Evangeline hadn't thought about it. She had just acted on impulse –
for the first … second … time in her life. And now, it might just
cost her the world she had so carefully built for herself.
Her husband had tried to talk her out of it. He hadn't wanted her
coming to the women's shelter alone, at least not until he had gotten
one of the women's boyfriends under control, by legal means or not.
If Evangeline had to go, John had said, he would have to go with her.
Evangeline seemed to agree with him, calling him with a time they
would meet up together. But she went much earlier than planned. She
had phoned her sister to come watch her sons and had called her
assistant to clear her schedule for the afternoon.
Now, she was laying in her husband's arms, and he was crying so hard
that it made her cry. She couldn't feel him holding her as much as
she could see that he was, and over in the distance, lay the body of
the stalker boyfriend who had come to take the life of her client.
John had killed the man, but not before the man had fired off a shot
of his own.
"Don't you leave us, Evangeline. The boys will never forgive me for
not keeping you safe. They'll never forgive you for leaving them,"
Evangeline had already begun to see her life pass before her eyes.
Every near death experience she'd ever heard of said life flashed by
so quickly, but Evangeline's flash was instead a slow crawl, and it
was all jumbled up, not starting from the beginning.
"Peter," she whispered. "Oh, Peter."
Evangeline was 12 again and sitting with her ballet instructor after
class. The aged wisp of a woman would not look at Evangeline
directly. She stared intently at her own long, gray-haired braid,
picking off the split ends.
"Evangeline, darling, you are one of the most graceful dancers we have
ever had in this class, and I had fully hoped that you would one day
become a professional," Mrs. Mathieu said.
"I do want to be a ballerina. In the worst way, Madame," Evangeline
said, her posture slumping a bit. "I did my routine every day this
Mrs. Mathieu caressed Evangeline's face. "I'm sorry, my darling girl,
you've grown too tall to be a true ballerina, and I suspect you'll
only get taller."
Evangeline crossed her arms over her stomach, feeling betrayed by her
adolescent body. She asked Mrs. Mathieu if she was sure Evangeline
hadn't just become a bad dancer and didn't want to tell her so.
"Oh, no, you mustn't think that, Evangeline. You are perfect. Our
stage is just too small," Mrs. Mathieu said, standing.
The two danced the previous year's recital piece together. Their
bodies moved together in fluid unison. Evangeline never saw Mrs.
Mathieu again, though she did write the ballerina when she was
traveling Europe as a student at Oxford.
Then, Evangeline was 9, sneaking a lost puppy into the house and
hiding it from her mother and everyone. She sat behind one of the
big, off-white chairs in the Williamson living room, kissing and
petting the fluffy mutt. The puppy became excited and yipped with
Evangeline's mother called out from the kitchen, where she was cooking
dinner. "Cookie? Layla? Are you alright? What are you girls
doing?" her mother asked.
"I'm reading, mom," Evangeline assured her mother.
She held her breath, hopeful that her mother couldn't tell that her
voice was coming from the living room, where she wasn't allowed to be.
She felt bad for telling the lie, but the puppy was so cute and it
was only this once.
The puppy yipped again, and Evangeline's mother called out for Layla.
Evangeline was confident that her younger sister would be doing
something she shouldn't have been doing. The heat was off of her and
"Now, puppy, you have to be quiet. O.K.," Evangeline said, hugging
the wiggling puff of brown fur. "I love you, puppy."
When she was 18, the last week of August, right before she went off to
college, Evangeline's father took her on a weekend fishing trip.
Though he knew she didn't like the outdoors as well as he, he talked
the head-strong young woman into accompanying him so that they could
spend quality time together.
The old family station wagon chugged up the hill toward the campsite,
as Evangeline looked out of the passenger seat window, frowning at the sun
setting in her eyes. This was a new campsite, and when the car
finally pulled up in front of a cabin, Evangeline asked her father if
this is where they were checking in and how long would it be before
they got to the actual site.
Her father smiled and told Evangeline that this was the site. This
was the cabin they'd be sharing for the weekend. He told her she'd
have her own room, bigger than the one she had at home.
"And the best part is, you don't have to spend all your time with your
old man," her father said, honking the horn.
Evangeline's best friend, Dawn, and several other girls came out of
another nearby cabin. Her boyfriend, Charles, and a few of his
friends came out of yet another cabin.
