Ellie carried her box of groceries into the house, and set them on the table. She put the milk and cheese in the fridge. There were a few mundane tasks she had to do, which involved checking the gas tank to see if she could even cook a grilled cheese. Then she checked the wood box and saw it was empty. She walked out to the wood pile and began to load the wheel barrow. She would be needing to fire up the wood burning stove tonight. Though the days were moderately warm, the nights were dropping into the forties.
After loading the stove and finally giving in to pouring lamp oil on the wood to get it to light, she closed the door, checked the damper, and realized that she hadn’t bought any beer. She wasn’t about to sleep upstairs and as the sun began to set she didn’t think she could even look upstairs in the dark without some liquid courage.
Ellie began to search the book shelves. She knew her grandfather always kept a little something, something for medicinal purposes only. Well that was always what he had told her. She pulled out a large leather bound bible. It was one of those family bibles meant to be passed down from generation to generation. She opened the cover and there was the family tree.
She looked at her names of her family. Her parents, her grandparents, their brothers and sisters, their children. The family tree was massive, part of was even touching the Rinks and Barkers, the other two most known names in the valley. Dunne was not on the tree, she had no relation to Roman. His family had only been in the valley for a generation or so. Their parents showing up at the factory that for a long time had been the extra money the town had. Now Roman Dunne was sheriff. Ellie still couldn’t believe it.
Behind the bible was a small glass mason gar with a metal lid. Inside was a cloudy liquid, but mostly clear. She unscrewed the cap and sniffed. It smelled like pure alcohol. Probably could take the rust off a car bumbler. She carried it to the table and opened the freezer, no ice.
“Really? You cleaned the ice out too?” Ellie said to Shannon who wasn’t there. She pulled out the empty ice cube trays and filled them with water. Well the first one was gonna be warm. She removed a jelly jar from the cabinet. Her grandparents had complete collections of everything, butter bowls, cool whip bowls, mayonnaise jars, and then endless jars for caning goods. Ellie sighed, she wished that he had paid more attention to her grandmother’s canning that would be a good thing to have learned to have done. She poured a tiny bit of the moonshine into the jelly jar and took a small sip. Ellie grimaced, it was like drinking battery acid.
Her belly immediately was full of warmth. It slammed into like a brick. She put down the glass and remembered she should’ve eaten something first. Ellie moved to the stove and pulled down a book of matches. She lit the stove, her grandparents have never gotten in an electric stove and or even getting an auto lighting gas one. Her grandmother always had cast iron skillets and Ellie pulled one down from the wall. She looked for a pot, but couldn’t find one, she was going to have to make her tomato soup in a larger or deeper skillet. The pot was big enough to make massive amounts of chili in. Ellie remembered her grandmother always cooking enough to feed an army. Then they were spend a week eating just leftovers.
Grilled cheeses and tomato soup had always been her favorite. Ever since she was little girl. She remembered being poor, before she came to live with her grandparents. Her father had never been in the picture and her mother was a promiscuous woman who moved from man to man who could offer her what she wanted usually offer in trade of sex. Her mother wasn’t exactly a prostitute, but she traded sex for food or rent. Ellie had remembered living in dingy, tiny places, or the back seats of cars. She’d remembered watching TV while her mother pleasured men. Most weren’t mean to her, some had tried to show interest in her, both others just seemed to ignore her. In those days Ellie had eaten a lot of peanut butter because it was the only thing in the house, peanut butter sandwiches when they had bread, peanut butter and crackers when they had crackers, or just peanut butter our the jar with a spoon. There were the nights of mac n cheese. Mac n cheese with sausage and peas, mac in cheese with ground beef and peas, tuna and peas. Ellie not couldn’t stand peanut butter or mac in cheese.
Grilled cheese and tomato soup had always been a special treat and it would always seemed that Ellie couldn’t get enough of it. When Ellie had been twelve her mother had died, heroin overdose ad Ellie went to live permanently with her grandparents, she had spent summers with them or whenever Ellie’s mother needed to hide her from the division of social services. Ellie had been rebellions one with her grandparents, She did it because her grandparents had given her almost everything she ever asked for. They bought her first pony, her first dog, her first kitten. She was fifteen when she noticed Josh Reardon and he was her escape from her grandparents’ rules.
