Excerpt from Grange Park-my novel (it needs more editing)
There is one location that houses memories of those long dead but casts a shadow like any living thing, nonetheless. A median divides the roads heading East in the township of Grange Park, and it features only one boarded up white house. It once overlooked a bountiful garden and impressive display of angels and cherubs, but now it was caulked by debris and calcium and the paint seemed to be melting off.
The neighborhood children loved running through the odd blister of a landscape on their way to the park. Especially 9 year-old Emily Burroughs. She was an only child who recently moved to the small Wisconsin town in the spring of 1975, and frequented the park the most out of the neighborhood kids. Her parents were both doctors, so she spent a bulk of her time with her nanny Mary Brookes, and her massive collection of Barbie dolls and toys. She was a quiet, yet engaging young girl, and didn’t have a problem inviting people over, especially since her guardian Mary was a good hostess and wasn’t too strict. Emily liked to observe how others acted. She watched how they talked, imagined, and like an adult thought endearingly how peculiar and wonderful children are.
Emily loved observing the Seacrest twins, particularly, because they often finished each other’s sentences. Also, they were interested in showing her how to play baseball and boyish games. In all intents and purposes, they were her surrogate brothers. One of the twins, Erik, the decidedly quieter out of the two, would sometimes look at Emily the way she looked at the other children, with entertained compassion, as if he knew a secret of hers.
The late afternoon sun seared through the windows of the broken fortress across from Emily’s stucco home, much like a match crackling brightly but burning out immediately. She was curious what might be there. It was a week before school and her last year of elementary before she went to a private junior high without her friends, so she rounded up the twins and asked if they wanted to go over to the house, in case it held some mystery that only they could find. Erik tried to convince her not to go that night since it was going to be his bedtime soon.
His father was an ex-marine, and his mother was a special education teacher. Once, Emily brought over her Barbie dolls and Erik’s dad sneered at her, “What are you doing bringing those around? Aren’t you too old to be playing with those things, Emily?” She didn’t talk to him much after that. He had a controlled demeanor, and it unsettled Emily. She didn’t completely understand his temperament. He appeared so calm on the outside, but she sensed that he was conversely torrid on the inside. Patrick and Erik explained to Emily that their father was injured and tortured in the war, and that he said he was stronger because of it. Emily felt awkward around their father, not because he endured something horrifying, instead she felt strangely guilty for his past.
Her parents were both doctors and they fixed people, so she thought her parents should fix him as well. She brought up the notion to them one night over a steak dinner Mary prepared. The Doctors Burrough tepidly played with their meals, and after a long pause, her father shook his head and dropped his fork onto the fine china plate, “How was this brought up?”
“The twins told me.” Emily pushed her chair in abruptly.
“Where are you going so fast?” Her father asked sharply.
“I was going to play with Erik and Patrick before it gets dark.”
“Oh, no you’re not.” Her father stood up.
“Why not? It’s almost school and I won’t have time to play as much then.” She flashed absurdly sad puppy eyes and her father to shifted his feet uncomfortably.
Her mother smiled at her, “Why don’t you go play for a bit? But you have to come home before night falls, alright?”
“Alright! Thanks mom!” She hugged and kissed her.
“Hey, where’s my kiss?” Her dad bellowed, but was unable to compel his daughter to stay a minute longer. Then, the Doctors Burrough continued with their meal until wine lulled them into the living room to watch the sunset.
“Patrick! Erik!” She shouted outside of their red brick house, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!”
Patrick popped his head out of the first story window, “Hey! We’ll be right down.”
Erik and Patrick descended the brick sidewalk purposefully with two plastic bags full of supplies in hand, and the mission began. When they were a few blocks away, closer to Grange Park, they proceeded to pull out some hammers, screwdrivers, and Hi-C.
“We came prepared.” Patrick smirked.
“I guess you did.” Emily held her head high, and pulled her dark brown hair into a ponytail. She strongly felt that they were about to do something daring and special, and no other children had the guts like they did.
“Just remember, if any ghosts jump at you, don’t get out of their way. Just use this…” Patrick held out a bottle of Windex. “This makes them edgy. They don’t like Windex because it makes them reflect more.”
The night air clung to the lovers’ words, the female discernibly younger than the male, but held him as though he were a child. “You think I would ever leave you?” Her eyes were pale and still; they looked as though they were about to step aboard a ship that would never see the light of day again. It was a long way to walk, and the end of the road was a death row alley way to them, as they stepped in time to each other’s rhythm, which was slow and skipped out of beat when they kissed. He told her to wait, and then decided to use the nearest tree stump as a urinal.
“See, you always do this…Make me feel like a moron.” He chuckled and lively taunted her as she ran out of sight down the road.
“You couldn’t wait?!” She yelled back, laughing.
“C’mon, don’t…” His words trailed beneath the sparse greenery that shielded her apartment complex.
She lit up a cigarette and giggled, until a loud and uproariously blood-boiling gunshot broke their musings in half. Her eyes lurched back in her head and she fell next to her lover. Dark red ran into cracks and down into the lush summer grass, and the cigarette smoke burned a hole in her amber skirt just until its finale.