Chapter 15

"So what did you think of the movie, Phillip?" Charlotte asked her brother as they started to walk home at two-fifteen, about six hours after they had left the house that morning.

"It was good, but sad too. Simba's dad died 'cuz his uncle killed him. But it was funny when Simba ate the bugs, and when Nala attacked Pumba, and the time when Timone did the hula dance and Timone and Pumba had to run from the. . the. . heenas?" Phillip couldn't quite pronounce the word, so he made one up himself.

"Hyenas. Like 'heenas,' but with a 'y' sound after the 'h.' It's like you're saying 'hi' before the rest of the word comes out. Try it."

"Hi-ee-nas. Like that?"

"Just like that," Charlotte complimented, giving Phillip a high-five. "What other parts did you like? I liked the part where Simba and Nala sing about Simba being king one day just to get rid of Zazu. Then Zazu gets sat on by a rhino."

While the brother and sister walked down their street remembering every detail of the movie, funny, sad, and all others in between, Charlotte wondered if Kristin would actually bring both their science books to school the next day, or she would forget them just like all the other times. But no matter how much she thought about her schoolbooks, every time Phillip said something funny about the movie, or made a face to look something like one of the characters, Charlotte couldn't help laughing.

When Charlotte and Phillip reached their house at two-forty-five, Charlotte automatically checked the mailbox to see what mail had been dropped off. Her brain was scolding her even before she opened the metal door, but she followed through on her actions even though she knew it was Sunday and no mail came on Sundays. Upon opening the door of the mailbox, she saw a single envelope. The envelope contained no return address, no postage stamp, and no shipping address. The only apparent writing on the envelope was a single name on the front of it: Susan Kennedy.

"Is there any mail, Charlotte?" Phillip asked his sister, who currently was in a mild state of confusion. Who could this be from? Was mom expecting this? What could be so important in this envelope that they couldn't mail it? or tell where it's from? So many thoughts ran through Charlotte's mind that she almost didn't hear Phillip's question.

"Uh, no, there's no mail Phillip. I just thought I saw a spider, so we better get inside quick before it sees us!" Charlotte wanted to get the envelope without telling Phillip, or he'd ask questions like "Who's it from?" and "Why's our address not on there?" and other such questions Charlotte just could not answer. She didn't want to deal with that just now. As Phillip turned around and started speed-walking towards the house, Charlotte grabbed the envelope, thrust it into the large front pocket of her jacket, and hastily closed the front of the mailbox in order to open the front door of her house so Phillip didn't get a spider bite from the imaginary mail spider.

Phillip had his coloring book of dinosaurs and his strange assortment of crayons out on the living room coffee table when Charlotte asked him, "Phillip, do you want to eat some dinner right now? It's almost six, and I would like you to get at least a few hours of sleep tonight. We have bread and lunch meat for sandwiches, or we can eat the barbeque Hot Pockets in the freezer if you want a sandwich for lunch tomorrow." Charlotte had just looked up at the clock from her homework the moment before; she had finished her history already, and now was attempting to remember the many facts of science class that had so often slipped her mind. Now she just wanted a break from it all.

"I want to eat a Hot Pocket. Then I'll have room for dessert. I can have dessert right?" Phillip asked his sister hopefully, because he just loved mint n' chip ice cream after a hot meal.

"Yes, I'll let you have ice cream tonight. You can turn on the TV while I make dinner."

Phillip turned on the television and turned the channel to ABC Family, which happened to be playing a Power Rangers movie, which wasn't a surprise to Charlotte. He also did what his father told him not to do on many occasions, which was to sit too close to the television. Before she could even think about thinking of her father, Charlotte caught herself. Hey! You know what happens when you think of that subject. You also know what happens when a certain little person sees when you you-know-what in front of him. Don't think of that subject. Not now. Charlotte busied herself with making dinner for herself and Phillip and thought of all the decoration ideas she and Danny spoke of earlier that day. She was getting to be an expert on avoiding crying in front of others, but only when her mind wasn't too vulnerable or when it was in use. Now, her mind was distracted with party decorations and had no empty space to think of her father.

The microwave beeped three times to alert Charlotte that Phillip's Hot Pocket was heated, so she called out, "Phillip, it's soup!" Phillip didn't respond for the better part of three minutes; a commercial came on to interrupt the Power Rangers movie that he was watching. Once the commercials began, Phillip jumped up, as though his show would start again the moment he stood up, and ran into the kitchen. Charlotte, already having put Phillip's food on a plate, calmly handed Phillip his food, which he grabbed, nicely of course, and ran into the living room to watch a movie that wouldn't start for another few minutes. Charlotte chuckled to herself at her brother's ridiculous behavior, picked up her own plate and walked into the living room to sit with Phillip. Upon walking into the living room, she found Philip sitting as close as he could to the television without seeing the red, green, and blue pixels.

"Phillip, what did I tell you Friday? If you sit too close to the TV you'll have to get a pair of huge, thick glasses like Uncle Ernie. Didn't he ever tell you that's why he got his glasses?" In response to Charlotte's reprimand, Phillip stiffened as if worried that his sister might actually know something, and scooted back a significant distance with his Hot Pocket.

That's better, Charlotte smirked as she took her place on the couch. She placed her plate and water on the table in front of her after scooting away crayons to make room, and leaned back on the couch to relax for a few precious seconds before hungrily eating her roast beef sandwich with mayonnaise and lettuce.

"Good night, Phillip. Sweet dreams." Charlotte kissed her brother on the forehead at eight thirty that night, for Phillip was very tired from playing at the park and walking to the movie theaters. For that Charlotte was very grateful. She was tired from too many late nights with Phillip up until ten o'clock, and none of the housework finished. Tonight though, all Charlotte had to do was wash her hair, change into her pajamas and brush her teeth before getting into bed for the night. Charlotte took a relaxing shower in twenty minutes, and was in her warm, comfortable bed by nine o'clock. She had a nice night's rest.

10:15 p.m. "So what did you think of the movie, Phillip? Was Ivan Ooze scary, or was that just me?" Susan asked Phillip on their way down Magneot Street after the movie. "I almost left, he was so scary."

"Mom, he wasn't scary! If he was scary, the Power Rangers would have run away. I'm gonna be a green ranger when I grow up, so I can't be a scaredy cat."

Charlotte chuckled at her brother's inability to admit he was afraid of Ivan Ooze. The part of the movie when Ivan Ooze was dressed as a clown to try and attract the kids scared Phillip enough to make him gasp and shrink back in his chair for a moment or two. No! Phillip never gets scared of anything, Charlotte thought just before she got a chill. Something's wrong.

As Susan drove further up Magneot and closer to the Kennedy's residence, the red and blue colors of police lights, several police vehicles, and an ambulance welcomed them to their home. Before she could drive closer to her home, an officer stopped her car and said the area was off-limits for stopping.

"Mom, what's wrong? What's going on?"

"You don't understand, this is my house. What is going on? Where is my husband? What are the police doing in front of my house at ten o'clock at night?" Susan was frantic, and for good reason. Her husband's car was in the driveway with a still-open door and store bags lay forgotten on the front lawn. Her front door was wide open with a shattered window and yellow tape across it. Her husband was missing, and, from where she was sitting, Susan could see a pair of feet on the stretcher just inside the open doors of the ambulance.

"Mrs. Kennedy, may I speak to you in private? I have some bad news."