Chapter OneA Beginning
"Are you Martha Boyle?"
"You don't know me," said the woman at the door. "Olive Barstow was my daughter. I was her mother."
Martha heard herself gasp. A small, barely audible gasp.
"I don't know how well you knew Olive," said the woman. "She was so shy." The woman reached into the pocket of the odd smock she was wearing and retrieved a folded piece of paper. "But I found this in her journal, and I think she'd want you to have it."
The rusted screen that separated them gave the woman a gauzy appearance. Martha cracked open the door to receive the pink rectangle.
"That's all," the woman said, already stepping oV the stoop. "And thank you. Thank you, Martha Boyle."
The woman mounted a very old bicycle and pedaled away, her long, sleek braid hanging behind her like a tail.
Breathing deeply to quiet her heart, Martha remained by the door thinking about Olive Barstow, unable for the moment to unfold the paper and read it.
Chapter TwoAn End
Olive Barstow was dead. She'd been hit by a car on Monroe Street while riding her bicycle. Weeks ago. That was about all Martha knew.
A sad image of Olive rose in Martha's mind: a quiet, unremarkable girl, a loner with averted eyes, clinging to the lockers when walking down the hallways at school.
The image that Xashed next was imagined and worse: Olive Xying through the air, after impact, like a bird, then scraping along the pavement and lying in a heap at the curbside, never to move again.