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 Season 5

Episode 88

(Emily's Funeral)

Charles pulled Anthony to the corner of the hall and said, "I just want to discuss this matter with you." Charles spoke in a somber voice. "I have decided to do Emily's funeral myself. Autumn will not be able to attend the funeral. But it is my duty as her grandson-in-law to see to it that she is respectfully laid down. I also have an obligation to say goodbye to her on Autumn's behalf." Autumn was kept in the dark regarding her grandmother's demise. She was at a very advanced stage of her pregnancy, and given her delicate health and mental condition, this news could prove to be lethal for her at this stage. Charles spoke as he took Anthony into confidence. "But someone has to be there with Autumn to take care of her. Also if she doesn't see me for a long time, that will arouse her suspicion. So..."   

 Anthony stopped him before he could finish the sentence and said, "Okay, I see. So you want me to take care of Autumn while you're away, right?"  

 "Yes,"  Charles replied with a smile. He continued politely," Who else can I trust in this situation? And I am sure that Autumn will also have a good company if you are around. Since I have to spend a lot of time at the funeral in the next few days."    

Anthony looked at Charles, gave him an affirmative nod and said, "Okay, do what you should do and I'll look after Autumn." Charles was relieved when Anthony readily consented to this request. 

Anthony had been a great support all through out Autumn's pregnancy and Charles could not thank him enough for what he did for Autumn.     

For the next three days, Autumn saw very little of her husband. She was told and convinced that she needed to stay in the hospital for her babies' sake. She had no clue about what was going on in her grandparents' house in her absence. 

Anthony came to visit her in her ward often to spend time with her and showed great concern for her. Autumn's favorite pastime when she had no one to talk to during her pregnancy was to read parenting books. Also she was given a task to take a note of her babies' movements. So she just focused on that.

 That day as she flipped over that pages of the parenting book, Anthony came to her ward. It was just before the lunch time. All these days, when Charles could not be with her, Anthony made sure he was present during each of her meal. 

Though she was touched by his gesture, she could not help teasing him this time. "Hey, Anthony, you really have a very leisurely job! Don't you have any other patients? Why do you come to my ward every day?"  

Anthony was startled at the sudden question coming from Autumn. He could not reveal the real reason behind Charles's absence and his frequent visit to her ward. "Obviously, I'm taking care of you as a doctor and also as your friend. Don't be so ungrateful, Autumn." Anthony pretended to be teased just to make her happy. "You'll be out of the hospital soon, and then, I won't take care of you even if you ask me to."  

Autumn smiled apologetically and said, "You know I don't mean that. I mean, I'm not your only patient, and you, as a doctor, can't be here all day taking care of me. I can't be so selfish." Autumn did not suspect anything till now. And that was a great relief for Anthony. He had been able to play his part well. He smiled gently and said, "I am aware of my duties as a doctor. You just take care of yourself."  

  "Oh, Anthony, I have something to ask you." Her sudden remark sent a chill down Anthony's spine. Did she begin to suspect anything? Pretending to be absolutely normal, Anthony asked, "Please go ahead." Autumn had a little concern as she spoke. She was given to understand that Charles was busy with his work and hence, he could not visit her as often. Even Autumn had been a understanding wife, but once in a while she was stung by some kind of a separation anxiety. Ever since she became pregnant, she had enjoyed undivided attention from Charles which she kind of got used to. Now, in the last couple of days, Charles' not being around as much as made her feel a void that she tried to cover up and distract herself to either reading or talking to the hospital staff.   

'Will he come today?' she wondered.     "Do you know what Charles has been doing these days? He seems very busy,"  said Autumn. Anthony could already see it coming. He pretended to be calm as if nothing happened.    

 "Something happened in his company that demands his presence there. He's been working on it these days, so he asked me to take care of you." Anthony tried to make it as normal as he could. 

He could not afford to give the slightest hint of the reality to Autumn. Hence he resorted to tell a little white lie in a normal voice.     

Charles seldom discussed his office matters with Autumn. Nevertheless, his prolonged absence made her worried. "Is it something serious?" Autumn asked Anthony with a lot of concern in her voice.   

"Nothing to worry about, I suppose,"  Anthony answered casually and handed her a freshly peeled apple. This act of pretense was getting difficult with every passing moment. Autumn took the apple in her hand and drifted into some deep thought. Anthony observed her and thought to himself, 'How sensitive she is? Even the mention of a slightest tension of someone close to her makes her so worried.' "What would you like for supper?" he asked gently to bring her back from the trance. "I'll cook for you."   

 "It's very kind of you, but don't bother,"  Autumn declined politely. "I'll wait for Charles. He should come today."    

"Charles... he probably cannot come today,"  Anthony said lightly. He avoided eye contact with Autumn as he spoke these words, yet he watched her frown from the corner of his eyes.   

Emily was going to be buried today and Charles must be at the funeral by now.   

  "What? What do you mean by that?" Autumn asked with a perplexed look on her face.     

"Oh, nothing at all, it is just conjecture." Anthony hurriedly covered up his slip of the tongue. Autumn could sense something weird in the way Anthony spoke and behaved with her. Her mind got clouded with several thoughts.

Anthony tried to change the topic. "It's getting windy." He looked out of the window and tried to divert Autumn's attention. "It seems to be drizzling outside. Let me just close the window." 

He stood up at once and headed for the window. It was becoming more and more difficult to behave normal in front of Autumn.    

 Autumn could not understand how much information she could expect from Anthony if it was indeed something to do with Charles' official matter. "Thank you." 

