Now that she’d been collecting for her route for almost two hours, Danielle’s nervousness was beginning to come under control, although she really just wanted to get home.
So when she hastily walked up to the last house on the cul-de-sac, she didn’t notice that it was the only house with a portico. Because she delivered newspapers before school and early in the mornings even on weekends, all she knew was that everything looked very different now, just before dinnertime, with lengthening shadows from the soon-setting sun. No one wanted to have their newspaper delivery girl collecting early in the morning when they were still in their pajamas. Of course, she didn’t want to see them in their pajamas, either.
The portico’s walls were slightly taller than Danielle’s blond head, so she couldn’t see over them. The walkway to the house went in between two walls, directly to a dark red front door. Had Danielle not still been a little nervous about collecting, she may have looked longer at the walls. She might have noticed that each wall had a vague shape or design in it. Neither wall had a uniform, stucco surface; the lines in the walls may have been cracks, but looked more like they’d been lightly carved in. It almost appeared like a very large wing had been pressed into it before it dried.
As Danielle marched between the fence-high stone walls, towards the door, she glanced at the walls and thought it very curious that each wall had a single, amber-colored circle of glass, about the size of a quarter, embedded in the surface. So intent was she on making her final collection, she failed to notice the house number above the door was not on her list. As she reached up to use the door knocker, she was startled by a rustling noise behind her.
Spinning around to look for the cause of the sound, she saw feathers littered all around the sheltered area, between the portico walls and the front door of the house. She’d never seen feathers so big, and she thought they might be as long as her arm. However, now that her attention was on the walls, she thought they looked odd.
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