Crawlspace, p.1
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       Crawlspace, p.1

           Evans Light
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  Evans Light

  Fourth Edition, Published June 2013

  Copyright 2011 Evans Light

  Published by Evans Light.

  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher. No resemblance to any persons living or dead is intended, and any resemblance is purely coincidental.


  “Thomas! Are you even listening to me?”

  The sharp tone of his wife’s voice burst the haze of his reverie like a bowling ball through a minefield.

  Tom let out a long sigh, loud enough for Kelly to hear. The sound of it escaped his lips in a leisurely way, perfectly matching the pace of the steam as it floated up and out of his shower stall and into the cold farmhouse bathroom that lay beyond. He wished he and his hot water could be together forever and that she would just give up and go away.

  “Tom? Tom!” she continued, irritation prickling along the edges of her voice.

  He grunted and turned off the shower, watching sadly as the warm water swirled down the drain away from him, leaving him alone and naked, cold and wet. He missed the warmth of its embrace already.

  “God damn it, Tom!”

  He stepped from the shower, grabbing a towel from the rack to wipe the steam from the vanity mirror above the sink. As the moisture cleared, he caught sight of his wife’s stern reflection glaring at him from over his shoulder. It had been weeks - maybe months - since there had been genuine eye contact between them, he realized. The icy look he now saw in her eyes unsettled him.

  “Well?” she said. “Is it going to be finished before I get back or not?”

  Tom closed his eyes and took a deep breath. If she didn’t leave to visit her mother soon, he might like to finish her instead, he thought.

  “Yes Kelly. It will be done before you get back,” he said calmly, though his teeth were clenched. “You have my word.” His words echoed in the quiet tension of the tiled room, making a sound that reminded him of marbles spilling onto a glass table.

  “Good.” Kelly said coldly.

  “So when are you leaving?” he asked in a lighter tone that he hoped would relieve the tension and hurry the process along.

  She wasn’t so easily deterred.

  “I’m serious, Tom. If I come home to find you passed out in bed in the middle of the afternoon again with nothing done,” her voice trailed off, the threat implied rather than spoken, as she glanced down at his naked body. The harshness of her expression let up for a second, replaced by a look of surprise.

  Tom, seeing this, quickly covered himself with the towel and turned to face her.

  “Look, I don’t want the floor to rot out from under our feet any more than you do. I already have all the materials - I swear I’ll spread all the lime under the house before you get back.”

  Still seeing doubt on her face, he reinforced his statement. “If I don’t meet my deadline, I’ll move in under the house until it’s done. We’ve thrown so much money into this pit it would be stupid not to keep it up properly now.”

  She relaxed visibly, but her eyes remained cool, calculating.

  Tom tried to smile at her but failed.

  “What?” he shrugged nonchalantly. “What more do you want me to say? Are you leaving today or not?” He feigned exasperation, hoping she would turn and leave in a huff.

  She stood her ground, evaluating him.

  Did she know? He wondered. How could she?

  “I don’t want you to say anything,” Kelly said, after a long pause that spoke volumes of disappointment without a single word. “The only reason I’m still here is because I thought you might like to say goodbye to your daughter before we leave. You do remember that you have a daughter, don’t you? Six years old, four feet high, blond hair, first grade - sound familiar? She’d like to say goodbye to you - though for the life of me, I have no idea why.”

  Tom turned his face away, embarrassed for her to see the flush of shame he knew was spreading across his face. She was right - about that one thing, anyway. In his eagerness to have his wife out of the house he had forgotten about Emily. He pictured her sitting in the other room, a sad look on her face, waiting patiently to tell her worthless daddy good-bye.

  Guilt slapped Tom like a hot rag across the back of his neck. It was an emotion he was not used to feeling.

  “Give me one minute. I’ll be right there,” he muttered, grabbing his jeans from a hook on the wall by the bathtub and tugging them on.

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