“They’re sending a crew,” Joanne said. “Don’t worry about it.” She
reached for tape. “You didn’t have to retire, you know. You’re too young
for a nursing home.”
“Retirement community. I can’t stay here.”
“So, work up at headquarters.”
“I’ve done all I should.” Evaline sipped the new brew. “It’s five hun-
dred gallons, Jo. There’s mercury in it.”
“I said they’re coming. Jesus, Mom, I just got here. It’s not like I
dumped the water, personally.”
“I didn’t say you did.”
“You didn’t do it, either.”
“Have you had coffee?” Evaline turned off the pot.
“Not enough.” Joanne grabbed another mug from the cabinet.
“Should have gotten Styrofoam for moving day.” She examined the mug,
dried glue smears sealing the handle to the cup. “Daddy’s work?”
“I told you,” Evaline said. “He had to fix everything.”
“Don’t talk like that.” Evaline tore tape off a dispenser with her teeth.
“He did his best.”
“AA would have been better.”
Evaline closed the box. “You know they used to grow cotton here?”
Joanne shook her head.
“Destroyed the soil. Dust Bowl came. Then cattle. Weeds. Harlan al-
ways had to prove something could be brought back from the brink.”
“But you’ve given up on it.”
“I wouldn’t call moving closer to grandkids ‘giving up.’ Jesus, Jo, did
you forget how to have a decent conversation with another person while
out on that platform?”
“I’m just saying, Daddy would never have left this place. You run out
the moment he’s gone.”
“I’m sure Kestract would lease you back the house if you want it that
“It’d go to weeds again,” Joanne said. “Not the same without Daddy
“I don’t want to fight with you, Jo. You haven’t been here five minutes,
and all I want is your help putting things in boxes and taping them shut.
Can you do that?”
“I tried to come earlier.”