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The prosecution attempted to paint Molly in a poor light during her trial by implying that she’d stolen her sister’s husband, but Sarah testified that her marriage to Brent had ended because of her own infidelity.
- The Fishers banded together on Thanksgiving day and mourned the one-year anniversary of Bill’s murder at Philip’s hands.
- Yvette
met Danielle and Jimmy at Open Mic Night at Cassie’s, and with their help, she performed a song for the first time in years.

Molly Taylor picks up the two cereal bowls from the kitchen table. Spoons clink around inside as she carries them to the sink.

“Why don’t you guys head upstairs and get ready?” she says to her twin sons, who are lingering at the table. “We all have a busy morning."

Christian looks at her with surprisingly adult seriousness -- the sort of look that she has been noticing from both of them more lately, as if they’re capable of toggling between being little boys and grown men at any given moment. “Can’t we come today? Isn’t it the last day?"

“You can’t miss school."

“Pretty sure you could write us a note,” Caleb says, widening his eyes as if to tell her it’s the most obvious thing in the world.

Molly hesitates. She wishes she had a counterargument that didn’t require her to say, I don’t want you there when I’m sentenced to life in prison, but she doesn’t. Because that’s the truth. She doesn’t want the boys to have any memory of this trial. If she’s acquitted, then this will be an ugly chapter that they can flip past and leave behind them; if she’s convicted, she wants to be able to shape the narrative for them. 

“You aren’t coming to court,” she says. “Now go up and get ready."
  Molly Taylor

They both groan before trudging out of the kitchen and up the stairs. Molly is rinsing out the cereal bowls when the doorbell rings. She turns off the water, dries her hands, and hurries to answer it.

“Good morning,” Paula Fisher says as she steps inside the house and greets her daughter with a hug.

“Thanks for coming.” Molly locks the door. “This way, Danielle can take the boys to school and meet us at the courthouse, and everyone won’t feel so rushed."

“Whatever I can do to help."

Molly leads the way back into the kitchen, where she finishes cleaning the bowls and places them in the drying rack. 

“How are you feeling?” Paula asks.

“I don’t know. The same. Fine. None of this seems real.” Molly lets out a heavy sigh as she reaches for the dishtowel again. “But I’m ready to take the stand. I feel like it’s past time that the jury heard from me."

“And they’ll get to see how warm and genuine you are, and how sorry you are that it ever came to… what it did.” Paula gets a faraway look in her eyes. “I can’t stop thinking about that day."

An alarm goes off in Molly’s brain, and blades of panic stab at her insides. “What do you mean?"

“Because of your father. I keep replaying everything that happened. Tim told me that I can’t do that -- and I know that I can’t go back in time and stop him from going into Tori’s room. But if I hadn’t let him go in-- if he hadn’t been alone with Philip—"

“Tim is right,” Molly says. “We can’t go back and change anything, no matter how much we might want to."

Paula touches a finger to her temple. “It’s so strange. I keep thinking about it all, and I can see myself going out onto that balcony, but then… there’s nothing."

Molly sets down the dishtowel harder than is necessary. “You have to stop doing that, Mom."

“I can’t exactly stop it. And I want to help you. If I could remember what happened on that balcony -- if I could testify to the same story you and Sarah have--"


Paula recoils. “What’s the matter, honey?"

Molly reminds herself to get her emotions in check. They’ve come this far. She did this for her mother, so that Paula wouldn’t be the one sitting at that defense table, facing a scary and uncertain future. She can’t give it all away now.

“I just don’t want you spending any more mental time on that day than you have to,” Molly says. “No matter how much detail you remember it in, or how much you dwell on it, it won’t bring Dad back. And I hate thinking of you subjecting yourself to that pain over and over."

She moves forward and wraps her mother into an embrace, at least partly to keep Paula from seeing her expression. 

“This will all be over soon,” Molly promises.


“More coffee?” Brent Taylor asks as he rises from his seat at the kitchen table. 

“No, thanks,” Claire Fisher says. She drains the remainder of what’s in her mug. “I think I’ve already exceeded my limit for the morning as it is."

Brent smiles. “I’m not sure there’s such a thing as too much caffeine these days."

“True. I wish I could be in court today. It’s just been so difficult scheduling my work hours around the trial."

“Everyone understands."

Claire sits back and takes in the quiet of the house around them. “I’m glad we were able to steal a night together, but I feel bad you aren’t with the twins."

