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E - Everyone

We'll Walk the Stony Road at Midnight

by Stringbean


Evelyn brushed frustrated at her eye with a deep breath and kept walking. The crunch of gravel under her patent leather shoes sounded too loud, drowning out the hum of crickets suddenly silencing in front of her as she went quickly down the path. It was one of those sounds that a person could focus on while they walk and think nothing. Her mind kept trying to go to it and she kept pulling it away. She wished the grass and weeds were growing up in the path a little thicker so she wouldn’t hear the constant crunch of gravel.

Danny would be upset. Of course he was. She couldn’t get the image of his face out of her mind, the way he’d looked at her like she was betraying him and at the same time trying not to look like anything. She wiped again at her eye angrily and went off the path.

There was an old stone cottage erected there, a tiny thing, long deserted. Its moldy thatched roof was caving in behind the door, looking like a gaping hole in the darkness. Evelyn stepped through the damp grass to the back of the house where she knew there was a mossy bench hidden from the road. She sat with a terse sigh and brushed her skirt.

The crunching gravel was gone. The night seemed oddly quiet. Only the crickets in the distance were singing now. Evelyn released her breath and closed her eyes, thinking back on the evening and trying to sort things out. She’d known Danny for-- what was it, three years now? Almost four. Earlier this summer, he’d asked her to marry him, and until now she’d considered that the happiest day of her life so far. But now...

A businessman. That’s what she’d always known him to be. A man of business who’d done well for himself like his partners had. Now she knew why he’d never seemed to want to talk about it much, though that one time he’d gone on about it to her father, wanting to make a good impression she’d assumed. Even now she wanted to smile at the memory, but there was too much anger. He’d lied. She couldn’t for the life of her understand why he’d just come to her now, after all this time, and told her for no apparent reason. “I told you about my jewelry business,” he’d said. “Well now I’ve got to tell you I quit it, and I want to tell you why.” She almost wished he hadn’t and that they could have lived their lives with this never coming out between them. But she knew that was her own weakness whispering to her and that it was wrong.

“My business hasn’t been exactly honest,” he’d said carefully, holding her hands in his lap and looking her in the eye the whole time. As if he had any right to! “Not everything we’ve sold has been real like we said it was. So we charged quite a bit more to a lot of people who didn’t know any better and didn’t have the sense to hire someone that could find out. That’s really how we make most of our money.” How could he have been so matter-of-fact about it? Didn’t he have any conscience at all? Didn’t his thieving and lying bother him, or the fact that he knew it’d be hard for her to hear? Surely he knew that didn’t he? She sat there in the silence, forcing her tears back with her anger and just didn’t understand.

Then the gravel sound was there again, faintly. Evelyn turned her head and listened. Someone was coming up the road. She relaxed at first because she knew they couldn’t see her, and waited for them to go by so she could return to her sense of solitude. Instead, as the footsteps came to where they must have been almost in front of the house, they stopped for a long moment. Evelyn frowned and listened.

“Elly?”

Her eyes widened a bit. She didn’t move or answer Danny. She heard him walking through the tall grass towards the back of the house. She hadn’t expected him to come looking for her. There was nowhere to go now. She looked up with a faint scowl as he came around the corner, his hands in his pockets and his feet half buried in the grass where there was a distinct trail in the dew marking where she had walked. Danny stood there looking at her passively. She let her scowl deepen in defiance before she crossed her arms and looked straight ahead.

Danny let out a soft sigh and looked out the same way she was, over a moon-glittering field of wet grass like what surrounded their ankles now. “Are you going to stay mad, Elly?”

“I have a right to don’t I?”

He looked down at her silently, and for a moment didn’t answer. “I wish you’d let me explain,” he said quietly. She didn’t look at him. “Will you walk with me?”

Her jaw tightened and she thought of the gravel, constant, two sets, out of rhythm, but she stood, making it clear how she felt about it by her quick movements. Danny relaxed slightly though and stepped aside so she could get by, and followed her to the road. They walked in silence for a ways, Danny with his hands in his pockets and his eyes on the road at his feet, Evelyn with her arms swinging stiffly at her side and her head turned away.

"I didn't have to tell you you know."

"That doesn't change anything," she answered tersely.

"Does it change anything that I did it for you?" he countered with a touch of anger now too.

She turned on him. "And I suppose you're going to say that you were only working a racket like that for me too, are you?"

Danny shoved his fists deeper into his pockets and scowled at her under his tossle of black hair. “I quit it didn’t I? You didn’t know about it or anybody else and I quit it. I didn’t have to do that, Evelyn. I could have got off scott free with it and no one would have been the wiser. But I quit it because I knew you wouldn’t like it, that’s what I did for you, because I thought you’d want it!” He turned ahead again with a dark scowl and continued walking, the heels of his shoes grinding loudly on the stoney path.

Evelyn scowled after him a long moment before she followed, not caring to catch up. She walked with her arms folded and her gaze turned out over the field. Against her will, she felt her anger and the hard line across her brow slowly slipping. She glanced at the back of him anxiously, at his stiff shoulders, and stepped quicker to catch up beside him. He didn’t look at her, but started walking a little slower. Again they were silent, for a long time.

