(Part 3) Everett, Nothing, and Time

Chapter 15 of Yesterday

Elis-I-land by Elis-I-land

Harriet sat in the green armchair, holding the fluffy gray stuffed bunny in her lap. The blue bow around its neck was made of silk and the little plastic eyes were blue. The whole room was blue. The crib was white wood with a blue teddy-bear background and a blue pad. The oval rug on the floor was light and dark striped blue, like ripples on a pond. The clothes in the armoire were mostly blue of varying shades with some green and red thrown in. Lots of overalls. Harriet liked overalls, she thought they were cute. The little shoes were cute too. So were the tiny dinosaur pajamas, inaccurate as the dinosaurs were. She wondered if Everett would have cared that they were inaccurate dinosaurs. Probably not.

The green chair was one her mother had had shipped over. It was the first piece of furniture she had bought when she found out she was expecting Harriet. The pregnancy was not a happy one, but she once told her daughter that she saw it in a little window set as she passed by a store. For the first time, she said, she could picture herself sitting in that chair, rocking a baby, nursing a baby, reading to a baby. So she’d bought it. And a few weeks ago, she passed it down to Harriet to rock and nurse and read to Everett—her son.

She hugged the stuffed bunny tighter.

“Harrie,” A muffled voice said and the door creaked open just enough for Andrew to peer in. He looked at her through his glasses, his green eyes filled with sadness. “Come out. Please. This isn’t healthy.”

Harriet just stroked the bunny’s soft fur.

“Come on.” He said, entering the room. “Come and eat. I made pancakes with peanut butter. Your favorite. Come on.”

Was it? Harriet had forgotten. She had forgotten many things she used to enjoy. Just the other day she had been surprised when laughter floated through the open balcony door as little Thomas Thatcher threw himself down the water slide, Ben following closely behind. The little cousins had all come to visit over spring break. Harriet hadn’t even known it was Easter until she saw Little Olive—the first girl in two generations born to the Thatcher family—run around on the lawn under the window, basket in hand, hunting for brightly colored eggs. Harriet had just closed the blue curtains.

“Come one, the kids are making a mess of the kitchen trying to make egg salad. There are jelly beans all over the floor,” Andrew knelt beside the chair and gave her a smile.

Harriet looked away, staring at the calendar hanging on the wall, the one that had been counting down the days. The last strike through was March 15th. “He would have been a month old today.”

Andrew’s smile fell and he reached for her hand. Harriet pulled it away, but Andrew grabbed it, squeezing until it almost hurt. “Look at me Harrie. Look. At. Me.”

She did.

“He would not have been a month old.” He shook his head. “He wouldn’t’ve. He due date was June 25th. Everett wouldn’t have even been here yet.”

“Don’t say that.”

“It’s true Harriet. Everett—”

“That.”

“Everett?”

“Stop it!” Harriet screamed, standing up for the first time in hours. “Stop saying that name!”

“Everett.” Andrew said, standing up. His face was dark and his eyes were mad, so different from how that had been moments ago. “Everett. Everett. Everett. Everett Phillip Bapson.”

“Stop it!” Harriet sobbed once and collapsed onto the floor. She clutched the bunny to her chest and let out a wail.

“Snap out of it!” Andrew shouted, gripping her shoulders. She couldn’t even see through her tears. “You need to focus. It happened Harriet. It happened and it’s done now. Everett’s gone and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. So just…just stop.”

Nothing anyone can do.

Nothing anyone can do.

Nothing anyone can do.

Nothing anyone can do.

Nothing anyone can do.

Nothing anyone can do.

Nothing anyone can do.

Nothing anyone can do.

Nothing anyone can do.

Nothing anyone can do.

It hurt. It hurt more than she ever thought anything could hurt. The actual, physical pain of losing him was nothing compared to how it felt. How each morning she would wake up in a blissful delirium, remembering the ghost pains of the birth, and wander into the blue room across from hers. Nothing had prepared her for the pain of seeing the unused crib, the toys that would never be played with, the books that would never be read. Nothing could ever match the pure hollowness she felt every time she looked at the green chair with the embroidered flowers. Nothing could keep her on her feet after that. So she would sit in the chair and look over the room.

Day after day after day after day after day after day.

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

The word nothing now meant nothing.

Like Everett.

She had whispered his name so many times it would become twisted in her mouth until it became a warped version of the name her son would have born forever. She had said it and thought it so many times it had lost its meaning and now it was just a mix of sounds that didn’t sound as beautiful as she had once thought. It was so warped and strange that the sound of it—the thought of it—made everything hurt over again.

Everett. Everett. Everett. Everett. Everett. Everett. Everett. Everett. Everett. Everett.

Everett.

She couldn’t stop saying it over and over, embracing the pain.

Everett Phillip Bapson.

Named for her Aunt Phyllis. Named for her father, Arthur Everett Thatcher, who had raised a disgusting little rape baby as his own daughter. Harriet wondered if he would have if he’d known she would never be able to bare him a grandchild.

