|Joyce Carol Thomas|
|a novel for young adults|
Before daybreak while Abby lay sleeping something frightened her. A million miniature bumps popped out, disturbing the smooth brown glaze of her skin. A feather brushed along the tip of her spine, bristled at the nape of her neck. She could not rid herself of this pervasive feeling of dread, could not shake the persistent premonition. She held her breath and crept between peaceful dreams and sound sleep. Hid behind shadows. But still it pursued.
In her dream someone dressed in virtue twisted the good will of the town of Ponca inside out. The event set the town on its ear. As the nightmare advanced, Abby tried to scream the truth, to tell the trusting people that the thing was wicked, but they opened their front doors anyway and let it in. Welcomed wrong into their very parlors. Her mouth worked at words, but nothing came out. Quiet. Like the silence before the scream of an ambulance.
She woke up in a cold sweat.
When she told her mother what she had dreamed, her mother shook her head compassionately. "You're just like a barometer, Abby. You always could tell when something bad was going to happen. When you were a baby, you ran a fever. Now that you're a young woman, it's goose bumps."
In the light of the day, the nightmare seemed less foreboding. With her mother standing near and her father in the other room, she really had no reason to feel so dreadful. Then she remembered that Carl Lee was coming to help her in the yard, and she pushed the nightmare to the back of her mind.
Snowflakes whispered over the ground. A breeze sent little flurries slipping across the road. Suddenly the last rays of the sun pierced the low-hanging clouds, back-lighting the sky in bougainvillea and setting the encrusted snow with silver jewels.
Abby looked up at the January sky casting cold everywhere, accepting the gathering swirls of snow clouds. Then she leaned over her shovel and continued clearing the walk that led all the way to the front steps of the house, preparing for the guests coming to New Year's dinner.
As she worked, she heard the whisper of wind teasing across the stippled snow, snow printed with the tooth marks of tires, rubber boots, and snow chains, and with the scooped-out iron mouth of her shovel.
She nodded to the neighbors whose overindulgence the night before showed in their red eyes and tired faces. Her own mother and father, as was their custom, stayed up until the new year was officially in then slept late on New Year's Day.
Abby waved at the children making snowmen and scooping snow into bowls for snow ice cream.
Now the winter clouds curled up and churned the atmosphere with flurries of whiteness. The bright snow fell and gradually built up into drifts.
Off the edges of rooftops icicles sharp and pointed dipped and hung crinkly from outer windowsills. Children, upon raising a window, could easily pop frozen drippings into sugar water and drink a glass of cool sweetwater.
|Text © 1983 Joyce Carol Thomas. Cover © 1983 Avon Books.|
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