“I’m scared, Elly.” The admission fell softly on her ears. She hesitated before looking up at the side of his face. She hadn’t seen Danny look scared before, or heard fear’s faint tremble in his voice, but it was there, brushing his hardened forehead. “I thought I’d make you proud of me, but now I wonder, do you trust me?” He turned to look at her with a stab of pain in his dark eyes that hurt for her to look at. She couldn’t look away though, and as much as she hated it, she couldn’t say anything to answer. In the moonlight, something glistened in his eye as he turned away. She looked away quickly too-- stared down at the road with tears brimming. She was listening to the gravel under both their shoes when he touched her shoulder and stepped in front of her. Danny held her gaze intently with tears brimming in his eyes.

“I can’t take it if you’re like this,” he said quietly. “I’d do anything for you, you know that don’t you? Don’t we love each other? I need to know you trust me, Elly, I’ll do whatever I have to to make you know that.” She’d rarely seen him so serious, and never so desperate. Danny, begging her. Evelyn stared at him and he was afraid she wouldn’t say anything.

Gently she touched his hand where he was holding her arm tightly without realizing. He let her go with a tear on his cheek, her eyes still on his face. “I do trust you, Danny,” she said softly. She bent his head down to her and kissed his forehead softly before she started to move away. “I’ll have to think about it.” His chest rose and fell with an anxious feeling of panic as he watched her turn around and start back down the gravel road towards home again. A tear slipped down his face and fell into the stones.

“I love you, Elly,” he whispered after her. “Remember that, please?”


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Mon Oct 12, 2020 7:37 pm
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ShadowQueen wrote a review...



Hey, Stringbean! I took a while to get to this again and actually review it, so sorry for that!

First, I wondered a bit about the title. Is it something one of them would have said to the other, perhaps?

“My business hasn’t been exactly honest,” he’d said carefully, holding her hands in his lap and looking her in the eye the whole time. As if he had any right to! “Not everything we’ve sold has been real like we said it was. So we charged quite a bit more to a lot of people who didn’t know any better and didn’t have the sense to hire someone that could find out. That’s really how we make most of our money.”


I wonder what made Danny decide to confess about his business work to Evelyn at that point. Is there something he's hiding, like he had to quit before something happened?

“I have a right to don’t I?”


"I didn't have to tell you you know."


I'll point out really quickly that there should probably be a comma in each of these sentences, making them "I didn't have to tell you, you know." and “I have a right to, don’t I?”

“I quit it didn’t I? You didn’t know about it or anybody else and I quit it. I didn’t have to do that, Evelyn. I could have got off scott free with it and no one would have been the wiser. But I quit it because I knew you wouldn’t like it, that’s what I did for you, because I thought you’d want it!”


“I’m scared, Elly.”


It's a rather large shift from anger to fear here. I'm not critiquing anything about that change, although it's certainly a bit remarkable.

“I can’t take it if you’re like this,” he said quietly. “I’d do anything for you, you know that don’t you? Don’t we love each other? I need to know you trust me, Elly, I’ll do whatever I have to to make you know that.” She’d rarely seen him so serious, and never so desperate. Danny, begging her.


The best part about this is we don't know for sure if he's being honest about it this time, or he's still trying to get her to stay by guilt-tripping her and/or manipulating her. Can we determine if we should take his side in this or not? We can't say for certain! :)

I really liked the writing here. (You really like the name Evelyn from how you use it in several stories, I guess!) Thanks for posting this, and keep up the great work!

- Shadow




Stringbean says...


Thanks!



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Sun Oct 11, 2020 5:44 pm
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Vil wrote a review...



Ok, Beany, here I am, as promised. I've got a million reviews to do, so let's get it done, shall we?

Evelyn

Is this one of the previous Evelyn's, or a completely different one?

Oh dear! XD It seems to me like you have a type of male name you like-- namely ones ending in "y." Danny, Bobby, Harry... and Elly, apparently, but that's a female nickname, so I'm not sure if that counts! XD

There are a couple of small grammatical errors (lack of commas :P), so I think you need to talk to someone about brain cells. XD

Aw, poor Danny. ;-; Just go to him, Elly, give him your love. ;-;




Stringbean says...


Different Evelyn, and-- I never actually noticed that, wow XD

Well, VP, I guess that leaves you because you've been hoarding all our groups brain cells lately-- all TWO of them XDD

Poor Danny ;-;



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Sun Oct 11, 2020 7:25 am
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Euphoria8 wrote a review...



Oh god, oh dear, this one got me tearing up....why oh why! This is really so well-written, so many relationships, despite having such love and care in them, are messy and dishonest and it's when everything comes to the light that we become unsure of whether to leave a relationship or stay and this story describes that so freaking perfectly. As someone who's in a crumbling friendship right now with no idea whether to keep going or to cut it off, this hit home. Thank you so much for sharing!

As for the review, descriptions here were delightful! Sounds, smells, sights, everything described just the way they should without being too wordy or too vague.

But my most favourite thing about this is the CHARACTERS. Many stories I know have characters with one facet, no good motives and I could go on. But these characters? You can truly understand both of these character's predicaments and it's hard, atleast for me, to make my mind on who is in the right and who is in the wrong. Because nobody is. Both of them aren't black and white, they have feelings, made choices and mistakes and ahhh it's so realistic in a way. And that's such a good thing, a key reason I love this.

Thank you so much for sharing (and please share more if you can) and keep growing <3




Stringbean says...


Thank you!! I'm glad you liked it! And I hope you can work things out with your friendship, or else move on, whichever you need to do, that's rough. Good luck, and thanks for the review.



Euphoria8 says...


You're most welcome! And I hope so too, I've decided to move on so I'm going to see how that goes XD you're welcome again <3




If a million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.
— Anatole France