Episode #464

- Molly wanted to support Brent in the wake of his lower leg amputation, but he resisted, determined to do it on his own.
- Tim and Claire agreed to have Travis see a therapist.
- Sarah refused to discuss her miscarriage with anyone.
- Jason and Courtney had sex.


The steam rising from her cup of apple cider curls through the air to meet Molly Taylor’s face. She breathes in its warmth and its comforting aroma, hoping that they will do her nerves some good. She is grateful that the smells and sights of autumn have arrived, but she wishes that she could enjoy them without worry.

“So I make plans to leave work early to be there for his session,” she says to her mother, who sits across the kitchen table, “and after I’ve rearranged my whole schedule, he leaves me a voicemail saying that he made an earlier appointment and I shouldn’t bother coming.”

Paula absorbs this information in the calm manner that she seems to have perfected. Molly wishes that she could be as patient in her reactions.

“Brent’s having a difficult time adjusting, even if he doesn’t show it,” Paula finally says.

“That’s why I wanted to be at physical therapy with him!”

“Clearly he feels that this is something that he has to do on his own, at least for now. The most you can do is let him know that you’re there for him when he decides to let you be a part of it.”

“You’re right.” It all sounds perfectly logical to Molly, but it also sounds perfectly wrong.

“Try to enjoy having an afternoon to relax. It’s a pleasure to have the chance to sit and talk with you, alone.”

Nodding, Molly takes a careful sip of her cider. She just wishes that she could do something. Brent is at therapy by himself; Danielle is taking care of the boys; everything at work is being handled in her absence.

“We’re just so lucky that Brent survived that explosion,” she says. “He might have lost a leg, but in the grand scheme of things… we’re lucky. And now, for him to be shutting me out like this, it’s--”

“Frustrating. Difficult. And also very natural.” The microwave beeps, and Paula rises. “But you’re going to drive yourself insane if you try to control his reaction to something so traumatic.”

All Molly can do is sigh. Paula brings the bowl of popcorn to the table and takes her seat again.

“I don’t get it,” Molly says. “Brent and I go through all of this just to be together. We finally get there, we have the boys, and then we have all this trouble balancing this stuff. And just when we get that straightened out, this happens, and--does it ever get any easier?”

For once, her mother seems to struggle to find the right answer.

“Even Tim and Claire,” Molly continues, her thoughts rolling along faster than she can get them out. “Tim comes back, safe, and they can’t make it work. They move on with their lives, except not really, because Claire and Ryan…” She trails off, knowing that she doesn’t need to vocalize this part in order for Paula to get it. “And now they don’t even have any time to recover because of all this stuff going on with Travis. It’s like you can never get the ground underneath you to stop moving long enough to stand up straight.”

“That’s life,” Paula says, her voice, somehow, simultaneously weary and wistful.

“You think?”

“You could walk away from these things.”

“No, I couldn’t.”

“You could. But you don’t, because you care. Brent and the boys, the family you’ve built--that’s what is important to you. Nothing important ever comes without a lot of fighting for it. Maybe you never stop fighting for it.”

“That’s a depressing thought,” Molly says, again breathing in the steam in the hopes that it will rejuvenate her. “When do you get to actually enjoy any of it, then?”

“In the moments in-between. Moments that you might not even realize at the time are important. Like this.”

Paula places a hand over her daughter’s hand, and Molly is surprised by how comforting she finds the touch. As much as she might not want to believe what Paula is saying, she gets the distinct sense that her mother is correct: nothing worthwhile comes without a great deal of fighting. And if that’s the case… well, she has no choice but to keep fighting to be there for Brent, no matter how hard he might try to close her out.


A light rain drizzles against Tim Fisher’s windshield as he pulls into the parking lot. He sees a group of kids waiting on the curb, boys and girls almost divided but not quite as they make eyes at each other and throw things between the different groups. For a moment Tim is hit by a heavy wave of nostalgia. He feels as though it was only yesterday that he was one of those boys, unencumbered by all the years and the twists and turns that have come to define him.

He pulls up to the curb. Travis spots him and puts up a hand, a signal to hang on. His clothes are dirty and a little wet from soccer practice, his hair sweaty and wild. Tim wonders how this young man can be his child and, just like the nostalgia that struck him a moment ago, remorse now comes over him. He feels like he missed so much of his children’s lives, and he knows all too well that those are years he will never get back.

