With Endless Sight
With Endless Sight
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  • ISBN-13: 9781601420121
  • ISBN: 1601420129
  • Publisher: Doubleday Religious Publishing Group, The


Pittman, Allison K.


I wasn't asleepwasn't even pretending to bewhen my cousin Phoebe slipped into my room. She settled on the edge of my mattress, creating such an imbalance that I rolled toward her, giggling as our bodies collided. "Shh!" Phoebe hissed into the shadows. "Do you want to wake the whole house?" "Sorry," I whispered. "Do you have everything?" I nodded. She gripped my hand with her soft, pudgy one and led me across my own bedroom floor. I held my other hand in front of me, gingerly searching out the familiar obstacles, and stopped when my fingers brushed the corner of my bureau. "Wait." I slipped my hand from her grip and took hold of the brass pulls of the top drawer. It opened smoothly, silentlytrademark of a quality piece of furniture, Mama saidand I had to stretch up to my tiptoes to feel inside. Normally I would be sifting through rolled stockings, cotton chemises, and ruffled pantalets, but all of those things were packed away. Now the drawer was empty, and after just a few searching pats my fingers closed around the stump of a tallow candle and the gilded handle of the mirror I had received as part of a matching set for my twelfth birthday. "Let's go." When we came to the top of the stairs, I transferred the stub of candle into the hand that was holding the mirror and used the other to grip the banister. I'd been running up and down these stairs at least twenty times a day for most of my life, but never in the dark. I gripped the varnished woodslick enough to slide on if Mama wasn't aroundand used my toes to search out the edge of each step before moving down. Phoebe was behind me, breathing down my neck, occasionally tapping her knees into my spine to hurry me along. Once safely on the ground floor, she brushed past me and took the lead, her white gown iridescent in the night shadows of my family home. It never occurred to me at the time to wonder why I was following her, why she took the lead in navigating through our front parlor, our morning room, our receiving hall. I suppose her frequent visitssometimes lasting for weeks on endmade her feel less like a guest than did my other cousins, who were all gathered in what used to be our formal dining room. Where twelve perfectly carved and upholstered high-backed chairs once stood, a litter of bedrolls and blankets covered the floor. When Phoebe and I walked into the room, the bundles sprang to life, and six girls were on their feet, hair streaming unplaited down their backs. They burst into whispered anticipa- tion, then exchanged even louder admonitions to be quiet until Phoebe had to raise her voice to achieve silence. "Is everybody ready?" Phoebe said. "Do you have your candles?" "Yes, yes!" they chorused, first quite loud, then softer in response to Phoebe's scolding finger. They held out little stubs of tallow for Phoebe's approval. "Come on, then." The pack of little girlsthe youngest, Anne, not quite eight years oldfollowed us out of the dining room and into the kitchen. I handed Phoebe the mirror and candle, reached into the box on the shelf above the stove and took out a match, and drew it swiftly across the striking surface attached to the wall. The sulfurous odor lent an additional air of mystery to our little adventure, and the girls let out a collective gasp and shiver at the ordinary spark and light. I touched the flame to the stub of candle Phoebe held, then brought the match to my lips to blow it out. "No," Phoebe said. "You can light the otPittman, Allison K. is the author of 'With Endless Sight' with ISBN 9781601420121 and ISBN 1601420129.

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