Chapter 4: Family

Ellowyne and Midge floated through the wall into the upstairs hallway. “Oh, this is kind of fun!” Ellowyne exclaimed. Midge remained silent as they entered the bedroom of Ellowyne’s dear grandmother. Instead of the lively, globe-hopping, thrift-shop loving older woman she had always known, Ellowyne saw a grey figure hunched up and sitting in a rocking chair. “Grandmother?”

“Remember, Ellowyne, she can’t hear you,” Midge admonished. “She couldn’t cope after your mother died and your father had his, um, nervous breakdown.”

“Father? Where’s Father?”

“I’m sorry, dear. He was hospitalized soon after your mother died and he is only allowed home on special occasions. He hasn’t been compliant with his new medications so he has to remain in the institution for the holidays.”
Ellowyne looked uneasily around the house. Although Ellowyne hadn’t noticed the condition of the outside, the inside was in a state of disrepair, with cracked ceilings, peeled wallpaper, and drafty windows. Ellowyne reflected on the gorgeous décor, the antiques, and the pristine condition of the house as she remembered it. And then, struck with concern, she asked, “What about Freddy?”

“I can’t let you see him but I can show you where he lives.”

Midge took Ellowyne to a spot not terribly far from her grandmother’s home. It was a magnificent building, not far from the bay. Ellowyne watched as seagulls perched on a sign near the entrance. At first Ellowyne thought the setting was peaceful and beautiful. Then she gasped as she read the sign:

San Quentin State Penitentiary

“I know you and Freddy weren’t terribly close,” Midge explained. “But without you, he was even more troubled. You see, you and your friends were good role models for him. You all provided him some guidance and helped him stay out of trouble with the law. Without you, his, um, idiosyncrasies got the best of him and he was arrested numerous times for arson. In 2021, Freddy was sentenced to life in prison for a conflagration that, sadly, burned over a thousand acres of woodland, destroyed dozens of homes, and cost three firefighters their lives.”

Ellowyne sobbed quietly. Her brother wasn’t bad, just irresponsible and deeply troubled.

If this is how Freddy, Grandmother, and Father turned out without her, what happened to her friends?

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