A minute passes, and finally he rolls down the window.

“Travis, come on!” he calls out. Travis rolls his eyes but begins extracting himself from the group anyway. It is a good thirty seconds more before he opens the car door and gets in.

“How was practice?” Tim asks as he pulls away from the curb and out of the parking lot.


Tim knows that he shouldn’t expect much more during this time in his son’s life, the Era of the One-Word Answer, but he cannot help himself.

“Fine as in you kicked butt, or fine as in you managed not to break a limb? Those are very different,” he says.

“It was good.” Travis looks at him, his eyes registering a silent plea not to pry any further.

“You think you’re going to start this weekend?”

“Hope so.” One of Travis’s shoulders lifts and falls in a shrug.

Tim dreads having to drag this out; he knows that Travis would rather he just shut up.

“Did you tell Coach that you have to cut out a little early tomorrow because of your doctor’s appointment?” he asks.

“I forgot.”

“I’ll call in the morning and explain.”

“Don’t tell him what it’s for, okay?”

“It’s not anything to be embarrassed about,” Tim says, but again he sees Travis’s eyes begging him. “But don’t worry, I’ll just say it’s a doctor’s appointment.”

“Good.” Travis folds his arms and stares straight ahead at the rain, coming at the windshield with a little more force now.

As he drives, Tim wonders what happened to the boy who was in New York with him and Samantha not long ago. That was the Travis he knows: a little reckless, funny, with opinions on everything. He barely knows who this kid sitting beside him is. Even so, he knows that he has it worlds better than Claire, who is lucky to get a word out of their son--and when she does, she’s even luckier if it is not a nasty word.

Or maybe that kid from New York is still who Travis is, only not with them. Somehow they have lost him. Even the memory of that boy is enough to convince Tim, though: it might be torture, but he will do whatever it takes to get his son back.


Jason Fisher glances up from his desk at the clock on the wall. He can hear the damn thing ticking away with excruciating slowness, as it has been all day--or he would be able to, if it weren’t digital. He supposes that what he hears is his mind slowly disintegrating from too much analysis and no answers whatsoever.

Impending insanity aside, it has been a remarkably productive day. He and Courtney have kept their respective heads buried in their respective work, moving around each other with such ease that it’s almost as if they planned it this way. Sabrina has been here the entire day, too, simultaneously saving them from having to discuss things yet making it more awkward with her very presence.

He sees Sabrina check the clock, too, and then reach for her bag. She begins packing her things.

“I’m going to get out of here, if that’s okay.” She glances between him and Courtney. “Unless you need anything else.”

“No, uh, feel free to get home. Thanks for a great day,” Jason says. What he really wants to say is, Can I go, too?

“You guys don’t stay too long!” Sabrina says as she leaves the office.

Then she is gone, and Jason is all alone with Courtney. He offers her a weak smile and attempts to get back to work. As soon as he finishes putting all this crap into a spreadsheet, he can get out of here.

“Hey,” Courtney says.

He knew this was coming. And he doesn’t even know why he wants to avoid it. Maybe because he doesn’t know how she feels about what happened. Or because he doesn’t want it to change the new status quo they’ve developed, one that he likes very much. But it’s a little late to be worrying about that now…

“Are we ever gonna talk?” she asks.

“Yeah. We should.” He leans back in his chair and rests his feet against the edge of his desk.

Courtney glances at the open door. She rises from her seat and approaches his desk, keeping her voice quiet.

“Sorry I didn’t call,” he says. “Even though I see you here. I thought… I don’t know.”

“I haven’t stopped thinking about it,” she says, and the twinkle in her eye tells him most of what he needs to know.

“Really?” Jason drops his feet and springs forward. “Me neither.”

“In the good way?”

“In the good way.” He can feel himself starting to relax. She didn’t hate it. She doesn’t want to avoid mentioning it ever again. Good signs.

“I just don’t want to screw things up,” he adds. He cannot take his eyes off her. Images have been flashing through his head for days, and they could become a reality all over again if he just…

In an instant, he is on his feet and leaning across the desk to kiss her. It is a hard, deep kiss, the kind that leads somewhere much more interesting, and Jason wonders how he will pull her onto the desk without having to interrupt this for too long.

He never gets to execute his plan, however, because before he can fully formulate it, the sound of a throat clearing fills the air and drives them apart.

