Dawn Reader

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

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Papers of Victoria Frankenstein, II (79)

Later, in bed in the dark, Harriet asked me to finish the story about Trelawny and Shelley’s heart. So I did.
“You remember,” I said, “that Trelawny had snatched Shelley’s heart from the fire on the beach in Viareggio? Where he’d washed ashore?”
“Yes. The cremation.”
“Okay. Well, and I also told you that Shelley’s good friend Leigh Hunt—the man he had sailed to see right before the deadly accident—wanted to have the heart of his good friend. So Trelawny gave it to him.”
“But when Mary heard about it, she let Hunt know that she wanted to have her husband’s heart. Hunt wasn’t willing. And they had a big argument about it.”
“Double creepy.”
“Anyway, one of Mary’s other friends convinced Hunt to surrender the heart. Which he did. And then—”
“I don’t think I want to know anymore tonight,” said Harriet. And when I heard her roll over, I knew our conversation was over.

Very late that night I felt that … presence … in the room again. It was perfectly dark in the room—not any glimmer of light—but I knew someone—or something—was in the room with us. The foul smell confirmed it.
Frozen in bed, I felt a whisper of movement toward me, felt something bending over me. And then that voice I’d heard before: Watch, Victoria. Watch.
“Watch what?” I asked again. But even before my words were out, I knew it—whatever “it” was—was gone. I hoped that Harriet had not heard anything. Or smelled that rot of death. But there was only silence from her side of the room.

The next morning we all gathered for breakfast down near the hotel lobby, where Mr. Gisborne was going to remind us of our itinerary for the day—our busy itinerary. I’d already memorized it, but teachers are like that—repeating and repeating in the hopes they’ll prevent kids from getting confused. Of course, it never works.
Harriet had shown no sign than morning of having noticed anything unusual in the room during the night. And for that I was grateful. We sat at a small table with Gil and his mother and talked quietly about the day. Gil knew that he couldn’t do all that the rest of us were doing. But he didn’t seem too sad about it.
“I’m definitely going on the Maid of the Mist,” he said. “That’s supposed to be just a wonderful ride.”
“I’ve read the same thing,” I said.
“And maybe that museum in Canada.”
“Yes, the Niagara Falls Museum,” I said. “The oldest museum in Canada. It was founded—”
Harriet coughed loudly—her recent signal to let me know that it was time to shut up.
“Gil, I hope you can join us down by the rapids, too—below Falls. I have a story to tell you there.”
“I’ll try.”
“We’ll do the best we can,” his mother said.
“I know,” I said.

Before the Maid of the Mist trip we did a lot of walking around the town of Niagara Falls looking at all the souvenir shops and wacky little museums. Kids were buying T-shirts that said things like I Survived Niagara Falls and At the Falls I Fell for You and other dumb sayings.
Harriet and I—though we didn’t ever say it—were also keeping our eyes open for Blue Boyle and his friends. And I wondered if that was what the voice in the night had meant when it had said Watch, Victoria. Watch.

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