A NOTE BEFORE READING: I began sharing weekly excerpts from my novel, The Somebody Who, on June 26, 2010. If you want to begin at the beginning, go here. If you want to read the book in its entirety, head over to Amazon and purchase a copy. (There’s a button on the left that will take you there).
Evelyn scoops up a nice helping of casserole and takes her plate into the family room. Because Davy is asleep, she turns off the television. Quiet is what she wants right now.
She takes a bite of the concoction—a combination of the steak and potatoes from Friday night, the green beans that were part of Thursday night, sliced onion, grated carrots, paprika...
“Yum!” she says aloud.
“I think I should, too!”
It is Davy, and when Evelyn looks over at him, groggily waking from his nth nap of the day, she realizes that he is probably famished.
“Sweetheart!” she says, “would you like some casserole?”
“I don’t know.”
“You’ll know in a minute.”
Evelyn puts her plate down on the coffee table in front of her chair and goes into the kitchen to make up a casserole plate for Davy. She also gets him a glass of ice water.
When she returns to the family room, Davy is voraciously eating from the plate that she left behind.
“This is very good!” he says, drippings already on his tee shirt.
Evelyn puts his water glass on the table beside him and returns to her chair. She begins to eat from the plate she had prepared for him.
“What happened?” Davy asks, pointing to the television. “I mean, what’s?”
“I needed to turn it off, honey. Do you mind?”
“It’s what you have,” he says, matter-of-factly.
They continue to eat together, Davy clearly hungry and likely to want seconds.
He takes a long drink from his ice water, without having to ask first if that’s what he should do.
Evelyn looks at him. And loves him. And wants to ask him so many questions.
She decides to go for it. She waits for him to look up and meet her gaze.
“How did you do it?” she asks, with incredulous love and respect.
“I’m doing it now,” says Davy, as if it were obvious.
“I mean, you were always so good at picking friends,” Evelyn states. “You were always so good at figuring people out.”
“I just wish I knew what you knew.”
“Well,” Davy says then, chasing a potato morsel on his plate. “I don’t anymore.”
Entering the project room later that night, Evelyn notices a box within the second row stack that was revealed the previous night. It is a box that isn’t labeled. For no apparent reason, she decides that this box—this unlabeled box that she had not previously noticed—is the box she should open tonight. As she approaches it, it occurs to her that it probably contains old Evelyn and Davy clothes. She remembers that she never viewed the two of them as part of the “legacy,” and so she didn’t feel compelled to label any boxes that might contain their old clothes.
She carries the unlabeled box back to her chair. Prepared to re-examine the concept of legacy, she takes a deep breath before opening the carton.
On the top of the neatly folded pile is a rather large, dark dress. She holds it up in front of her. Then closes her eyes.
“Honey,” Evelyn asked, sounding unbelievably tired for a woman under thirty. “Can you do the buttons in the back?”
“Sure, sure,” Davy replied, fumbling his way through the task, while Evelyn patted her tummy and hated that she had had to buy a black maternity dress.
“All done,” said Davy, his voice somehow somber and supportive at the same time.
“And where’s the babysitter?” Evelyn asked then, anxiousness fighting with her exhaustion. “We’ve got to get going!”
“I’m sure she’ll be here any minute, sweetheart. We have time. We have time.”
Evelyn caresses the folds in the black dress, traces them. And she remembers how she felt leaving Patrick, not yet two, with the babysitter. It wasn’t the first time they had left him with Beth, and Beth was the best, as babysitters went. But, what if something happened? Anything could happen!
At the church, Davy held his wife, allowed her to fold into his fortifying embrace. She wept through the eulogies read by her older brothers—first Frank, then Jonathan. And she wept with her younger brother Wesley, when he—very courageously—gave a eulogy as well.
She watched the backs of her parents, and watching their body language made her want to cry more. Her father sat as erect as possible, for some reason determined to convey pride. But, for what? And her mother, whose left shoulder remained a full six inches from her father’s right, was never able to raise her head.
Brad, their baby, was gone—an American flag draped on his coffin because he had served his country…
The gathering at the old house in Morristown provided Evelyn with little comfort. Her mother, apparently, had retreated upstairs. And Evelyn knew better than to pursue her, to try, against all odds, to give her comfort. That would only lead to scolding and possibly a broken memento or two.
And as she observed her father, working the crowd, she was nonplussed. Was this the time to talk about Frank’s successes as a top Washington, D.C. prosecutor? Did Jonathan’s “killings” in the Los Angeles real estate market really matter?
Davy must have been in the bathroom when Evelyn sank into a chair by the buffet table. She was feeling so queasy. She hated being pregnant at the moment.
“Evie, you okay?” came the kind voice of her brother, Wesley.
“Just tired,” she replied, looking up at him. “How are you doing?”
“The sooner I get out of Oz altogether, the safer I’ll sleep, my dear.”
His statement made her smile. “Thank you,” Evelyn said, squeezing her brother’s hand. “Thank you.”
* * *
to be continued on February 12th .
In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.