The Nightingale Bones

The Nightingale Bones

Ariel Swan

August 2014 $14.95
ISBN: 9781611945188

Someone has been waiting a long time for Alice Towne to arrive in Hawthorne.

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Someone has been waiting a long time for Alice Towne to arrive in Hawthorne.

Two hundred years, in fact.


Trying to accept her mother’s belief that the women of the Towne family are blessed, not cursed, with supernatural abilities, twenty-seven-year old Alice leaves a disapproving Boston husband to housesit for the summer in tiny Hawthorne, a historic village famous in the 1800s for its peppermint farms and the large, herbal-essence distilleries that flourished around the Massachusetts township.

She settles into a beautiful old home with a tragic reputation. There are said to be sightings and sounds from the spirit of a young woman who hanged herself after all her children died there of illnesses in the 1900s.

But soon, Alice experiences firsthand encounters that convince her the spirit is not who people think. The truth is shocking, steeped in the town’s distillery history and its legends of a local wizard and witchcraft. As she falls in love with a local farmer whose family legacy is as tangled in the magick and the mystery as her own, Alice’s fear becomes not whether the past can be resolved . . . but whether it’s waiting to claim new victims.


Ariel Swan teaches English and creative writing in western Massachusetts where she lives with her husband, three cats, and a small flock of happy chickens. Visit her at



Coming soon!


Chapter 1


The first stage of the alchemical process grinds the substance into powder and then burns away the corrupted matter within.


BY TWENTY-SEVEN, I was tired of having a fortuneteller for a mother. From the stars, the tarot, or simple omens, always there were signs. She pestered me over the phone with her canon of aphorisms and lore. She told me to grow rosemary in the garden for fertility, cautioned against cutting my hair during the waning moon, or starting something new on the full. She sent emails regarding the luckiest months for love, suggesting April, June, or September, but warning against May, July, or August. As was my nature back then, I didn’t bother to pay much attention. But I supposed she was right about one thing. It was May when I left.

THE OVERLY AIR-conditioned doctor’s office left my skin puckered and my brain fogged as I stepped out into sun saturated downtown Amherst. My car was hot. I pulled out onto the road, slipping in behind a bus, sweat prickling on my forehead.

"Come on.” I switched off the dysfunctional air-conditioning system of my old Subaru, rolled down the window, and followed the bus into the heart of campus. Light glinting off the glass-covered Integrated Sciences high-rise blinded me. A horn blared. I glanced around to see if it was for my benefit. A young man in a baseball cap sliced his hand through the undoubtedly cool, clean air of his Audi, apparently disgusted I hadn’t let him in to traffic. In one motion, I flicked on my blinker and flipped him off.

Turning down a side street, the antiquated brick buildings squatting in the shadow of the research tower came into view. Outside my husband’s office, a man in a filthy, hip length, canvas coat paced, hat gripped in his hands. Strangely, I saw this one before I smelled it. A few students passed by him, close enough to brush his jacket, but took no notice.

"Shit,” I breathed, and slipped my car into a parking space between a university issued van and a pick-up. Closing my eyes, I took a deep breath. The engine coughed and the car shuddered as I turned off the ignition. Craning my neck over the steering wheel, the man was gone.

Inside, a long legged woman in nylons and heels, her face framed by a wave of hair much blonder than mine, grimaced as I gagged from the overwhelming smell of formaldehyde while passing her on the worn, gray marble staircase.

Steven’s office was the size of a large closet, shadowy and stale, walls stained with the ghostly remains of tobacco smoke, but the smell of worn socks and mildewed books gave me a welcome relief from the odor in the hall.

"How’d it go?” My husband’s brown eyes looked tired from too much reading.

"Fine. She said we’re good to go. We can start the treatments any­time.” I tried to sound excited, but controlled.

He didn’t look up from his papers again for a few moments, and when he did, he seemed surprised to find me still there. "How’re you?”

I sat down on the red faux leather of the one chair in the room other than his, the sweat, still drying on the back of my thighs causing my skin to adhere to the plastic like a licked stamp. The prematurely salt streaked black hair made Steven look old, even though he was just thirty-five. Hours spent in that room, or in the sterile glow of his lab in the research tower had changed him from the fresh faced young man, redolent of soil, ardent for botany, I’d fallen in love with.

"You look pale, Alice. Are you feeling all right?” His voice was dry.

