Comment on how he looked like Rylan saw Patrick decide a beard would be a good look as he celebrated his eighteenth birthday. The additional insult came with the birthday party that failed to transpire. His friends preferred the new club in Windenberg, leaving his costume themed evening after paying their respects and shoving gifts in his hands. Emilie bellowed “Happy Birthday” with an on-core from Sparky howling, whipping her infamous chocolate cake. Patrick rolled his eyes; the cake was nothing special, two sponge layers separated by strawberry jam and chocolate icing, the remaining icing topped with coloured sprinkles. She offered to add alcohol, maybe cayenne pepper, for an extra kick, but he pouted, disappointed by this getting older and missing his dad. Questions came regarding his future and career, would he remain in Newcrest? Venture across the globe? Girlfriend? Family? He stabbed the cake, enjoying his mothers cooking, but he had nothing to say the answers lost in transit. Perhaps was destiny decided elsewhere, and he would need to wait for it to come knocking.
Emilie believed children were the magnum opus; nothing in her existence brought her as much enjoyment as raising her babies. Her career had been a side gig to the home she wanted to create for her family; the computer programming work had helped her transition when Charlotte started school. Retirement had supposed to come with benefits, a husband, grandchildren and taking romantic holidays; the alternative brought loneliness. Charlotte and Patrick were living their lives seperate, and Eliza had moved on years ago. Sparky remained her constant; he stayed by her side, filled the bed where Rylan should have laid, and snored like him; Emilie stroked the fluffy mound finding comfort in the sound. Time called, memories of her children filled her with a warm glow, and Rylan’s voice beckoned from the other side. The dog lay in the doorway watching as Emilie died alone. It would be evening when Charlotte came rushing in, gushing, Caleb’s romantic messages made her swoon, her voice sang, filled with love and expectation, broke to discover her mother in the permanence of sleep.
The weight of guilt, Patrick had relaxed in his cottage home as his mother took her final breath, a day spent surfing the internet, playing video games and chatting with friends. It should have occurred that Emilie may have enjoyed some company, uneaten pancaked sat mournful and cold, forgotten moments, and the woman who wanted nothing except time with her children at the start of the day. Decisions on Charlotte’s future, despite being a minor, she felt should be in her hands; neither Vicky nor Eliza had space to take her in, and Patrick felt he was ill-equipped to deal with his and his sister’s grief. Charlotte had a couple of years remaining in school; Eliza supported her choice to stay in the family home; it made no sense to rip her from the life she knew, integrate her into city life and a new school. As a young adult, the law decided Patrick was a suitable guardian and encouraged him to find employment, to demonstrate responsibility and provide a stable home.