The real estate agent tells her to reconsider. She says she has some truly amazing houses to show before she makes a decision. But I’m watching Evelyn not listen to her, and I see how she looks at the place with that little half smile of hers, that twitch of the finest lines around her mouth, wrinkling and smoothing over in an instant, and I know that nothing is going to dissuade her from purchasing this shitty, dilapidated house.
Friends and family make their appeals. She tells them I know I’ve heard the rumors, that’s all they are, rumors raised from nothing, created for the sake of gossip and for scaring naive outsiders, do people talk of nothing else in this shitty little hick town.
I only want what Evelyn wants, it’s been so long since she's wanted anything. I think she'll finally be able to start over here, maybe this will make her forget and live. But people keep telling her things she doesn't want to hear and they all sounded like variations of a theme, so finally she stops answering calls altogether.
I’m worried about the amount of work needed to make this thing halfway livable and Evelyn looks so wan and lost all the time. Here she is alone with this monster derelict house and each day is spring cleaning and after that there is still more work to be done.
Evelyn works sunup until she collapses in bed at night.
I'm sick of these halfway places, she says to no one.
Evelyn, pretty Evelyn, I’ll never forget the day I ran after you in the rain, barefoot in the park, with Caleb just beginning to jut out of your stomach, and I was running after you yelling for you to stop, scared but laughing because you were laughing and you were beautiful in the rain with your hair dripping down your face, you were so goddamned beautiful, it hurt to look at you.
Now you walk around tired and quiet, with those sunken hungry eyes.
When was the last time you laughed?
Slowly the house becomes whole again. She polishes until every surface gleams, she puts in new windows, paints, organizes, reassembles. Her room upstairs overlooks the garden and pond in the back of the house.
There are things here, hidden in the silence, that I don’t like to think about. And the force that drives Evelyn to fix this place—that scares me even more.
Caleb was two years old. He was the perfect baby, quiet and uncomplaining. We worried that he was sleeping too much, too often and too deeply, and not eating enough. We were good at fretting—everything seemed like a potential disaster.
You brought us here with you, didn’t you, I wanted to scream at her. I wanted to shake her, grip her by the shoulder so hard that she could feel my nails digging in her skin. You disturbed our baby's rest, how could you do it, Caleb just two years old and a barely visible lump underneath the blankets. You dug us up, God knows how you did it, you had to work with my decomposing weight and Caleb like a limp doll tucked under your arm. (They told you to cremate and you said no). Caleb he loved the color blue, he loved entwining his tiny perfect hands in his mother’s hair and pulling, he loved to sleep. A deep sleep, almost impossible to wake up.
Sometimes at night after another exhausting day, I’ll keep watch over my wife’s sleeping form. She curls up in a fetal position with her hands protecting her stomach.
Evelyn, I heard a laugh I swear I heard it, last night it came from downstairs. I couldn’t tell where it could have come from, or if it were male or female or even human, but I know I’ve never heard it before, and you were asleep. And sometimes in that area she calls the living room, there’s voices and footfalls, the swish of clothing, things clattering to the floor.
Sometimes I hear her singing around the house. Once, I heard her laugh and that sound broke around the house, and all throughout it, and the silence was quieter afterwards.
She doesn't eat. Her sunken little face and the bruised sockets, the limp wrists, and sharp edges of her hip and ribs—I can't take it.
She is fading into the house. I'm helpless. She no longer has eyes I can recognize, those aren’t the hands I loved and held and promised to protect throughout life, death, world without end. She teeters up and down the halls, in and out of rooms. I hear her talk to things I can't see. She leaves me; she goes where I can’t follow. She’s so thin and translucent, sunlight streaming from the windows looks strong enough to hurt her, to melt her away. She floats on drafts throughout the house, and mirrors hide her passing.
The voices are so beautiful she says and I didn’t believe her but I see now. The whole house swells with their presence, with colors bursting and small ripples of light extending, and they are calling where are you and I say here I am here I am here—and they welcome me with voices raised and over the singing and the echoes of ringing colors I hear the voices of so many loved ones, I see Evelyn and she is holding in her arms our son and they are coming for me