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- At Philip's urging, Spencer agreed to attend the Fishers' Thanksgiving celebration.
- Travis overheard a conversation between Philip and Spencer that suggested it was Spencer, not Philip, who had been driving the car that crashed into Molly's house.
- Travis confronted Spencer about the car accident lie, and Molly walked in on them.


Spencer Ragan can hear the buzz of the holiday celebration just outside the kitchen, but it sounds distant, foreign. Right now, the only thing in his consciousness is what is happening in this very room. 

“You crashed that car into Aunt Molly’s house, didn’t you?" Travis Fisher says, pointing his beer bottle right at Spencer. "You did it and you let Philip take the fall. What, he wanted to keep you from getting in even more trouble?”
Spencer averts his eyes. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“No, I think I do. And you know I’m right.”
“Is he?” comes another voice.
Both young men turn to see Molly Taylor standing in the doorway.
“Spencer,” she says. “Is Travis right? Did you really crash the car into my house?”

Spencer's mind goes into overdrive, and then words start flying out of his mouth. "He's drunk! It's total bullshit."

  Travis Fisher

"I am not drunk," Travis says, though his continued gesturing with the bottle makes another case. 

"Then what are you talking about, Travis?" Molly asks.

"I heard them talking. Him and Philip. Spencer was the one driving that car. Philip covered for him." 

Molly levels a stern gaze on Spencer. "Is that what happened?"

"No! He took our conversation totally out-of-context--"

"I talked to Danielle and Elly," Travis says. "Spencer came to the house in his car right before Elly went to the airport. It doesn't make sense that he would go home, trade cars with Philip--"

"Will you shut up?" Spencer interrupts. 

But Travis rolls on: "He probably made Philip say he was driving so he wouldn't get in any more trouble."

"I want the truth." Molly folds her arms. "Is that what happened, Spencer? Did you crash the car and ask Philip to cover for you?"

Anger flares inside Spencer's chest. "Why do you assume I asked him to cover?"

"See? He admits it!" Travis says.

"Shut up!" Spencer spits. "I'm only saying--"

"Spencer," Molly says firmly. "I want an answer. Did you ask Philip to cover for you?"

Something crackles within Spencer, like two live wires touched together that pop and burst and finally ignite. "It was his idea! He told me to get out of the car and go. He wanted to cover for me! Okay?"

Molly and Travis stare back at him, their jaws hanging open.

* * * * *

In the living room, where Jason and Caleb are now engaged in a furious (and loud) bout of video gaming, Claire Fisher and her half-brother stand off to the side, talking.

"The invitations were beautiful," Claire says.

"Thank you. Molly has exquisite taste. I didn't even have any notes when the proofs came back," Philip says with a wink. 

"Well, I'm looking forward to it."

"If there's anyone you'd like to bring--"

Claire cuts him off by shaking her head. "Tempest and I will both be flying solo, so we're going to be wedding buddies."

"I had the chance to speak with her earlier," Philip says. "She's wonderful. Really funny."

"Too funny for her own good sometimes. But yeah, she's terrific. I'm really lucky to have met her. She's been a really grounding force the past few years."

Philip opens his mouth, but his response never makes it out. Claire turns and sees what has caught his attention: Molly storming out of the kitchen and directly toward them.

"Could I talk to you outside?" she says to Philip. It is an order, not a request, and she only acknowledges Claire with the slightest of sideways glances.

Philip's words are slow, sticky with trepidation and confusion. "Of course. Out front?"

"Yes." Molly is already grabbing her coat from the closet by the door. A puzzled Claire watches as Philip follows her out of the house.  

* * * * *

Spencer thinks of chasing after Molly, trying to get to Philip before she does so that he can warn his brother, but he knows it's a lost cause. Besides, if that bitch wants to believe the worst about him, it'll serve her right to get smacked in the face by the cold hand of reality. This was Philip's dumbass idea in the first place; let him talk his way out of it.

Instead he snatches the beer bottle out of Travis's hand and slams it down on the kitchen counter. 

"What the hell is wrong with you?" Spencer says.

"With me? I'm not the one who drove a car into somebody's house!"

"It was an accident!"

Travis rolls his eyes. "Yeah. Okay." 

  Spencer Ragan

"You could've just kept your mouth shut," Spencer says. "It literally has nothing to do with you."

"Except it's my aunt's house--"

"And it's fixed! Who cares?"

"Because! It's like--" Travis sputters before finding his way: "Everyone's bending over backwards to have you in this house, make sure you're comfortable, and you couldn't give two shits about any of them."

"Oh my god. You can have them, if it's so damn important to you." Spencer can't resist sneering. "Especially since you have so little else--you know, since Elly dumped your ass."

Spencer is sure that he can see the rage rising inside Travis, a flickering flame that swells and swells until, within a few seconds' time, it has become a blazing fire. Travis grits his teeth, and Spencer awaits whatever witty rejoinder he is about to have thrown at him, but then a sudden growl tears out of Travis, and he lunges at Spencer.

"Get off me!" Spencer shouts as Travis's arms latch around his midsection.

"What is going on in here?" Paula yells. Over Travis's shoulder, Spencer sees her and Matt in the doorway--and then his vision is jolted as Travis slams him, hard, into the sliding glass door.

"Boys! Break it up!" Matt throws himself into the fray and tries to pull Travis off.

Travis's fist connects with Spencer's chest.

"You asshole!" Spencer exclaims.

"Stop this right now!" Paula pleads from the doorway.

Spencer draws his arm back and swings it at Travis, but it barely gets him in the arm as Matt succeeds in yanking Travis backward.

"What is wrong with the two of you?" Paula says, her stare tracing a path back and forth between the two of them. 

