Chapter 4.6B

Annie’s father reminded her to extinguish the fire in the hearth before coming up (but don’t close the flue he reminded her unnecessarily). She nodded, replied that she would come up in a minute.

Grabbing a brass poker from the side of the hearth, she drew back the hearth screen and poked at the burning log, shoving it down to the ashes on the brick surface until the fire was nothing more than orange freckles on the black and gray log.

Stabbing the log reminded her of fencing, brought to mind her impromptu challenge with her teammates that evening, teammates who would now look up to her as captain.

She put the poker back in place, closed the hearth screen and stepped back. The antique map hanging above the hearth caught her attention, and she thought of the conversations she had with her family after her teammates left — brother (We’re Hutchinsons, we take things over. That’s what we do., father (The only thing our family hasn’t done is serve as leaders of this community., mother (Your father knows just enough to realize he shouldn’t know anything more.). And yes, whatever it was that gave her the impression that she was being visited by her long-dead ancestor while she was reading his journal.

(I want my children, and my children’s children, to know who they are.)

She stared at the map, located the approximation locations of her uncle’s lands, thought about what she had learned that evening about her family’s plans. Could her family really be so mendacious, so calculating? She was surprised, and suddenly uncertain about all she knew about her family, save one thing. I love you, she had said to her mother, but could have said the same for everyone in her family, including her uncles. And she had meant it, just as she meant it still in the quiet of the smoldering fire, knew with a certainty she felt as certain as the beating of her heart that her love for her family would never change. But she was not sure that she could trust her family anymore, not nearly as much as she had before this evening. Annie could love them, but not trust her — the thought sounded odd to her, but correct, like a perfect rectial of a poem composed in a language she did not understand.

Annie looked around the room. She saw the fencing mask and foil that her mother had found, the one Butch had left behind by accident. She turned back to the antique map, and smiled. She was Annie Hutchinson, captain of the Bark Bay High School fencing team. And for the first time that evening, that sounded right and good to her.

End Chapter 4 (and this time I mean it)

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