Find all chapters on the Amanda Newton story here
The phone rang and Amanda’s body jolted with anticipation as she expected the news of Professor Dorfman’s death. Amanda wanted to hear the news herself, as she still had lingering hope that it was all a nightmare or a hallucination. As she stood up to get the phone, Amanda’s mother, Candice, barked at Amanda in a disapproving tone: What do you think you’re doing young lady? You know the rules, no phone calls during brunch.
Amanda reluctantly sat down and snapped back at Candice: I know the rules very well, mother. I just wanted to make sure we didn’t miss your daily call from Dr. Harris asking you to collect your latest under-the-table mood swing medications. We wouldn’t want that to happen, would we?
Amanda could see she had hurt her mother with her comments, which was unusual, but this was all normal Saturday morning brunch behavior, and she wanted to ensure that everyone could see she was acting like her normal self. Her father, Harry, was oblivious to his surroundings per usual. Saturday morning brunch for him meant reading a newspaper while ignoring, or at least pretending to, the conversations taking place around him. Nana Rose, meanwhile, would change the conversation whenever it became tense or uncomfortable. Amanda always viewed her grandmother as a sweet woman with good intentions, but at her crux was someone who wanted to evoke an image nothing short of perfection, even when it was behind closed doors.
Nana Rose, blatantly dismissing the exchange between Amanda and Candice, smiled gleefully at Amanda and said: Amanda, you must tell me about your big move to Oxford! It’s only 2 months away and I have heard nothing short from a peep from you…
Before Amanda could respond, the phone rang again. Candice stood up with an annoyed expression and resentfully looked at Amanda: I’ll get it. After all, maybe it’s someone from the Rehab facility following up on your progress…
At that moment, Amanda’s body froze, and she was unaffected by her mom’s comment as she knew her life would forever change the second Candice answered the phone.
Amanda was reading her mom’s facial expression closely, or as closely as she could from the dining to the living room.
Amanda knew that the news of Professor Dorfman’s death, or John, as her family had always called him, would be particularly painful to accept for her mother. Jonathan Dorfman was the English Literature professor at Amanda’s school and her guidance counselor. He had been part of Amanda’s life since she was a child, as Jonathan and Harry were roommates at Harvard. He would frequently be found at their family home, and was the one person who actually brought the best out in everyone, including Amanda herself. Amanda’s father would become uncharacteristically chatty and funny when Jonathan was around, and her mother would laugh and become carefree. Amanda didn’t know for sure, but she always suspected that Candice and Jonathan were having an affair, and she always believed her father knew but chose to turn a blind eye. It wasn’t that Harry that didn’t love Candice or Amanda, but he was more in love with the idea of them. Constantly working at the hospital, Harry took great pride in having the ‘perfect’ wife and daughter, and he was okay with either of them doing anything they wanted as long as it didn’t affect the family image.
Candice returned to the dining room and grabbed Harry’s shoulder. Her lips were trembling and Amanda could see her mother’s eyes swell with tears. John…Candice’s voice was shaking…John has been murdered.
The next sequence of events played in slow motion in front of Amanda’s eyes. Her mother began sobbing uncontrollably and dropped to her knees. Her father dropped his newspaper and crouched over Candice; he was not crying but his face showed clear signs of shock and disbelief. Nana Rose stayed sat in her chair and Amanda could see a single tear stream down her cheek.
Amanda then begun crying hysterically as she had rehearsed in her room, except her reaction was genuine. She jumped out of her chair and hugged her mom and dad, as they all tragically mourned the loss of Jonathan Dorfman.