Chapter 22: Can we work?
“So, their grandmother lived out in a shack in the woods while they lived here?” Alex marveled. “So what happened to her?” The shadows had grown long as they had been talking. Alex had no idea how long it had been.
“I don’t know for sure. They say she died in a fire…” Chloe spoke slowly. Her eyes stared past Alex toward the door. Alex turned slowly. He was afraid of what he might see. There in the doorway was a shadow, tall and thin. Chloe was already gliding away. Alex could feel the pressure of her hand trying to pull him back. A scratching scurrying could be heard in the walls.
“What is that?” Alex whispered.
“It’s Edgar, but he’s never come in here before,” Chloe whimpered.
“Um, Alex?” The shadow spoke softly. Aaron stepped into the light. “Dad and I would like to know if we can maybe do some work on the house now.”
Alex was bent over, drawing deep breaths. In between nervous laughing, he tried to steady his watery legs. Chloe had melted into the wall. She was hiding from Aaron. “Chloe,” Alex called. “It’s OK. It’s just my brother, Aaron. You can come out.” Alex waited, but Chloe did not return.
“Was that her?” Aaron asked, staring at where he had last seen the girl.
“Yeah” was all Alex could think to say.
“Did you ask her?” Aaron whispered, grabbing Alex’s arm.
“What?” Alex asked dumbfounded. He wasn’t sure if Aaron meant about Edgar, or…“Oh, right, about the house.” Immediately he tried to calm Aaron, who was beginning to boil in frustration. “We kinda got sidetracked. I’ll go ask her.”
“You’ve been here for over two hours,” Aaron shouted.
“Yeah, well. She has missed out on a lot, you know.”
“Come on, man, we need to get moving on this. Dad sunk a ton into buying this place.” Aaron was getting started on a rant. Normally Alex would head him off before things got too heated, but he was distracted. Chloe was nowhere to be seen. “Damn it, Alex. I’m talking to you.”
“Yeah, and I’m not listening. You think you would’ve learned the signs by now.” Alex pushed past his brother. “Not much I can do when you scared her off.”
“I scared her off!” Aaron stormed. “You sure you didn’t bore her to de—?”
Aaron and Alex stared at each other, the anger between them evaporating through awkward snickers. “Oh, man, I hope she didn’t hear that,” Aaron whispered.
“Naw, she is actually really cool about that stuff.” Alex again swept the area, trying to find Chloe. “Hey, Chloe, I want you to meet my annoying older brother, Aaron.” They waited.