Over our lunch of fish sticks—I had one; Harriet, a lot—we gradually fell into our old familiar ways of being with each other. And I realized I’d missed it—this closeness with her. I looked over at her—her cheeks pudgy, full of fish—and could tell she was feeling much the same. I could always read Harriet’s emotions so easily—like a page in an illustrated children’s book.
“Have you been following the exploits of the mighty Blue Boyle this fall?” I asked.
Harriet stopped in mid-chew, then finished, swallowed. “Creepy,” was what she said. “I don’t even understand what happened with him,” she went on. “I mean, last summer, out on Green Island, he was a monster … there didn’t seem to be anything human about him. And now …”
“And now he lives on the sports page every week,” I said. “A hero.”
“A hero who tried to kill us last summer.”
“Yes.” We looked at each other. “But no one really believed us last summer, did they?”
“Our parents kinda did.”
“They don’t count. They love us.” I laughed after I said that, realizing how odd it must sound, those two sentences lined up together. “Well, anyway, he doesn’t live here anymore, so maybe we won’t see him again.”
Harriet looked at me closely. “You really think we won’t?
Silence. Then … “Think may be too strong a word,” I said. How about wish?”
Silence. Then Harriet said, “And wish rhymes with Bysshe—and with fish, and I’m ready for more!”
While Harriet’s mouth once again began to fill and fatten, I decided to tell her about the voice I’d heard in my house—and about how this house of ours had been a funeral home—and about the story that there’d possibly been an unexplained murder here. I waited until she swallowed, though. I didn’t want her to choke.
She didn’t take a single bite while I was talking—just stared at me as if I were insane. Which, as I think about it, may not be all that inaccurate a diagnosis. When I finished, she asked for a few more details—like what the voice had said to me—and what the voice had sounded like.
I told her. About the dream I’d had after I’d worked on my poem for class. The words that voice had said: I’ve never found death amusing, Victoria. About the rotting smell of death in my room afterwards.
“Vickie,” she finally said. “Please don’t tell something awful is going to happen again.”
“Something awful is not going to happen again,” I lied.