“Please. They’ve been insisting on having as much time with Molly as possible.” He leans against the kitchen counter, coffee in hand. “I keep telling them that things will be back to normal soon, but they don’t believe me."

“You can’t really promise them that,” Claire says.

“I know. But what else am I going to say? That their mother might go to prison?"

“You don’t really think she will, do you? The prosecution hasn’t proven anything beyond a reasonable doubt."

“No. But they’ve poked a thousand holes in Molly’s story and everyone’s credibility.” He takes another slug of coffee. “I’m just nervous, that’s all."

Claire stands, setting her empty mug on the table. She sidles up beside Brent and rests one hand on his chest and another on his back. 

“We’re all going to get through this,” she says. “Molly shot my brother to save herself and Sarah. That point has been made over and over again during the trial. The jury will see that."

“I sure as hell hope so."

They share a silent moment, each lost in thought and a little overwhelmed. Brent pushes a piece of Claire’s brown hair behind her ear.

“Have I told you how glad I am to have you with me?” he says. “I think I’d be going crazy if I didn’t have you to vent to."

“Give yourself more credit than that,” she says. “But I’m happy to be that person for as long as you need."

“Might be a long time."

“I’m okay with that.” She nuzzles into his chest and feels the soft heaves of his breathing, hoping that this really will all work out for Brent and his family.


The fluorescent lights beam down from the ceiling, casting the entire 99-Cent Store in a white glow. The lights are more than a little much for Yvette Banks at this hour, as she kneels in one of the aisles, pulling boxes of hair dye from a cart and stocking them on the shelf. She tossed and turned most of the night in the twin bed in the room that she’s renting on the north side of King’s Bay. The downside of the room being so affordable is that it’s far from luxurious. Now, the buzzing from the lights and the stagnant air in the store are making her want to go right back to sleep, even though her shift just began.

She finishes stocking the lower shelf and steadies herself as she stands to do the upper ones. Moving around has become more and more of a pain as her belly grows and her joints get achier. She doesn’t remember pregnancy being this painful, but then again, she was a lot younger when she had Isaac and Tempest.

“Yvette,” comes the voice of her manager, Leon, from behind her. She’s already irritated by his tone but fixes a pleasant smile on her face before she turns.


“Please make sure the rows of boxes are even. These rows are…"

Leon reaches over her to adjust several of the boxes. 

“We want to put our best foot forward for the customers,” he says.
  Yvette Banks

“Doesn’t look any different to me,” she says.

Leon points to two of the rows. “These were completely uneven. Did you not see?"

She shrugs. 

“And how about these?” He indicates two more of the rows. “The sides of the boxes should be touching. Otherwise we lose valuable shelf space."

Between the man’s nasal voice and the fact that he talks to her like she’s a preschooler, Yvette feels her blood pressure heating right up. And she’s too tired and too sore to care much.

“I don’t think anyone who’s buying 99-cent hair dye is gonna care if the boxes are lined up,” she says. “This ain’t Vidal Sassoon."

His beady eyes flare behind his glasses. “Excuse me?"

Even though her instinct is to keep going, to tell him how stupid and cheap his store is and how she doesn’t give a crap about his rules, she knows that she needs this job. The only thing more exhausting than finishing this shift would be going out and looking for another job. So she takes a deep breath.

“Nothing,” she says. “I’ll fix the boxes. Sorry ‘bout that."


Molly has spent so much time imagining this moment, but now that she is here on the witness stand, commanding the attention of the entire courtroom -- a courtroom that seems even fuller than it has been for the rest of her trial -- she feels like a ball of frayed wires, tense and sparking. 

“You ended your engagement to Philip Ragan near the end of 2014. Is that correct?” Conrad Halston says.

“Yes. I caught Philip in a lie and decided that I didn’t feel comfortable marrying him."

“You’re referring to the automobile accident that your nephew, Spencer, testified about earlier in this trial."

“I am. Yes. Philip claimed that he’d driven the car that crashed into my house, but he was covering for Spencer."

Conrad nods and takes a few steps over the courtroom floor, his dress shoes the only audible sounds as everyone awaits his next question. 

“What was the status of your relationship with Philip Ragan at the time of his death?” he finally asks.

Molly takes a deep breath. “It wasn’t totally clear, but we were on the path to getting back together. Philip had made it very clear all along that he still wanted to marry me."

“What changed for you?"