"Yes. I’m doing well. It’s a little humid out there today.” I ran the back of my hand across my forehead. The smell of formaldehyde had found me again and my stomach turned. I couldn’t ignore it. "Do you smell that?”

Steven sniffed the air and shook his head with little momentum, twice. "What?” He lowered his chin, and looked at me with eyes pushed to the top of their sockets, gearing himself up.

"Chemicals. Dead frogs. I can smell death.” I wanted to vomit.

A slow smile crept over half his mouth, eyes brightening at the opportunity to laugh at me. "Alice,” he paused readying his admonition. "There have been no dead frogs, cadavers, or chemicals in this building for over a hundred years. Come on now.”

I swallowed and tried to let my face fall blank. I bit my tongue and held back the words. The man outside, he was waiting for something, afraid of something, afraid of getting caught or being seen. In his mind, he wasn’t in broad daylight. I was sure of it. He was lurking in the shadows, reliving a memory he couldn’t let go, waiting for his payment or his loved one, or something that involved a body inside this building. I didn’t share this with my husband. I never did anymore. But I had regrettably told Steven before and he knew there was a story behind the smell. There always was. And this had taken its toll.

"You can’t let your anxiety get the better of you.”

I laughed lightly, widened my eyes to a doll-like gaze, and then tilted my chin downward giving my neatly folded hands a demure smile. "I know.”

Steven stood and came around the desk, perched one butt cheek on the corner, the picture of a professor, and looked down at me. "Darling. I know it’s been hard.” A sad grimace dipped his flat lips. "But maybe we should wait. I don’t know that having a baby would be good for us right now. Your illness is progressing. Have you made an appointment with the psychiatrist? I think it’s time. The longer you’re off the medication the worse it’s going to become.”

The anti-anxiety meds had been my choice, a decision to silence the part of me that didn’t fit into my husband’s rational world order. It was easy to get a prescription; all I’d had to do was explain to the doctor how I felt tense, at times overwhelmed with irrational fear, and unable to sleep. All of this was true, but it wasn’t the whole truth. The meds had done the trick though, dulling my senses, keeping me blind. It was easier that way. And now, three years into our marriage, his PhD almost complete and my own graduate work finished, it was time for Mr. and Mrs. Steven Clark to get serious, buy a house, and have a baby. If we could move on, if I could get pregnant, if I could just control my problem without the meds, then just maybe I could make us both happy. Steven had led me to believe it was possible, but now he was hedging his bets.

The digitized jingle of his cell phone perforated the air.

Back at his chair, my husband answered. His words were perfunctory, guarded. "Six o’clock then? I’ll do my best.” The device went dead with a push of his thumb. "I’m going to be late tonight.”

THE ALARM CLOCK read ten. I wasn’t sleeping. The lock turned over and I heard the door whine as it opened. He tried to be quiet, but the floor squeaked beneath his lanky weight. For a new house, it had a lot of noises. He rifled through the fridge for a few minutes and then the shower was on. I turned over and tried not to think about what my husband was washing away. When he came to bed, I sensed his arousal immediately, even before he began to rub my back with greedy hands. Though I felt no desire, I played my part, rolling towards him, feigning half asleep, and let him present token attempts at stimulation. He didn’t strive for long before falling onto my limp body and thrusting his conscience clean. He slipped his arms beneath my pillow, and buried his face in my hair, breath sour with liquor. The bed bounced with his climax, but then his muscles tightened, and his skin turned hard like the bark of a twisted oak. He turned his face away from me, pulling back, up onto his knees. In the orange light of the clock my husband lifted his hand to his eyes to examine what he’d found. I closed mine, wishing this moment and all of its mistakes would blow away like smoke.

"What the fuck is this?” In his open palm, he held a small, white stone, glowing bright among the shadows that stretched across our marital bed. He rolled it over, revealing the archaic F shape on its flat side.

I looked at him with sharp eyes, eyes he hadn’t often seen. "It’s a fertility rune.”

I hated him then, hated him for the disgust in his voice that left me feeling dirty.

Steven got up and pulled on a pair of sweat pants before sitting back down on the edge of the bed, elbows resting on his knees. "Was this your idea or your mother’s?”

"Does it matter?”

He shook his head and got up. "I’ll sleep on the couch.”

My husband was gone before I got up.

THE END OF MAY was too hot for New England. I was packing and the phone was ringing. It wouldn’t stop ringing. I took it off the hook, and she called my cell.

