“The funeral couldn’t wait.” Evaline threw open a cabinet beneath
“Daddy wasn’t going anywhere.”
“But the spill was. Is.” Evaline began tossing boxes of trash bags and
parchment paper onto the floor.
“Screw this town. What’s it done for you lately, anyway?”
“Stay here, screw here. Which is it, Jo?” Evaline straightened her
back. “I need to speak to the movers.” She pushed the door and went out
onto the porch. Harlan still sat on the table.
Evaline watched as the movers rolled a furniture dolly down a metal
ramp. Stray seed and corn kernels crunched under boots. There’d be no
corn next year. No beans or beets or even turnips, which Harlan had grown
out of spite toward Evaline’s momma. With the land all sold, oil rigs could
move even closer, keep pumping the dying land like defibrillators.
Evaline surveyed the dead lilacs and then looked past them.
Out across the field, the saltwater crept like fingers out of a grave,
sliding through the plow furrows. Evaline swallowed. She’d found dozens of sites for Kestract to drill, but all of them had been far away from
her home; she hadn’t wanted them here, exploiting the cracks in the Gillie farm’s shale. Harlan, with his soaked liver and stubborn pride, had
left blight in his wake every way he could. She considered knocking the
ashes across the porch, sweeping him under the boards to lie forever
with the bones of raccoons and rabbits. She picked up the urn, felt the
metal ribs running from lid to foot like furrows.
In geology it was “fissility,” the ability of rock to split along planes
of weakness. It happened in marriages, too. Friendships. Whole towns.
Fissility happened when the clay particles that first formed the shale
aligned during initial compaction. Evaline shook her head. The only way
for things to break was to line them up nice in the first place. She looked
out over the land. She’d been so busy since Harlan died that she hadn’t
had a chance to go further than the length of the driveway to the road;
she’d like to see it one last time, before Kestract owned it forever.
“Be right back,” Evaline called. “Left some tools out in the field.”
“I’ll come,” Joanne said. “I’m supposed to be working while I’m here.
Checking the site counts as work, right?”
“Boxing plates counts as work.”
Joanne rolled her eyes and handed Evaline the truck keys off the
hook from inside the door.