The night Charlie caught his mom cheating on his dad, she returned to their home, packed her things, and left. Before leaving, she raged at Charlie’s father and tore up her son’s room. She wrecked the manuscript his father had given him. She was finally honest: “She finally told my father what she thought. No more threadbare hints or poor metaphors. She finally said what she’d been meaning to say” (290). His father didn’t intervene or attempt to stop her.
She moved back to her family in the city. They’ve given her a house to herself that gets cleaned weekly. She has only called once since she left, to tell his father that she wasn’t coming back. She refused to talk to Charlie on the phone. At home, Charlie has taken over the cooking, and his father takes care of the other chores. His father cuts off his comb-over and begins to grow out his beard. Charlie has finally read his father’s book. He took his time with it, and the book is “so smart and sad and beautiful that I’m not even jealous” (292).
After their night in the meadow, Eliza told her mother everything she knew. She showed her mother the letter, and that she watched her sister die. She does not comfort her mother as she cries, but she does promise her that if she comes forward with the truth, she will take her to where Laura lies. Nothing has happened since, and the secret “has stayed with the Wisharts… and Eliza thinks that’s where it will always stay” (293). Charlie asks Eliza if she would like to see her father punished for what he has done, to which Eliza responds “he’d get his” (293).
Eliza and Charlie’s relationship has grown. They use Jasper’s meadow in the middle of the night. They grow close and spend the nights sharing their dreams with each other. They hold each other close as they sleep. They still discuss leaving, but abstractly, as they look ahead to the future. The meadow has given them a place where they can go to cope with Corrigan, and it has made leaving a matter of less urgency. In the meadow, they begin to heal each other as they fall in love.
The use of the meadow draws a parallel between Charlie and Eliza’s relationship and the relationship that existed between Laura and Jasper. Charlie writes that they are using the meadow in the middle of the night, “like Jasper and Laura before us” (293). Charlie climbs up to Eliza’s window as Jasper did for Laura, and knocks on it like he spent most of the book fantasizing about. The meadow has become theirs, and “it no longer feels like we're trespassing” (293). In the meadow, Charlie lets Eliza dictate how time will be spent. He follows her lead when she decides to take her sister flowers, or drop her gifts into the dam like at a wishing well, or when “she gets quiet and hard and it’s best for me to leave her be” (293).
Charlie and Eliza are falling in love. They have come to take on a great significance in each other’s lives, as demonstrated by Charlie’s description of how they sleep at night: “Eliza and I hold on to each other the same way you’d cling to a lamppost during a blizzard” (294). Charlie has lost all of his previous nervousness about kissing her, thinking instead that it is “the nicest thing in the world” (294). As their relationship progresses, they become more intimate with each other.
Their time together in the meadow is a secret, but not one that tears away at Charlie as the other did. This secret “is worth keeping” (294). It doesn’t choke him, and he doesn’t “feel the need to share or shuck it” (294). In fact, this secret “has helped untie the knot of the other ones” (294). They are healing each other, “the hushed stuff in our chests seems to hum and dissolve when we press our hearts together” (294). Charlie knows he is in love, as it looks and feels like everything he has read about. He doesn’t want a life without Eliza. He thinks that one day he’ll tell her so when he’s “got enough courage in me” (295). For the first time, he doesn’t punish himself for a lack of courage. He knows it will come.
Charlie notices at certain times that Eliza speaks with a peculiar accent. He thinks this is her way of disassociating from all of the pain. It is a way of pretending that she is finally in the Plaza Hotel, and has finally escaped all the pain and terror of Corrigan. It emerges when “she’s particularly low or sad, or thinking on horrible things” (294). Charlie has come to understand the accent and realizes that she is just mimicking a “flippant and frivolous manner” from the movies. He chooses not to say anything about it, trusting it will pass.