Silence, as Grim disappeared through the black smoke, the family stood in shock. Simon rested a firm, supportive hand on Vicky’s shoulder as she continued to cling to Alexis, her life raft in the grieving sea. The festive tunes cut through the din, prompting Liam to hit mute. Outside, snow fell, the distant sea lapped, muffled sobs from the widows, the room filled with discomfort and unknowing of what the next move should be. Patrick took charge, directing Rhonda and the others to clean; Eliza cuddled Milly, numb with shock, Charlotte stood frozen, uncertain, tears rolling down cheeks and Emilie shrugged him from her.
The dessert chilled, Ziva’s hard work to learn a new recipe abandoned in the kitchen, cat paws in the icing. Patrick and Charlotte lifted their mother, accepting a ride home to Newcrest with Liam. Milly followed as Alexis helped Vicky to bed; after a quick hug, Alexis ushered Milly back into Eliza’s care to give Vicky time to rest. She nestled amongst sofa cushions, her eyes sore, red, and throat dry, although refused the water Eliza whose pain reflected her own, offered. Abbey and Libby’s quiet purrs helped soothe Milly; enough to sleep. Eliza busied herself cleaning, trying to push through how there would be regrets in her unhealed relationship with Rylan.
Fiona had remained where Ziva died, her owner gone; she waited for a distracted Eliza to leave the door ajar when taking the trash. She took advantage of the snow depth, poor visibility; she wandered along the beach and disappeared from view. Hours passed, Eliza said a muted goodbye, grief-filled hugs elicited sobs as Vicky and Milly found themselves alone. Winterfest sent shockwaves through the family as Milly laid food for the animals, she realised Fiona was missing. Despite her guilt, Vicky had neither the energy nor inclination to search. Milly scowled, wrestling with wellies, a coat and her mother, determined to find Fiona but the blizzard conditions intensified, forcing the resignation of her efforts.
Vicky plated the leftovers, neither had an appetite and her effort to encourage Milly to eat, met with a frown as she picked at her plate. They attempted to find a distraction with the big boxing day football match; it would be temporary as the reminders were everywhere. Milly caught herself mid cheer as the Brindleton Bay Pirates scored, remembering how Fiona would bark as Ziva did a funny celebratory dance. The excitement and thrill of Football confused Vicky; she used to paint, watching Ziva and Milly argue with the TV, yelling at the players and referee, it seemed nonsense to her, but this had become a boxing day tradition. Muting the TV, Milly switched sofas, cuddling Vicky, nothing would be the same; Milly kept her grounded and reminded her a part of Ziva was with them, inside her. With a watery gaze, Vicky wondered how they could create a child so strong; Milly squeezed tighter, assuring her they would make it through; Ziva told her they were her rocks in the storm.