I had a difficult time focusing on the conversations going on around me, however, as the chill left from Ethan’s odd behavior still haunted me. What could he possibly mean by “before-you mom?” It didn’t make any sense.
Suddenly I realized that my sister Karen was asking me a question, and I hadn’t heard a word that she had said.
Karen was looking at me, with a concerned expression on her face. “I was just wondering what Ethan was talking about earlier in the kitchen. Dad told me about what he said and how bizarre it was.”
Rich must have heard her, because he immediately jumped into the conversation. “It’s got to be Mike. I always knew that he was no good.”
“Oh you did, huh, bro?” I asked, my eyebrow raised in a mock-suspicious manner. “It’s unfortunate that you didn’t tell me that when you were standing next to him as his Best Man at our wedding.”
“Hey, when have you ever listened to your big brother, anyway?” Rich said with a shrug and a laugh.
Stacy, Rich’s wife, was listening intently. “But what do you think could have brought on such a strange conversation?” she asked.
“I really have no idea,” I said, then shrugged. “It was probably nothing. He probably didn’t know that he wasn’t making any sense.” I was still concerned over the matter, but I didn’t like how Karen and Stacy were looking at Ethan, like he needed to be psycho-analyzed or something. He had been through plenty of trauma from the divorce, all three of us had, and I didn’t want to add to that trauma.
I decided that I would just keep a close eye on Ethan, under the radar.
One of the best features of this house was its size. It had a lovely, updated master bedroom suite on the ground floor, with four other bedrooms upstairs, in addition to a giant playroom. The upstairs was mostly untouched, as far as renovations go, so it had a lot of the original charm and details from when it was constructed over one hundred years before.
The younger cousins were already staking out their own little plot of floor space in the playroom, rolling out their sleeping bags and piles of stuffed animals, when Ethan leaned in close to me later that evening.
“Can I come stay with you in your room?” he asked, taking my hand in his small one.
“Of course, Buddy. But, don’t you want to sleep with your cousins?” I said, squeezing his hand. “It looks like a lot of fun to me.”
Ethan cuddled up close to me again, indicating his choice. Was he suddenly getting shy? I guess it had been a while since he had spent time with his cousins, and we were in a new place. I led him down the hall to where my room was.
The door was old and heavy, with the white paint peeling off in the rustic style that only old houses can truly pull off. I turned the floral engraved brass knob and a gust of cool air swept over us.
“Wow, who needs air conditioning in a drafty place like this?” I joked, but noticed that Ethan had tensed up.
“What’s the matter, Ethan?” I asked.
“This isn’t your room, Mom,” he said, with a strangling sort of sound to his voice. “This is HER room.”
“What are you talking about, Ethan? Whose room is it?” I was getting the chills again, and I didn’t like the way my son said HER, like he was afraid.
“My sister’s,” he said simply, pulling his hand from my own. “I think I’ll stay with Hannah instead,” he said, then turned and walked back to the playroom.
I stood dumbfounded in the doorway. What was Ethan talking about? What brought all this strange behavior on? He seemed fine this afternoon when we had arrived, even giddy with excitement, but now that it was night, his mood was completely transformed. What was happening with my son?
I pushed the door open completely and walked in. My bag was already inside on the floor, where Rich had deposited it earlier. There was a double bed, with an ornate wrought iron bed frame, and an assortment of vintage mirrors and picture frames placed decoratively above an ivory colored chest of drawers. But what caught my attention the most was a collection of porcelain dolls filling several shelves which were opposite the bed. Their glass eyes stared blankly at me from across the room, giving me an involuntary shudder.
Curious about Ethan, his sister and this room? Check back for more tomorrow!