Picket Fences

The residents of Benicia are settling in for the evening, enjoying their meals and glasses of wine to mark the end of the day. But Saraya Foster’s evening is spent searching for the Leavenworth’s Atherton house. While she’s deep in her quest, she hears the door close and can’t help but roll her eyes as she acknowledges her mother’s arrival. As her mother, Diahanna, comes up the steps, she greets her daughter with a faint “hello” and takes a sip of vodka. Sarya looks at the glass and says, “Really, Mother? You came in the door drunk?” Diahanna looks at her and walks off and Saraya shakes her head. But in the blink of an eye Diahanna is back. “You don’t get to do that…you don’t get to do that to me … how dare you judge me,” she says, her anger somewhat sobering her up. Saraya sits stunned on her bed, not knowing what to say. 

Diahanna speaks to Saraya, “I loved your father, you have to know that. But he was my husband before he was your father. We had a bond,” she says as she slides down the wall and sits on the floor. She continues to tell her story, “We had dreams; him and me against the world. We knew each other when we had nothing, and we built a business together. I know when you look at me now, all you see is a washed-up and desperate woman, but that’s not all I am, Saraya. I wish you could have seen me through your father’s eyes, my hopes, my dreams. When I had you, I never knew what jealousy was before. The first time I saw him hold you, he lit up. I knew he would be a good father, but I just never knew he’d forget about me,” Diahanna says as tears roll down her face. Saraya tries to help her up, “Mom, let me help?” “I don’t need your pity, Saraya. I need you to love me and respect me. I lost him too but I lost him long before he died,” Diahanna says while struggling to get up. Diahanna retires to her room, leaving Saraya to rethink their whole relationship.  

She isn’t the only one rethinking a relationship.

Nervous, Payton paces outside the lakehouse as he thinks about what going home will mean after having heard his mother’s therapy sessions. He thinks about confronting her but doesn’t want to hurt her. But he knows he can’t keep it in. Xavier comes outside to check on Payton, sitting down on the grass next to him. “I don’t know what you heard on those tapes but if you need me, I’m here,” he says, putting his arm around Payton. Payton lays his head on Xavier’s shoulder as they both sit in the yard taking in the sweet silence of their surroundings.  

But they aren’t the only ones taking in the quiet in silence.

Trisha Darling sits by her husband’s bedside, holding a nightcap in her hand. She can’t help thinking about how a few seconds could change a life, and how a simple slip out of the shower that her husband Frank had taken a year ago led to this moment, hiding Frank from his business partner and the world. If they ever found out his condition, they would swarm in like vultures and take everything away. She can’t wait to put her plan into action at the party and finally have peace for her and Frank. Just then the silence is broken with the ring of the phone. “Hello,” she answers. “Hi, is Frank there, and can I speak with him?” the voice asks. “He’s resting right now, what is this regarding” she responds. 

“This is the F.E.B.,the Financial Ethics Board we need to speak with Frank Darling. We have some questions for him. Please have him call us,” the voice says and hangs up. Trisha hangs up the phone, turning to Frank in the bed. “The barbarians are at the gate, Frank, and I don’t know what to do,”  she says, looking at his motionless body. The fear feels more real now than ever.