“What she needs are stories.
Stories are a way to preserve one’s self. To be remembered. And to forget.
Stories come in so many forms: in charcoal, and in song, in paintings, poems, films. And books.
Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives—or to find strength in a very long one.”
Once upon a time there were three sisters.
James Juniper Eastwood was the youngest, with hair as ragged and black as crow feathers. She was the wildest of the three. The canny one, the feral one, the one with torn skirts and scarped knees and a green glitter in her eyes, like summer-light through leaves. She knew where the whip-poor-wills nested and the foxes denned; she could find her way home at midnight on the new moon.
But on the spring equinox of 1893, James Juniper was lost.
I had Random.org select a page, it picked 174. I decided to -1 because today is September 1st, and so the page today is 173.
Motherfugger, I curse to myself as I step carefully down the servants’ stairs. It comes out unbidden, strange and filthy in my mouth. And right all the same. This is why we have cursing. I never understood what made folk do it. But now I know. All our dire feelings stain the heart, and the stains bloom into curses. I don’t know how to sort this mess. The ways I’ve tried only put me in danger.
“Stop crying,” I say shortly, and grab Ettie’s hand. “Come on.”
“Where are we going?” she sniffles.
I smile. A smile that she should never trust.
“Somewhere he will not be able to find you,” I say, which is only partly a lie.
We rush down a tangle of back streets, keeping to the shadows.
She’s breathless and struggling along behind me, but at least she’s stopped crying.
She thinks I’m going to save her. When I’m sending her to a fate worse than the seven hells.
But sometimes we must pay a terrible price to protect the things we love.