"You can’t avoid me, Alice,” my mother said. "Did you see the moon last night? There was a red ring around it. It’s full. Too bad the timing of this couldn’t have been more fortuitous.”

"A week ago you said it was perfect. They need someone there, and I need to get the hell out of here, before my husband has me committed. When you were manipulating the stars or the cards or whatever, I guess you should have checked your calendar. The place is old, so no matter what, it can’t be good. I don’t think the moon is going to make any difference.”

The crisp and hectic flutter of hard edged paper came across the invisible miles. My mother was shuffling her cards. "I know. Never mind. It’s destiny. And the house is gorgeous, Alice. I think it’s just what you need: a retreat in the Berkshires. You’ll be all right. What’s a flicker of the past now and then, anyway? You have to start learning to control your gifts.”

"All right, Ma. That’s enough. If I had some other place to go, I wouldn’t do this.”

"I have to tell you, Alice, there have been omens foretelling the convergence of greatness and miracles. We are both at the top of the wheel of life. You are on your way home.”

"Too bad I don’t believe in omens,” I said, throwing my last bag into the pile beside the door. Home. There was no such thing for me anymore.

She expelled a long, slow breath in my ear. She was having patience. "All right. Did you get the mail today? See if my package arrived. I sent you some nice pictures, which I thought you might like to see, as well as the genealogy, as far as I’ve done it. Something to look at when you’re up there.”

I flicked through the pile of bills. There was a thick manila envelope addressed to Alice Towne. Josephine had stopped addressing things to Alice Clark weeks ago, even before I had made the decision to leave. Long before I was a Clark, I was Alice Towne-Blessing, but in our family, the men lost out quick, especially when they died. We’d reverted to just Towne when I was a kid. When Josephine remarried, she went to DaLuca. Now that George was dead too, she was a Towne again. In a way, it was for his own good that I was leaving Steven. In my view, Towne women were bad news when it came down to it. More trouble than most people could stand.

"I got it.”

"Excellent. You’ll have to open a PO Box in Hawthorne. I don’t want Steven getting your mail.” The sound of a card slapping onto what I imagined to be her kitchen table came across the distance.

I looked at the clock on the stove. "I’m supposed to meet your friend at two thirty. I have to go.”

My mother didn’t seem to hear me. "Alice,” her voice was distant now. Another slap. She was doing a reading. "Good luck.”



Chapter 2

WITH THE WINDOWS down, I drove out of the valley, navigating the winding maple hedged roads. As I climbed into the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains, the temperature dropped ten degrees. The spring air helped cleared my mind, as I repeated to myself that I was fine. I was good even. I passed through one tiny village center after another until the sign post for Hawthorne flew by. Around me sprawled antiquated farm houses with roaming cows, collapsed barns, and a stream always flowing on one side of the road or the other. I felt I was entering a different and insular world. A huge retaining wall hugged the land to my left, seeming to raise the town even further away from the bustle of cities and universities along the Connecticut River below.

Mounting the final slope into the center of Hawthorne, I came to the flat main street where picturesque white buildings perched around a rolling green common. I pulled into the five spot parking lot of Drake’s General Store and smelled Hawthorne Pizza wafting across the pavement from the adjacent eatery.

The scent of the present was so much more comforting than that of the past. But the building was old. At least a century or two, and in that time, surely, the place had made some memories. My mother’s description of this escape route had been vague at best, but she’d been insistent. So, there I was, my life packed into the hatchback, at the mercy of whatever scheme Josephine had going.

On the porch were flower baskets, racks of colorful Wellington boots, and barrels of garden tools. I pushed the door open and a tiny bell an­nounced my arrival, as the aroma of medicine flooded my sinuses and burned my eyes with bitterness. One foot already inside, I paused, con­sidering the swelling urge to turn and run. I just breathed for a moment, but through my mouth only, trying to keep out any scent. "What are you getting yourself into, Alice?” I asked myself.

I brought the second foot inside the door. Outside, a tree waved in the wind, its new leaves catching the light and causing shadows to flicker in a pool of orange on the wall. The sound of chimes, both high and low notes, slipped in on a breeze. Surrounding me was a kind of useful clutter. At the far end of the long checkout counter, a crooked tower of toys leaned with hungry poise over an ice cream chest.

