Now, she couldn’t sleep. Rather than get back into bed, Hildie sat in a chair by the window and looked out at the stars. What was it going to be like, having Mama living under her roof, taking care of her, taking care of her children, taking care of all the chores that needed to be done so Trip didn’t have to do everything? Would Mama despise her for not fighting harder? Her eyes burned; her throat ached just thinking about having to lie in bed sick and helpless while Mama took over her family. She wiped tears away.

Of course, Mama would do it all better than she ever could. That realization hurt even more. Mama had always managed everything.

Even without Papa, the ranch ran like a well- oiled machine. Mama would fix Trip wonderful meals. Mama would be the one to give Charlie wings. Mama would probably have Carolyn reading before she turned four.

I should be grateful. She cares enough to come and help. I didn’t think she did.

When the night air had cooled her, Hildie slipped beneath the covers again.

She wanted to be grateful. She would say thank you, even as she had to watch the life she loved slip away from her. She had fought hard to be free of Mama’s expectations, to claim her own life and not live out her mother’s impossible dreams. Even the one thing at which she’d excelled would be stripped from her before she closed her eyes for the last time.

Mama would be the nurse. Mama would carry the lantern.

Carolyn

2

Carolyn was happy that Daddy let her stay with Oma Marta in Murietta until Oma was ready to move to their house. If she had gone home with him and Charlie, she would have had to go to Mrs. Haversal’s across the street every day while Charlie was at school and Daddy went to work. It had been like that for a long time, ever since Mommy went away. But now, Mommy was coming home and Oma was coming to stay. It would be wonderful!

Carolyn played with the rag doll Oma had given her, while Oma packed her suitcase with clothing and a trunk with sheets, crochet- trimmed and embroidered pillowcases, two blankets, and a pink rose tea set with tiny silver spoons. Oma put the suitcase and trunk in the back of her new gray Plymouth, and then she stacked two cushions in the front seat so Carolyn could sit high up and see out the window on the long drive home. Oma even let her roll her window down so she could put her hand out and feel the air.

They pulled into the driveway just when Charlie got off the school bus. “Oma!” He came running. Oma took the front door key out from under the flowerpot on the front porch.

Everything had changed inside the house. Carolyn found her bed and dresser in Charlie’s room.

A small table stood between Charlie’s bed and hers. She went back to her old room and watched Oma swing her suitcase onto a new, bigger bed. The pink walls were now bright yellow, and new lacy white curtains hung over the windows. There was a big dresser with a mirror on top, a little table and lamp, and a rocking chair with flowered cushions.

“I’m going to be very comfortable here.” Oma unpacked her clothes and put them away.

Oma stepped to the window and drew the white lacy curtains aside. “I’m going to have to get used to having neighbors this close.” She shook her head and turned away. “I’d better get dinner started. Your daddy will be coming home soon.”

“Is Mommy coming home?”

“In another day or two.” Oma opened the door into the spare bedroom. “This is where she’ll be.” Leaving Carolyn in the bedroom doorway, Oma headed for the kitchen. Carolyn didn’t like the room. It felt cold and strange without a rug on the floor and no curtains on the window, just a shade pulled down to block out the sunlight.