TITLE: THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE
GENRE: Adult fantasy
After the war, the neighbors would whisper, “We saw how it started, you know- we were there when she was born.” The child’s mother- lovely woman, really- had loved entertaining. But then came the child, and after that, the wasting illness. When the illness left, it took the mother with it, leaving the child- a girl named Ava- the motherless daughter of a red-faced, small-eyed man.
That man never should have had a child. The neighbors all knew it. When they stopped by to say how sorry they were about the mother’s death, he wouldn’t answer the door, nor would he return their phone calls. Most unforgivably, he left the casseroles on the steps until the wild cats ate them. No one was surprised when Ava was sent to live with her mother’s parents.
For a while, the neighbors forgot about her. But one summer evening, six years after the toddler left, a rusty Toyota sputtered to a halt near the house.
Ava, now an eight-year-old child, had been sent back to her father. Her grandparents had died now, too. The girl wasn’t crying, wasn’t screaming. She simply held on to her seatbelt and refused to get out of the car. She clutched a picture frame.
The neighbors saw leaves swirling in summer dust devils around the car. They saw the father jerk the single suitcase out of the back seat.