Caught between the melody of the chimes and the silence of the room, I thought I was alone until a shifting shape of shadow and light caught my eye. Tucked into the front corner of the store, two women sat on a long, old fashioned couch, which was set against a bay window. For a moment, they just looked at me, waiting to see what I needed. Then, one of them stood, placing her drink on top of an unlit pellet stove, the focal point for the seating area. She came toward me, and moving with the grace of a ballerina, extended her arm.

"Hello, child. We’ve been expecting you.” I took her hand, feeling the bones inside as she gripped my own, hard. "I am Lydia Drake.” With her other hand, she clasped my arm just above the elbow. I remembered learning somewhere this manner of handshake originated from the practice of inspecting for concealed weapons. "You’re Alice... Yes? Here for the keys to the Bell’s house,” Lydia said. "You have your mother’s eyes.”

A wide smile bloomed on her face, framed by red, red lips. The summer sky blue of her eyes stood out against the silver and coal sheen of her hair. Her skin was rosy, but creased with lines of time. I realized then that the medicine smell had dissipated. From this woman the scent of citrus radiated, wiping my mind clean. She was looking into me, intensely focused, not searching, but seeming to see every piece of information I could want to hide. I struggled mentally to pull back, but those pacific pools of blue were pulling me, turning me inside out.

"Lydia,” a voice, sweet and tremulous, but laced with admonition, announced from the window seat. "Let her come in.” I heard the creak of a floor board, and the first woman released me and stepped away.

Pulling my head back, I shook it a few times, trying to regain a sense of control. The second woman approached. She was shorter and plumper, the picture of sweetness. Yet, I could see they were twins, the hair, eyes, and faces almost identical, the only incongruities being their figures and height.

With a soft, warm hand, the rounder sister plucked my own from its position at my side and held it for a moment. "Come in dear. I’m Matilda. Welcome to Drake’s General Store.” She smiled so widely that it reached her eyes, sharp as stars. A clock chimed three times from the recesses of the room. "Did you find us all right?”

I nodded. "It’s a beautiful town.” I glanced around again, this time not to see the furnishings or the goods, but to see if the room held any memories. Still holding my hand, Matilda pulled me gently toward the back of the store, leading me like a child. From elsewhere in the store, I could hear the sound of rustling, someone moving boxes. Lydia was nowhere in sight now. "We’re so glad you’re here. You’re going to love the house. Josephine told us you’d be a perfect fit. Hawthorne is a special place. Once they’ve visited, people tend to stay on. There’s magic in these hills,” she said, winking one kind eye.

I held my face steady, and kept my eyes from rolling. These were certainly friends of my mother. "Did she?” I asked, keeping the tone light. "How do you know my mother?”

We were approaching a narrow doorway covered with a floral curtain. "Yes, she did, and well, from here and there. We share some common interests. Come. I have something for you. A house warming gift. Then Lydia will bring you up to the house.” She pushed aside the curtain, "Come on dear,” her child-like voice and pink, moon shaped face beckoning me into the back room. Shelves lined the walls from floor to ceiling. Boxes and bags and steamer trunks cluttered the floor. A roll top desk stood against the interior facing wall and, top up, I could see the papers, envelopes, invoices and bills littering its surface. There was no computer, but a pile of ledger books stood in a heap.

Matilda Drake began rifling through the small drawers of the roll top desk. "Ah.” She pulled a key from a cubby. Unlocking a wooden cellar door, she said, "Wait here; I’ll be just a moment,” and disappeared down a rickety set of stairs.

The dark smell of mildew flooded the room. My breath caught in my throat and within seconds, black spots began appearing at the corners of my vision. The odor of rot mixed with the salty tang of iron. From the front room drifted the sound of a tinkling bell. My heart kicked in my chest at the shock of seeing a reddish-black stain the size of a turkey platter spreading across the ceiling. I stumbled backwards, nearly toppling the ledgers. Catching myself, I steadied the pile, breathing through my mouth.

Matilda thumped back up the stairs, exclaiming a concerned "Oh,” seeing my distress when she reached the top. The door to the basement slammed. "So sorry,” she murmured, squeezing my arm. "The mustiness is a bit much, I know.”

The splotch was gone, but I was shaking.

The building had memories, as I’d known it would. "I’m fine. It’s just that I’m very sensitive to smell.” I sat down in the desk’s chair. "Old buildings tend to... have an effect on me.” I searched her face for recognition. Knowing Josephine, it was unlikely she’d kept my issues to herself. But, Matilda’s visage was blank. I smiled. Maybe for once, my mother would surprise me.

