“She reads the letter again, soaking in the ink, scouring the words and the space between for answers and finding none. Something wafts off the paper, like a draft. She brings the letter to her nose. It is summer, and yet, the parchment smells of autumn, brittle and dry, that narrow season when nature withers and dies, when the windows are shuttered and the furnaces belch smoke and winter waits like a promise, just out of sight.”
And even though it’s only wood, she feels safer with it closed.
Olivia’s heart pounds in her ears as she climbs under the covers, pulling her mother’s journal to her like a shield. She has never been afraid of the dark, but tonight, she relights the lamp. As she sits, her back to the headboard and her eyes on the shadows, she realizes—
She left the key in the door downstairs.
The waves rolled on to the sand with a slow, gentle swish. It was the loudest sound on the beach. From somewhere up on the cliffs, beyond the wind-stunted trees, came the distant thump of music and the hum of excited chatter. Light from the partial moon gave the water a slight shine, like tarnished metal. Small crabs the size of coins burrowed in the damp sand and insects skittered on the surface. Seaweed lay in stranded heaps.