“It was gradual,” she says. “My brother had been murdered, and so had my assistant and two family friends. My niece, Tori, had been attacked and was in a coma. I think when you face mortality that way, you… you take stock and reconsider things. And I had loved Philip. That was never in question. I just wasn’t sure if I could trust him."

Conrad looks at her in a way that Molly knows is practiced, even though it seems so natural and fluid. 

“But you began to trust Philip again?"

“I did. He was so supportive as my family was going through such a horrible time."

“Was Philip aware of the changing nature of your relationship in those last days of his life?"

Molly’s cheeks grow hot. She knew this line of questioning was coming; they’ve rehearsed and prepared. But it still feels strangely embarrassing to reveal to a room full of her family and strangers.

“Our relationship had gotten… physical again,” she says. “That hadn’t happened since before I called off the engagement. So yes, the change was pretty clear."

She looks around the courtroom. She sees her mother, her sister, her brothers, Matt, Brent, and Danielle. She sees Trevor Brooks sitting with his father and Alex Marshall. Helen and Don Chase are right beside them. Travis, Samantha, Tori, and Tempest are seated together, as they have been through most of the trial. All of these people, in some way, have been affected by Philip’s actions and the murders that he perpetrated -- ostensibly because of her. All of these people have suffered because she wasn’t able to see Philip for what he really was until it was far too late. 

“Okay,” Conrad says. “When did you learn that Philip was the Footprint Killer?"

The District Attorney, Audrey Tam, bolts to her feet. “Objection! Counsel is assuming facts not in evidence."

Conrad’s head swings from the D.A. to the judge. “Numerous witnesses have testified to Philip Ragan having confessed to the Footprint Killer murders."

Judge Ricardo Sandoval removes his glasses and pinches the bridge of his nose as he considers the two pleas. 

“Rephrase the question,” he finally says.

Conrad more or less manages to restrain his annoyance before he proceeds. 

“When did you become aware that others believed Philip Ragan to be the Footprint Killer?” he says.

“Not until I was on that balcony at the hospital,” Molly says. 

“And what was your reaction?"

“Shock. Disbelief. I didn’t think it was possible… until Philip pulled the gun on Sarah and me. Then I knew he had something to hide.”

“How did you feel once you realized what was going on?” Conrad asks.

“I realized that Philip was the only one who’d had the opportunity to kill my father.” Molly pauses, feeling a surge of emotion well up inside herself. They have been over this testimony, but it still feels so complicated and loaded; Conrad insisted that they had to tackle this line of questioning or the prosecution would try to write the story for them. “I didn’t want to believe it. I wanted to understand why he would’ve done something like that. It was… it didn’t make sense. And I was scared. He said he was going to kill Sarah and me if I didn’t leave with him."

“What was going through your mind when you picked up the gun?"

“That I had to keep it away from him. That was it.” She glances again toward Paula and Sarah, the latter of whom is perched on the edge of the bench where she is seated. “Then he got a hold of Sarah and said he was going to throw her over. I panicked, and-- it seemed like the only thing I could do was fire the gun."

“Had you ever fired a gun before?"

She shakes her head. “No. Never.” 

“What was your intent in firing the gun?"

“To stop Philip. That’s all.” Her breathing feels short now. “I couldn’t think beyond that moment -- I had no real sense of where the bullet would hit him or what it might do. I just wanted to stop him from hurting Sarah.” 

Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Paula squeezing her eyes closed, as if concentrating very hard. 

No, Molly thinks. She can’t… Not now...

“I wanted to hear Philip tell me why he’d done it,” she continues. “If there had been any other way, I wouldn’t have shot him. I wouldn’t have chosen for him to die. He deserved to face justice for what he’d done -- not be let off the hook so easily."

Conrad allows her statement to settle over the hushed courtroom.

“Thank you,” he says. “No further questions."

As Conrad returns to the defense table, Audrey Tam stands, a file folder in her hand. 

“The prosecution may begin cross-examination,” the judge says. 

“Mrs. Taylor,” the D.A. begins, and something about her demeanor sends a chill through Molly now that she is directly in the woman’s sights. “I’d like to begin by discussing the weapon that you admit you used to shoot Philip Ragan."

Molly swallows hard as she waits.

Tam holds up the file folder. “I’d like to enter into evidence these reports that, while Mrs. Taylor’s fingerprints were found on the gun, Philip Ragan’s were not.” 

She hands the folder to the bailiff, who passes it to the judge.