“Well, well,” says Sandy James from the doorway. “I did not expect to see that.”

Not knowing what else to do, Jason drops back into his seat. Courtney wipes her mouth, but her lipstick is already smeared. Sandy laughs.

“I was coming to go over the group classes schedule with you,” she says, “but I see you have more important things going on.”

“Sorry,” Courtney says.

“Don’t apologize! I’m glad to see it. Truth be told, I was hoping you two would wind up back together.”

They smile awkwardly at her.

“We can do this tomorrow,” Sandy says, already making her exit. “You guys have a good night. And maybe lock this door.”

Laughing to herself, she departs. Jason and Courtney exchange another look.

Back together.

Jason can hear the words ringing in his head. Now they are right back where they were a few minutes ago. Back together? He isn’t sure that they are ready for that can of worms yet.

“That was awkward,” Courtney says.

Jason shakes his head. “She seemed to take it pretty well.”

“Yeah. But maybe she’s right.”

“What?” About being back together?

Courtney’s eyes light up. “We really should lock the door.”

Her sly little grin pushes all his anxiety aside again, and before she even clicks the door’s lock into place, he has his shirt unbuttoned and the desk cleared.


As she approaches the front door of the hospital, Sarah Gray spots the rain outside. She finds the sight of it to be a relief: it makes it even easier for her to keep her head down and shuffle her feet quickly, getting where she needs to go with little risk of having to stop and talk to anyone or deal with anything additional.

She passes through the revolving door and turns toward the entry of the parking garage, but she makes it only a few steps before she sees a familiar body standing at the curb.

She considers continuing on her way, but before she can make that decision, Brent Taylor looks up and sees her.

“Sarah. Hey,” he says. He leans on his crutches and forces a smile.

Sarah does the same. “Hey, Brent. Everything okay?”

“I was just here for physical therapy. My first session.”

“Did it go well?”

“Yeah. As well as I could’ve hoped, I guess. I’m still getting used to this thing.” He reaches down and pats the lower part of his left leg.

Sarah tries not to stare, even though the prosthetic is covered by his pant leg.

“How about you? Is everything okay?” he asks.

“Just a check-up. Everything’s fine.” She brushes a lock of hair behind her ear.


An uncertain quiet hovers over them.

“Do you need a ride?” she asks. “Where’s Molly?”

“I told her she didn’t have to come,” he says, and then he scrambles to add, “She really wanted to. I just didn’t think--”

“Yeah.” Sarah can more than understand where he is coming from.

“Danielle’s coming to pick me up,” he adds.

“Oh, okay. If not, I would say--”

“Thanks. I appreciate it.”

The rain continues to fall around them, padding this latest spell of silence and granting Sarah a moment to reflect. To think that she was once married to this man, that she planned to spend her whole life with him, is supremely weird; it seems like something that she saw in a movie rather than something she lived--almost.

“Are you really doing all right?” Brent asks, cracking the silence. “I’m so sorry about the baby. I can only imagine--”

“Are you really doing all right?” she asks. She flashes a much more sincere smile than the one she offered him before; this time it is a sly grin, a challenge of sorts.

“Point taken.”

In that short response, she can see that they are on the same page, and it gives her a strange hope. If grieving like this is common, then maybe you really do get over it at some point. She wants to believe that.

“I should get going,” she says. “You’re sure Danielle is coming?”

“Positive. Have a good night.”

“You, too.”

She continues on her way to the parking garage, remembering how awful she felt so many times throughout her marriage to Brent, how terrible she felt when it fell apart. If she could get past that… She knows it isn’t the same as losing a child, but if there is any chance at all that this feeling will pass and she will be able to return to the life she knew, she has to grab it and hold on with all that she has.


Paula is in the middle of setting the dining room table when she hears the front door open. She moves to the living room to meet Bill.

“How was the meeting?” she asks.

“About what I expected. The insurance covers so much that I could probably rebuild… if I wanted to.” In spite of that, all she can see in him is disappointment.

“You don’t want to?”

“I can’t,” he says. “It wouldn’t be the same. I poured so many years of my life into that restaurant, and to try and recreate it--it wouldn’t feel right.”

Paula doesn’t necessarily agree, but she also senses that now is not the time to try to tell him what is “right.” She knows what that restaurant meant to Bill, and she has been able to see the weight of its loss in him every day since the explosion.

