Light from the bathroom spills onto the floor, offering the perfect chance to ignore bedtime for the more enjoyable task of reading. This is my saving grace from ever being held back a grade -- I like to read.
You might remember my first interaction with our librarian. I searched for books about Rudyard Kipling, and he nearly expired from a heart attack.
Tonight, I lay on the ground in my doorway, using the light from the bathroom to read Riki Tiki Tavi. Wendy and Maria are asleep behind me, hence why the closet light is not on.
This book is very loved. It's been read at least once a week, if not once a day.
I am up late. I know this because the entire house is dark, and my parents are in bed. Of course, my mother understands my habits and is up checking on me. She pads down the hallway. I expect her, so I don't immediately snatch up my book and hurl myself in bed. This is a regular routine for us. She's never gotten mad at me before, so there is no fear of being caught.
However, she surprises me with the following:
"Kara, perhaps it's time you read something else."
I look up at her. "I read lots of books."
She yawns. "Yes, but I think you might enjoy a new one. Go on and go to bed. In the morning, we'll start another book."
I groan inwardly. This means she is going to pick a book for me. That is the WORST. But, I don't argue, and in the morning, as promised, is a new book. Little Women.
She reads it to me. And Maria.
I am enthralled with the characters. These four sisters who love each other so dearly, who make believe, and tear down walls. I love Meg. I love Jo. I adore sweet Beth. I laugh at little Amy.
I decide I am like Jo. She chooses independence over marriage. I think that is a pretty smart idea.
And then...the unspeakable...sweet Beth.
My heart is ripped from my chest, a bloody, pulpy mess lying on the ground. The author is grinding her heel into it and twisting. The pain is excruciating. I stare aghast at my mother.
"What kind of book is this?" I cry.
She just smiles at me.
When the book is done, I walk around in a trance, wondering how my mother and Maria can function. Poor Beth! How can we go on as if nothing happened?
Thus begins my rapture with the lives of fictitious people. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. They were my first.