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There is a storage room with things of Sam’s which Maggie hopes that one day they’ll have the strength to clean out. And they will. They’ll do it together, with James and Sophie making polite conversation within shouting distance, each supporting their significant other without insisting to themselves be a part of it.

*

At first Maggie hardly dares build a relationship with Olivia, James’ daughter, but the girl is a force of nature like her father, like Nate, like Sam might have become if he’d had the chance, and it isn’t long before they have each won the other over.

Years ago there was no shortage of women and men who chastised Maggie severely for divorcing Nate. Losing a child was understandably hard, but how could she justify abandoning her husband in such a horrible situation? Especially when, the one time Mrs. Fletcher’s niece gave her the benefit of the doubt and asked, Maggie admitted that yes, he was drinking, but no, the drink didn’t turn him violent?

They think she should never date again, the divorcee with the dead son and the drunk ex-husband. Those friends and acquaintances making their stance for the sanctity of marriage known to her did not remain her friends for long, after.

That’s not to say that they remained Nate’s. Back then he was hardly in any condition to sustain friendships in any case, as James can attest to – how he managed to build more-than-professional relationships with his team is something Maggie counts as nothing less than a miracle. No, even after drifting away from it Maggie retains enough ties to the community to know that to this day Nate is not on speaking terms with anyone who so vocally proclaimed themselves on ‘his’ side.

Maggie grins every time she overhears how her good relationship with Nate’s second wife scandalizes the harpies. She feels their eyes when she and Sophie meet for coffee, when she takes Olivia out for ice cream. They’re waiting like vultures for the moment where one of them will scratch the other’s eyes out.

One day they might even do it. If the situation called for it, the show they’d create would be magnificent.

*

Back then she did not have the strength to argue her case with supposedly perfect Christian couples. A decade on, when Sam has been dead for twelve years and she is looking after Sophie’s daughter over the weekend, she finds that she has gainsaid them with every breath she has been living.

.