He softened his voice. “I know you don’t like hearing it over and over, but the reason people keep offering you a place to stay is because this house is hopeless. You’ll never have the money to fix it up. It’s falling apart. It’s old, and it turns out it’s haunted, or possessed or something. Izzy, you are insane to stay here when you have other options.”
“Where is that haunted dog anyway?” asked Emma.
“I don’t know,” said Izzy. “He wanders.”
Nate turned slightly greyer. “Izzy, I never saw that dog before you moved here. I honestly thought he came here with you. If he came out of the bush to greet you then he must have come from somewhere. I don’t like any of this. Where is he now? Where is he coming and going from?”
“I don’t know!” Izzy yelled. She tried to focus less on the ever-increasing creepiness of the situation and more on the irritation she was feeling at being lectured like a child. “I honestly don’t know. But really, what I really want to do more than anything right now, and certainly more than being yelled at by you is drag Pete back out to the bush and leave him there.”
“What’s to stop him from coming back?” asked Emma. “He shuffled over here once, can’t he do it again?”
“I don’t know,” Izzy sighed.
Nate glared at her. “I say we leave him in there and burn this place down. Everything. Burn it. The house, the barn, everything. Then you come and stay with me and we figure out what the hell to do with this mess.”
Izzy started to protest.
“No. You are not saying no. You either stay with me or you stay somewhere else. In fact I think we both stay somewhere else. I can’t believe I live a stones throw from here, and that I let that dog into my house. Of course some weird spirit dog shows up here and you name it and pet it and cuddle it and probably let it sleep in your bed.”
“Well, not all of that really.”
“Thank god it’s not sleeping in your bed.”
“Well,” started Izzy.
“Well what?” asked Nate.
“He might sleep in my bed sometimes.”
“Okay, so what else should I know about it?”
“I don’t think I named it.”
“How can you not think you named it? Who did?”
“I don’t know. I just sort of knew it’s name. Don’t ask how.”
He stared at her in disbelief.
“And none of this bothers you?”
“I guess when you lay it out with this wicked slant on it all it could sound bad, but…”
“Ugh! No buts! What do you say? Are we burning this?”
“No! It’s my first house. We are not burning it.”
“Izzy,” Nate started.
“I agree with Izzy!” shouted Emma.
“Ha!” said Izzy. “The house stays.”
Nate sighed, belligerent children irritating him, “Emma. Please be the voice of reason here. You really think Izzy should continue to leave and eat and sleep and snuggle with weird dead spirit things?”
Emma rolled her eyes at him, and glanced nervously at Izzy. “Well, no. I think she should leave. But what if we burn the house down and we release other . . . Spirits, or creatures or whatever all this is?”