“Mrs. Taylor, if you picked up that gun right after it was knocked out of Philip Ragan’s hands, why were his fingerprints nowhere to be found on it?"


The door to the break room closes hard behind Yvette. The lighting in here is just as bad as out in the store -- harsh and bright and headache-inducing -- but, right now, the room is dead silent, with no sign of anyone else. She takes a deep breath of the air, which smells faintly of some sort of floral hand soap and bleach, and then crosses to the rickety old vending machine. She tries to listen to her stomach, which has been dictating exactly what she eats of late, and it tells her to go for the pretzels.

Once she has her bag of pretzels, she takes a seat in one of the plastic chairs, at a table with some day-old newspapers scattered over its surface. A clock on the wall ticks away the seconds noisily, or at least it seems that way. Now that she is seated, she becomes aware of how sore her feet are -- and she has only been moving around the store for a few hours.

“You ain’t gonna make this one bit easier, are you?” she says, looking down at her rounded stomach. Sometimes it still seems unreal to her that she is pregnant again. That was such a specific period of her life: she was pregnant for a few years, then she had two kids to wrangle, and then they were out of the house. And now it’s about to start all over again. 

She knows that she didn’t do a very good job the first time around. She wanted to, she really wanted to, but it was like things got away from her. She could never get a grip long enough to get them under control. And the men -- she needed companionship, she needed help, and then they’d spiral out of control, too. 

And now she has to do it all over. Somehow. 

The sounds of her munching on the pretzels and the ticking clock seem as loud as a garbage truck as Yvette tries to figure out how in the hell she is going to make this work.


“I don’t know,” Molly says, tripping over the words. 

“Philip wasn’t wearing gloves when he was found shot,” Audrey Tam says. “But you insist he was holding that gun."

“He was holding the gun!” Molly shoots back, her tone suddenly louder and more insistent -- more desperate.

“And yet his fingerprints weren’t on it."

Conrad is about to rise with an objection when Tam adds: “You’re sure you can’t think of any reason why that gun would’ve been free of all fingerprints besides yours?"

Molly shrugs, working the situation over in her mind, knowing that half of what she is picturing never even happened. After Paula shot Philip and passed out, Molly took the gun, wiped it down, and then gripped it herself so that she could claim to have been the shooter. She intended to wipe her mother’s prints, not Philip’s, but she always knew this would be something of a hole. She just doesn’t know how else to get around it.
  Conrad Halston

“I don’t know,” she says. “Maybe he was holding it with his sleeve. I don’t remember."

“You don’t remember?"

“Not that part, no. I was scared."

“Very well.” The D.A. walks slowly back to the prosecution’s table, then turns and looks to the judge. “No further questions."

Paula leans over to Sarah. “That was very quick."

“Yeah, I thought they’d tear her apart a little more,” Sarah says quietly. “It makes me nervous."

Judge Ricardo Sandoval looks to Molly and tells her, “You can step down, Mrs. Taylor."

Conrad seems equally confused as he stands again. “The defense rests."

Paula offers Molly a reassuring look as she takes her seat at the defense table once again.

“Then we can proceed,” the judge says, “with closing arguments--"

“Your Honor,” Tam says, “the prosecution would like to call a final rebuttal witness."

“We were given no indication of an additional witness,” Conrad says. 

The judge furrows his brow. “Who’s the witness, Ms. Tam? And what is the relevance?"

“The need for this witness’s testimony only arose as a result of the testimony given by several of the defense’s witnesses,” Tam explains. She signals to a prosecutor seated at the back of the courtroom, who quickly opens the door and gestures to someone.

“I’ll allow it,” the judge says, “as long as it’s a true rebuttal."

“It is."

“Do they have some expert we don’t know about?” Molly whispers to Conrad.

Before he can answer, Audrey Tam makes her pronouncement. 

“For its final witness,” she says, as the doors to the courtroom open wide, “the prosecution calls Felicia Coleman to the stand."

Now it is Conrad’s turn to twist his face in confusion. He asks Molly, “Who?"

Toward the back row of the courtroom, Helen Chase grips her husband’s forearm. “It’s that horrible Fee C.!"

Tori Gray gasps as she watches her one-time friend walk up the aisle toward the witness stand.


What testimony will Fee C. offer?
Did Molly mess up by wiping the fingerprints?
Is Yvette having a change of heart?
Talk about it all in the Footprints Forum now!



Friday, December 02, 2016

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