Picket Fences

There’s always something to be said about a good party.

As the residents of Benicia begin arriving home with their art purchases and gossip from the night’s event, two residents have more than just gossip on their minds.

Xavier and Payton pull up to the house. “My dad beat us home,” Payton says, noticing his father’s car in the driveway.  “How does your neck feel?” Xavier asks, trying to break the silence in the truck, “It’s fine,” Payton replies, opening the door to exit the truck. Xavier grabs Payton, “Hey that’s it? You’re not going to talk to me?” he asks, confused.  Payton closes the door and takes a deep breath, “What would you like me to say?” Payton says, looking at Xavier.  “I don’t know, I just thought we would talk about us … I don’t know,” Xavier says, trailing off. “You want to talk about us? You are a piece of work,” Payton replies.

“Okay, let’s talk… I’m sitting here in your truck with a sore neck because I was hit by a crazy person while breaking into my mom’s friend’s house.. only to find that my mom may be in danger or part of something illegal. Meanwhile, my boyfriend, my friend, or whatever the hell we are, is being blackmailed to keep me a secret… So yeah, I’m thinking I don’t have much to say.” “I told you I’d fix this thing with Saraya,” Xavier says, trying to sooth Payton. “You do that; and while you’re doing that, why don’t you think of a way to fix us, too. That’ll be nice,” Payton says. The heated exchange is broken by a tap on the window. “Hey guys,” Payton turns to see his dad and opens the door. “Mom told me you got hurt,” Bruce says, helping his son out of the truck, “Thank you for helping him home.” Xavier watches Payton and Bruce walk into the house, feeling lost for words.

But he isn’t the only one at a loss for words.

Saraya arrives home and walks into the darkened house to grab a snack and a glass of water, taking advantage of the silence to reflect on the evening. But before she can get one sip down, she hears her mother’s heels behind her. “How was the party?” Diahann asks. “It was fine, you’ll be glad to know that I got us in with the Leavenworths,” she says, eating cold roast beef.  They stand in a few seconds of awkward silence. “I could heat that up for you, Saraya,” Diahann says, grabbing the plate to put in the microwave.  “Did you ever love my father?” Saraya asks calmly, stopping Diahann in her tracks. “Now that is a complicated question,” Diahann replies. Saraya thought about her mother’s answer. “No… it’s not, I saw love tonight, true love, and I… used it as a weapon… to get what I want, my god, what does that say about me?”  “You did what you had to do,” Diahann answers. “No… I didn’t have to do it, I did it  to help myself, my god… I’m more like you than I thought.” Saraya says, taking the last drink of water and realizing the full truth of her statement. “Goodnight, Mother,”  Saraya says, leaving her mother alone with the sting of her words.

Diahann isn’t the only one facing some harsh realizations.

After dropping Connie at her car, Angela arrives home pulling into her driveway, she sits in her black Mercedes Benz gathering herself. Getting out of the car, she catches the cool breeze on her back, and she stops to take in the feeling. She looks around at her street, Bristol Lane, and her home with her son and husband inside, and reflects on what she’s done to protect it, and the life she has built. Angela unlocks the door and enters the home, closing and locking the door behind. 

After every party, there’s always a moment when the host takes a deep breath and says the words “I’m glad that’s over,” but for Angela Wingate, this party was far from over.