This deleted scene takes place right around Chapter 21 in Falling on Maya’s first full day at the Fox steadfast in Farewell. In the final version of the book, Tarren leaves for a workout while assigning Gabe babysitting duty for Maya. In an earlier version of the book, I actually had both brothers go to practice, leaving Maya alone in the house to explore. I eventually changed this, because I realized that Tarren would never leave Maya alone at that point in their relationship. Still, I thought her observations about the house — especially Gabe’s room — were informative.
I am alone in the house. The boys are gone to their fighting class with my shopping list tucked in Tarren’s pocket. I still don’t know if he’ll buy the laptop I requested. I need it. The pressure of words is building inside of me. That, and my keen awareness that the Internet keeps growing, changing and most definitely leaving me behind.
In the meantime, I walk around the house on my own private tour, poking around, trying to see how many more hidden guns I can find. Tarren’s bedroom is locked. Gabe’s room is not, so I go in.
It’s not clean, but I expected it to be messier. I receive another sultry stare from Keira Knightly on the wall over the rumpled bed. There are comics, Playboys, and some muscle mags under his bed that I flip through casually, along with a bag of pot that smells old. I find a gun under his pillow and three different knives on his desk scattered among empty cans of Red Bull. Some dirty clothes are slung over probably the last bean bag chair still in existence.
In the garage, I test the locked cabinets, peering through the crack trying to distinguish what’s worth protecting. I run my hand along the motorbike and bring it back dusty. Tarren’s lab is locked, go figure. I go to the Fox Cave, and Keira Knightly thrusts a sultry stare at me. I can’t tell if she wants to hurt me or fuck me or maybe a little of both. This is clearly sexual harassment, and I don’t appreciate it.
What I don’t find is junk; the stuff that everyone inevitably accumulates during life. I search for any hint of Tammy or Diana, any history at all and come up empty. No photo albums, macaroni valentines, Crayon masterpieces, tee-ball trophies, abandoned clarinets, growth charts penned on the wall, something, anything portending childhood, family, normalcy. There is nothing, nothing, nothing.
Upstairs, Gabe’s computer is password protected. I try a few guesses, including “Keira Knightly”, “Batman”, and “Francesca” before giving up and turning on the TV.
I need to keep moving, keep concentrating only on the present or the hunger will snatch my thoughts away. That or a random memory of Ryan will leave me gasping for air on the floor – the time when I put sparkles in his conditioner for no good reason or drew blue ink hearts on a pair of his underwear because he took too long getting the pizza.
I am keenly aware that I could run out the door and keep running until I found a highway. I could still go back no matter what my hair looks like. With all the missed classes, I’m falling father behind at school. Strange how I still care, how it pricks my pride to think of my grades sinking down.
Tarren may still decide to shoot me at any random moment. Gabe could realize that I’m not salvageable after all. I don’t really know them so well or how far to trust their integrity. My future is balancing on toothpicks.
I flip through the channels and stop on the news, because my parents are huddled together looking plaintively out from the screen. I don’t understand at first, though I suppose I should. Ryan is dead. I am missing. Pretty little white girl from a well-to-do family.
Karen looks terrible. Her makeup is skewed too heavy, and pouches bulge beneath her eyes. She is wearing a t-shirt with my face on it. It quivers as she takes a tear-soaked breath. Henry holds her hand looking uncomfortable. His skin is gray, his suit rumpled.
There I am, grinning stupidly in the upper right-hand corner like I’m enjoying the spectacle of my parents eviscerating themselves on live television. Karen has the big purse slung over her shoulder, the one I called her medicine bag because it can only mean she’s hit the apex of her cyclic breakdowns and requires all possible psychiatric, pulmonary and homeopathic medications to be on her person at all times.
The genuineness of their shared misery strikes me. I lean in close to the TV, studying their faces, comprehending the full scale of the disaster I have wrought and will never be able to make right. I fumble for the remote, needing to rid myself of the images. I hit buttons, bringing up a menu. I can still hear Karen’s voice.
“Please, we just want our daughter back.”
I jam the power button, and the TV cuts out. I kneel on the floor, head down, forcing air in and out of my collapsed lungs. Something cracks. I release my grip on the remote and stare at the splintered plastic. I spend the next half hour trying to force the remote into some semblance of its previous shape.
Duct tape offers ugly stitches for the remote. I don’t know if it works. I can’t turn on the TV. I just can’t.