Dorris Watts had a friend when she was a little girl. Nobody else could see or hear this friend, and Dorris called him Evan.
It was 1939 and Dorris was eight years old. Her family lived in a large house outside town near the edge of a forest. Dorris spent a lot of time out of doors, wandering through the trails of the forest with her friend Evan. When she was fifteen, she spent most of her time in her room. Evan’s name was no longer whispered audibly in the house, he had seemingly vanished with the toys and books of Dorris’ childhood. But sometimes, if you were to listen very very carefully outside her door in the black of night, you could hear the name, not even a whisper, slip through the air.
Dorris was very beautiful. She had fair skin and dark hair, large dark eyes and a pleasing figure. Her voice was silky and her words charming and carefully chosen. She was shy, however, and despite having a large group of friends, she never had an extra special relationship with any of them.
The years passed rapidly and Dorris graduated high school and then college. She was twenty two when her parents died. The trauma lead to her nervous breakdown and she spent the next several months of her life recovering in a hospital full of wealthy patients suffering from all sorts of nervous and emotional disorders. Dorris had few visitors, a couple family members and an old friend or two. She was well liked among the other patients, even if they thought she was a bit odd. Dorris was very close to another patient named Phyllis. Phyllis was always sad and was prone to spells of uncontrollable crying and incoherency.
When the doctors determined that Dorris was stable enough to be released back to the world, an estranged aunt came to the hospital and took Dorris by plane to her home in England. Phyllis had been in bed for days and missed Dorris’ departure, but upon hearing of her friends release, Phyllis told another patient, among other things, “Dorris is so lucky she never has to feel alone. Her lover Evan is always with her, clasping her hand and whispering in her ear. He never leaves her side, not even when she goes to bed. That’s why sometimes you can hear them at night together.”
Dorris’ Aunt Emily was a handsome old woman, full of sharp criticism and opinions and money. She was a writer of poetry, and encouraged her educated niece to transcribe her emotions into her writing. Dorris became popular among Aunt Emily’s society friends for her clever versus and descriptions of romance and love, nature and childhood, and of spirituality and heaven.
The year was 1956. Dorris was engaged to a good looking and charming young man, Christopher Pleeting, the youngest son of Aunt Emily’s closest friend. Christopher was the first man Dorris had given her heart to. Far more than lovers in love, Christopher and Dorris were close friends, traveling the country and abroad together, even before their wedding. They were married and together wrote five novels and raised three children. Sophia was the eldest, smart and beautiful, a writer herself and married to an American politician. Evan was the middle and the smallest child, possessing an aura of weakness from childhood illnesses, though his paintings were brightly colored and vibrant. Julian was the youngest and the strongest. His personal stories of adventure as an airplane pilot entertained the family on the rare holidays they were all gathered together at the family home in Manchester.
Christopher died in 2003, and Dorris’ health sharply declined, falling calculatedly as the months and years slide by. Dorris Pleeting moved in with her daughter Sophia Vutesch in Alexandria, Virginia. Her grandchildren and her books occupied her days, but her nights were long and too often sleepless.
Dorris looked across the room and out the window. The moon-fashioned shadows streaked across the floors and walls were still and Dorris felt tender fingers sliding across the skin of her arm. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, letting go all mental images of her deceased husband, falling back into a mental state dusty from childhood, but solid and real as ever. The shadows shifted and morphed across Dorris’ eyelids and lips murmuring silently the name, Evan.


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