Excerpt #9: Andrew's Key

From the author:

In an early version of the book, Andrew was going to tell Rebecca about a time she met Charlie when they were kids. Then she was going to realize that he was the boy in this picture. The story felt forced where I first put it in, and I eventually decided it wasn’t necessary. I almost deleted this mention of the picture after that, but I was content to know that it was Charlie even if no one else did.

From the book:

    The top drawer contained the largest bible I had ever seen. It had a padded ivory cover and as I pulled it onto my lap I decided that it might also be the heaviest bible I had ever held. Inside the front cover was a record of family births. I could tell by the handwriting that it had been completed by several different people. The first few entries were people born in the eighteen hundreds. The last name on the list was mine. Above my name in the same hand it said “Baby Boy Hilson.” The birth date was a little more than a year before mine and the same date was listed in the death column.
    My dad was the next name. I knew there had been no additions – no lasting additions – to the family in the 45 years between him and me, but there was something about seeing it in print that made me feel very alone. I wondered how different my childhood might have been if my brother, the one I hadn’t even known about a few weeks earlier, had survived.
    It didn’t surprise me that my parents hadn’t mentioned him to me. Though I was a product of my parents’ relationship, I knew I wasn’t part of that relationship. I had always been an extra person in the house. Always loved, always wanted and even cherished, but always extra. I missed my parents and though I knew they missed me, I also knew they still had each other.
    I felt myself growing a little depressed. And looking back at the names in the bible didn’t help. Above my dad’s name, “Rachel Lynn Hilson” was recorded. There had been another sister between my dad and Rose. I didn’t know what happened to her, only that there had been some sort of accident when she was five. I didn’t need any more details to know that the death of a five-year-old was something I didn’t want to hear about. She was the reason people suggested that my new home was haunted.
    I closed the bible and shoved it next to me on the bed. Then I returned my attention to the drawer it came from. There were several newspaper clippings, including an obituary for my grandma. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would save some of the other clippings. There were some loose photographs. I recognized myself as a little girl in a few of them. In one I looked about three or four and I was sitting across a chess board from an older boy. I had no idea who he was and there were no names on the back. There was a date and it seemed to confirm that the little girl was me. I would have been four.

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