Recently, I was chatting with a group of readers on Facebook about “Gabriel’s Promise,” and I mentioned one of the deleted scenes that involved Rachel. They expressed an interest in reading it and so I’m posting it below.
Thanks for reading and for choosing “Gabriel’s Promise” for your book club,
“Gabriel’s Promise” Rachel outtake by Sylvain Reynard.
‘“Jules has my christening dress. Mom made it from her mother’s wedding dress.” Rachel stood next to her rental car, in the driveway of Gabriel and Julia’s house.
“Thanks.” A muscle jumped in Gabriel’s jaw.
Rachel glanced in the direction of the front lawn. “Looks like the flamingo company came to take them away.” She leaned forward at the waist. “Except for one.”
“What’s that?” Gabriel moved so he could see the flowerbeds in the front yard. Next to a large hydrangea there stood a pink plastic flamingo. It was wearing a pair of black sunglasses.
He turned accusatory eyes on his sister. “Did you do that?”
“I deny everything.” Rachel opened the car. “Okay. I’ll see you at Thanksgiving, if not before.”
“Wait.” Gabriel put his hand on the door. “You don’t have to leave. Katherine has agreed to be Clare’s godmother. You can simply attend the baptism.”
“No, I can’t. I don’t believe in God anymore. I’m not setting foot inside a church, pretending I do. That would be hypocritical.”
“You could join us for the reception.”
Rachel looked back at the house, at Julia, Clare, and Richard, who were watching her from the window. Rachel waved. “Julia invited me to stay with her while you’re out of town in October. But I can’t take more time off work.”
Gabriel cleared his throat. “Julianne is nervous about being alone.”
“She’s hardly alone.” Rachel scowled. “There’s Rebecca.”
Gabriel surveyed his sister’s scowl with puzzlement. Then realization passed over his features.
“We haven’t moved on.” His admission was heartfelt. “From Grace, I mean. Richard has no intention of remarrying. He told me Grace still appears to him in his dreams at night.”
“I’m not an atheist because Dad might remarry. I’m an atheist because I see no evidence for God’s existence. He certainly isn’t answering my prayers. I talk to Mom in my head, but I know she doesn’t hear me.”
“Of course she hears you.”
Rachel crossed her arms over her chest. “She’s dead, Gabriel.”
“I know.” He straightened his spine. “But what about the communion of saints? The blessed know what is happening on earth and they intercede on our behalf. There have been many times when I asked Grace to pray for me. I’m sure Richard has done the same.”
“I’ve never believed that,” Rachel admitted. “When I believed in heaven, I believed the people there couldn’t know what was happening here because it would make them unhappy. And there can’t be unhappiness in heaven.”
“The communion of saints is in the Apostles’ creed,” Gabriel observed.
“Yes, but since I no longer believe God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, how can I believe in the communion of saints?”
Gabriel came a step closer. “Dante’s entire Divine Comedy is predicated on the fact that the blessed know exactly what is happening to their friends and family. In Dante’s case, Beatrice exerts a great deal of effort to help him while he is still of this world.”
Rachel shrugged. “If Dante is your Bible, that’s fine.
“What’s the point of heaven, Gabriel? If there’s no marriage in heaven, does that mean there’s no family? And I would relate to you and to Scott the way I relate to Aaron? After having spent a life time loving him?”
“I don’t believe that. Again, if you read Dante, then …”
Rachel interrupted. “Forget about Dante. Mom certainly hasn’t answered your prayers or mine. She never appeared in our dreams.”
Gabriel was silent. A muscle in his jaw twitched.
“Are you saying you’ve dreamed about her?” Rachel’s eyes narrowed.
“Not quite like that, no.” Gabriel rubbed at his unshaven chin.
“Then what?” Rachel pressed.
Gabriel dropped his hand. “You won’t believe me.”
Gabriel glanced at the house and moved his body so his back was facing his family. He looked down at his sister. “I saw Grace in Selinsgrove, inside the house.”
“You saw her? Or you thought you saw her?” Rachel lifted her voice.
Gabriel pursed his lips. “I said you wouldn’t believe me.”
Rachel grabbed a lock of her own hair and tugged at it. “When did this happen? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t tell anyone. It happened before I was married, when Julianne and I were separated.”
“I can’t believe you didn’t tell me.” Rachel sounded betrayed. “What did Mom say?”
“She told me …” Gabriel struggled. Rachel didn’t know the story about Maia and he wasn’t about to discuss the subject with her. “She told me she loved me. That she loved all three of us.”
“And you never told me.” Rachel breathed. “Does Scott know?”
“Only Julianne. I didn’t even tell Richard.”
Rachel closed her eyes briefly. When she opened them, her expression hardened. “Do you think she’s haunting the house?”
“No.” Gabriel’s tone was firm. “I don’t think she was a ghost. I think…” He clenched his jaw. “She came to complete some unfinished business.”
“What about me? What about her unfinished business with me?” Rachel lifted her hands and looked up at the sky in frustration. “This is why I don’t believe in God. Everything is random and cruel and totally fucked up.”
Gabriel put his hand on Rachel’s shoulder.
She hugged him around the waist and he hugged her back.
“I have been where you are,” he whispered. “I understand.”
Rachel squeezed him. “You’re my brother and I love you. But there’s no way you understand.”
She pulled away from him and waved at the house once again. Then she got into the car.
Gabriel withdrew, a very unhappy expression on his face.
She blew him a kiss and backed out of the driveway. But before she began her journey, she re-routed the GPS system from Philadelphia to Selinsgrove.’