Atonement

By: Selene Chardou

Atonement Duet #1



Prologue





“Drink up, because school is over!”

I looked down at the perfectly made dirty martini before I glanced at Drew and rolled my eyes. “Yeah, it is over for Thanksgiving weekend only. I can only stay for a little while though because I promised my mother I would make it in time for Thanksgiving dinner; thanks to you and this stupid party, I’m not leaving until seven in the morning.”

The ever-perfect Drew pouted in my direction, which on him, looked pretty pathetic. “You are such a girl. Why can’t you just stay here with me and avoid your parents altogether? We are PhD students, after all. What’s so special about going home for Thanksgiving anyway?” he said in a sarcastic tone.

I downed the martini in one go before I walked back to my vanity mirror and tried to concentrate on flat ironing my hair, but Drew wasn’t the type who could easily be ignored.

An unabashedly vivacious character, he was also my best friend and ex-lover. Although his bisexuality had nothing to do with us parting ways, his infidelity did, but I loved him so much as a human being, I couldn’t dare shut him out of my life.

We were both PhD students in our final year, and at twenty-eight, we were damn near ancient. I could have taken a very cushy position in my father’s corporation, but after the economy collapsed in the late nineties, I decided to go back to school and get a PhD in political economy and government. Drew happened to be majoring in the same subject, and since we ran into one another more often than not, somehow we managed to make our friendship work.

It made sense for Drew to want his PhD in our subject of choice since his father was a senator for Massachusetts who always assumed once his son finished sowing his wild oats, he would join the political elite who controlled state capitals and Washington, D.C. with an iron fist. As for me, I was just lost and hadn’t a clue what I wanted to do with my life. I would probably end up an academic since I had absolutely no interest in becoming a cog in the political machine. I appreciated those that had the time and inclination to join the civil departments of the government, but I would never be one of those people.

My Android phone began to play “Right Round” by Flo Rida—a ring tone I had specifically chosen for my mother—as I set down my flat iron and picked my phone up.

“Hello, Mother. How are you?” I sing-songed a tad too loudly, hoping she wouldn’t realize I wasn’t sober.

She sniffled a bit before she answered. “Deirdre, sweetheart, when were you planning to come back?”

“Mom, what’s wrong?”

“It’s your father…” I heard a wail in the background from my younger sister, Caitlyn.

My heart began to hammer in my chest as I tried to stop the flow of emotions from taking over my body. “What about him?”

“It’s my fault, really. I needed an ingredient for the organic apple pie I was planning to make for dessert. You know I never cook, and I threw Marguerite out of the kitchen and told her to rest her feet. She’s spent so much time making the perfect Thanksgiving meal, but I just had to make my organic apple pie—”

“Mom, what’s going on?” I interrupted. Something was definitely not right because my mother never babbled unless she was nervous or frightened.

“He…a drunk driver…he was run over and left there! The bastard didn’t bother to stick around and check if he was breathing, let alone okay. There wasn’t a single witness. Can you believe that? I mean, who goes out the day before Thanksgiving and gets run over? Can you believe that? And yet, supposedly, there isn’t a single fucking witness?”

Her voice had reached a high-pitched shrill by the end, and I didn’t know what to say because none of her words told me whether my poor father was dead or alive.

“What’s his condition? Surely someone eventually called the police and he was taken to the hospital?”

My mother sniffled again on the other line. “It was too late, honey. They did all they could do, and he fought like a son of a bitch until the end, but…there was nothing they could do. You and Caitlyn have lost your father, and I’ve lost my husband.”