The young men try to catch their breath, neither certain how they would even begin to explain this. 

* * * * *

Molly takes what feels like forever to lock the door, but she needs every millisecond of the time to compose herself. In this brief infinity, she envisions all the different ways this could play out, all the outcomes and repercussions that could come of this. But she has no chance to make judgments, to determine what would be best--her mind is too clouded by pure anger and betrayal.

"What is going on?" Philip asks.

She turns to him slowly. "You know exactly what this is about."

"Do I?"

She looks him over. He is the same handsome, poised man she knows so well--the man she fell in love with, the man she has been planning to marry. But it is as if he has suddenly been placed in an X-ray machine, or through a filter that inverts the light and dark, and now she can see that the poise, the polish, conceal something less admirable.

"The car accident," she says. "Who drove that car into the house?"

"Molly. I already apologized--"

"For crashing the car into my house. And I would never stay mad at you over that. Accidents happen." She folds her arms, steeling herself. "But I just overheard Spencer and Travis talking--"

"About what?"

"The accident, Philip. Now I'm giving you one chance to tell me the truth: who was driving that car?"

Philip's eyes drop to the ground. "Spencer was driving."

The truth drops between them like a tree that has just been felled, its echoes heard and felt long after it has hit the ground.

"I'm sorry," he says. "I never intended to lie to you. I wanted to keep Spencer out of trouble. He's been doing better, and I was there--it was genuinely an accident--"

"Is that why?" Molly asks.

  Molly Taylor



"What do you want me to say, Molly? Spencer was driving. I told him that I would say I was the driver so that everyone would believe it was an accident and we could avoid trouble with the police and the insurance company."

Molly feels the cold edges of the air pressing against her coat, as if planning to slice through it. She pulls her arms tighter against her body.

"Is that really why?" she says.

"I don't know what else you want me to say. I'm truly sorry for having misled you. It was an error in judgment, but I hope you can understand why I'd want to help my brother. If Jason were in the same position…"

"Jason is not Spencer. He has never been that reckless or irresponsible."

"I told you: I was there. It was legitimately an accident. He was flustered and put the car in reverse."

"I believe that," she says. "What I don't believe is why you covered for him."

Philip cocks his head, and the porch light strikes him in a new way. Something about him is suddenly unfamiliar to Molly, and she is certain of what she came out here to clarify.

"What are you talking about?" he says.

"It was your idea to say you were driving. Not Spencer's."

"I already said that--"

"--because you didn't want me to know what had really happened. You thought that if I knew Spencer had crashed the car, I would put my foot down and refuse to let him live with us after we get married."

Philip's jaw flaps in the air for a few seconds before he produces actual words. "That's--Molly, you're really--"

"I'm really seeing things clearly now," she says. "I've trusted you, Philip. I was even willing to consider having Spencer live with us, in spite of all my misgivings, because I trusted you so much. And now I find out you've been lying to me."

"It isn't nearly as sinister as you're making it out to be. Why don't we go inside and have dinner, and we can discuss this later once we've both cooled off?" He places a hand on her arm.

Molly shakes it away.

"I'm going inside to be with my family," she says. "I think you should leave."

* * * * *

When Matt drags Travis out of the kitchen, Claire rushes over. She leads him toward the living room.

"What the heck is going on?" she demands. "What did you do?"

"Why do you assume I did something?" Travis says.

"I don't--" But she cuts herself off when she realizes that's exactly what she has done. If there is one thing she has learned in the past few years, it's that aggression is not a productive way of getting through to Travis. "You were fighting. Why?"

"He was taunting me about Elly."

"Travis, that's no reason--"

"I know. Okay?" He lets out a sigh. 

"And what happened with Molly? Why did she come racing out of the kitchen?" Claire asks.

Travis digs the toe of his Vans sneaker into the carpet. "I don't know if I should say…"

Meanwhile, Tim brings Spencer back into the kitchen.

"Want to tell me what that was all about?" Tim asks.

"It was stupid," Spencer says. "Travis was drunk and cornered me, and Molly came in and overheard, and the entire thing got blown out of proportion."

"What thing?"

"It's complicated. Do we have to do this?"

"Do what?"

"This whole heart-to-heart thing." Spencer flaps a hand between them, which Tim guesses is meant to indicate how frivolous Spencer finds their conversation. 

"You're in my family's home, and you were fighting. Regardless of what our relationship is, that warrants a conversation."

"Travis came after me!"


"You know what? I don't need to do this." Spencer pushes past Tim and back out into the dining room.

* * * * *

Molly listens to Philip walking out to his car, but she forces herself not to look back at him. Instead she pushes the door open--and instantly feels everyone's eyes land upon her: Sarah, Alex, Diane, Helen, Don

She feels compelled to break the ice. "Are we ready to eat?"

"Just a moment," Bill says, mercifully diving in to come to her rescue. 

Travis nervously approaches Molly. 

"Hey, I'm sorry about what happened in there," he says. "I had no idea--"

"Travis, this is not your fault. At all. Don't think that for one second."

"Where's my brother?" Spencer asks as he charges into the living room.

Molly glances around uncomfortably, too aware of all the attention focused upon her, and finally says, "Philip went home."

"Then I'm out of here," Spencer says. He turns back and sticks an arm in the air. "It's been real, everyone."

"Spencer, wait!" Paula cries out, but he rushes out of the house without so much as a pause.

A painful silence descends over the house, until Bill breaks it by clapping his hands together.

"So," he says, his voice strained with false cheer, "who wants some turkey?"


Can Molly and Philip get past this revelation?
Was this the Fishers' only chance to connect with Spencer?
Will Travis and Spencer ever be able to coexist?
Talk about it all in the Footprints Forum now!

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Wed., December 03, 2014

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