He showed her the house and said she could have her own bedroom if she wanted. She didn’t know what to say. He put her bag down in the living room and showed her the house. The house was old and the things in it were old. The bathtub had claw feet like the one in her grandmother’s house. The kitchen had an old sink but a new refrigerator. The house didn’t seem so creepy inside. She thought she might stay at least for the night. He asked her if she wanted something to eat. She remembered she hadn’t eaten anything all day and nodded. He decided to cook an omelet. He cracked the eggs and beat them. Poured in some milk. Cut up mushrooms and put them in the pan to cook. She didn’t want to tell him she hated mushrooms so she just kept quiet. He set plates and silverware on a small table covered with oilcloth. Two chairs. When they settled down to eat she couldn’t remember anything tasting that good. Even with mushrooms. They seemed to be a different kind, one she had never tasted before. Afterwards she picked up a towel to dry the dishes he was washing. She set them on the table since she didn’t know where to put them. After a few minutes she put her arms around him as he finished at the sink and leaned her head against his back. He had more muscles than Andrew. He turned around and kissed her. She kissed him back. He led her into his bedroom. Later her bag followed.
The next morning as they lay in bed, she looked closer at his tattoos in the sunlight. She told him she liked them because they were different. She touched the tattoo on his left arm and asked what kind of bird it was. He told her it was a raven. She said she had always wanted a tattoo. He told her that one was done by a woman in Amsterdam, where he bought his seeds. She said she had always wanted a tattoo. She wanted the first one to be a wasp on her neck like the girl with the dragon tattoo. He told her the wasp on her neck would be a good one because it would be small to start with. He said he knew a woman in the southern part of the state who could do it. He would take her there when they drove down to Florida the next week. He was waiting for the plants to finish drying, and next week would be their time. She asked why Florida. “They pay a premium price. And they know quality. Not like here.”
For several days they lived like this. He cooked for her. Things she didn’t usually eat. She wiped the dishes when he washed them. They walked in the woods with the dogs. They went into town shopping. He went off to work on plants. She sat in the sun. When he left her in the afternoons to go to check on his plants, he would tell her plants don’t water themselves. He didn’t ask her to come with him. She knew that he went down a set of stairs behind the house. The stairs went to a door that pulled up like a cellar door. It was an old door with most of the paint peeled off.
One day when it was really hot, he left the door open. She wanted to know where he went so she walked over to the opening and peeked down the stairs. He saw her staring into the huge underground concrete block room. He told her to come down the stairs. She was afraid he would be mad. Instead he told her that he knew she liked to talk. Talked a lot sometimes. And he liked listening to her. But she could never talk about this. He was serious. She nodded her head. Her red curls fell forward over her face that had turned red too. He told her the place was a fallout shelter built in the fifties by an Amish man with a big family. The man wanted to be sure the whole family wasn’t wiped out when the bomb was dropped. When there wasn’t a bomb, people forgot about it after a lot of years. They quit coming back to the cottage in the woods because it wasn’t good farmland. The woods were too deep. He told her the cottage was covered with vines when he bought it at auction. A buddy of his had known about the old fallout shelter and told him it might be what he had been looking for.
He opened another door and the brightness of the lights startled her. He had lights strung everywhere. On wires that were hanging like white Christmas lights. She had only ever seen plants growing in the fields. He said these plants didn’t grow like the ones in the fields. They grew in pots. He put plant food in the water. It was all about the water and the light. He said his parents were old hippies from the sixties. He had been growing his own plants since he was twelve. He told her some people around there did grow plants outside. But his grew bigger and quicker this way. The seeds were the best you could get on the planet, he told her. That was why people in Florida asked for him. And he was always careful. She shouldn’t worry. He had never been caught. He showed her where he had plants just beginning to grow. Some budding. A lot drying. After a while they went back up the stairs together.
He started to tell her about the trip. How it would be. They would leave on Monday.
Voting for episode 7 ended September 20, 2013. The majority of readers voted for her to go with him to Florida.