The hour between Taylor’s call and her arrival passes too quickly. I’ve quickly cleaned everything, taken a quick shower to wash off all paint evidence, and built a crackling fire in the fireplace downstairs in my parents’ old living room. I wrap my long sweater tighter around myself and continue pacing the floor, the heels of my brown leather boots clicking softly against the hardwood. I’d managed to find a pair of looser fitting jeans. Dean’s mom is not the first person that I want knowing I’m pregnant. Especially not when she has no idea about what actually happened between me and her son.
I finally hear a knock on the door. Taking another deep breath and throwing my hair up into a tight bun, I slowly walk to the entryway. Taylor is standing there, just as petite and pixie-like as she was when Dean and I first met. The only sign of her age are the small grey streaks running through her dark brown hair.
“Hi Brynne. How have you been?” she asks as I move to let her inside.
It always amazes me how much I tower over this woman. “I’ve been good,” I say, leading her into the living room. I rub my hands together and sit on the chair by the fireplace.
“Are you still wearing Dean’s ring?” she asks, snatching my hand for examination.
“No,” I stutter, a blush spreading across my cheeks. “I haven’t worn it in years,” I lie.
“So you’re engaged again?” she asks.
I nod slowly. “Um…yeah, I am.”
“Oh.” She sits down in the chair across from mine. A log in the fire pops loudly and I jump slightly.
“So what did you want to talk about?”
Taylor looks down at her slacks, her work uniform. “Brynne, do you know what happened to Dean after he disappeared?”
My mouth gets really dry. “No,” I lie. “I haven’t heard anything from him since then. I’ve moved on, like you and your husband told me to.”
Her shoulders slump forward and her hair falls over her face. “Well, it’s probably better that way.”
“What do you mean?” I ask, raising my eyebrows in confusion.
She sighs and slowly looks up. “Brynne, I know you loved my son very, very much. But he’s not coming home. They were clearing a field out for construction for a new factory, and they found a few things of his.”
I know what they are before she even says it. When the doctor’s wife and I buried Dean, his wallet, keys, and ring came off and were moved to other parts of the field.
“The foreman said not to worry about it, they were probably just lost. But when they dug deeper, they found…” she sighs again. “Brynne, they found his body.”
I close my eyes and lean forward, putting my elbows on my knees. I didn’t think they would ever find his body. That field was marked as a no-construction zone.
“Oh honey,” she says softly, mistaking my reaction for sorrow. “I’m so sorry about this. I just wanted to tell you before it was in the news.
“Do they know how he died?” I finally get the courage to ask, slowly sitting back up.
She shakes her head. “They haven’t done the autopsy yet. Brynne, I’m really sorry that you have to hear this.”
I take another deep breath. “Thank you for coming and telling me,” I reply, wanting nothing more than for this conversation to be over. I can feel an anxiety attack coming on. That’s probably not healthy for the baby.
“I know this is a strange question, but I need to know,” Taylor asks, tears building up in the corners of her eyes. “Did you kill my son?”
All the color drains from my face. “I loved him.”
“That’s not what I asked, Brynne. I know you didn’t, but the police asked me, and I wanted to ask you before they did.”
I bite my lip and shake my head, feeling tears start building up in my own eyes. “Taylor, I promise you this, I loved your son with all my heart. I would have never done anything to hurt him.”
She nods and apologizes, looking back into the fire. How much longer is she going to stay here?
“So who’s Michelangelo?” she asks after another long, awkward silence.
She smiles. “You called me Michelangelo on the phone. Is he your new fiancée?”
I run my hand over my engagement ring and force a smile. “Yeah, he is. It’s a recent thing, though.”
“Well I’m glad you’re moving on,” she says gently, pushing herself up from the old wingback chair. “I know this is hard on you, but I want you to know that I’ve always wanted you to be happy. You deserve that.”
I force another smile and stand with her. “Thanks for coming and telling me. I know it wasn’t easy,” I say, hoping she’ll leave soon.
“You’re welcome. I just wanted you to find out from someone who cares,” she replies, enveloping me in a hug.
I walk her out and close the door behind her. The room seems to get darker and the walls start pulsing. I slide down to the floor and take a deep, shaky breath. I feel Dean’s eyes on me and hear his cruel laughter at my pain.
“I did what I had to do to survive!” I scream at his ghost. “You would’ve killed me,” I whisper as I curl up into a ball. “You would’ve killed me first.”