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- Philip showed up at the fraternity house to see Spencer, who blew him off.
- Molly’s sons burst in on her and Philip kissing in her office.
- Following the shocking news of Graham’s death, Alex accused Sarah of having cheated on his father with Matt.


Alex Marshall knocks on the door and removes his sunglasses as he awaits an answer. He turns the words over in his head once more, like soil being tilled so that it can sustain growth. Strength. He needs to discuss with Sarah the last days and weeks of his father’s life, find out exactly what happened between her and Graham in that hospital room--

Then the door opens. Alex’s brain processes the many bursts of information in what feels like slow motion.

Matt Gray is the one who opens the door.

“Hey, Alex,” Matt says.

Matt has the baby--Alex’s little brother--in his arms.

Then comes another voice: “Bottle’s all ready.”

Alex sees Sarah reentering the living room, baby bottle in hand and a towel over her shoulder. She freezes when she spots him.

“Alex,” she finally says. “What…” She casts a glance toward Matt, a glance that Alex reads clearly: she is uneasy with this scenario, uneasy because she knows what this looks like. “What’s up?”

  Matt Gray

“I thought I’d drop by and see Billy,” he says as Matt admits him to the house. “And I wanted to talk to you.”

Sarah takes a seat on the couch, and Matt places the baby in her arms.

“I’ll give you guys a couple minutes,” Matt says.

“No, stay,” Alex says. He watches as Sarah begins to feed the baby and marvels at how small Billy is. How helpless he is.

“I wanted to apologize for the way I blew up at you guys that day in the hospital,” Alex says. “It was completely inappropriate. I was in shock, and--”

“I understand completely,” Sarah says. Matt nods along. “Water under the bridge.”

“Good. Thanks.” He paces a few steps over the Fishers’ beige carpet, very aware of how Sarah and Matt both seem to be glued in their own positions.

“But I need to know what happened with my father,” he continues. “I need to know what he did, what he said.” He levels a stern gaze upon Sarah and then lets it trail over toward Matt. “And I need to know why.”

Objection Designs


The familiar call, so out-of-context in her office, comes at Molly Fisher like a speeding car running a stop sign. She leaps back from her kiss with Philip Ragan and feels the split-second when it seems her high heel might not plant solidly on the ground, might send her clattering to the floor. Luckily, it does plant… but that does not help with the fact that her two young sons are standing in her office, clearly having seen her and Philip kissing.

“We were running errands downtown, and they wanted to come see you,” Danielle Taylor apologizes as she trails the boys into the office. “Sorry for not--” She stops when she sees that Philip is here with Molly. “Oh. Hi, Philip.”

He lifts a hand in an awkward wave. “Hi.”

Caleb, Christian…” Molly takes a few aimless steps toward her desk and toys with the tip of her long, dark hair, the same way she has since she was a child. “Why don’t you guys sit down over here?” She pats the sleek black sofa.

Philip catches Danielle’s eye. “Why don’t we go get some coffee?” he says.

“Good idea. We’ll be back in a few minutes,” Danielle says, as she and Philip are already halfway out the door. They close the door behind them.

Molly faces the boys. They don’t look traumatized, but she knows that this could be a major turning point in their lives if she doesn’t handle it properly.

“You guys were probably a little confused when you came in here,” she begins, wishing this didn’t have to be so off-the-cuff.

Christian covers his face with his hands and then peeks out between the digits. “You and Philip were kissing.”

“Yes, we were.” She forces herself to sit down in a white leather chair across from them. “We’ve been going on some dates.”

“So you guys like each other,” Caleb says with a grin that is equal parts devious and bashful.

“We do. Yeah. And I hope you guys will like him once you get to spend some time with him. But you don’t have to do that until you want to.”

She has spent so much time bracing herself for this conversation, for the questions about why she and Brent don’t love each other or the accusations about how she is ruining their family. But none of that happens. She probably should have given the twins more credit: it’s been a long time since she and Brent were happily married, and they aren’t fools.

But she has to press on and deliver her response to a question that they never ask: “I want you both to know that no matter who your father or I go on dates with, you guys are the most important things in our lives. Okay? No matter what else changes, that never will. We both love you very much.”

She leans in and kisses each of them on the forehead. They react the way they usually do--and Molly never thought she would be so relieved to have her children yelling, “No!” while squirming away from her.


As Tim Fisher walks through the maze of cubicles that make up the Vision office, he notes how depressingly empty it all looks like. He recalls the days when they were so cramped for space that new hires would have to share the conference room until real desks could be found for them. With the layoffs of the past two years, however, there are now plenty of open cubicles; after all his time with the company, Tim was even moved into his own office, because there were several sitting unused.

What this means, of course, is that interns are even more valuable these days.

“Do you have that coverage on the mermaid manuscript?” Tim asks as he leans around the corner of Spencer Ragan’s cubicle.

