Chapter One – Scene 1

Someone once said, the smallest coffins are the heaviest. Brody Johnston never thought there were no truer words said as he accompanied his sister, Raelynn Connor, to the funeral home to help her make the final arrangements. His 2 yr old niece, Avery Rae, had been a smiling, inquisitive little cherub just days before.

Brody didn’t know if he could ever find it within himself to forgive James Connor. Somethings were unforgivable in Brody’s eyes. His niece’s death topped that list. Brody wondered how irresponsible and selfish of a man James Connor truly was. Whatever the courts handed him sentence wise would never make it right.

He was supposed to be watching Avery Rae while Raelynn was doing the weekly grocery shopping. Now, there were several lives ruined following the drowning of the little angelic girl that had stolen the hearts of anyone who met her.

James had fallen asleep while watching her. Avery Rae had wandered out to the unlocked pool with her toy. The barking of the family dog frightened her still and she dropped her toy. It landed in the pool just inches away from where her body was discovered.

Brody felt for Raelynn. She had come home, found her no good husband asleep on the couch, the sliding door ajar and the dog barking hysterically beside the backyard pool.

When the call came in over the loud speaker at the firehouse, Brody recognized his sister’s address immediately. The chief recognized it as well and ordered Brody to stay at the station. It was an unspoken rule that you never respond to a family member’s emergency. It created the likelihood of doing something wrong.

Brody had seen so many accidents like this over the years, being a first responder with the fire department he had managed to go numb over time, but this time it was different. This time the senseless and preventable tragedy happened to someone he loved. Brody broke orders and climbed into his personal vehicle and broke a half dozen traffic laws to get to his sister’s house.

Brody barely parked his truck across from the street where the fire rescue EMT’s were on scene. He found his sister in hysterics and James running his hand through his hair and down his face covering his mouth as the EMT’s attempted to revive the lifeless little girl.

As Brody stood there comforting his older sister as his fellow firefighters tried desperately to perform CPR he wondered what really happened as he soothed her sister in her time of need and watched his brother in law, James a few feet away.

Maybe it was Brody’s imagination in retrospect, but he swore James was smiling smugly as he turned away from the scene as the EMT’s called time of death. In that moment something primitive, instinctual, protective inside of Brody snapped.

He felt disengaged from the reality around him as he gently removed his sister’s clinging form from his. To his surprise it felt like time slowed as he quickly crossed the few feet between him and James. He remembered the satisfying connection of his fist and James Connor’s face and watching that smug looking bastard drop like the pansy he really was.

Although the majority of those involved didn’t blame Brody for his reaction. The police who had arrived moments before were unsure of the situation. Because of it, he spent half the night in jail till the fire chief posted his bail and ordered him into counseling before he could be allowed back to work.

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