Evvie Drake Starts Over - Linda Holmes

GO NOW, OR YOU’LL NEVER go, Evvie warned herself.

She didn’t want to be there when he got home from work. It was cowardly, yes, but she didn’t relish the whole thing it would turn into, the whole mess. He’d say, not unreasonably, that leaving with no warning at all was a little dramatic. After all this time, he would wonder, why now? He wouldn’t know that, today exactly, Evvie had been with him for half her life. She’d figured it out on the back of a grocery receipt a few months earlier, and then she had circled this date on their wall calendar in red. He’d walked by it over and over and never once asked her about it. If she let the day pass, she thought she might start to disappear, cell by cell, bone by bone, replaced by someone who looked like her but wasn’t.

She popped the trunk of her Honda and stuffed a fat envelope of cash into the glove compartment. This part might be silly. She didn’t think Tim would cancel the credit cards or close the accounts. But her life had a lot of “just in case” in it, and she needed money just in case she didn’t know him as well as she thought. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d stumbled while trying to predict him.

She went into the house and opened the hall closet. She pulled down the worn, hard-sided blue suitcase with the stickers all over it—PARIS, LONDON. It was light, and it rattled from inside as she made her way down the porch steps and pushed it into the backseat of the car. The sounds of her feet on the driveway pavement tempted her to smile.

There was more to retrieve from the house, but she slid into the front seat and closed the door, leaning back against the headrest with her eyes closed. Holy shit, I’m really going. In a few hours, she would be in some chain hotel with scratchy bedspreads and a ragtag cable lineup. She would buy a bottle of wine, or a box of it, and she’d lie dead center in the king-sized bed and drink and wiggle her toes and read for as long as she wanted. But then she began to wonder what she would do tomorrow, and there wasn’t time for that, so she took a deep breath and got out of the car to get the rest of her things. She was walking up the driveway when her phone rang.

The ringtone always startled her a little bit—a metallic arpeggio that sounded like an electric harp. The call was from the hospital in Camden where Tim sometimes saw patients. She didn’t want to talk to him, but she needed to know if he would be home early.


“May I speak to Eveleth Drake?”

It was not Tim.

“This is Evvie.”

“Mrs. Drake, my name is Colleen Marshall, I’m a nurse at Camden Hospital. I’m calling because Dr. Drake was brought into our ER about half an hour ago. He’s been in a car accident.”

A thump in Evvie’s heart traveled out to her fingertips. For one tenth of one second, she wanted to tell the nurse to call Tim’s parents, because she was just leaving him.

“Oh my God,” she said instead. “Is he all right?”

The pause was so long she could hear a doctor being paged in the background. “He’s badly hurt. You should come in just as soon as you can. Do you know where we’re located?”

“Yes,” she choked out. “I’ll be there in, ah…probably twenty minutes.”

Evvie’s hands shook as she tapped out a text to Andy. Tim was in a car accident. Bad. Camden Hospital. Can you tell my dad?

She turned her key in the ignition and pulled out of her driveway, heading toward Camden. She later figured, from her phone and all the paperwork, that he probably died while she was waiting at the stoplight at Chisholm Street, a block from the church where they got married.

EVVIE LAY AWAKE ON THE floor in the dark. More specifically, on the floor of the empty little apartment that jutted awkwardly from the back of her house into the yard. She was there because, upstairs in her own bed, she’d had another dream where Tim was still alive.

Evvie’s Scandinavian grandmother had claimed that young women dream about the husbands they want, old women dream about the husbands they wanted, and only the luckiest women, for a moment in the middle, dream about the husbands they’ve got. But