Note: Follows Part One, Part Two, and Part Three
While Adam and Luke were having a wonderful father and son night, Rose went home to her empty house. She spent the evening like she spent every evening–grading papers, writing in her teaching journal, and researching techniques to improve her performance. Rose had been a teacher for six years. She graduated in the top of her class in college, tutored since she was in high school, and her mother had been a teacher, so Rose lived and breathed education her whole life. Rose was completely devoted to her art–and to the children she taught. For her, nothing else mattered.
Rose had lost her entire family in one tragedy after another. First, her mother had died of cancer. Her illness and decline had been hard on her whole family, but Rose was the one who cared for her the most. Rose looked down at her marking pen. It had been her mother’s favorite. Rose used it every night. It reminded her of how strong her mother had been and how good a teacher she was. Rose could only hope she’d be as good and strong a person. She was continuously striving for that.
Rose looked across the room at one of the pictures on her hutch. It was of her brother Michael in his uniform. That was the last time she’d seen him-his graduation from basic training. A few weeks later, they’d learned he’d been killed.
She looked at the picture of her father standing with Rose and her younger sisters. Rose could feel the tears starting to form. She’d been doing so well, but thinking of them was still painful. It wasn’t long after Mike’s death that her father had his heart attack. Rose was certain his grief had killed him.
Her stomach rumbled, reminding her she hadn’t eaten since lunch-11 a.m. She really needed to get better about eating regular meals. However, at that moment, there was nothing nutritious about what she needed.
Rose went into her kitchen and grabbed a Mounds bar. Eating it made her think of her father, but it was a pleasant memory. She shared her love for dark chocolate with her father, David. They were the only ones in the family who ate it. They liked all the “weird” things: dark chocolate, coconut, licorice, and stale marshmallow peeps. Her mother, Margaret, had always made a face when they ate stale peeps. Nonetheless, she’d always opened the package a few days before Easter, so they’d be nice and hard by Easter morning. Margaret had to buy two packages: one for Dave and Rose, and one for the rest of the family Mounds bars were a particular favorite for the father and daughter, but they both wished for dark chocolate Almond Joys.
She remembered how her sisters used to tease them about their unusual candy tastes. She missed them. The sound of their laughter. Their deaths were sudden and senseless. A drunk driver hit them head on. He lived. Rose wondered if he felt even a modicum of what she had. If so, she considered it punishment enough. Although, she didn’t argue with his harsh sentence.
Each death took a toll on her, but when her sisters were killed, she suffered the most, which led to her hospitalization, and almost cost her her job. She simply couldn’t function properly. With children involved, Rose couldn’t bring herself to take any risks. She checked herself in-it was the responsible thing to do. Thankfully, her time away allowed Rose to recover, and she was able to throw herself into her work. She became a better teacher than ever.
“Rose, I’m Dr. John Eastman. Would you like to tell me what’s wrong?”
“They’re all dead now.”
“My whole family.”
“This has caused you much pain, hasn’t it?”
“Too much…I can’t function.”
“Rose, we’re currently testing a drug therapy to help people like you. Would you be interested in being one of our trial patients?”
“What does it do?”
“It’ll alter your mind slightly, distancing you from the pain, allowing you to function.”
“Will I still be able to feel?”
“Yes, but you won’t be ruled by emotions. There will be a distance between your thoughts and your feelings. You’ll be able to function with clarity and reason without becoming overwhelmed by emotion.”
Rose didn’t remember much about the therapy, but she knew it helped make her a better teacher. She was able to feel empathy for her students, like Luke. She could even form a connection with Adam Smith, but instead of spending the evening thinking about how attractive and kind he was, she could focus on her teaching–and on better helping Luke and his father.
After several hours of working, Rose got the book she was reading, Stranger in a Strange Land, and went into her bedroom, where she read herself to sleep.
After putting Luke to bed, Adam thought about his talk with Rose and what Luke told him about his feelings. He mentally prepared for the next day before picking up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. He got into his bed and read until he fell asleep several hours later. He decided it would be the perfect book to read with Luke.