Ellie had decided that she might write a book about her life. As she ate her tomato soup and her grilled cheese, dipping the sandwich in the soup she took sips of the moonshine. A soon as she was done with her dinner she felt all warm and fuzzy and well rather disconnected it. From everything. She was fully buzzed and now thought that going to bed was a good idea. Ellie walked up the stairs, she still hadn’t seen Hank since she had released him from the crate. He was an older cat and moving hadn’t been easy on him. Then again moving was stressful on everyone. She walked up the stairs and even though she was fully buzzed she still flipped a light switch to illuminate the kitchen at the under the stairs. Even stood at the bottom of the stairs.
“Rex”? Ellie asked the dog. The dog was rooted to the steps, he normally followed her around, eyes on her, as if she was about to explode in to treats and he didn’t want to miss a single one. “Come Rex,” Ellie ordered and Rex reluctantly obeyed with his tail between his legs as if he was a beaten dog.
Ellie moved into the dining room, turning that light on, but the problem with the living room was the light switch was next to the door. Ellie would have to cross the room in the dark to turn the light on. Firs thing she was going to do was have a switch wired so she no longer her had to do this. Ellie almost jogged across the darkness and flipped the switch. The living room was lit up and she looked at the old glass bookcase, the vinyl couch and the old fifties furniture. The carpet was orange and gold shag, it was in pristine condition. The carpet was as fluffy and new as the day it had been installed. A portrait on the wall was of an aerial photo of the house. It was when the house had been first built and the trees hadn’t even been planted in the front yard. Not much had changed except the house had now been surrounded by green grass. This room contained a fireplace that her grandparents had never used.
The room was empty, and Ellie sighed. Her worst nightmares had been on that couch. She didn’t want to think about them, but the images of glowing swirling swastikas coming down the hallway for her had scared her so bad that she even remembered the nightmare twenty years later.
Next was the hallway that led past the bathroom into the two bedrooms. The house could’ve been able to have more, but smaller bedrooms, but her grandmother had insisted on large bedrooms and there were huge. Both bedrooms were white, but the each contained a large bedroom suite. One suite belonged to her mother and the other was her grandparents wedding bedroom suite when they first got married. The carpet was an ugly gray and white shag, but looked just as pristine as the carpet in the living room. Her grandparents had only used the upstairs to sleep. They didn’t even bathe or dress upstairs. The dressers and armoires stored old clothes. Old suitcases, boxes of photos and old board games. One closet contained linens for the beds.
She pulled out the sheep sheets. They had always been her favorite. They were flannel, and the only sheets that weren’t white or off white. They were covered in fluffy white sheep with the occasional black sheep. Ellie looked from bedroom to bedroom. Which one should she claim as hers? One bedroom was larger than the other, and she decided she would take the largest and since the house was hers, and the furniture and everything in, she may as well make it hers. Besides her grandparents slept in the smaller bedroom.
Buzzed, Ellie managed to make the bed. Her bedroom was in the front of the house. Once the bed was made she realized that she hadn’t brought in her clothes from the truck, and at that moment really didn’t care. Ellie pulled out a heavy quilt from the closet in the room and spread it on the bed. It was said these quilts were made by her father’s grandmother, but Ellie never knew how her grandparents wound up with them. Mostly likely Ellie’s mother had brought them to her parents to see if she could sell them. They were gorgeous intricate handmade quilts. Some were patchwork, but a few were the classic wedding rings, the fans, and one was made from some silvery material, almost like foil on the top and held to the plaid backing by yarn. Ellie had always liked the silver one. It was the one she put on the bed. She assumed it was because it was the warmest.
“Come on Rex,” Ellie patted the bed and Rex slunk into the room, frightened, hackles raised and no amount of prodding, pleading, or even picking him up, could get Rex onto the bed. “Fine, sleep on the floor.” She said to the dog and removed her shirt and jeans before walking back through the house to turn the lights off. She turned the light off in the bedroom and immediately turned it back on. She had been used to sleeping in a house in the suburbs, there had been street lights and neighbor noises. The lack of lighting made the room pitch black and the only sounds Ellie could hear were her heartbeat and Rex’s breathing from the foot of the bed.