Dear Ellie - Part 20
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
- Dear Ellie - Part 19
Scott Branson is on a path to self-destruction, and Ellie will pay the price.
We last left Ellie dreading Scott's return from prison. Her feelings for him had changed. His release brought both fear and anxiety.
The moment Ellie feared most was the moment Scott would re-enter her life. That moment was fast approaching. And as the moments passed, the fear grew. Ellie was not the same person she was before Scott entered the correctional facility. No doubt, Scott was not the same person either. Of course, she had to admit their marriage was falling apart before Scott was sentenced.
For three months Ellie had lived on her own. She was getting used to the quiet, the freedom of not having Scott around. Her love for him had turned cold although she attempted to believe otherwise. The truth was, she didn't want him back. He was the reason Carrie went missing. He was the reason she ended up as a patient at Allegheny General. In her eyes, he was the reason for the whole mess. She was already choking on forgiveness, and Scott would be home in less than 24 hours.
Something was wrong - terribly wrong, but Scott couldn't put his finger on it. Ellie refused to bring him home from the jail, and he didn't know why. Other arrangements had to be made. His world turned cold.
Ellie's fear now belonged to Scott. He hesitated before ringing his own doorbell. The door was locked. Ellie peeked through the curtain. Guilt-ridden, she opened the door, and Scott burst in with a huge smile. Before he could give Ellie his usual bear hug, her hands shot up defensively, as if to say, "Stand back, you're not welcomed here."
She turned and slowly walked toward the couch. With her back to Scott, she said, "Sit down. We have to talk."
Scott knew the drill. When Ellie addressed him that way he knew there was something deeply bothering her, and most often, it was not something good. He sat back in the recliner to await the bad news. Then she spoke.
"Scott, I don't love you anymore. I want a divorce."
Scott's heart sank to its deepest depths. He knew it would be bad, but he wasn't prepared for this. He couldn't speak. He just stared at the floor.
Ellie continued. "Scott, I don't know who you are anymore. You've changed."
Scott could only think, "I've been away for three months. How do you know if I've changed?"
"Okay, I probably have. Jail does crazy things to people, but what do you see? How have I changed?"
Ellie began to answer when the doorbell rang.
"I'll get it, Babe. Just hold that thought."
Two strangers stood before him. "Hello, my name is Jane Watson, and this is Evelyn Harrington. We're from Grace Community Church just down the street. Is the lady of the house available?"
Grace Community Church? They had Scott's attention.
Scott said half jokingly and half seriously, "We were just discussing our divorce plans. Won't you come in?"
Ellie stood. "Oh, uh, Scott. This is Jane and Evelyn. I'll be attending their church this Sunday."
Without a moment's hesitation, Scott mumbled, "And you think I've changed!"
"Yeah, Sure. Have a seat."
Although Scott was glad to hear someone from the church had been visiting Ellie, he didn't like the forwardness of Jane. He was blunt, and yes, sarcastic, too, but didn't she hear they were discussing their divorce plans?
Jane continued to press. "So, Ellie, what's going on. Your husband says you're getting a divorce."
Emotionally overrun, Ellie continued. "I think that was just Scott's way of saying he doesn't want to be bothered right now, but I do want to be bothered. He doesn't understand. He doesn't get it!"
"Doesn't get what, Honey?"
Ellie thought to herself before answering, "There she goes again. She sounds like Stella. Honey this - Honey that. I must admit she brings comfort."
For the next hour and a half, Ellie poured out her heart to Jane and Evelyn. Scott didn't say a word. He just listened as 'Ellie told them the whole story. Then Evelyn turned to Scott. "Mr. Branson, how do you feel about this?"
Scott felt relieved. He could finally tell his part of the story, but instead of going on for another hour and a half he summed it up in a few sentences. "I love my wife. Always have, always will. I love my daughter, and I'll do whatever I have to, to bring her home. I know I'm the prime suspect, but that doesn't mean I'm guilty."
Ellie was fuming by this time. "My daughter is missing. He's spent the last ninety days in jails. We're behind on our bills. If he cared so much, why? Why is life like this if he cares so much?"
Scott shot back. "It's like this because I broke into an empty building trying to find our daughter - trying to do what's right!"
Jane stepped in. "Mr. Branson, do you want this marriage to work?"
"Of course, I do. I just told you I love my wife - and I love our daughter. I'll fight for both of them."
Then she turned to Ellie. "Honey, is this really what you want - a divorce? Don't you think you need some time to really think this through? Ellie, I'm glad you're coming to church on Sunday. Scott, would you join her?" Ellie's lip turned down.
"I already told you. I'll do whatever it takes. I'll be there."
Ellie began to protest but was cut off by Jane. "Honey, this is Friday. Take the rest of today and tomorrow and do some heart-searching. Don't throw in the towel just yet. Two days, that's all I ask, and we'll see you Sunday morning."
"Okay, but I don't see things changing much between now and then. Thank you for stopping . . ." The phone interrupted Ellie's statement. "Scott, it's for you. It's the school."
The ladies shared some last minute pleasantries while Scott stepped into another room to take the call. Joseph Webber, the West Mifflin High principal was on the other end. "Scott, because of the situation, we have to let you go."
Scott's heart sank again. He knew what was happening but needed some clarification. "What do you mean, let me go - as in - I'm fired?"
"Scott, you've been a good teacher and coach. If the decision was based solely on performance, we'd keep you in a heartbeat, but it's not that simple. Parents are seeing you as a threat to their children, and frankly Scott, we can't take the chance of someone being hurt. Look, I don't think you took Carrie, but you are under suspicion, and the school board has made its decision. We knew, and you knew, it would come down to this. Scott, I'm sorry."
Without saying a word, Scott hung up the phone. By the time he re-entered the room, the ladies had left. He stood with his chin to his chest, motionless from the numbness that was again his.
"Scott, what's going on?"
"I've been fired. I have no job."
Ellie was off on another rant of anger and frustration. Scott sat as calmly as he could. He knew to be quiet and let Ellie spout. Then he'd have his turn. Finally, she settled down, and Scott was able to speak.
"What have I done, Someone, please tell me what have I done? I leave a football game and come home to have our baby girl stolen away. Yes, I broke into the Brownsville Nursing Home, but I was trying to find our child. Ellie, if I didn't care, I would have never done those things."
"You just don't get it. You really just do not get it, Scott." My daughter is gone. You plant phony notes about a child-traffic ring to get the suspicion off you. You're out running to the nursing home in the middle of the night to make filthy deals. Then you get arrested. You disappear out of my life for three months. And let's not forget, I had to bail you out or you would have been arrested for breaking into your own house. And then you expect me to trust you completely? You just don't get it."
"How can you possibly justify what you're saying, Elaine." The handwriting on the note was found to be inconclusive. I did not go to Brownsville to make a filthy deal. I went to find our daughter. I didn't choose to be away for three months. That was the result of trying to find Carrie. And breaking into my own home? That wasn't me.
"Ellie, I'm going to find Carrie if it kills me, and whoever took her will pay the price. I promise."
"Thank you for saying that. You just proved you really don't get it. Whoever took her will pay the price? Scott, I'm paying the price!"
- Dear Ellie - Part 21
Scott Branson is on a path to self-destruction, and Ellie will pay the price
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© 2017 William Kovacic