Melanie sat on the edge of the empty bed, sighing softly to herself. Lucas was working early at the restaurant, and would likely not be home until past dinner time. Mel, on the other hand, had the day off – something for which she was very grateful. It wasn’t often she had the opportunity to sleep in, and after last night, she needed it.
Melanie rose to her feet wearily and headed across the room to the dresser, her tired mind abuzz with confused thoughts.
After her husband had gone to bed last night, Melanie had stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, still searching for answers. She pored over more of Lucas’ old books, but still found no answers in the worn pages.
She searched through more and more old newspaper records. She managed to find an online archive with an article about the fire that had killed Caroline’s friend and her parents all those years ago, but it didn’t tell her much. She even found a brief obituary for Evelyn Magee, who’d died back in 1985…
But still nothing about the Evelyn Lucas had known.
Don’t be ridiculous, Mel! She tried telling herself as she closed the dresser drawer. It’s not even possible…
And yet she couldn’t stop thinking about it. No matter how hard she tried, Mel couldn’t get the idea out of her head…
She stepped out into the hallway and crossed into the kitchen, where she found breakfast waiting for her. Melanie put a bit of the omelet on the empty plate her husband had left out for her, then headed to the microwave to heat it up.
Be rational… She thought. Think it through.
Caroline had been friends with a girl named Evelyn, who used to live in Lucas’ childhood home. Lucas had met his Evelyn shortly after moving into the same house when he was around 12 years old. He’d never actually told Melanie how they’d met, she now realized…
Caroline’s Evelyn had died in 1985, when she was 20 years old. According to Lucas, his friend had died in 2015, when she was also 20 years old.
A little strange… Mel thought as she headed to the dining room table, her mind still racing. And, according to Becca…
Her mother-in-law seemed certain that Evelyn had simply been Lucas’ imaginary friend when he was a child. Krysti had once had an imaginary friend, too – who also happened to be named Evelyn…
Becca had also mentioned that, as a young boy, Lucas used to stay up late at night to see his friend. Krystina also had a puzzling habit of staying up late when she was a child… But only when she was at her grandparents’ house…
And then, of course, there’d been what Laura and Camryn had told her…
A ghost? Melanie felt almost embarrassed for even considering it.
But there were only three possibilities, it seemed.
One, it was all some sort of insane coincidence, and a huge misunderstanding between Lucas and his friends. Mel found this option particularly difficult to believe — Two young women named Evelyn, who both supposedly died at the age of 20, and were both somehow connected to Lucas and his childhood home… How could that be a mere coincidence? And what about Krystina’s claims that she too had an “imaginary friend” named Evelyn? It’s all connected. It has to be.
Two, her husband was completely insane. Mel knew that this option just couldn’t be true. She’d been with Lucas for 36 years — she knew him better than she knew anyone else in the world. How could the man she married possibly be crazy enough to believe an imaginary friend was real? He can’t… She realized. Her husband was not perfect, of course. But crazy? Absolutely not. Mel was sure of it.
That left just one other option… But could it really be true?
There was only one way to know for sure.
Mel still felt uneasy as she headed down the porch steps toward where her car was parked on the street.
Okay… Melanie told herself. Let’s say it really IS true… Then what? She thought as she started her car and began driving down the nearly empty street.
The more she thought about it, the more upset Mel seemed to become. Why had Lucas been keeping this from her anyway? She wondered. Why hadn’t he been honest with her years ago? Didn’t he trust her? Mel felt herself suddenly full of a strange mixture of sorrow and anger.
And what else could he be hiding from her? There simply had to be more to the story than what she’d already figured out herself…
Clearly Lucas thought that something had happened to Evelyn all those years ago… He’d been so devastated, and the whole thing was still so upsetting for him to talk about, even to this day. He must not know she’s still there…
But then, would she even want him to know? Melanie wasn’t so sure. He’d been in love with this girl once, and he seemed to like keeping this whole thing a secret… What would happen if he saw her again? She’s so young… and probably gorgeous… Mel thought, her anger rising.
She shook herself mentally, clutching the steering wheel more tightly. Get a grip! This is a ghost you’re talking about, for Christ’s sake! A ghost who probably isn’t even real anyway…
Melanie parked on the side of the road and took a deep breath before getting out of the car, steeling herself for what was to come. The car door slammed loudly behind her as she headed for the stone walkway.
I have to do this. She told herself, approaching the front door. It’s the only way to know for sure.
But then, no matter what the answer, she realized, things were about to get so much more complicated… I guess it’s too late to turn back now.
As she had become accustomed to, Mel let herself in without knocking. She knew that Krystina wouldn’t mind. “Hello?” She called out.
Her daughter was sitting on the couch, reading. Despite her unease, Melanie could not help but smile when she saw her. It was still so hard to believe that her baby was all grown up now — engaged, living on her own… and about to have a baby herself.
“Hey, mom!” Krystina smiled, rising to her feet as Melanie drew closer. “This is a nice surprise.”
Melanie drew her into a hug, which was now a bit difficult, thanks to Krysti’s steadily-growing baby bump.
“I’m guessing Mitch had practice this morning?” Mel asked, already knowing the answer. She’d been counting on it.
Her daughter nodded. “He should be back in a few hours though.”
Krystina paused, and appeared to be studying her mother’s face for a few moments. “Mom… Is everything okay?”
“Of course.” Mel replied unconvincingly, biting her lip. “I just… Well, I wanted to talk to you about something.”
Her daughter eyed her nervously. “Okay…”
Melanie took a deep breath. I’ve just gotta do it. It’s the only way. “It’s about… Evelyn.”
The look on her daughter’s face told her everything she needed to know.
Oh my God… It’s true.
Mel felt sick to her stomach as she waited for Krystina to finally respond. “E-Evelyn? I… I don’t know what you’re talking about…”
“I think you do.” Mel said seriously, though she found it difficult to meet her daughter’s eye. “And I want you to tell me everything you know about her…” She paused. “And how she may know your father…”
Krystina hung her head for a moment, sighing softly. When the girl lifted her head once more, Melanie finally found the courage to meet her gaze.
“Okay.” Krystina said softly. “But… It’s kind of a long story…”