The sound of voices seeped through the curtain and I realized more customers had come into the store. Children were laughing.

"Yes, well...” A shadow of what looked like doubt crossed Matilda’s face, but she pushed it aside. "... here you go.” She held out a jar filled with golden syrup, flecked with bits of pale yellow debris and even tinier flakes of something red. "Some honey for you, dear. Pollen and bee balm infused,” she blinked, and I thought she was waiting for me to understand something, but when I just blinked back she went on, "it will keep you healthy. It’s great for the immune system.” She smiled and looked as if to say she hoped I’d feel better soon.

I took the jar. "Thank you.”

When we reemerged, the tall sister was ringing up a woman accompa­nied by two children. The youngest was no more than three. A singe of envious melancholy burned across my heart. Along with some change, Lydia handed her customer a cloth wrapped package the size of a kitchen match box. A red ribbon tied in a bow made it look like a gift. The woman looked at me sideways, slipped the package into her pocket, and then ushered the children out the door.

"Are we ready to go, Miss Alice? I’m sure you’re eager to get settled.” Lydia grabbed a set of keys from beside the register. "Matilda, I’ll be back in a bit.”

"All right.” Matilda slipped past me with a broom in her hand. "I’ve got work to do. That back room is showing its age I’m afraid. It needs a good cleaning.” She looked at me and smiled sweetly. "Good bye, Alice. We’ll see you soon, I hope.” She waggled her finger tips and turned away.

"Shall we?” Lydia held the door.

On the porch, the mother and children were exiting Hawthorne Pizza with their lunch. I now saw that the woman’s otherwise wan face had a red scrape across one cheek, and a yellowing bruise beneath her eye. She kept her head down and descended the stairs to her car with the littlest child held by one hand and the food balanced on the other.

I recognized something in the slant of her eyes, something I’d seen come knocking before. From the vantage of the window in the eaves closet of my childhood home, I’d spied on the back hallway of our house, where sad, lost women had stood waiting for my mother to divine or alter their futures with magic. Inside each woman, a dark light glowed and shone through their shifty eyes, revealing a mixture of emotion: guilt, suspicion, fear, and most harrowing of all, hope. Whatever was in those packages these women had needed to believe it would help them to find what they’d lost or wanted. Based on personal experience, though, I doubted such endeavors ever did any good.

Lydia had half her body already inside an elderly Volvo. "Follow me,” she said, "it’s only a few miles from town.”

White Hill Road was no more to my eyes than a dirt path meandering through the woods. Lydia barreled over the ruts with abandon, speeding ahead, while I rolled on with care. Passing only one house along the road, a mile later, gritting around a steep corner, I finally arrived at my temporary home. It was brown, with small wavy glass windows at the front, a number of gables, and a large central chimney. As if someone had pasted two different antique houses together, the colonial bottom wore an ornate Victorian hat. The house sat just beside the road, and a stone path lead around the side through a tunnel of lilac bushes, still brimming with amethyst jewels.

I parked beside Lydia’s car, but she was not in sight. A light breeze shook the deep green leaves of the lilac, its perfume soaking the air. A voice, rough as the rustling foliage, called my name from around the house. Stepping onto the thyme tufted walk way, I followed the stones, laid out like vertebras in the earth.

At the end of the path, three stairs led to a cement landing beside the kitchen door. Behind the house, a gently sloping lawn stretched toward a low stone wall, which bordered the forest.

"Come in,” Lydia said, just inside the door, extending a set of keys towards me. "Welcome.”

I eyed the old woman, readying myself for what I’d find inside, and then stepped over the threshold. The kitchen was odorous of lemon and something just a bit sour. The smell was not unpleasant, but told of recent cleaning. To the left, a long wooden table overlooked the garden; to the right, shining stainless steel appliances and a black marble counter top delineated the working side of the room. An enormous stone hearth with dried herbs hanging inside stood in the center of the space. On the mantle sat earthenware jugs.

"Wow,” I said, soaking in the cool of the room. It was something out of a magazine, a mixture of high end new and pristine antique. "This is nice.” My anxiety subsided. It was okay. The place appeared to be empty of memory, so refurbished, so new on the surface that it didn’t show its age.

