The man smiled. “Not my pay grade, ma’am.”
“Wednesday,” Joanne said. “In case moving takes longer than ex-
pected.” She turned to Evaline. “I signed the papers.”
Evaline took the hat. “I’ll be a minute.”
“Movers will need you,” Joanne said. “Don’t wait for me.” She fol-
lowed the man behind the sound wall.
In the pickup, Harlan’s urn rested in the dent on the bench seat. The
dent was deep, pressed round from years of Evaline’s widening bottom.
She shut off the truck, her body suddenly hot and spots dancing at the
corner of her eyes. She glared at Harlan’s urn. He’d found one more
thing to take with him before dying: Joanne. She felt her blood drain
into her stomach. Her fingers went numb, and she flexed, trying to shake
out the tingles. “How could you?” she asked.
Joanne had been right; Evaline did want to scatter his ashes at the
graves of his kin. But now.
She tucked Harlan under her coat and slid out of the cab, grabbing
gloves from the dash as she went. She set the hard hat on her head and
trailed after the man and Joanne, then veered away from the direction
of the incoming crew and toward the drill. A tanker truck, sloshing with
water, waited beyond the sound wall. The enclosure was unfinished, but
Evaline had watched it knitting closer together each day, swallowing the
back field whole. The tanker’s reservoir vibrated as generators revved,
ready to blast the fresh frack water through cracked shale and deep into
the broken Gillie ground. The drill exploited the weakest planes of the
Evaline went cold, seeing everything in her life as a drill: Constance
Wimberley, Harlan’s dereliction to drink, her own decisions to let some
things stay buried and others rise up, poisoning everything in their revelation. She’d led Kestract up and down the coast, signed a lease that ruined ancestral fishing shores, made farmland sprout pump jacks; she’d
been foolish to think they wouldn’t close in around her home, too. No
place or thing existed in isolation, Evaline realized.
She rounded the tanker and tugged the worn leather work gloves
high on her wrists. She climbed the ladder, the rungs slippery with frozen spray. In her old work coat, hard hat, and boots, she’d look just like
field crew from behind, her ponytail tucked down the back of her shirt.
Evaline unscrewed the fill cap and poured Harlan inside.
“Here’s your backbone,” she said as the ash dust plumed up in her face.
“Two square miles of rigid shale.” She emptied the last dregs of Harlan