Charlie and Milo left the neighbour's house, and walked down the long, winding driveway towards the road. The wind had picked up, and Charlie put the hood of his jacket up.
"Karen's gonna pick us up," Charlie said. "They're going to meet us halfway."
Milo nodded, walking beside him.
"Milo, can I ask you something? I want you to be super honest with me."
"Did you know my mom was murdered?" Charlie asked, his eyes misting.
Milo stared at him, saddened by the fact that Charlie would think he would hide something like this from him. The news about his aunt's death was just as much of a shock to him as it was to Charlie.
"Charlie, I wasn't told anything. The police called my mom and told her that Aunt Tessa had died. She agreed to take you in, so the cops drove you over that night."
"What did the cops say about how she died?" Charlie asked him.
"Mom said there was a house fire. She didn't specify, and I guess I just presumed all this time that it had been an accident." Milo told him.
"Do you think Karen knows? That it was arson."
"No idea. You gonna ask her?" Milo asked him.
"Yeah." Charlie said, picking up a handful of snow. He rolled into a ball, and chucked it against a treetrunk. He scooped up another handful, and threw it. He was starting to feel really angry. At his mom for dying. At the cops. At his Aunt. At the entire goddamned world.
"Arghhhh!" He shouted, kicking a large chunk of ice with his boot. Gordon's car pulled up at the end of the driveway, and Karen got out. She rushed towards them.
"Oh, thank God!" She told them, relieved. "I'm so glad you called, we didn't know what happened to you guys." Charlie stalked past her and got into the backseat. Karen looked to Milo, confused.
"What's up with Charlie?" She asked.
"He's mad at you." Milo told her, sliding into the backseat beside Charlie. Karen closed the door behind him, and got into the front seat beside Gordon.
"So guys, where we off to?" Gordon asked, as he started to drive again. "Are we going home or to the city?"
"City sounds fun. Boys, what do you think?" Karen asked, turning to look at them. Charlie was staring out the window, trying to ignore everyone in the car. Milo was glancing from Charlie to his mom.
"Milo?" Karen asked. Milo shrugged.
"Halifax sounds fun." Milo finally answered.
"Charlie?" She asked. He continued to stare out the window. Karen and Gordon started making plans of what they wanted to do in the city. They drove out of Brooklyn, and were twenty minutes down the road when Charlie decided that he was, in fact, going to confront his Aunt.
"Did you know what my neighbour's son said to us?" Charlie said, his voice low. He was still staring out the window. The car had gone quiet, as everyone stopped talking to listen to him.
" 's son, Robbie, said that my mum died in the house fire. Only, he says it wasn't an accident. Robbie says it was arson."
Nobody spoke. Gordon glanced at Karen, unsure of what was going on.
"What did the cops say, Karen? Did they say it was arson? Was my mum murdered?" Charlie asked, his voice getting louder.
"Calm down, Charlie." Karen told him, as Charlie kicked the back of her seat sharply. He made a fist and punched the back of Karen's chair.
"Hey," Gordon said. "Respect the car."
"Was my mom murdered? WAS SHE?" Charlie yelled, taking out all his anger on the cushioned seat. Milo put a hand on his shoulder, but he shrugged it off.
"Knock it off, Charlie." Milo said Charlie closed his eyes tightly, and leaned his forehead against the frosty window.
"Yes. She was." Karen finally admitted. "I'm sorry."
"Why didn't you tell me? Why did I have to find out through a complete stranger? Didn't you think it was important information?" Charlie asked her.
"Char -" Milo spoke, worried. Charlie opened his eyes, and turned back to his cousin. Milo had started to cry, silently. Tears were dripping down onto his neck.
"My mom," Charlie whispered, his voice hitching. "Somebody killed her. They took her from me." Charlie started to cry as well.
"From all of us." Milo reminded him, gently. Milo wrapped his arms around his cousin, and let him cry into his shoulder. They stayed that way for a few minutes until Charlie finally pulled away.
"I'm Okay," Charlie mumbled, wiping his nose with the back of his hand. Karen still turned in her seat, watching him.
"I'm really sorry, Charlie. When they determined the fire had been deliberate, you'd already been at the house for more then a week. You were just starting to settle in. I was trying to protect you, but I was planning on telling you the truth when you were older. I never meant for you to find out the truth like that." Karen said, looking on the verge of tears.
"Well, it was a bit of a shock, alright? It should have been you telling me." Charlie said, looking at the window again.
Karen turned back in her seat, and saw that Gordon was watching her. He looked a little confused, but mostly just nervous.
"How 'bout we just keep driving to the city?" She told him, trying to smile at him. The smile never reached her eyes.
"Yeah. Sure." Gordon told her, his eyes flicking from her face to the icy road ahead of him. "Sounds like fun."