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The Beginning After by Kiersten Modglin (7)



When Peighton woke up the next morning, the doorbell was ringing. “Isabel!” she shouted. When it rang again, she glanced at the clock hanging on her bedroom wall. 7:10. Where was she? She frowned, her memory coming back as she vaguely remembered telling Isabel to take the rest of the week off. She’d be home, after all, with no job to do, since her job, running her husband’s campaign, was now nonexistent.

She pushed herself out of bed, throwing the heavy comforter back, and stumbled across the room still half-asleep. Running a quick hand through her hair and tugging at her t-shirt, she dashed out of the bedroom, hurrying down the hall. The bell rang again. “I’m coming!” she hollered. She swung open the door quickly, unsure of who to expect, and took in a breath. “What are you doing here? What do you want?”

Drew held his hands up quickly. “Wait! Don’t…I know you want to slam the door in my face, and you have every right to, but please just hear me out,” he spoke fast, begging her to listen.

“Why would I ever do that? You don’t deserve to be heard out. Not after everything you’ve done.” She threw her hand on her hip, the other still on the door handle.

“You’re right. You shouldn’t. I don’t. But please, I just wanted to see you. To say I’m sorry for the way we left things. I’m sorry for what it’s done to your husband. To ask your forgiveness.”

“It’s not my forgiveness you need, Drew. It’s Todd’s. And he’s not around to give that anymore. So, you should just go, because honestly, I’m the least of your concerns. If Frank sees you, you’re in for it.”

“Frank isn’t here.”

“What?” she asked, looking out to the driveway. He was right, Frank’s black sedan was missing.

“He left. Early this morning.”

“What? Have you been watching me? Stalking us?”

“Yes, well, no, not stalking you. Just watching. I knew I couldn’t come around when Frank was here, I’m not stupid. I just needed to be alone with you for a few minutes and yes, I know how that sounds, but can I please just come in? I’m not trying to upset you, Peighton…honestly, I’m not. I’m here to do the right thing. I want to make amends for the trouble we caused.”

Trouble?” she asked, her voice raising. “My marriage was almost ruined, Drew, it wasn’t just a little trouble. Todd’s career could have been put into jeopardy, even his life had it gone too far. And I know that’s not entirely on you, I do, we’re all to blame for what we allowed to happen, but you have no business being here. My husband is dead, and I have a son here. We have a son who I need to protect. He’s all that I have left. And he’s completely innocent in all of this. He can’t know about you. Not now and not ever. It would destroy him to know what we did. If he ever found out the truth…he’d never forgive us.”

“I don’t want to mess anything up for you, Peighton. Or Kyle. Or Todd, for that matter. I only want to fix what I messed up.”

“How? There’s nothing left to say, Drew. What’s done is done. Don’t come here again.” She pulled the door closed, the sunshine blinding her as it bounced off the glass.

“Mom?” She heard his voice behind her, causing her to spin around swiftly.

“Oh, Kyle.” The look on his face told her he’d heard everything. “Wait, honey!” She chased after him as he turned to run to his room. The weight of his bedroom door slammed into her as she tried to press it open. “Kyle, please…open…the…door.” She struggled to push the words out, all her strength wasn’t enough to keep the door open. It slammed shut, knocking her back.

“Who was that guy, Mom?” he demanded through the door.

“Just open the door and I’ll explain everything, I promise,” she told him, rubbing her shoulder.

“Why should I?”

“Because, Kyle, you deserve to know the truth.” Though she wasn’t ready to give it to him.

“I heard the truth. I heard everything you said. You cheated on my dad! You cheated on him and it almost ruined everything. And now he’s dead and you’re probably happy because now you can go be with that guy.”

“What?” she asked, all of the power suddenly out of her voice. Tears filled her eyes again as her mouth slumped open, unable to speak.

The bedroom door opened then, her son, with more anger in his eyes than she’d even known possible, stared her down. “How could you do this to him, Mom? When all he ever did was love you? I’ll never forgive you for this. I hate you for what you did. I. HATE. YOU!” He shoved past her, running out of the house without looking back.

“Kyle, wait!” she called after him, unable to move from the spot he’d left her in. Since the beginning of his angsty teenage years, Kyle had told her he hated her a few other times. This time, however, was different. She’d felt it in her bones. This time, he’d meant it. And as she sat there in the threshold of his bedroom she realized, she couldn’t give him a reason not to.