produced/written by G. Matthew Smith



EPISODE #76 (Monday 11/5/01) click here for a printable version of this episode
Two Months Later
January, 1936 - Evening


THE STOKES MANSION - LIVING ROOM

Judith Stokes Linford76 Mapleton WayAs the delicate flurries of snow slowly fell to the ground, she stood at the French doors that overlooked the terrace and gazed out at the lake that was partially crusted over with ice.  She tried to find the resulting metaphor for her own life, but found the thoughts difficult to bear.  Everything that she'd ever wanted, all of her plans and dreams, had come crashing down around her.  She hadn't realized how much it had all mattered to her until it was all gone.

"Judith?" Mark Linford muttered softly as he walked up behind her and placed his strong hands on her shoulders.  "You're still thinking about the baby, aren't you?"

"Yes," Judith Linford muttered weakly.  "It's the only thing I can think about.  How...how could it have turned out like this?  How could my baby be gone?"

He took a deep breath as he watched her closely.  No matter what differences they had, his heart still went out to her for her loss.  Granted, the child hadn't been his, but he'd never truly wanted anything bad to happen to it.  Maybe it had all been for the best.  Maybe now that his wife had no ties to Burt Lamont, their lives could return to something that resembled normal.  Well, as normal as it could be for them.  Without that child, Judith had no way to hold on to Burt and no reason to divorce him.  Now, he had no reason to feel that his security and his social standing were at risk.  That fact should have made Mark overjoyed.  However, for some reason, the price that was paid seemed far too great.


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THE CALLISON HOME - CHARLES' BEDROOM

2210 Elmwood Lane"I just hope that Reginald and Trevor don't try to start trouble," Charles Callison muttered and he looked at himself in the mirror and attempted to tie his bowtie.  "I know they've really tried to accept Burt into the family, but I realize how hard it must be for both of them.  Their entire lives we've thought that we were the last of the Callisons...the ones who were left to carry on our family's name."

"Charles, you can't help it that you didn't know about Burt being your brother's son," Annabelle Lake spoke up as she stepped behind him and placed her hand on his shoulder.  "Burt didn't even know until his mother died."

"I know," he sighed as he hung his head, "but...I just feel like I owe him so much.  His entire life, he's been denied the benefits and advantages that go along with our name.  What my parents did to him and his mother just wasn't right."

"But the job of making amends shouldn't fall completely on your shoulders!"

Charles Callison"Then whose?  Father's gone, now, Annabelle.  I'm the only one who can make up for all of the horrible sins of the past."  He eyed his reflection closely.  When did he get to be so old?  Where had all the time gone?

"Well, darling, I think this party is a wonderful step in the right direction."  She glided away from him and reached for her mink coat that was draped gracefully over the side chair.  It had been a Christmas present from him and she'd squealed with delight when she'd opened the box from Lerner's Department Store on Christmas Eve.  "I think tonight's coming out party for Burt as a Callison will show him how much this family truly accepts him."

"As long as there aren't any problems with Reginald and Trevor," he mumbled to himself with apprehension.  Seeing her awkwardness in pulling on her coat, he turned away from the mirror and walked over to help her.  "I'm sure this has all got to be difficult for Burton, too.  He's discovered a family that he didn't know that he had.  He really didn't seem overly thrilled with the idea of this party."

"That's one of the reasons that I suggested also making it a birthday party for Stephanie," she explained with a slight tilt of her head.  "She is going to be 19 in a few days.  I'm sure that if Burt thinks he's not the complete center of attention, it will ease his burden somewhat."

"I...I guess you're right," Charles muttered, still not completely convinced about the intelligence in mixing Stephanie's birthday with the family celebration.  However, considering what he had planned, the presence of Annabelle's daughter would be timed perfectly.  He did, though, have other worries where Stephanie was concerned.  "But, I'm not sure how Reginald and Jillian are going to react to her being there.  I haven't...told them about this being a joint celebration."

Annabelle Lake"Oh, Charles, they'll be fine!" she exclaimed as she gently stroked his cheek.  "You worry so much.  Just relax and enjoy this wonderful evening."  She stopped to glance down at her expensive diamond watch, a New Year's present from Charles, and quickly realized how late it was getting.  "Darling, we need to hurry!  We're late as it is.  Fashionably late, of course, but it wouldn't look good to have us come strolling in at some ungodly time."

"Yes, you're right," he muttered as he suddenly became filled with nervousness and apprehension.  "We do need to get going."

As Charles followed Annabelle out of the room and down the stairs, he couldn't shake the ominous feeling that had taken hold of him.  Why was he overcome with a sudden sense of dread?  What could possibly go wrong?


THE STOKES MANSION - LIVING ROOM

76 Mapleton Way"J-Judith," Mark muttered awkwardly as he reached out for her.  "I...I don't know what to say about all of this."

"I just can't...."  Her voice trailed off as tears began to well up in her eyes. 

She hated feeling so emotional and vulnerable, but since the loss of her baby, she hadn't been able to feel anything else.  True, she'd found the entire act of carrying the child rather unpleasant, to say the least, and she'd longed for it to be over and done with, but not like this.  Overcome with emotion, she fell into his waiting arms and buried her face into his chest as she sobbed.  The irony of the entire moment was not lost on either of them.

"M-Mark," she spoke up as she tried to swallow back her tears, "why...why are you being so good to me through all of this?  This isn't...wasn't...your child, after all.  Why do you even care?"

Mark Linford"Oh, Judith," he sighed as he gently stroked her hair, "just because this wasn't my child doesn't mean that I can't grieve for the loss of it.  This was a baby, after all."

"It was Burt's baby!"

"I know, Judith!"  He clinched his teeth tightly.  The true paternity of her baby had never been far from his mind.  However, he'd worked so hard to convince himself and everyone else that the child was his that he'd grown to think of it as his own.  Why did she always have to remind him of the truth?  Why did she have to constantly rub her past with Burt in his face?  Taking a deep breath, he carefully lifted her chin so that he could look deeply into his eyes.  "Maybe now you can forget all of this foolishness as far as Burt Lamont is concerned."

"So!  That's what all of this gooey sympathy has been!" Judith snapped in anger as she quickly pulled herself out of his embrace.  "All of this comfort and devotion as just been a ploy on your part to ensure your status as my husband so you can continue to sponge off of my family's social standing!"

"That is not what this is about!"

Judith Stokes Linford"Oh, isn't it?"  She quickly walked away from him and back to the French doors overlooking the terrace.  "Just leave me alone."

"You know, Judith," Mark said as he carefully rubbed his chin, "what I don't understand is why you can't remember anything that happened the night that you fell.  How exactly did you do that swan dive down the stairs?"

"I...I don't know," she sighed as she hung her head.  "That entire night is nothing but a blur to me.  I wish I did know what happened.  I wish I could remember.".

As she stood and gazed out upon the frozen lake, she began to search the darkest corners of her mind.  There just had to be some sort of memory there that could explain why she'd taken the tragic fall that had cost her the life of her unborn child.  What had happened that night?  The last thing she could remember before waking up in the hospital was standing at the bottom of the stairs looking up at the second floor landing.  Suddenly overcome by a sense of dread and fear, she leaned forward against the glass of the doors and felt its wintry coldness against her forehead.  She was determined to remember what had happened if it was the last thing she ever did.