Welcome to October
CHAPTER
20
A Twinge Terrible
Little bits of life flew by. A bit of sand and road. Some time.
A bit of quiet through an empty void. And Ichabod sat in the middle, watching it all flutter fleetingly into the darkness above, around, and below.
There was a presence most patronizing in the car on the way Home. Someone else’s father claiming “It’s alright, Son.” Someone else’s mother holding her children so tightly one would think she couldn’t actually let go. Someone else’s family reuniting as Bod simply sat staring out of the passenger window— outside of it all. He had to admit something terrible to the darkness seeping from the out into his soul.
He couldn’t feel happy for them while they sat feeling nothing for him at all.
Bod suddenly felt a rush of things. A rush of anger toward these people. A rush of sadness for himself. A rush of shame for his father’s crimes. A rush of denial and hope that it wasn’t true.
But like the tides that rush up with lots of zeal, those feelings rushed just as readily away. One by one, they showed up, pulling Bod up onto shore, and back again into the abyss. There was anguish mixed with hope and there was hatred mixed with love. And after they all receded he was just empty.
Usually he was just bored, but it was strange to find he could feel nothing at all.
As the car trudged up into the hills, Ichabod thought the hollow would fill. And the darkness would mend. And the silence would shatter. And the world would be righted again. But they crossed over the city line and the world beyond the window was still quiet and empty. Still dark and unyielding. Still nothing. Still nothing at all.
They finally made it to somebody’s Home, but Ichabod stayed still, waiting. And still, there was no promise that the horizon would return to its place after it’d slanted. Still, there was no promise that morning would ever come.
The Mortimer Sisters were together and three, but Nyx stared at the door to the Attic thinking of Bod who was alone and one.
Part of her wanted to say something, but she never knew what she could say. When people were grieving, they practically feared her. She somehow only made them feel ten times worse. There was another part of her that wanted to ignore this. That’s what Evie said had helped her to forget. And forgetting, not forgiving, is what Nyx needed to do. None of this was Ichabod’s fault. Yet Nyx felt horrible even thinking of him all the same.
She wasn’t sure what she was feeling. Was it sorrow? Was it rage?
Whatever it was, it kept her thinking about his firmly shut door. Feeling, rather than doing. Simply staring. Secretly resolved in her heart most heavy not to budge.
“Nyx,” Leila called, and Nyx said, “Coming,” to her sister. But she couldn’t take her eyes off the door. Frowning. Staring.
But like the door itself, unyielding. Or perhaps just could not budge.
It was a dark that bled much darker. Evie tried to pretend she was asleep. But she couldn’t sleep away this feeling. The feeling that she’d forgotten something. But what could it have been?
For the first time in ages, the Downs and the Mortimers slept peacefully in the same room. They had all said good night to each other with hugs and with kisses. They’d prayed together and cried together and laughed together until they had no words left to breathe.
And with everything so still Evie did not want to disrupt the silence. But the darkness deepened, inky and wet and closing her eyes didn’t make it better. She thought and her thoughts were making it much darker. Could she still be a black hole? Could she ever escape the dark if she was darkness, herself?
She thought and her thoughts swarmed like gnats around her. She was Home and Nyx was safe and though the Downs had sort of lied to her, she was loved. She was loved and could feel love and that’s what mattered. Not what Mr. Graves had or hadn’t done. And yet—
Oh, yes. She remembered, now. She got up, realizing that knowing did not— could not— negate what she felt.
Mrs. Down stirred slightly as Evie tiptoed over heads, legs, and feet. In a desperate and reaching half-crawl, Evie finally reached the doorway. Then she went to the door of the Attic and tried the knob, expecting it to be locked.
But the door was not locked and Evie knew then how terrible it’d been. Her mistake. She was so wrapped up in her own feelings, she did not stop to think— really think.
That’s why her thoughts had been swarming. They weren’t real. Just distractions.
Thinking finally of Ichabod, she started up the steps most steep.
Someone’d finally come, and it was just who he’d expected.
“Bod?” Evie said more uncertain than usual. She sat next to him on the mattress and put a hand on his shoulder. “Are you okay?”
Ichabod wanted nothing more than to say something lighthearted. To smile or to even joke. Or he wanted to shrug her off and scream so scarily she’d go and never come back.
At the very least, Bod wanted to do something. But he felt nothing. His lip twitched as he tried his hardest to find some way to respond.
“I know,” Evie started, “and I’m so, so sorry that I’m most ludicrously late.”
Ichabod believed her. That she was sorry. That she knew and wanted with everything in her for him to be okay. That she cared for him. That she would sit patiently by his side until he chose to speak. But there was a twinge terrible raging within him.
“You’re scared of me,” he voiced.
“No—“
“But you hate me.”
“No.” But when Ichabod looked at Evie, she seemed afraid. Perhaps she wasn’t sure. “No,” she tried, more firm this time.
Ichabod slumped beneath her touch, eyes wet. “I would hate me,” he admitted.
“Bod—“
“If your father’d done what mine had done I would hate you,” Ichabod told her, shaking. Then he cried out, “I would.”
And his voice echoed off the hills of October.
“Why don’t you hate me?” he cried. So Evie held him. “I would.”
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