Previously in Picket Fences…

Prompted by threats from an unwelcome visitor, Angela had just finished recounting a dark story from her past to her husband, Bruce. Astonished by the story, Bruce had stormed away from the house. We rejoin our story that same night with Angela and Bruce’s neighbor, Madalyn, returning home with groceries.

Madalyn rounds the corner just in time to see Bruce speeding out of the cul-de-sac. She pulls into her driveway and looks back at Angela’s, thinking how unusual it was to see Bruce drive recklessly. Madalyn makes her way to her front door, balancing her groceries in her arms. Placing the bags down in the kitchen, she sees a note that reads, “I’m going to be late tonight, don’t worry about dinner.” “You’re never home for dinner these days, are you?” she sighs to herself. Pulling out the rotisserie chicken she bought and a fork from a drawer, she dives right in at the kitchen sink. “Another night alone… how did we get here?” she thinks. As she pours a glass of wine, a vintage steamer trunk in the living room catches her eye. She walks over, glass in hand, and kneels before it. Unhooking the brass locks, she takes a sip of wine for courage and pulls out a white plush bear. Tears begin to roll down her cheeks as she pulls the bear to her face before placing it aside. Taking another sip from her glass, she pulls out a pair of overalls and slowly runs her fingers over the name “Sydney” embroidered across the front. Her tears flow now, as she thinks of the life that should have been. she finishes the rest of the wine in one full sip you can’t… stop it stop it  tomorrow will be better it won’t hurt tomorrow just get to tomorrow.  Madalyn whispers to herself closing the trunk.   

As  the midday sun shines down on the beautiful seaside town of Benicia, Angela’s son, Payton, is still wondering who the woman from last night was, why his mother had acted so strangely, and where his father had gone in such a hurry. Perturbed, all he knows is that his mom’s so-called friend was the key. 

During his lunch break from school, Payton stops by Benicia Health and Fitness to collect his paycheck from his part-time job. He gets out of his car and starts walking toward the gym when a blue truck speeds into the parking lot. Payton looks up, knowing this could only be one person. Xavier Lavenworth. He was 6’1” with blonde hair and green eyes. He looked like Captain America and old money. Payton looks at him, wondering what it must be like not having to worry about anything, having your parents set you up for life. “Hi, Payton!” he hears from across the parking lot, Payton whirls to see Madalyn approaching at a brisk pace in her Easton Tie Dye Joggers and Black Cove Sandals she picked up from Collektive Boutique. He’s seen women like Madalyn at the gym before. They never seem to come to the gym to actually work out. “Hi, Mrs. Walker,” Payton returns with a forced smile. “Is your mom at her office? I have to talk to her about the clock tower fundraiser for F.A.C.T,” Madalyn chirps. “She should be,” Payton shrugs. At that moment, Xavier Lavenworth passes them to enter the gym. 

“Now, he is nothing but trouble. Just like his daddy,” Madalyn says, under her breath.

“I wouldn’t know,” says Payton, allowing himself the distraction of Xavier’s slightly arrogant strut. His gaze still fixed, Payton begins walking toward the gym. “Bye, Mrs. Walker…” he says over his shoulder.