Alternate Epilogue - Part 2

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In the morning, I trudged down the hall toward the kitchen with every intention of yelling at my mom for not waking me up earlier. It was after ten o'clock in the morning already. I'd fallen asleep with a head full of grand intentions to call Mischa as soon as it was an acceptable hour because I was going to need her help getting to the bottom of whatever was going on with Trey. But just before I stepped into the kitchen, I heard voices and stopped to listen.

"...refusing to eat and calling the chaplain words that I'm ashamed to repeat."

The voice that I heard in the kitchen did not belong to my mother. Without even peeking through the doorway, I recognized it as that of Trey's mother, Mrs. Emory. I held my breath in the hope that they wouldn't catch me eavesdropping.

"I just don't know what's come over him. I mean, first it was the antics in the fall, which I was willing to overlook because of what had happened with the Richmond girl," Mrs. Emory said in a hushed, worried tone. She was referring to the car crash that Trey had survived, the one which Violet had predicted at Olivia's party. Olivia, who Trey had been driving home from the mall, had flown through the windshield when Trey's Corolla had collided head-on with an eighteen-wheeler truck. Trey had been mere inches away from her at the moment of impact.

"I mean, that's understandable, right? For him to have been upset about the crash?" Mrs. Emory continued.

"Of course," my mother agreed.

"But the dean of his school is recommending electro-shock therapy. Trey speaks out of turn in classes and threatens the other students. Yesterday morning before we arrived to pick him up for the break, one of the other students jokingly suggested that Trey might have to spend the holiday vacation at school, and Trey picked him up and threw him so hard against a wall that the boy had a concussion."

I shuddered where I stood in the hallway with my back pressed against the wall. So, I wasn't the only one worried about Trey. Something was wrong with him.

"Trey?" my mother asked incredulously. "I never thought of him as the kind of kid to pick a fight."

"And this boy he threw, Deborah... he's easily twice Trey's size. I don't know how Trey had the strength to even get him off the ground," Mrs. Emory said.

Just then, Maude sensed my presence in the hallway and burst through the doorway from the kitchen, tail wagging. Totally busted for eavesdropping, I stomped my feet a few times in a poor attempt to make it sound like I was walking down the hallway before entering the kitchen.

"Oh, good morning, hon. I didn't even hear you get up," my mom greeted me.

"Hi," I said in a weak greeting to Mrs. Emory. The last time I'd seen her in person was in the Shawano County courtroom the day of our sentencing. As always, she looked rail thin, drained of energy. Not surprisingly, she stood up from her chair intending to leave the moment she saw me.

"I should be getting back," Mrs. Emory said to my mother without addressing me. "I don't want to leave the boys alone for too long." She glanced in my direction as she set her coffee cup in the sink. "Thank you for the coffee."

Two hours later at the mall in Ortonville, Mischa listened to my concerns about Trey as she sucked a java chip Coffeeccino through a red striped straw. Saccharine Christmas music played in the background as last-minute shoppers carrying bags strolled past the food court. The sensory overload of holiday activity within the mall made it hard to believe how much my life had changed since the beginning of the school year.

"We haven't really spoken that much since we were arrested, you know? I barely saw him before we left for our separate schools, and we can't say too much on the phone because there's always someone around, listening," I complained. "So it's possible that he's been different this whole time and I didn't realize it. Only last night when he came over... I can't explain it. He was like a different person."

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