Three weeks had gone by since the Corketts last saw their son Riley. The school had called and they kept giving the same excuse.
He is unwell and receiving medical attention. He would be back soon, whereas they knew those were lies.
Mr Corkett had frequently suggested going to the town's county to file a missing person's report, but his wife Tracy kept advising him against it.
The last time he tried bringing up the conversation, she threatened him with the one thing she had as leverage over him and the man kept silent.
Hence, they'd been watching and waiting, hoping he would return. More hope fell on Mr Corkett. Even though Riley wasn't his biological son, he had watched the boy grow and had always seen him as his.
"Aren't you worried? We can't just sit here and wait for him to walk back home, we have to find him."
Mr Corkett says to his wife, who moves about the kitchen preparing their lunch. Sadly, after Tracy sent Riley out of the house two weeks ago, the couple went home waiting for the boy to walk back in.
"Why should I worry? He has nowhere to go, and he is probably with his baby daddy. When that one gets done using him, he will find his way back home. I am not about to burden myself with a child that has brought nothing but shame to this family."
Tracy responds, turning off the stove, and her husband gaped at her.
"Dear heavens, is that all you care about, Tracy? Why is it always about our reputation and not about our kids for once? This is your child. For crying out loud, have the sympathy of a mother please."
Mr Corkett pleads with his wife as she cleans the kitchen island.
"I am glad you mentioned he is my child, not yours, so I can do as I wish with you. Quit worrying he isn't yours after all and stop nagging me, now all because of Riley, all you do is raise your voice at me and nag me."
Tracy snaps angrily, throwing the kitchen towel in her hand at her husband and she storms out of the kitchen.
"Do you expect me to just sit, watch blindly and let what happened to Jaidyn repeat? If I had known things would get out of their hands, I wouldn't have allowed any of it. The only thing you cared about was our reputation and now again, it's all about our reputation. When will you snap out of this and realise we are destroying our home, when Tracy?"
Mr Corkett yells, following his wife out of the kitchen. She pauses in the living room, turning to face him.
"A hypocrite, that's what you are. Now you paint me out to be the bad guy, remember the reason you allowed it with Jaidyn was because you didn't want the entire church to know their deacon was a fuc.king homosexual. Everything I have ever done since I married you, was all because of you. This woman you are calling a terrible mother helped you save your face with your family. I married you to save your reputation despite knowing your preference because I loved you and you lied about loving me, too. The entire point of starting this union between us was to keep our reputation, so why does it irk you now that I am only doing what I have always done? Tell me, why the hell does it matter now? Tell me Emmanuel."
Tracy screams, pointing her finger at his chest, and the husband sighs, grabbing her hands.
"I love you Tracy, you know I do. For you, I tried changing, I tried being a better man." Emmanuel says, trying to calm his wife down, and Tracy pulls her hand from his hold.
"Stop, Emmanuel, stop with the lies; I am tired of listening to you repeat the same lie for thirty-five years. You never loved me, and I didn't break up this family. You did; all I have ever done is thrive to keep this family and its reputation together. If you ever loved me, you wouldn't go out to sleep with multiple men after I just had our first child. You promised me you wouldn't ever. I believed you, but you cheated, you pushed me to go against my morals. Because of you, I sinned and fornicated. I wouldn't have had that boy called Riley if you hadn't cheated on me. So this is all on you, and you dare blame me for being a terrible mother. Do you think I like to wake up every day seeing the face that reminds me of sins? You think I love that? I am your wife for Christ’s sake. When was the last time you touched me?"
Tracy cries out as she points her fingers at Emmanuel accusingly and the husband's face is filled with reproach.
"But I tried Tracy, you know I did and never have I faulted you for everything you've done for me, but these are our children. My conscience can't take this anymore, we lost Jaidyn and now Riley. Please let's look for him before the situation gets out of hand like it did with Jaidyn. We don't want to have the death of another boy on our hands. Skylar died because of the situation with Jaidyn. Let's not repeat that." Emmanuel begs and Tracy scoffs, wiping the tear stains on her cheek.
"Good riddance. I don't care who dies and who lives, I lost so much to be where I am today in the church, and I am not losing that over a homosexual child and husband. Over my dead body, you can search for a child that isn't yours, as long as you're ready to face the heat alone. Count me out of it."
Tracy deadpans, walking away from Emmanuel's presence, and she heads for their bedroom.
"Tracy, this isn't right, you are a mother, please for once let's do the right thing. I would take the fall. I'll tell the pastor that I am gay, I'll tell him everything, but please, Riley needs you. He is pregnant and alone he would need his mother."
Emmanuel says, walking behind his wife and she shakes her head as she opens the door to their bedroom.
"Like I said, if Riley needs us he will come back home. I am not looking for any child, he can join Skylar in hell for all I care."
Tracy responds, stripping out of her clothes and she steps into the bathroom, closing the door, to shut out any other conversation from her husband, who sits perplexed on their bed.
Never in his life did Emmanuel think a day like this would come, even though Riley was not his biological son, Emmanuel loved the boy as his.
The one time he hit him, the guilt still haunts him to date. He remembered how tired Riley looked that night and he wanted to ask him what made him look so sad.
However, Emmanuel didn't want to upset his wife, as she often complained that he didn't contribute to the upbringing of the boys.
What happened with Jaidyn had made it worse as Tracy blamed her husband for everything, and that night he only wanted to appease his wife and prevent her from nagging him through the night.
He hadn't intended to go that far, ever since he had restrained him from hurting the boy, and the minute he saw the video Emmanuel realised he had to protect Riley from Tracy.
However, he failed because he feared more for his reputation and what Tracy would do with all that he knows.
The middle-aged man sighed as he buried his face in his hands. If only he had known his life would come to this point, he wouldn't have tried being the perfect manly son his parents wanted.
His father and mother were both pastors in the church, and his grandparents were founding members. They expected Emmanuel to follow in the footsteps of his parents and grandparents.
The minute Emmanuel started showing signs of femininity, his parents shunned him, hence why he hid himself from them, pretending to be masculine and straight.
He joined the soccer team just to prove what he wasn't. To his parents, the Corkett family reputation mattered. It wasn't about their service to God, but more about the recognition they have as founding families. Emmanuel couldn't bring shame to the family, hence he pretended to be straight and approached Tracy, but she soon learned of his secret and she was far too in love with him to let go at that point, hence the sham of their marriage.
A union that only began because one wouldn't let go of her first love and the other didn't want to bring shame to his family's name.
It turns out their children now suffer the consequences of their selfish decisions. Emmanuel knew they could have avoided all this if he had just come out and admitted his sexuality.
Tracy soon steps out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around her waist and she moves to her closet to fetch a dress and headtie before she applies lotion to her body.
"I am going to have lunch. If you are hungry, come for food and, if you are not, remain here."
Riley's mom says, ties her hair and she steps out of their bedroom. Emmanuel had lost his appetite for food, but he knew if he didn't go to her, Tracy would use that as a reason to flare up again.
"Help me with the plates."
Tracy says, immediately Emmanuel appears in the kitchen, and their doorbell rang, causing the couple to look at each other.
"I'll check it out."
Emmanuel says, leaving the kitchen, and he walks to the front door, just as the bell rings again and he pulls the door open.