In the town of Kiminee, the end was never the end, sorrow left supple scars and wishes cracked reality. This was true back in January 1936, when a teenager forced too soon into womanhood darted through a moonlit winter night, exhaling moist clouds into biting air. Clad in a sleeveless, cotton nightgown and slippers worn thin, the young fan of radio dramas, black roses and Bing Crosby’s mellow baritone didn’t wince at the cold. She ran on, eyes glazed with fever, dewy skin blemished.
At the riverbank, she vaulted over snow-covered boulders onto solid ice. With arms outstretched and face tilted skyward, she glided. Voice wavering, she rasped a lullaby her mother used to sing in a city where coal dust muted the horizon. Her heart thrummed. Tears flowed. Blood slid down her thighs.
She kicked up her feet. Gone were the slippers, replaced by skates of purest-white leather with gleaming blades; gone was the nightie, replaced by a costume with sequined rainbows and silver fringe. She leaped, spun, landed. Ice cracked. She rose and fell again. The brittle surface groaned. She leaped higher, higher—each time a creak, a crack. Into the air she twirled once more. When she touched down, a fissure welcomed her. She plummeted, lips closed, eyes smiling.
When she embraced her maker that bleak Illinois night in the depths of the Great Depression, all residents of the community nestled along the river’s curves were asleep. Except for one. And for decades to come, they knew nothing of her brief life and demise.
Except for one.
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