Fast Falls the Eventide
It’s a small house, but it’s hers. There are other places in Sleepy Hollow, of course – nicer and bigger, where all the commuters live to pretend that New York City doesn’t rule their every waking moment, but Abbie likes the old places the most. They feel more permanent, and she never had much permanence, not until Sleepy Hollow gave it back to her.
It takes its time, of course. She lied because she was scared, and lost her sister. She went from house to house, and none of them were ever home, even if some of them were big and shiny and lived in by commuters. She’s still not sure why she never left Sleepy Hollow. For a while she thought it might be penance; that she stayed because she lied, but that’s not it. She does have a few friends, ones like Andy who stuck by her even when the shit hit the fan. And Corbin, of course, who never stopped looking at her, which was something for a girl who felt like she might have disappeared.
She knows better now.
She’s tied to Sleepy Hollow in ways she never could have imagined, even after she and her sister met a monster in the forest. And that is why she never left. That’s why she bought this small, old house and filled it with things that made noise, even though she spends most of her time at the station. But the mornings, when she’s not on duty and the alarm goes off and the timer on her coffeepot starts to work its daily magic, those are still hers.
Today is one of the good ones. The old hot water heater runs true, and her shower is undisturbed. The coffee smells like heaven. The cream in her refrigerator has not had time to go bad. She doesn’t even burn her toast. Here, at a wooden table, surrounded by brickwork that’s older than the Quincy Adams administration, she is home, and here, she feels safe.
Sleepy Hollow is still out there, still waiting with God knows what fresh Hell, but on a morning like this, Abbie Mills is ready for almost anything.
It’s a small cell, but it’s hers. She put in some serious time to get it too, one on a corner and with such a good view of the river. For a long time, the shrinks didn’t want her to have it. They thought the vantage point would only serve to fuel her delusion that something was coming for her. They weren’t entirely wrong about that, of course, but after all the years she’s spent in isolation and institutions, they might have appreciated that she just wanted to look at something that wasn’t made out of concrete.
To be honest, she had been a bit apprehensive when she finally stood in the doorway, meager duffle of belongings in her hand. The whole world was out there, and there was so much glass and steel between it and her. She missed the call of the road, the thrill of traveling. She’d thought it possible that the view would drive her legitimately mad after all.
She knows better now.
She can see all the way to Sleepy Hollow, where her sister works and waits, even though she doesn’t know it yet, for the signs that will wake her up from her idyllic dream. Here, behind walls and bars, the wait is different – hard and long and endless – but she will be ready. The bars that hold her in are strong, and so she thinks around them, like Corbin taught her. They don’t trust her in the weight room with the others, so she uses what she has in her cell: the pipes, the books. She runs in place.
The best time for exercise is the morning, in the calm before shift change when the night guards and nurses are tired, and no one has the energy to complain that she is making noise. When she still took the drugs they gave her, those pre-daylight hours were the time when her mind was at its most clear, when the demons felt the closest. Now that she reduces her medication to dust, the clarity is even sharper, her sense of purpose more driven.
Sleepy Hollow is still out there, and her sister doesn’t have the first clue what is coming for her, so it’s going to be up to Jenny Mills to lead the way through.
It’s a small cabin, and yet it is not enough to keep the world at bay. Perhaps if he had less time, he would not be so likely to notice the myriad of ways in which the place he knew and loved has changed, but everything moves so much faster now, and it constantly takes him by surprise.
He had burnt his hand under the tap, expecting cold water from the pond and receiving instead scalding water heated by an unseen source. That makes him cautious of the bath and shower, though he suspects Miss Mills is correct, and that by the time winter comes around he will be glad to not go outside, break ice, heat water on the stove, and wash quickly before it can cool. He had hoped that, by now, the world would cease to surprise him, to set him so off balance.
He knows better now.
His wife’s legacy to him is more than just his own life. He was a fighter then, and thought he knew the score, and he is a fighter now, rapidly realizing that he doesn’t. So he opens plastic packages with some fancy blade that the lieutenant bought for him, instead of swearing at them after trying to use his teeth. He fights demons and dark magic with a stranger who is rapidly becoming a friend. He learns as much as he can, thanking God for his memory at every turn as he processes decades’ worth of history and popular culture, so he can understand his partner when she talks.
He never liked to read at night before, with candles and firelight to strain his eyes, and those old habits die even harder than he had. Instead, he reads in the misty morning light that glints off the pond, scanning page after page in books he’s been given, and scrolling through the computer screen the captain has insisted he use to read current events. It’s not the same, but he can still toast bread on a stick held over the fireplace, so he counts it as a victory.
After all, Sleepy Hollow is still out there, the place he thought he knew and didn’t know at all, and Horsemen do not ever ride alone.