In daring to challenge the unknown with me, she became my first friend.
I think she was Bailey’s first love outside the family. For him, she was the mother who let him get as close as he dreamed, the sister who wasn’t moody and withdrawing, and teary and tender-hearted.
Pots rattled in the kitchen where Momma was frying corn cakes to go with vegetable soup for supper, and the homey sounds and scents cushioned me as I read of Jane Eyre in the cold English mansion of a colder English gentleman. Uncle Willie was engrossed in the Almanac, his nightly reading, and my brother was far away on a raft on the Mississippi.
I never talked about St. Louis to her, and had generally come to believe that the nightmare with its attendant guilt and fear hadn’t really happened to me. It happened to a nasty little girl, years and years before, who had no chain on me at all.