Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Papers of Victoria Frankenstein, II (75)

Dinner was amazing. There’s a patio or deck on the restaurant that allows a great view of the top of the Falls. After we ate, Gil (who had eaten virtually nothing), Harriet (who’d eaten virtually everything, as usual), and I (somewhere in between) went out there and just stared at the incredible stream of water, watched the rising mist, heard the continuous roar of the water.
After we’d stood there a bit, I felt Harriet touch my shoulder. I glanced at her and she nodded wordlessly toward Gil. Tears were streaming down his face. I looked back at Harriet, whose eyes were red, as well. Mine joined them.
Soon, Mr. Gisborne came out and told us all that we could walk some more around Goat Island and that we’d meet back at the entrance to the restaurant in an hour. I asked Gil if he wanted to walk with us.
“I think I’ll just rest here,” he said.
“You won’t find a better view,” I said.
He smiled at me, and that was all I needed—then or ever.
Harriet and I headed out onto the pathway, and no one could have told from the way we talked that both of us were very frightened. We talked about school, about teachers, about TV programs (well, Harriet talked about them), about books (guess who did most of that talking). I decided to tell Harriet one of the stories I’d read about Trelawny.
“You know,” I said, “Mary Shelley—”
“I’ve heard of her,” joked Harriet.
“I expect you have,” I said, “since you’re my best friend”
“Am I going to hear some more?”
I tried not to be offended. “I think you’ll like it,” I said.
“It’s not about monsters, is it?” she asked. “Because I don’t want to think about them right now.”
“No,” I said, “it’s not about monsters—or even anything scary. Far from it.”
“Well, okay then.”
“Anyway,” I continued, “you remember that Mary’s husband, Bysshe, died just weeks before her twenty-fifth birthday?”
“I think you told me that.” She stopped and looked at me. “This isn’t going to be too sad for me, is it? Because I’ve had enough of sad, looking at Gil back there.”
“Well, a little sad,” I said, “but just at first.”
“All right. Go ahead.”
“Anyway, the Shelleys were spending the summer with some friends on the northern coast of Italy—near the top of the boot, on the western side—”
“This is getting complicated.”
“I’m telling too much, I know, but I just want you to be able to picture things.”
Harriet didn’t say anything, so I went on. “Her husband had bought a large sailboat,” I said, “and he and his friends like to sail up and down the coast.”
“Sounds like fun.”
“It was. Until …”
“Until July 1, 1822.”
“And what happened then?”
“The worst thing that ever could happen,” I said.

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