“That’s the great irony isn’t it?” Harriet asked aloud and Andrew looked at her as if she were talking to him. She’d forgotten he was even there. “I’ve spent my entire life training to be a doctor with the rest of my family. And none of us—me or them or anyone—know why it happened.”

“Harrie—” Andrew sighed.

“Don’t.” She said, sitting back on the chair with the bunny in her lap. “Just don’t.”

She stared at the wall, at the calendar—a month, a month, a month—until Andrew left the room, shutting the door behind him.


-—————————-


Andrew used a soapy rag to wash the smeared egg yolk off the marble counter top. Little Olive was quite the mess maker, despite looking like a dark haired Morgan Matthews.

All the kids had left messes actually, it was in their nature. Ben had tracked mud into the house along with drips of water as he ran in and out of the house from the pool and yard. Thomas, the oldest of the kids at a whopping ten, was decidedly more mature and only left behind all of his candy wrappers. Admittedly it was easier than mud or yolk.

Martin’s father, John, was helping clean up the kitchen and every other room the kids had stormed through. It was hard to communicate, however, due to John’s deafness. He could read lips almost perfectly, but Andrew didn’t know sign language as everyone else in the house did. Martin had told Andrew that his father could speak, but it wasn’t often that he did. It was meningitis or measles or some M sickness that had made him deaf. His parents paid for extensive speech therapy and he went to deaf school and eventually took part in the protest at the deaf college a few years back despite already having graduated from it two decades before. He was a therapist, Martin had said, for deaf kids. Andrew had never realized deaf people might need their own therapists.

Andrew had never realized a lot of stuff about deaf people. Like that they might need special lights. This house was apparently equipped to have lights flash when someone was at the door or the phone rang, though it was disconnected a while back. Andrew had been trying to learn signs over the last week that John was there, but so far he had only learned a slow, clumsy ASL alphabet. He was slow and clumsy, not the alphabet.

Basically, he tried to learn anything that would distract him.

Every morning for the past month, he would wake up and find the other side of the bed cold. Every morning he would try to make Harriet come down for breakfast, and every morning he failed.

The pregnancy had been going great. Everything was normal, perfect even. Even Harriet had started to let go of that fear of excitement. They’d started strolling through the baby aisles when they went shopping and Andrew debated making a line of baby clothes for his store. When they’d found out it was a boy they both cried tears of joy. They would have cried happily either way, but just that conformation that this was happening…

They had painted the room blue and went to a carpenter to make a crib instead of going to the store. They bought so many toys they’d had to put some in boxes in the storage room for “later” because they wouldn’t fix in his race car shaped toy box. In the fifth month they’d decided on Everett and when they told Harriet’s dad, he’d made the excuse that Paper Boy the dog he puked on the floor just so he could get off the phone. Andrew knew it was so they couldn’t hear his choked up voice.

Andrew’s parents informed pretty much the entire east coast that they were having a grandson. His mom knitted six full sized blankets for him (she had a lot of time on her hands and twitchy fingers that needed calming those days). Everyone was so excited, but none more so than Andrew and Harriet.

And then on March 16th, Harriet had gone into labor three months early. She had thought it felt off, but everyone said first time mothers always felt like it was off. Then they got to the hospital…

That was the worst part. Sitting by Harriet as she cried so hard she passed out. Cried so much the racking coughs that went through her had turned to vomit. Knowing…knowing that she would have to go through it all for a baby that wasn’t even alive anymore—that had died sometime the day before and now her body was forcing the fetus out.

When at last he was out, they had allowed Andrew to hold him. He was tiny and a blueish purple color. He would have had Andrew’s dark hair and Harriet’s eyes. His face was perfect, even in death.

Harriet had refused to even look at him.

While in the hospital, it had been Andrew who was inconsolable. He had locked himself in the bathroom and cried in the shower for hours. He had gone down to the little hospital chapel and screamed at god until he realized he was alone in a renovated storage room, screaming at air. Harriet, however, had remained completely calm and logical and seemed more like a doctor than a woman who had just birthday a dead baby.

It wasn’t until a few days after they got home that Andrew had woken to find Harriet gone from the bed and sitting in the baby’s room in the old green chair.

Andrew flinched as John waved his hand in his direction. Andrew gazed in wonder as he began to pantomime something. It wasn’t real ASL since Andrew didn’t know it, but he got what John was asking.

“No I don’t think she’s going to come down,” Andrew said. “I don’t think she’s ever going to come down again.”

John pursed his lips, then held out an arm toward the bar stools at the counter before taking a seat on one. Andrew put the dish rag in the sink and followed, sitting on the stool beside John, being sure to face him.

John coughed once and cleared his throat awkwardly. Andrew almost jumped when he spoke.

“Wendy and I lost a baby to SIDs before we had Martin,” John explained. His voice sounded like a female, croaking frog with a cold, but it was understandable. “She did not leave the house for five months. She would not talk to anyone, even me. I thought she was going to kill herself. On the Fourth of July there was a parade. I was shocked to find her up early, cleaned and dressed, hair done, makeup on. She wanted to go to the parade. Wendy never got over losing Erick, but she got passed it. We got passed it and the next Fourth of July, we were in the hospital with baby Martin. It takes time Andrew. Harriet will feel better but it will take time. It will take time for you too.”