Following my eyes to the large beams that crossed the ceiling, Lydia explained, "White oak: strong and protective. The settlers knew it would keep them safe and make their houses last.” She smiled. "I guess they were right. These beams have seen more than two centuries of life. The hearth is original and in working order, but I don’t imagine you’ll need it.” She walked into the utility half of the kitchen and began opening cabinets and drawers, naming their purposes as she did. "Here are the kitchen supplies for the garden harvest. Bags, labels, twist ties.”


"Didn’t Josephine mention that part? We were wondering if you would mind harvesting some of the herbs and flowers for us occasionally. We sell them at the store. Especially the mint. It grows like crazy here and well, it’s part of the town’s heritage so...” I must have been looking at her with doubtful concern, because mid-sentence she assured me: "Don’t worry, child, you won’t need to do much digging or anything like that. There’s a hired man to do the heavy work. His name is Erickson. He’ll be here off and on. The Bells have asked that he tend to the grounds and refresh the barn’s paint this summer.” She pointed up toward a section of beam. "There are a few hooks for drying. If you need more, there’s a jar of them in the cellar along with the canning supplies, if you’re so inclined.”

She watched me for a moment and when I showed no interest in canning, she moved on to the next topic. "Bast, the cat, is around. Named for the Egyptian Goddess. She comes and goes as she pleases with the cat door, but needs feeding and a pet now and again. There’s food in the cabinet above the stove. She’ll reward your kindness with dead things, I’m sure, and possibly some love.” She was running down a mental checklist. "Shall we look around?”

Lydia glided through the house, leading me from room to room, pointing out every feature as if she had lived in it herself. The kitchen led into a bright living room, thanks to large windows and a sliding door overlooking the yard. There was no television, but book cases lined one wall. Another, smaller fireplace occupied this side of the shared wall with the kitchen hearth. Off the living room, a back office opened up into the main hallway again meeting the stairs. The humongous chimney, which the two hearths shared, was the pillar in the center of it all.

Portraits and landscapes, some photographed others painted, adorned the front entry way stairwell. "All Hawthorne,” she said. "And here are Evelyn and Ron Bell.” She pointed to a frame containing a collection of old snapshots all of a particular man and woman amongst friends and children. "It’s their house, of course. We’ve known them for decades. They’re lovely people, though he hasn’t been well.” Lydia’s eyes focused on nothing at all for a moment, no doubt remembering good times with young and healthy versions of her friends.

With a sudden burst, she snapped out of it and moved up the remaining stairs. "Let’s keep moving. I do have to get back to the store, dear.” She showed me my room, which was nothing special, except that two dormer windows overlooked the garden. The space contained a full bed made with white sheets and a patch work quilt that looked handmade, two nightstands, a straight backed chair, and a tall dresser. The master bedroom was off limits. The linens I could find in the hall closet. The bathroom, a marvelously modernized Victorian extravaganza, was pristine. Then we rushed downstairs and back out into the day.

Behind the house, a brick patio sprawled in the shade of an overhanging deck. Built into a hill, the field stone foundation clutched a small green wooden door. "That’s where you’ll find the furnace, the hot water heater and the electrical panel,” Lydia instructed, "as well as the mason jars and such. The door can be tricky. Those,” she turned to the yard and pointed to two rectangles of already turned earth, and another long row of soil in front of the stone wall at the far end of the yard, "are the gardens. Mr. Erickson can help you there. Her crooked finger now arced toward a hunched and leaning structure with a moss covered roof. "In the barn are the garden tools.”

She turned to me and took a breath, seemingly for the first time since we arrived. "And that’s it. Any questions?”

Her march having ended, I was exhausted. I tried to think of something to ask, but drew a blank.

"You will. And when you do, don’t hesitate to call or come see us. Anything you need, we have.” She faced me squarely and looked in my eyes. "And I mean anything. After all, we do own a General Store.” Another pause. "But if you need the hardware store, that’s up the street.”

She clapped me on the shoulder and moved away as effortlessly as a shadow. When she got to the car, she turned back. "I’m afraid we’re quite busy with the store, so it may have to be that you come to us. We will of course stop by when we can, and check on you. But don’t wait. If there’s trouble, we need to know about it.” Once inside the Volvo, she leaned out the window: "In the drawer I showed you, the one with the warranties and such, there’s a Hawthorne phone book. It’s small and green. We’re in it.” She waved and was gone.



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