Evangeline squealed and hugged her father. "Thank you, Daddy!" she
yelled, as she jumped out of the car to run into her friends' waiting
Her father had saved for a year to afford her that gift of one of the
best times of her life. And he had invited Charles though he had an
intense dislike for the serious, young man. He had a sneaking
suspicion – which was correct, though he didn't know at the time –
that the curly-haired, lanky teen had designs on his daughter's
When she got older, Evangeline had regretted not spending more time
with her father that weekend. She would have, had she known he would
die only a few years later.
Now, she had her own boys. The twins. Her Tasmanian devils, as John
liked to call them. Every Sunday, she and John would take the boys to
get ice cream. They never complained and they always behaved for the
ice cream trip because the one time they didn't, Evangeline promised
them, very loudly, that they would never lick another scoop of ice
cream for as long as she lived if they didn't sit down properly.
It was the first time she raised her voice at them. John laughed and
teased them while she did it, like he was their big brother. But he
stopped when Evangeline became teary-eyed. He sent the boys to the
counter to retrieve some napkins.
"Honey, what's wrong?" John asked, rubbing her back.
"I yelled at them," she said, wiping any random tears that refused to
be held back.
John laughed slightly. "Honey, if our boys are half as bad as me and
Mikey were when we were their age, you're going to be yelling at them
a lot. I'm surprised it took you this long," he said, kissing her on
Suddenly, she could see her and John in Mary Barnes' basement that
first time they were together. Such passion. He'd made her feel so
much desire, when other men had left her cold.
John had said the boys would never forgive her if she left them. Was
she dying? She thought to herself that John should clap for her, then
she would come back to life.
When Evangeline was seven, her mother took her to see the play Peter
Pan. And near the end of it, she clapped longer and louder for Tinker
Bell to come back to life than any other little child had the might to
do. Still, Tinker Bell didn't come back.
Her mother later explained to the devastated Evangeline, as she wiped
the tears from her daughter's big brown eyes, that it was just a play
and that the actor who had played Peter was a spoiled, unprofessional
teenager too big for his britches and that the girl who played Tinker
Bell was alive somewhere staying up past her bedtime, just like
Still, Evangeline was worried. She was worried for Peter Pan. He
loved Tinker Bell, and little Evangeline didn't want him to be sad
anymore. So, when everyone had gone to bed, she sat under her covers,
in the darkness and would clap for Tinkerbell. For hours she would
clap quietly because she figured that the increase in time would make
up for her having to be quiet, so as not to wake up her little sister.
"Peter, I hope that works," she would say each time she did it.
Years later, when Layla was old enough to go to see the play,
Evangeline volunteered to take her. Her parents were shocked because
it didn't seem that the pre-teen could bear to be around her younger
sister for more than five minutes.
As Tinker Bell lay dying, Evangeline held her breath as Layla clapped
so hard that her palms were red. Evangeline needed Peter to have his
Tinker Bell return to him.
"She's going to die unless we do something," Peter shouted from the
stage. "Clap your hands! Clap your hands and say, 'I believe in
Evangeline and Layla both clapped and screamed to the top of their
lungs, and this time Tinker Bell lived.
"Don't you die on me," John yelled from the corner of the emergency room.
He sounded far away to Evangeline, but she knew it was urgent and she
needed to pay attention. She opened her eyes and saw her
brother-in-law with a halo of bright light around his head.
"Look at you, Mikey, you're an angel," she said, falling into coughing giggles.
The last thing she saw, before Mikey's halo dimmed to black was him
smiling. She heard him tell John that she was going to be just fine.
When Evangeline awoke in her hospital room, John showered her with
kisses before she could even open her mouth to ask what had happened.
Then she remembered, and to avoid being scolded she thought it better
to keep quiet about the matter.
She asked after the boys, and John told her that they suspected
something was wrong with their mommy because daddy only came home for
a few minutes without her and then left them with their Aunt Shannon.
"Shannon said they grilled her for an hour before she distracted them
with cookies," John said, his voice watery.
"They're going to be detectives like their daddy," Evangeline said softly.
John insisted that they would go into a safer line of work than his or
hers. Evangeline thought for a moment that he was going to scold her
but he didn't. He stood up and leaned over her hospital bed, and they
stared into each other's eyes for what felt like years.
"Who the hell is Peter?" John asked before going in for another kiss.