Pen hasn’t much money. That was part of the decision to stay out here, after Tree died. Only part. Pen was thinking of his girlfriend, Estelle, a lot. Estelle isn’t good with people.
The kids, Marcie and Davenport, baby girl and miracle boy, are homeschooling, some with Estelle, mainly with Pen and Botchan. Marcie these days is all about the harp. Pen thought that would hurt him; when he lost Tree, Marcie’s mom, it hurt whenever the harp had to be moved, whenever the strings sounded. Having Marcie working on those strings so avidly, baby girl, seems to be doing something to his heart, healwise.
The house is fairly a wreck. Tree’s artistry all over the place; but wood rots, and wallpaper is ruined, and humidity turns plank floors into sculpture. The kids don’t seem to mind or even notice. Estelle doesn’t notice either, but there’s a little bit of something sick about her when she sits at the big table, a bit of entropy. The kids are different. Dav has been running windchimes all through the house, his sounding apparatus, he called it, sounding very steampunk and smart. Pen doesn’t mind ducking his head through doorways and getting jangled occasionally. Marcie does laugh, she squeaked with laughter when he bounced through the nursery door a little too quick, set something swinging and got a set of tiny tubular bells in the nose, on the return arc.
Truth is, there is a sounding apparatus, that would be Pen’s alarm system, singing security, Tree called it. There’s sound traps, too, out there in the woods, early warnings to let Pen know early in the approach what might be coming. And of course the entrance is strictly hidden. The kids have been good about that. The others, too, mostly. Sometimes some big lug of a sheep dog, recently inoculated and out of its mind with gratitude and relief, will blunder a straight line toward home after a day roaming. There’s work to do, then, resetting sound traps and digging back in what the poor crazy dogboy dug out.
It was for us, Pen was thinking, but problem is the “us” has gotten bigger. Pen can’t turn them away; Pen remembers not much well, but sure if he remembers the Cell. He takes a grim kind of pleasure in making his own music on the instrument the company gave him.
Pen’s house, then, has no landmarks, no angle of approach, hardly looks like a house from the outside.
Coming Soon: more on the layout of Pen’s house, the inner yard, and where the wild things are.