House of Mourning
“It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men, and the living should take this to heart.” Ecclesiastes 7:2
“Go to sleep you little baby…”
More singing. Still a child’s voice but not Ruby that time. Another girl’s voice that was a shade deeper.
Mourning slowly moved further down the hallway in the direction of the singing.
“When you wake, you’ll have cake,” the new voice sang softly, slowly.
Ruby had a friend with her?
When she had almost reached the end of the hall, she stopped to listen.
“And all the pretty little horses…”
Mourning thought she’d heard that song before. A long time ago. She couldn’t remember where.
And she didn’t want to get lost but the “shhh” that broke the silence as she carefully moved forward was louder. She was getting closer.
You know your stepfather isn’t doing well, Jon.
Shaking his head, Jon heard the words in his head in his mother’s judgy little voice. He could picture her eyes, the same shade of blue as his, but smaller and mean.
Small and mean pretty much described his mother as a person.
It wasn’t a text he wanted to answer.
His sister Faith wasn’t going home for Thanksgiving. That much he knew. His older sibling was headstrong just like their father had been. It would have been so easy to assign some of the blame for their family’s perpetual combustible state on that.
But that wasn’t exactly the truth.
Charles Lynskey, their father, had been a formidable man in his younger days. Handsome and successful, he’d been a well-known assistant district attorney in the small Massachusetts town where he and his sister had been born. When they were little, their father had worked long hours. Sometimes when he was home, he had to work too, not able to spend a lot of time with his family.
Two paces up the hall Ollie stopped. He felt so cold. A crippling cold. And it was a hot fucking August day.
When he spun around in the hallway, whoever the fuck she was? Gone.
Good fucking riddance.
He went straight back to the same prop room, deciding to tear it the fuck up until he found that picture. A few people walked by, and he didn’t care. He didn’t get far until he finally found it tucked into a corner of the room’s closet, like someone – Mourning probably – put it there to protect it.
His heart raced, his hands shook as he lifted the framed picture, holding it up in the light from the cracked windows behind him. The sun lit up the dusty surface of the glass.
Ollie didn’t know a damn thing about ballet, but the way she held herself was beautiful. She balanced on the leg she’d lost in the accident according to Robbie. Her limbs were long and slim. The graceful lines resembled the limbs of the spirit he saw In the isolation hallway, only there they were covered in the shadows of rags.
It was her.