s for my sister to replace a bear that got hurt.”
The lady at the counter with tender eyes took the fabric the boy offered and sewed on a heart. Her eyes sparkled as she threw her arms around her brother’s neck.
“I know momma sent an angel to bring me this bear. I love you Charlie.” Mae kept her bear close. Charles Sr. marries several months later.
The next frame pans in to the campus of the University of Tennessee in Memphis where Charles Sedgewick Sr. is an acclaimed writer and literature professor.
“I am proud of you Charles – first in your class. I hope Mae does as well when she goes away to college this coming fall.” Charles’ father pats the grad firmly on the back as he smiles.
The beginning of many sad frames move through. Charles receives a phone call from Mae. He can see her sitting on her pink fluffy comforter in the dorm at the University of Louisiana.
“He is the man I have been hoping for. I know he loves me. I love him more than life. He is handsome and smart like daddy. He says one word to me and I melt.”
He got the call several months later; his sister was pregnant and the professor was married. “Mae I will be there for you honey,” he angrily hung up the phone. He convinced Mae to meet with the professor one more time. He told her it was best to say goodbye in a romantic setting. The Hotel Monteloene was perfect. Mae’s professor was found dead the morning after.
Charles could feel the weight from the next frames as he gave up his dream to be department head to take care of Mae and his niece. Mae was able to live on the money the professor had put into her bank account. Charles, Mae, and Rosie moved to Seattle where Charles took an adjunct professor position at the University of Washington in Seattle. Mae registered for classes. She never loved another man like she did Greg but Mae had a soft spot for lit professors. This one was dark and handsome like the others. He was a poet and spent hours weaving words through Mae’s heart.
“Mae you inspire me. We should be together.” She sighed hoping at last she had found true love. She had until her professor found out about Rosie.
“I could never love another man’s child.” His face reflected consternation.
She begged for a last night at The Edgewater for “old times sake.”
Charles sees the frame of wear on Mae’s face as she flees rejection. The frames whiz by as he sees Boston and professors, San Francisco and the historic Fairmont, Chicago,and an utter waste of time. Faces of police and questions and Mae fleeing one last time.
Then there is the frame of home in Memphis. Rosie going to school the first day.
“You look so like your mommy Rosie.”
He looks in the mirror and sees a man who resembles his father. He see’s Mae crying in her old room
”Men have failed me,” she wails as her father wraps his arms around her.
Charles in jealousy glares. He longed to be the one to comfort Mae. She had forgotten that day long ago; her father had not. When Charles walks in and sees Mae kissing her father, he loses it.
Kyle read a morning report and was on the next plane to Memphis. He knew who the killer was; he had actually talked to this professor about the murders. An APB was out for a man named Charles Sedgewick, tall, dark, blue eyes…
The overhead speaker squawked:
“Last call for flight 645 departing for Rio de Janeiro.” A stooping, blond man with glasses with a young girl gets up and walks down the jet way. As he gazes at the tarmac, he hears his sister’s voice “it was over before it had begun Charlie…” A tear slips unnoticed down his cheek.
Thanks to the Tenth Daughter of Memory for a great prompt – “The Morning After”