“What’s going on?” he asks, looking past her into the dining room, where the table is set for several more people than he expected.

“I have a little surprise. Molly and Sarah are going to be joining us for dinner. I left a message on Jason’s phone, but I haven’t heard back from him yet. Molly and Tim are in the kitchen now. Travis is upstairs.”

Paula follows Bill to the kitchen, where Molly and Tim sit at the table talking.

“Dad! Hi!” Molly hugs her father; Paula can tell how much he needs it after that meeting.

“Where’s Brent?” Bill asks.

“He had physical therapy and had Danielle take him home afterward. He said he was exhausted,” Molly says. Paula knows how much the circumstances concern Molly, but she refrains from saying anything further on the subject.

“Sarah’s on her way,” Paula says. “She had to make a stop. Matt is taking Tori and her friends out, so she’ll be alone.”

“Now this is the kind of surprise I like.”

Without even asking questions, Bill falls into step behind Paula as she finishes preparing dinner. It is a routine that they have silently choreographed through years of practice, and in this moment, Paula finds herself immensely grateful for it.

Tim and Molly get back to chatting, with Bill and Paula interjecting the occasional question or comment, until they all pause at the sound of the front door opening again.

“Where’s that dinner I was promised?” Jason calls out. A moment later, he joins them in the kitchen.

“Rough day at the office?” Tim asks, taking in his brother’s rumpled clothing and mussed hair with amusement.

“We had to move a lot of stuff around,” Jason says, glaring and grinning at his brother at the same time. Paula feels as though she has missed some inside joke between them but shakes it off as she starts carrying things into the dining room.

“Call Travis down. We’re almost ready,” she says. Once she has set the food on the table, she returns to greet Jason with a hug and a kiss.

“It’s good to see you. You shouldn’t work so hard,” she says.

“I think he’s managing to find time to enjoy himself,” Tim says as he exits to get his son.

Paula ushers them into the dining room, and as they all find their seats, Sarah arrives.

“Hey, everyone,” she says. Paula can see that she is trying, but there is something so sad and exhausted about her--understandably, of course, but Paula wishes there were something she could do to make it better.

“Just in time,” she says to her daughter, who makes the rounds giving hugs and hellos.

When she gets to Molly, they exchange an embrace that, for all its awkwardness, still looks genuine.

“I saw Brent as I was leaving my doctor’s appointment,” Sarah says, and then, as if privy to the conversation that Molly and Paula had earlier, she adds, “He just needs time to deal with this. All you can do is make sure that he knows you’re there.”

“Thanks,” Molly says.

They settle into their seats, and Tim enters with Travis in tow.

“Hey, dude,” Jason says to his nephew. “How’s it going? Heard you’re playing Varsity already.”

“Yeah. I think I might even get to start this weekend.” Travis beams at the prospect.

“Awesome.” Jason reaches across for the plate of chicken. “We can start eating, right?”

“Go right ahead,” Paula says, and she sits back to watch as the frenzy begins. Across the table, Bill smiles at her; no words are necessary for her to understand his appreciation of this moment.

“This is terrific,” he says to the others, “having my four children and my grandson here like this. It’s been too long since it was just us, just like the old days.”

Paula swallows hard, thinking of Ryan and wondering where he is and what he might be doing right now. She tries to remind herself that he had his opportunity to be a part of this family and he squandered it, but those facts do little to diminish her worrying.

Besides, Bill is right. It has been too long since it was just the six of them. Even with her teenaged grandson here, it feels remarkably like it did so many years ago, when all four kids would come home from school and practice and whatever other activities they had, and the family would gather around this very table and share a meal.

She thinks back to what she and Molly discussed before, about how things never seem to slow down, about how things are always changing and the little moments in the midst of the change are the ones to be cherished. And yet, with all that has happened over the years, with all the things that have begun and ended and changed, here they are, sharing a table and a meal and each other’s company, just as they used to do.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, Paula thinks as she accepts the salad bowl from Sarah, and right now, she could not ask for a more comforting thought.


What’s next for the Fishers?
How will Sarah and Brent handle their respective grief?
Will Tim be able to get through to Travis?
Are Jason and Courtney ready to be a couple again?
What should Bill do about the restaurant?
Join us in the Footprints Forum to discuss!

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