New Winslow S6E50

When Cleo got to her mother’s house the next afternoon, everything in her screamed that she needed to leave New Winslow now. She knew it wasn’t some kind of psychic intention or spiritual anything. It was the fight she’d had with Liv, Edie’s close call, the clear knowledge of her own chances of getting stuck at any time, and the way she hated this fucking town, all spilling together to scream at her to Get. Out.

But she had responsibilities here. Cleo wanted to talk to Olivia, but she also had to admit that she didn’t want to deal with that whole mess. She was pissed. She hadn’t been calling Liv a bad parent. Cleo knew it, Noah knew it, and she knew that Liv knew it. And she didn’t necessarily blame Liv for getting upset, but considering Cleo had never said a word like that in the past? She was insulted that Liv jumped straight to that conclusion. Cleo knew it was the trauma, but that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt.

But for now, she needed to set that aside and focus. She was overnight with her mother tonight, there wouldn’t be a chance for her to test out the boundaries of the town. So she may get trapped even as she sat there watching talk shows. Or maybe it would never hit her and she’d be fine. But she’d never know until it actually happened. And she just had to act casual, like this was a normal day in a normal town.

Her father was sitting at the kitchen table when Cleo came inside, kicking off her shoes at the door. He jumped, then turned and smiled at her.

“Cleo,” he said.

His voice was quiet, but it always was. So that indicated nothing about how things had been going. “Mom asleep?” she asked, her own greeting blunt to match his.

Dad nodded. “She’s been in there for about twenty minutes.”

“Good. You can go whenever you need to.”

She still wasn’t sure what her father did when he wasn’t here. He was retired by this point, living off of his pension and some investments he’d made over the years. He also had some side gigs going still, but she hadn’t asked about them and he didn’t seem interested in sharing.

“Before I do, I need to talk to you.”

That teenage tension built up immediately, making her straighten her posture just a bit. A statement like that had usually been followed by a lecture in the past. Of course, back then she’d generally deserved it for sneaking out with Liv or something.

“Of course,” she said, hoping she didn’t sound nervous.

The twinkle that appeared in her dad’s eye for a second proved he’d caught everything she was thinking. But he didn’t look angry as he motioned for her to sit. Instead, he glanced down at the table. Cleo followed his gaze to the brochures the doctor had given her back in December when her mother was in the hospital. She looked up at him and the spark of amusement was gone.

“Those were from the doctors,” she started, and he nodded.

“I know,” he said. “Naomi told me.”

Cleo picked up the one closest to her. It was for a memory care center just east of New Winslow, heading toward Worcester. The brochure was bright and glossy, showing rolling green hills and comfortable suites for the residents. A smiling doctor pushed an elderly woman in a wheelchair as the woman beamed for the camera.

“Does she want to go somewhere else?” she asked, trying not to get her hopes up.

“We were talking about it earlier,” her dad said as he flipped a different brochure over to read it himself. This one looked a bit more suburban than the one Cleo had. She could see a van on the front, bringing residents on a day trip. “She doesn’t feel as safe here as she hoped she would.”

Cleo instantly flashed back to the open back door. To pacing the floors, waiting for a call. To the call from Noah’s phone where, through chattering teeth, he told her he had her mother. It had been over three months since that day, but if it haunted Cleo, she could only imagine how much it haunted her mother.

“I told her it’s her decision,” her dad continued, playing idly with the brochure in front of him. “But there are options. Outside of New Winslow.”

The last part was heavy with meaning, and she looked up into his solemn eyes. “Can we afford it?” she asked.

When Cleo was younger, her parents had gone out of their way to not discuss finances with her. She’d generally chalked it up to their usual anxiety and not thought any more about it. And judging by the uncomfortable look that quickly passed over her father’s face, she was probably right.

“Mostly,” he said. “We’d sell this place. She owns the home and rents the lot, but the sale would cover deposits for her room and board at some of these places, plus a few months of expenses. I would like to get an apartment nearby.”

“You’re staying?”

Her dad shrugged. “I’m retired, Cleo,” he said. “And California was a great life. Sacramento was exactly what I needed for a long time. But I have a responsibility here. We’re not married anymore, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love her.”

How many times had she thought about her parents getting back together when she was younger? Cleo had been starting college when they divorced, so she’d never truly expected it, but the fantasies were there. Emotion caught in her throat, even though she knew that wasn’t what he was saying.

“What about after the house money runs out?”

She’d never had serious financial conversations like this with anybody before. At thirty-four years old, Cleo was actually kind of surprised to realize that. She’d always lived on her own, paying her own bills and not relying on a partner or roommate until Edie. And maybe the two of them should be having these conversations soon. They didn’t share finances, but if they kept going the way they were (and Cleo very much hoped they would), then eventually they’d have to, right?

But right now she almost felt like a phony. Like a kid pretending to be an adult.

“That’s why I need to talk to you,” her father said. “My retirement money will cover my housing and part of hers. And I’ve got some work as well, that may be able to cover her living expenses. But I don’t know that for sure.”

“Of course I’ll help.”

Her dad looked a little startled at how quickly she said it. But honestly, if it got her mother out of New Winslow and got her the care she needed, Cleo would do extra delivery shifts to make whatever it took. She’d license every song she’d ever written and accept the sellout label as it arrived, if it meant her mother wasn’t in this town anymore and was getting the level of care that she needed.

“It wouldn’t be all of it,” he said quickly. “It might not be any of it, or just sometimes. I’m not sure, it’ll depend on so many factors. But between her insurance, you, and me, I think this is the best option for her. I’m trying not to push though.”

“Of course, of course,” Cleo said, her mind already going in a million different directions.

They stayed a few more minutes, though neither really spoke. Then her dad stood up. “I’ll be back in the morning,” he said.

“Where are you going?”

“Worcester,” he replied simply. “I’ve got a friend there who hired me to consult for her business. I’ll do that tonight, then come back tomorrow.”

So he wasn’t going to be getting much sleep. Cleo tried not to let it concern her. “Love you,” she said.

Why did he have to look surprised? But he leaned in and kissed her cheek. “Love you too.”

A few minutes later, he was gone and Cleo was alone in the warm kitchen, looking at the brochures scattered in front of her.




Leave A Comment

3d book display image of The Vanishing House

Want a free book?

The Northern Worcester County branch of the Foundation for Paranormal Research is one of the organization’s top investigation and cleanup teams. So when a case comes in involving a century of mysterious disappearances, they figure they’ll be done before their lunch break is supposed to end. Investigators James and Amelia go to the site while their coworkers remain behind. But in seconds, Amelia vanishes in the cursed house and the others are forced to find her with no help from their bosses. Will they be able to get her back or will the house claim one final victim?

Get Your Copy Today>>