Angelia knew she wasn’t alone the moment she unlocked the door, and reached for the flashlight hanging on an inside hook. She knew that she should be afraid, but she wasn’t. Shading the light with her hand, she crept silently into the living room and almost dropped the flashlight!
“Well, I’ll be!” She murmured staring at the two children asleep in the overstuffed chair and the girl sleeping on the couch. An object on the floor caught her eye. Realizing it was a child’s tattered blanket she picked it up and tucked it securely around the children.
“Is that you’re Mommy on my couch?” Angelia asked softly. “She doesn’t look old enough to be on her own with the two of you. Are you the children Henry and Myrtle helped last night? How did you ever find this place? I wonder, if I’d stayed at Myrtle’s tonight, would you’ve been here tomorrow?”
Angelia stood for a long time looking down at the woman-child asleep on her sofa. The blanket that had covered Mary lay mostly on the floor. She reached down to pull it back over the sleeping girl.
The scar was big, ugly, purplish-red, jagged and puzzle shaped. As Angelia stared at it, a memory tickle her consciousness and she remembered an incident that had happened years ago. The child and her friends had been riding tricycles in Mary’s garden.
The child having tipped over her tricycle, had gashed open her arm. The frightened four year old had screamed bloody murder as sand and dirt was carefully washed from the deep, jagged cut. The memory suddenly disappeared as quickly as it had come, leaving Angelia a little discombobulated, and confused as she turned away from the sleeping girl.
“Momma! Momma! Where are you?” the girl suddenly cried out in her sleep.
Angelia whirled around mouth agape as she stared at the young woman. Who are you? Where’s your mother? She asked silently as shivers raced up and down her spine. Did you think your mother lived here? Is that why you came here tonight?
Suddenly the girl sat bolt upright and in a voice filled with longing, pain and despair, called out again. “Momma! Momma! Where are you? Why can’t I find you? Help me Momma! Help me!”
The hair suddenly stood straight up on the back of Angelia’s neck as cold chills ran down her spine. Hastily backing away from the sofa she fled to the security of her bedroom. Quickly dressing for bed she pulled the covers over her head. She didn‘t know if she’d done it to ward off the chill, or to hide from the implications created by the nameless company asleep in her living room.
Who was this stranger? Were the children hers? Why was she here? Henry had mentioned seeing a white circle on the girl’s finger. He had confided to Angelia that he thought the girl was running away from her husband and had thrown her wedding ring away. Or was something entirely different going on?
Angelia yawned, shifted to a more comfortable position and snuggled under the covers. Coming home to a warm house and children asleep in her living room had been a nice surprise.
She’d almost stayed in Alaska out of concern for Caroline, but some unknown force had compelled her to return home. Now she understood why she’d been drawn back to this sad, lonely, desolate place, called Gilford Falls.