I could see it in her eyes. Everyday was a battle, trying to be normal as I prepared for work in the morning and relaxed after.
Not relaxed. That would indicate a loss of stress. Honestly being home was the hard part.
Work is easy.
All I do is melt metal. A job that I’m suited for what with being unaffected by the extreme heat compared to others. It can get dangerous sure but the pay is worth it. But worth your life? All of us in the shop think so. But I already wish I didn’t. I wish Marty didn’t. He’s the reason I’m in this mess, bless his soul. My job was great, take it slow listen to the boss man, and do everything in the safest possible way. Simple.
The boss man was a good guy, wanted everyone to go home at night to see the family. Maybe because not have one he knew it hurts not to, as strange as that sounds.
But Marty, that guy was a good man too. I still have nightmares of him burning alive, pleading for us to help him. But by the time we got to him it was too late, and he knew it.
It’s his fault this thing doesn’t know yet. But I know. I see the eyes.
After Marty’s accident we all lost our jobs. The owner had to shut down the plant. But being a kind, the boss man helped get us jobs at different places. I should have just got out.
My new job was in Suplee Oregon.
Me and my family moved.
My wife and two daughters moved.
Same kinda job, same kinda plant, but different kinda people.
I figured it was just a thing with me coming from across the county, wasn’t used to how people from this area are. But after weeks of working with these guys something was definitely off. The town was off.
Finally my worst mistake. I didn’t listen.
John was hired two months before me. Don’t let it know don’t let it know don’t let it know don’t let it.
He said he was leaving and I should too. He heard a rumor about the town on one of his trips out.
“It only feeds on things that know.”
Now I have to act like I don’t know.
I should’ve left with my family but I can’t now. My daughters must not know.
I heard it in the night while we were on the patio having a fire. I sent the girls in before they suspected anything and told them to go straight to bed. It was after their bedtimes and they knew not to push their luck so the easy part was done. My wife however was not so happy to be rushed inside for no reason.
I tried. I really did. It must not know it must not know it must not know it must not know it must not know it must.
My wife turned before I could stop her.
She asked if I could see it. The shadow at the edge of the wood line. I pleaded with her to come inside. Pleaded that it was nothing more than a fallen tree or a deer. But she’s too smart for that. She knew that it wasn’t. She walked to the flashlight left at fire and I went inside.
It was too late.
I woke up the next morning next to my wife. She made me breakfast and I ate as fast. Too fast. I had to slow down. It must not know it must not know it must not know it must not know.
I get home at night and shower. I eat dinner with her and my kids. I fall asleep with my wife next to me. Pleading with myself not to let it know. Months have gone by. It doesn’t know.
Finally the in-laws are taking our kids on their yearly trip to Montana. We kiss them goodbye and send them off.
I feel my wife grabbed me and pull me to the couch. Turning on my favorite show she told me she would make my favorite dinner before we have a fun night together.
She put my dish in front of me. Her eyes looking for approval for her hard work. I smiled as I began to eat the homemade food.
She asked when my parents would be back with the kids.
I shouldn’t have said it. I shouldn’t have said that it wasn’t my parents, but hers that took them every year.
I looked up at her in my realisation of what I said.
It knows I know.