It takes Spencer a moment to tear his eyes from his iPhone, and even then, he only does so halfheartedly. “Uh, no. Not yet.”

Tim appraises the situation. Spencer is playing on his phone, Facebook is open on the computer screen, and a half-eaten breakfast burrito sits atop the desk.

“Could you get to work on it now?” he asks, doing his best to keep the agitation out of his voice. Dealing with Travis has given him a good sense of how well that usually goes over.

“I’ll get to it. Okay?”

Spencer’s dismissive tone gives Tim pause. Did he… Did an intern actually just blow off an assignment like that?

“Why don’t you join me in my office?” Tim says, and when Spencer doesn’t look up from the phone, he adds, “Now.”

  Tim Fisher

Huffing and puffing with annoyance the whole way, Spencer follows him to the office. Tim directs him to an upholstered chair that has outlived many, many employees and then shuts the door.

“Here’s the upside of being an unpaid intern,” Tim says. “You get the benefit of the doubt. I’m actually going to ask you what’s going on instead of sending you down to HR.”

“Nothing’s going on.”

“Don’t try that on me. I have a son your age.”

“I’m aware.”

“Then what’s up?” Tim folds his arms and awaits some kind of explanation.

Stony Spencer holds out until, like a container of ice cream trapped under the sun, his resolve melts. “Nothing is up! Just let it go. I’ll go do the stupid coverage.”

He springs out of his seat and is out the door in an instant.


Once Danielle and the twins leave to go to the park, Philip rejoins Molly in her office, where she is leaning against the edge of her desk.

“Sorry about that,” she says as Philip takes care to close the door behind himself.

“Oh, please. When else am I going to have the opportunity to spend that much time in the illustrious Winston Tower Café?”

“Did you try the blueberry scone?”

“No, I had a croissant. Why? Is the scone good?”

“Completely, totally… functional. The very definition of mediocre.”

“The croissant was the exact same. Go figure.”

Smiling, Philip takes a seat on the sofa. Molly suppresses a laugh at how he would never, under any circumstances, sit on the desk like she is.

“How did it go?” he asks. “Are we in the clear, or do I have to watch out for baseballs being lobbed through my windows?”

“You’re safe. It went… incredibly well, actually. They seemed to get it. I was worried they’d feel like I was turning against Brent or betraying them.”

“But you aren’t.”

“But they’re little boys, and I’m their mom, and they love their dad,” she says. She tries not to get too annoyed with his cut-and-dry attitude about the whole thing; someone who is not a parent wouldn’t understand the depth of her reservations about this situation. “I’m relieved to have that over with, though.”

“I can imagine. I’m looking forward to spending time with them, once they--and you--feel ready for that.”

“We’ll get there,” she says, and then she lets out a sigh that seems to carry all the tension that has been building within her today. She joins Philip on the sofa, and he leans in to kiss her.

“Only one,” she says, drawing back from his lips, “in case anyone else walks in.”

“Only one,” Philip parrots before he kisses her again.


“And then he tried to hit me. Matt jumped in and pulled him off, and then he collapsed. It was that fast.”

Alex stands in the center of the Fishers’ living room, his hands knotted together in a ball of tension, and listens to Sarah’s tale of what happened in the hospital on the day that Billy was born and Graham died.

“I never, ever would’ve thought he was the kind of man who’d try to hit anyone,” Alex says, “especially a woman.” No, he just abandoned my mother and me for decades instead.

“Neither did I,” Sarah says. A strong note of sadness permeates her words. “I know this can’t be easy to hear. It’s… none of it lined up with who I thought Graham was.”

“That’s what’s so weird. It doesn’t seem like who he was at all.”

“I think there was a lot we didn’t know about him.” Sarah finishes burping the baby and stands to place him back in the bassinet.

“I just don’t get why he would’ve gone that nuts,” Alex says. He can’t help but look toward Matt as he speaks. “If he really did what you say he did--”

  Alex Marshall

“He admitted it,” Matt says sternly. “He said he had me knocked out, tossed in that building, and pumped full of heroin. He said he wished he had thrown Sarah in there, too.”

Alex tries to imagine the Graham he knew doing any of those things. He never knew his father very well, but it is such a jarring deviation from the man he thought he had come to know, at least a little bit.

When Sarah moves back to the sofa, Alex walks over to the bassinet. Billy is stretched out on his back, his little legs bent as he rests in just a diaper and a tiny red t-shirt.

“Was there an autopsy?” he asks. “Maybe there was something--”

“They didn’t do one,” Sarah says. “Once they saw that it was the ruptured aneurysm that killed him…”

“Yeah, but maybe there was something that would explain this. A brain tumor, dementia, something.” Alex knows that he is grasping at straws, but as he looks down at this helpless little baby, he thinks about the life ahead of that child--and about his own future and the terrifying possibility of suddenly losing control like Graham seems to have.

An uneasy pause transpires before Sarah says, “You have every right to request one, if you want it.”