Autumn forced a smile, looking out of the window. All of a sudden, an uneasiness seized her. She could sense a void inside her heart. All she wished was to have Charles right next to her as soon as possible.   

What she didn't know was that just a few kilometers away, her grandmother had started off for an eternal journey, away from her. As she was seated in the hospital ward thinking about all possible reasons for Charles being away from her, Emily's funeral was going on. It was a faint sense of loss and void that Autumn could feel at the bottom of her heart. Only she did not know the reason behind it.     

On the other part of Y City, amidst a heavy downpour, a group of people gathered to bid their final goodbye to Emily. The sky was hazy and the rain was falling steadily on the smooth coffin lid. 

Everybody gathered around Emily's coffin with Charles, Arthur and Amy in the front row. Charles' heart was heavy not just for Emily's demise but also with the guilt of hiding such an important information from Autumn. He shuddered from the thought of how she would react when she would come to know about this.   

The funeral was a big one, but just a few people had showed up because Emily had no family. The rain drops fell on the coffin, adding more sadness to the grave atmosphere. Amy kept wiping the coffin affectionately and untiringly with tears in her eyes. It was the toughest moment in anyone's life to bid a final goodbye to someone who had been such an integral part of your life. "It's time to lower the coffin,"  reminded a man behind Charles.

 Charles turned towards him and then again turned his face towards the coffin trying to get a final glance of Emily's face as rain dropped and washed over it making the vision blurred.     

"That's enough. Stop it,"  Arthur said to Amy and pulled her away from the coffin. "It's raining. You can't have it dried by wiping it."  

"Time's up,"  the man reminded again.     Emily was finally lowered and laid down to sleep peacefully. Charles did not remember when the funeral ended, until Arthur came and told him that it was over and that they could leave the cemetery.    

 Charles said to Arthur," Please, you go ahead. I want to spend more time with Grandma Emily for Autumn's sake." 

Charles knew Emily would approve of holding her funeral without Autumn's knowledge, but he still felt sorry for Emily. He did not know how he would face Autumn when she came to know about it.    

 He then held his umbrella over Emily's tombstone, which had a black-and-white photograph of her with a big smile. He looked her smiling face and a painful smile appeared on his own face. 'She must be in a happy space bereft of all pains and sufferings,' he thought to himself. "Grandma Emily, I'm sorry. It's your burial day, but Autumn could not be here to say goodbye to you,"  Charles said gently, looking at Emily's photo.   

"Please don't blame her. She nearly had a miscarriage when she learned that your condition had worsened. I had no choice but to hide your death from her,"  Charles went on. "Autumn didn't mean not to come to bid the final farewell to you.    

 After her delivery, I will definitely bring her and our babies to meet you and apologize to you. Blame me instead of Autumn." Completely drenched with rain, he stayed there talking to Emily until it was dark.     

He then drove to the hospital. Autumn was delighted to see Charles entering her room at one moment and the very next moment, she noticed that he was dripping from head to toe. "What is this, Charles? Why are you all wet?" she asked apprehensively.   

"I hurried out of the office after work and forgot my umbrella." Once again Charles lied to Autumn. Charles looked at Autumn affectionately. She looked beautiful and absolutely undisturbed, exactly the way he wanted her to be.    

 Autumn looked at Charles with concern in her eyes. "Oh, you, as an expectant father, how come you don't know how to take care of yourself at all?" Autumn sighed helplessly. Then she sat him down and said, "You sit and I'll get you a glass of hot water. Otherwise you will catch a cold."    

She then handed over the towel to Charles and urged him to take a shower. When he came out of the shower, Autumn was lying on her single bed. 

Charles crept on to the bed silently and held her from the back.     

"What's wrong, Charles?" Autumn could sense a sudden change in his behavior. His unusual silence made her anxious. 

Autumn tried to turn around and look at him but could not break free from his tight embrace. Charles had his face buried in her neck. "Don't worry, darling. I'm fine. I'm just tired,"  he whispered, sounding really tired.   

Autumn could not bring herself to believe him. She could sense that something was being hidden from her. But she could not make Charles to open up. She felt helpless but she had no other option than to believe in what he said.     

Early the next morning Anthony came to her ward and examined her. Later, he turned to Charles and said, "Autumn is stable now. She can be discharged from the hospital."    

Autumn was happy to learn about her discharge. Charles brought breakfast for her and went sign the discharge papers. 

When he came back with the discharge papers, Autumn was all prepared to leave. Charles had intended to take her directly to Dream Garden, but Autumn insisted on going to her grandparents' house first.   

Charles had no choice but to secretly call Arthur and tell him to get the house ready so that there was no trace of Emily's demise.     

When they arrived at the Zhao family, everything looked the same as before, as if nothing had really happened.    

 Arthur and Amy's eyes brightened up to see Autumn getting off from the car. 

They had to put up a happy face in front of her. "Oh, Autumn, you have just been discharged from the hospital. You should have gone home to take rest. Why have you come here?" Amy reproached Autumn. Then she turned towards Charles and scolded him," And you, Charles, why don't you stop her? How can you allow her to go back and forth as soon as she leaves the hospital?" 

   "Grandma, don't get mad. I insisted that Charles bring me here,"  Autumn said, grabbed her grandma's hand and tried to calm her down. As she spoke, her eyes roved around the house towards Emily's room. Actually, she came here in such a hurry because she was worried about Emily. When she was in the hospital, she wanted to have a video chat with Emily, but she did not want Emily to know that she was in the hospital, so she decided to contact her after her discharge from the hospital.

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