She and Luke were playing cards when I showed up for the first time since Evangeline’s appearance at my door.
“You look like you got run over by a truck, son,” Addy said. “What’s going on?”
Taking a seat at the table, I put my feet up on the chair opposite me. I let out a deep breath and rubbed my tired eyes. “She came to see me.”
Addy placed her deck of cards down and got up to grab me a beer from the fridge. “I figured she would. I told her to.”
“You told her to?”
Half smiling, she placed the bottle firmly down in front of me. “Sure did.”
“Because the sooner you get the inevitable over with, the better. Tell me what happened.”
“I slammed the door in her face.”
Addy and Luke looked at each other and started to laugh.
Looking between them, I asked, “What exactly about this is funny?”
Addy shook her head and crossed her arms. “You can’t do that, Sevin. You can’t run from her.”
“Why the hell not?”
“Because now that you know where she is, you won’t be able to ignore it.”
“I don’t know where she is.”
“You do, because I’m going to tell you.”
“I don’t want to know.”
“She lives at 15 Great Road in Wichita.”
“Addy…I didn’t want to know.”
“Yes, you do. You should also know that she’s married.”
My heart sank.
Goddammit. If I hated her so much, why did that news devastate me?
“Something is not right with her, Sevin.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. I got a really bad feeling. She seemed reluctant to say her address, made me promise not to go there if she gave it to me. We need to check things out.”
My chair skidded as I got up and walked toward the window. “I’m checking out, alright. Checking out altogether from this. I can’t go down this road with Evangeline again.”
“I don’t get why you’re acting like this toward her,” Luke said. “She seemed really sweet, and she’s definitely sorry for what she did. You should at least talk to her.”
I walked over to my brother and flicked one of the cards at him. “If you weren’t gay, I’d think she put you under the same spell she put on me when I was your age.”
“Ain’t that the truth,” Addy said. “Listen to your little brother, though. Vangie’s a good person and deserves forgiveness. I’m not saying that has to happen overnight or even soon. But you know our girl has always allowed herself to be led by fear and her conscience. She left because she felt she had no choice, probably couldn’t handle the guilt given Elle’s predicament. Whatever the reason, it was the wrong decision; we know that. But we can’t change the past. She’s married anyway now. It’s not like we’re suggesting you take up where things left off. Probably too late for that. You just need to find it in yourself to forgive her.”
I took a sip of my beer and swallowed. “I’ll never forgive her.”
“I’m not saying you should forget, but you need to ask God to help you forgive.”
Two months had passed since she showed up at my door. Despite my vow to try to forget her, there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t think about Evangeline or try to piece together what happened to her in the years we were apart.
I was never the church going type. Growing up, church was simply an opportunity to get out of Lillian’s stagnant house or maybe meet some good girls to corrupt.
The period after Elle’s death was the first time in my life that I’d used church as a place to meditate, to meet with God and channel his guidance on my inner struggles.
Not wanting to deal with people from Sutton Provisions, I chose not to attend service at the main church in Dodge City. Instead, I went to the one in the next town over. That was where I met Nancy. She was a widow whose husband died in combat overseas, but she had no children. Nancy moved back home to Kansas to be closer to her parents and had been a shoulder to lean on for me lately given our similar situations. She’d meet me at service, sitting next to me and would sometimes drop meals off at my house during the week. Some evenings, she’d stay for a while, and we’d just talk. Nancy was there the day that Evangeline showed up at my door. Thankfully, she never pried about my strange reaction to my “sister in law.” While I was in no way ready for a relationship with someone, I had a feeling that Nancy wanted more with me and was just waiting in the wings for enough time to pass where it would be appropriate for me to start dating. I honestly didn’t know whether things with her would evolve into something. If she were truly looking for another husband, I needed to be careful not to get myself in over my head. For now, we were friends, and her presence was comforting.
On that particular Sunday, Nancy and I were holding hands during a prayer when I noticed a family a few pews up from us. I couldn’t put my finger on where I knew the father from. When he turned around to hand the donation basket to the people in front of us, his face just seemed familiar to me. The family had four daughters, three of them with lighter hair and a little darker-haired girl at the end of the pew who was missing the bottom half of her left arm. It dawned on me that they probably had her sit on the leftmost corner so that she could use her right hand to hold her sister’s during the prayer. It made me think about the fact that everyone has their own unique challenges. This little girl’s struggle was a lot different than my internal ones, but nevertheless, we all came together on Sunday to seek guidance from the same power. Something about that realization gave me renewed strength, like I wasn’t alone in this crazy life.