It takes Alex another few seconds to tear his attention away from Billy. He tries not to think too hard about the gruesome reality of having an autopsy performed on Graham’s corpse.

“But why would he have gone after Matt?” he asks, unable to help himself.

The silent conversation that goes on between Sarah and Matt--only an instant long, but so visible, a huddled panic--tells him plenty.

“Did something happen?” Alex presses.

“No,” Matt says gruffly.

Sarah approaches it with a little more softness. “We never had an affair. There is no possibility that Billy is Matt’s child. He is your father’s. He’s your brother.”

“Then none of this makes any damn sense!” Alex manages to keep his outburst to a loud whisper, so as not to startle the baby. “People don’t just psychotically decide to kidnap their wives’ ex-husbands for no reason.”

“Your dad did,” Matt says, inserting himself between Alex and the bassinet.

“Calm down. Both of you,” Sarah orders. “Alex, there was… There was one night, a long time ago, before I was even pregnant.”

“So you did have an affair.”

No. Matt and I--we kissed. Once. It was a weak moment, and it was wrong, and it’s not something either of us is proud of. It was something neither of us had thought of for a long time, but your father saw it--we didn’t know that until he told us in the hospital--”

“That seems like kind of an important detail,” Alex says.

“Didn’t give him the right to have me beaten up and left for dead,” Matt says, his voice little more than an angry grunt pushing through the cage of his gritted teeth.

“I didn’t say that--”

“Stop it!” Sarah says, finally raising her voice. As if on cue, Billy emits a cry louder than anything that has come out of any of the adults. She shuffles over to pick him up, and Alex backs toward the door.

“You guys had better be telling me everything,” he says.

“We are.” As Sarah cradles the baby, her compassion for Alex appears to have morphed quickly into annoyance. Anger. Aggression.

He doesn’t know how to respond to any of this, so he lets himself out of the house, resisting the urge to slam the front door. Because no matter how much he yells or how much Billy cries, none of this is ever going to make sense.


About an hour later, Tim is working at his computer when there is a knock on the open door. He swings around to see Spencer standing there, a document in his hand.

“Here’s that coverage,” he says. The words are clipped and quiet, like they are still thinking of retreating back inside his mouth.

“Thank you.” Tim holds out his hand, and Spencer walks over and gives him the printed sheets.

“I e-mailed it to you, too.”

“Great. Thanks.” Tim scans over it quickly. When he finishes, Spencer is still lingering by his desk. “You got that done fast.”

“I read it yesterday. I just hadn’t written the coverage yet.”

“Well, thank you,” Tim says, not wanting to push.

“You’re welcome.” A visible lump forces its way down Spencer’s throat, and he cracks his knuckles. “Listen, about before… my brother came by this morning, and I was in a bad mood ‘cause of that. Sorry.”

Tim responds with a terse nod. The explanation and apology are more than he really expected from the young man, who was raised with more money and less responsibility than Tim can even fathom. To be truthful, he is surprised that they have made it through this much of the summer without Spencer walking off the job.

“What happened with your brother?” he ventures warily.

“Nothing.” Spencer clams up quickly, but then, to Tim’s surprise, starts letting words seep out again. “He’s on this whole thing about how we need to hang out more because we’re the only family either of us has left--and I know you’re all close with Claire, but I seriously don’t want anything to do with her.”

Tim resists the urge to argue on her behalf. “That’s your right.”

“Yeah. Anyway… You would not care about the rest, believe me. Sorry about the coverage thing.”

Spencer turns to go, but Tim calls after him, “What wouldn’t I get?”

With his back still to Tim, Spencer says, “My mother.”

Even the mention of Loretta Ragan sends a cold shiver through Tim’s body. He has only encountered the woman, once, briefly, on the night at her estate when she was finally arrested for all her crimes. But long before that, she was a specter in his life, first as a concept and then as a name. She was the one responsible for helping Nick fake his death and trap them all in the restaurant--and, even more painfully, the one responsible for locking Tim up in Dr. Domingo’s clinic for all those years.

“What about her?” he asks, careful to keep his tone neutral.

Spencer whips around, his surprise evident in his wrinkled brow and squinted eyes. When he ascertains that Tim is not screwing with him, he says, “Just how Philip pretends she doesn’t exist. We never knew about any of the crap she was doing. She’s still our mom.”

Tim truly doesn’t know how to answer that. He expected some vitriol, or at least some plea for him to be understanding about Loretta’s misdeeds--which he will never do. But he has never truly thought of Loretta as anyone’s mother, as someone whom a kid needs, regardless of what she has done.

“I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this,” Tim says, as even-handedly as he can.


Tim swears that he sees a flash of appreciation on Spencer’s face before the young man swoops back out of the office.


What will happen when Tim and Spencer find out they’re father and son?
Will Alex be able to make peace with his father’s death?
Talk about this episode and more in the Footprints Forum!

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Monday, Sept. 10, 2012

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