And with that, John stood up, clapped and hand on Andrew’s shoulder, and went out to see what the kids were up to.


It always took a while for Andrew’s call to get transferred around before reaching Quinn’s phone, but this time it seemed to take longer than usual. When the phone finally started ringing on Quinn’s line, Andrew sat in the chair beside the pool and watched the kids play. It rang and rang and rang until Andrew was ready to just cut it off on his end. His mobile phone’s end button was stuck though so there was a chance he would have to take the battery out.

The phone made a cutting, clicking sound and Andrew heard a noise coming from the other end. “Quinn?”

“This is Danny, Quinn’s in the bathroom, hold on.” The voice said. It was higher than Quinn’s and not nearly as jittery. Danny was seventeen and in Saint Marie’s for Bipolar disorder. Andrew had thought it would be an awful idea to put two mentally ill people like that in a room together, but they actually got along well.

Quinn had been moved to Marie’s after ending up in the hospital three times after that initial Christmas stint. They were within weeks of each other, each equally terrifying, though none so bad as Christmas at the Cliffs. Marie’s was being paid for by Andrew with a little help from Harriet and a LOT of string pulling by Dr. Thatcher. It was a private home for mentally ill kids and adults whose families were loaded and could afford the treatments and medicines and rooms and security and tutors and field trips and counseling and all the millions of other things that did. It hurt Andrew to even talk to Quinn sometimes, knowing where he was and why. He should have been in school, should have been DITCHING school and running off to Disney Land for the day like he and Em used to do. He should have been going on awkward teenager dates at the movies and not knowing whether or not to call her after.

There was all this stuff he should have been doing, only he wasn’t because there was something in his head that made him see things and hear things and think things that weren’t real. Because something in his head had made him into a little ball of schizophrenic awkwardness. Waking up every morning and remembering where his little brother was was almost as painful as waking up to find Harriet gone.

“Andy?” Quinn’s voice asked after a blur of fuzz that probably came from a transferring phone. “You there?”

“Yeah,” Andrew sat up straighter in the lawn chair. “I’m here. What have you been up to today?”

“Um…” Quinn’s voice wandered off for a moment as he thought. “We had ham and eggs for breakfast, them Mom and Dad visited and we read from the Bible together. We did an egg hunt in the quad and I found the most and won a chocolate bunny. And, um, yesterday Magenta kissed me. On the cheek.”

Andrew’s brows rose. “Who’s Magenta?”

“She’s, um, she’s one of Kendle’s other, um, persons. People.”

“I thought Kendle liked girls.” Quinn had been very impressed by the girl with the black hair with purple streaks who wasn’t afraid to say she liked girls. Growing up, they’d been taught by their parents that being gay was a sin, but Andrew had his own thoughts about it and apparently Quinn did too. Danny and Kendle were Quinn’s best and only friends. It made Andrew feel worse somehow, knowing his brother’s only friends were a bipolar and a girl that was a new person practically every day.

“Kendle likes girls but it was Magenta that kissed me. On the cheek. She left though and now it’s Thelma the waitress again. She’s sorta funny, huh?”

“Very funny,” Andrew agreed. Very funny in a very unfunny way. “How did that make you feel?”

Quinn seemed to think about it for a minute while Andrew almost jumped from his chair as Little Olive took a spill on the pavement. She got right back up and picked up the pool rings from the side of the pool and began throwing them in for her brothers with all her toddler strength.

“Well,” Quinn said. “It made me realize that I think I need to shave.”

Andrew laughed. “That might be a good idea. Ask Magenta the next time she comes around.”

Quinn stopped talking then and the only sounds were those happening around Andrew; the splashing of the kids, the laughter of the kids, the outrage of the kids as Little Olive knocked Ben in the head with a thrown ring. The kids wondering if they could have pizza for lunch, the kids feeling sick because they ate too much Easter candy. The kids signing to their Uncle John about god only knew what. Every time he heard any of it, it broke his heart.

“How are you doing?” Quinn asked, reading his mind from three thousand miles away.

Andrew laughed, finding bitter irony in the question. “You’re in the loony bin and you’re asking how I’M doing?”

“Yes.”

Andrew swallowed. “She didn’t come down for Easter.”

“That’s sad.”

“Yeah,” Andrew said and tried to shield his eyes from the sun so they would stop burning. “I tried to get her to come down, but she doesn’t want to anymore.”

“Well,” Quinn was shuffling and shifting from the sounds coming over the receiver. “Maybe you should make her. I never wanted to leave the house either, but you made me and I did. Sometimes it was nice. And sometimes I hated it.”

“How do I make her go somewhere? Toss her over my shoulder and drag her along?”

Quinn was silent for a moment. “If that’s what it takes.”




It might be a few days until I post again because I’ve sort of caught up with my own writing. I like to always be a couple chapters ahead when I post, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Things are plotted out and now I just need to type

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