I think there may be another couple of chapters’ worth of this.
is suffused with quiet. Shepard has never lived anywhere like this before – not
in the home of her youth, crowded with three younger brothers, not in the
series of barracks and shipboard bunks that lasted her military career, not in
her glitzy borrowed apartment on the Citadel. This house holds quiet like a
sponge. Shepard wakes in the morning to sunlight arcing through her window and
birds chirping, and goes to sleep with the sound of crickets.
sign of the ghost for the first few weeks. Shepard could almost believe she had
just imagined it. Garrus says he hasn’t seen or heard or smelled anything out
of the ordinary. He’s taking to this retreat better than she would have
expected; he set up a workshop down in the basement, where there are long
tables and a surprising amount of light. He plays music over his visor while he
tinkers away, and sometimes hums along.
does a little digging and discovers that the previous occupant of the house was
a middle-aged academic who taught literature at the college in the next town
over. She’d lived here alone. It seems like a lot of house for one person; some
days, it seems like a lot of house for Shepard and Garrus. They’re not even
using all the space. They keep the guest rooms closed up, and they don’t have
enough furniture of their own for the living room.
wasn’t alone,” says their neighbor, Patricia. “She always had students in and
out. Let them stay the night sometimes, or during school breaks.”
lives half a mile down the road. She’d come over the second day with an apple
pie, heaping with apples and cinnamon and brown, flaky crust. She’d apologized
for not bringing anything for Garrus.
“She was a
nice lady,” Patricia tells Shepard. “Kept to herself a lot, but never seemed
mostly sees Patricia when she goes out for a run. If she goes the right
direction, she loops past Patricia’s house, and sometimes Patricia’s out
working in the garden, and Shepard slows down to say hello. One of those times,
Shepard asks about the lights in the basement.
to garden,” Patricia explains. “She’d start seeds down there in the winter.”
father had been an agronomist, but it was all large-scale, developing plants
that would thrive on Mindoir. They’d had only a tiny garden and a couple of
houseplants, no room for anything like that in their cramped little house.
“She had a
lot of hobbies,” Patricia adds. “She didn’t garden so much, the last few years
before. Don’t know if she got bored with it, or if her arthritis was acting
thanks her and starts her run home. In the warm glow of movement, sweat
prickling along her scalp and trickling between her shoulder blades, she thinks
about their predecessor. It sounds like a nice life. Quiet. Reading good books,
teaching young people, going home to her peaceful house and her garden. It’s
the kind of life Shepard has never had, nor ever particularly aspired to have,
back when she was a restless kid. Even then, before the attack, before
everything, she’d thought vaguely about enlisting.
here she is, not yet forty, but with her military career behind her, and the
rest of her life stretching ahead.
arrives back at the house, she surveys the clumps of plants on either side of
the front door and wonders if she can tell the difference between plants put
there on purpose and weeds. Maybe the extranet will tell her, and later she can
come out and yank out some of the weeds.
climbs the front steps and enters the house. Inside, the kitchen smells like
turian spices, not like tea and cookies.