The room was completely silent, but for the soft tapping of Mel’s fingers on the keyboard and the occasional clicking of the mouse as she peered intently at the softly glowing monitor.
“C’mon…” She muttered under her breath. “There’s gotta be something.”
Ever since her night out with Camryn and Laura, Melanie had become somewhat obsessed with trying to dig up as much information about Lucas’ friend Evelyn as she could – but what she was quickly learning was how little there was to find. She’d thought back to every conversation she could possibly recall having with Lucas about his friend. Mel had never realized until now just how seldom he’d brought up Evelyn over the years. She had very little to go on, but still – a little was better than nothing, right?
Melanie had mulled over the facts so often over the past several days that she could practically recite it all in her sleep – Lucas had met Evelyn shortly after he’d moved to Newcrest, back when he was around 12 years old. She’d been his best friend for years, and even girlfriend, at one point (though Melanie was not sure for how long). They’d lost contact sometime before her death in 2015. Lucas had mentioned once that she was 20 years old at the time, but he’d never said how she had died, let alone the exact date it had happened.
Today was the second afternoon Mel had spent going through every obituary database she could find, but there was simply no one by the name of Evelyn who’d died in 2015. Well, no one under the age of 60, anyway. Not that she could find.
If she was really imaginary though… Mel thought curiously. Imaginary friends can’t die…
But that couldn’t be it. She shook her head. Even all these years later, she remembered vividly the day Lucas had told her about Evelyn’s death. The only time she’d ever seen him that upset was when his father had passed away. All that fuss for some ‘imaginary’ friend? Mel simply couldn’t believe it.
He’s not crazy. She told herself firmly.
But then, what was the alternative? It was almost too bizarre to even imagine.
There simply had to be a rational explanation for all this… Or at least, that’s what Mel kept telling herself.
She glanced out the window to where Lucas tended to his garden. Maybe I can try talking to him… But what could she possibly say? Mel had tried broaching the subject with him several times over the past week, but every time, she chickened-out at the last minute. It was just too hard…
Still… I guess I could go try again. With a sigh, Mel rose to her feet and headed out the back door to join her husband.
She found him standing near the back of his garden, staring down in apparent amazement at an unusual plant that grew in front of him. “I can’t believe it…” Mel heard him mutter to himself as she drew closer. “I did it… I actually did it… Oh my God…”
“What’s up?” Mel asked, making herself known as she approached.
Lucas looked up at her excitedly. “Mel, you’ll never believe this – look!”
Melanie looked at it curiously for a few moments. “Is this that same weird plant you grew from those little black seeds?” She asked, surprised but happy. Mel had been secretly thinking that he should have disposed of the strange plant years ago – but it seemed that his hard work had finally paid off.
Lucas nodded. “I can hardly believe it!” He shook his head. “Do you know how many years I’ve been trying to grow this thing? This has gotta be it!”
His wife raised an eyebrow. She was not entirely sure what he was talking about, but she had a guess… One that brought an unpleasant twisting sensation to her stomach. “You mean this is it?” She asked softly. “That plant you spent all that time looking for? For your recipe, right?”
In an instant, Lucas’ face fell. “Yeah… The recipe… For Evelyn…” He said, bowing his head low. “Guess it all doesn’t matter anymore anyway, huh?”
“It’s still a big accomplishment, honey.” Mel said, biting her lip.
Lucas tried to smile. “Thanks.” He replied. “I’ll have to tell Krysti… She’s been waiting on this plant to actually grow something for years…” He dropped to his knees, pulling up a cluster of weeds that grew around another of his flowers. “Too bad it’s all for nothing…” Her husband sighed.
“So… What is it, exactly?” Melanie asked uncertainly. “I’ve never seen a plant like that before.”
Lucas shrugged. “I… I don’t really know.” Something in his tone did not feel right. “It doesn’t matter anyway…”
He went back to his gardening without another word. His wife watched him for a few moments, but knowing she could get no more out of him, Melanie sighed softly and headed back inside.
What was that thing? She wondered. It looked like a skull or something… It was kind of creepy-looking, and reminded Mel of yet another unusual piece to the whole puzzle – the strange recipe Lucas had been so intent on finding for Evelyn. It had been so many years since she’d thought of it, she’d almost forgotten all about it.
I wonder if we still have any of those old books lying around… She thought, heading back into the study.
Melanie browsed through some of the thicker, older books that filled the large bookcase, reading the titles along each spine. As luck would have it, many of Lucas’ old fishing and gardening books were still there, though they’d been untouched for decades.
He spent so many hours reading these back when we were first dating… Mel recalled. All for that strange recipe. All for Evelyn, whoever she was… If she was even real at all.
Melanie flicked through the worn pages, her eyes scanning for some sort of hint or clue. There was not much to go on, save a few passages, still stained with the bright yellow ink of an old highlighter. It was a section about herbs that were believed to restore youth and extend longevity. She read the descriptions of each plant carefully, but there was no mention of an odd-looking flower shaped like a skull…
The woman sighed, defeated. None of this made sense, and she was running out of options. There was one more place she could turn to. It was crazy, of course, to even entertain such a wild idea… But what other choice did she have?
After all, Caroline and Lucas were not the only two people she knew to have been friends with someone named Evelyn…