When Pa and Mr. Devonshire carried Mary home three days after she'd gone missing in the woods, everyone-- Ma, Mr and Mrs. Crowell from down the road, Old Bess the maid, the little twins Thom and Tim, and all the rest who had joined the search-- ran out to meet them except Great Aunt Gloria, who stood on the porch and blocked the way into the house.

"That ain't Mary," she said. "Put it back where you found it."

Ma said Gloria was tired and didn't know any better. Pa said she'd gone mad and needed to go to her room and weave something. The pushed past her and took Mary to our room.

"You watch out, Rose," Gloria said.

I want to think Gloria is loony, just like Pa said, but. . .

Two nights ago, when everyone was asleep, I woke up and saw Mary standing by the window. She looked like she was talking to something, but though the moonlight was strong enough to fill the room with light and shadows, I couldn't see who.

"Mary?" I said, sitting up

She turned and smiled at me, but there was a yellow light in her eyes that didn't come from the moon.

"Go back to sleep, Rosie," she said. It might've been a trick of the light, but she had no shadow.

I didn't want to, but I found myself falling back onto the bed.

The next day, Aunt Gloria took sick. Ma said it was the night air that did it.

Last night, I heard Mary talking out the window again, though I pretended to sleep. Whoever it is she talks to has a voice like oil and smells rotten meat.

I don't think I'll be sleeping tonight.