She loved her new husband and could hardly wait to go to bed with him each night. She and Nate would fix things up. They would shoo out the ghosts and make a home.
"All this place needs is some dusting and new curtains. I can't wait to get started!" she proclaimed and planted a kiss on Nate's rough cheek, careful not to smear him with lipstick. Thus began the arduous task of cleaning up after the cluttered lifestyle of Aunt Lily. Nate explained that Aunt Lily had been eccentric. That she lived alone with a gardener and cook who came in from town days only. "She was a hoarder, Dor, as you can see, and indulged
in mail order."
"She must have been lonely, wandering around this big place," said Dorothy as she sorted through piles of ladies magazines, fashion circulars and mail order wishbooks that spanned nearly a century of American style and home decor.
"She loved her objets d'art and wallpaper, apparently," said Nate, as he ripped down a decorative flocked strip to find another pattern, cabbage roses from the 1930s, beneath the first. "And she didn't have to go to a nursing home. There was plenty of money. She lived well."
When Dorothy first saw the scratchings, a shock prickled up the hair on her forearms. The cryptic marks were repeated exactly, each time carved with vehemence. Something quite sharp was used, perhaps a razor or knife point. It became a kind of fright game then, to discover more awkward marks etched underneath tables and on the back legs of chairs. Dorothy might wipe down dirty baseboards and look up to see another mark scratched beneath the windowsill.
She would call out to Nate "Bingo! Add one more to the tally-ho!" And he would respond "Right-o!" light-hearted, joking,
as if it was all a prank to keep their honeymoon lively. The angry letters were cut into hidden surfaces long ago, but sometimes it seemed with each new discovery, that they were fresh communications, carved in just moments before Nate shoved aside a plant stand or upended a footstool to read