"And the Oscar for best supporting actor goes to.... Amy Burke from The Reunion!"
The audience roared, applause reverberating through the grand hall as Sir Garret Harrison stood to make his way down the carpeted aisle to the stage. Ms Vanessa Heron, Mr. Mark Frasier, and Mr. Max Shepherd watched from their seats; somber and silent. Vanessa hid her face in a kerchief. Mark wrapped an arm around her shoulders. Max looked pale. Garret accepted the shining trophy from the presenting host and then stood at the clear crystal podium as he stared down at it. After another moment of applause, Garret lifted his gaze.
The audience quieted.
Garret cleared his throat. "As many of you know," he began in a rough voice, "Amy Burke was lost to us due to a tragic accident during her final scene." His throat tightened on the words, and he cleared his throat again. Words disappeared, lost again to the wave of grief and loneliness he felt at her loss. Garret lowered his gaze to the Oscar, adjusting his hold on it as the memories of that day gripped his soul. Remembering the doctor's soft words... "She passed away in her sleep. It was painless."
Painless... Garret cleared his throat yet again. "Amy was a... Amy was an actor such as I have never seen. She strived to understand her role, thereby doing her utmost in the performance of it. She strived to understand those characters her own interacted with, thereby deepening her own understanding of what needed to be portrayed. Amy..." Garret swallowed hard. "Amy imbued a passion and intensity into the movie it sorely needed. She imbued a passion and intensity into our lives as well. Accepting us at our word. Pushing us to strive harder to understand ourselves and those around us." Garret raised his gaze again, not caring that tears had escaped his hold to rest on his cheeks. He slightly lifted the Oscar. "This is a testament to that ability. Amy thanks you, and I thank you."
Garret turned to exit the stage, not hearing the roar of the crowd, not seeing the standing ovation, and not feeling anything but loss.
Garret closed the door of his English roadster with a deliberate action, slowly turning to view the quaint cottage with the barn and the old Chevrolet station wagon in the driveway. On the mailbox were painted hummingbirds and the name Burke in cursive white letters. He took in a deep breath, releasing it through parted lips before stepping forward. He passed through the gate of the white picket fence, accepted the greeting of the old German shepherd that licked his hand, and made his way along the walkway border of pansies and primroses to the covered verandah with the pine bench-swing and the white screen door.
Garret's smile was slight and pained as he stared past the screen into the house full of memories and stories. He could almost feel Amy beckoning him within its walls of warmth and songs and love and happiness. It soothed his aching spirit, causing tears to burn in his eyes as they did nearly every time he thought of her. I have not tarried in the caves and caverns of dragons. I have not listened to the songs and murmurs of damsels. I have come to be with you, sweet sweet muse.
A petite woman appeared in the hall at the sound. She had white hair, slim glasses, and a consoling smile. Mrs. Burke was a vision of aging loveliness such as what Garret envisioned Amy...
Mrs. Burke pushed opened the door and motioned into the house. "Come on in, Mr. Harrison."
Authors Note: Normally I dont like doing these types of tragic endings, but it was a request. So, I did. Believe me when I tell you that I have never cried so much as when I wrote the last two chapters of this story. I couldnt believe what I was doing, but Im a slave to my fans and so I did as requested. I wrote a sad ending. I mutilated the bunnies and flowers that I so love to write and killed love (sob, sob).
I have included the alternate chapter twelve, as well as the epilogue that goes with it. Im glad you enjoyed this story. I certainly enjoyed writing it.