From the book
ILater, Frankie would remember the car speeding past in the dark as she stood at the edge of the old dirt road. She would remember that she had been aware of the smell of smoke for a while. Someone having a fire, she had assumed then, and that would turn out to be correct--though not in the way she was imagining it. She had the quick thought, briefly entertained amid the other, rushing thoughts that were moving through her tired brain, that it was odd for someone to be doing this, having a fire this late--or this early--on an already warm summer night.
But in the moment she didn't go beyond her quick assumption, her fleeting thought. She smelled the smoke, she saw the car approaching, and she got quickly out of the road, stepping first into the ditch that ran alongside it, and then, because it was night and she worried that the driver might not see her in the dark, onto the scrubby bank, pulling herself up between two trees that stood there. By the time she turned around to face the road again, the car had passed her. She stood for a moment watching as the wink of the red taillights disappeared behind a rise in the road, appeared again, dropped from sight, and appeared once more; and then was gone, the car's sound fading into nothing, into the rustle and odd croak of the night. She'd been walking for more than an hour by then, awash in memories and images of the life she'd just left behind.
She'd waked, as she'd known she would, at about one-thirty, and in her jet lag and confusion, she didn't know where she was, or even, for just a second or two, who she was. She'd felt this way only a few times before in her life--in childhood mostly--a disorientation so profound that it momentarily wiped her consciousness clean. It left her breathless now, too, her heart knocking hard in her chest as she lay there slowly feeling the room and her life--her sense of being precisely herself, Frankie--return and settle around her. It took her a few seconds longer than that, though, to understand why she might be here, in this room that meant summer, family.
She lay still for a while, feeling her body grow calm again, taking in the familiar shapes in the dark around her. The clock next to her on the bedside table glowed greenly--now 1:40, now 1:45. She turned on her back and stretched. She heard an animal screech somewhere far off and the tick of something shifting somewhere in the old house.
Okay, sleep wasn't going to come again for a while. She got up. She dressed in the dark, pulling on the same clothes she'd shed onto the floor five hours earlier when she'd come, exhausted, upstairs to bed. Carrying her shoes in her hand, she went into the black hall, found the stairs, then the smooth wooden handrail, and descended slowly, each step loudly protesting her weight, even though she tried to stay at their edges on the way down.
The bright moonlight fell into the living room, clearly delineating the furniture. She could see the deep old slipcovered chairs hunkered companionably by the fireplace. This was where her parents sat on chilly nights, usually reading. The couch was turned toward the view of the mountains. Behind it, the globe of the earth with its obsolete borders and nations was bulbous in its wooden stand. The chest of drawers that held dress-ups and puzzles and games--Monopoly and Clue, Parcheesi, Scrabble--was a large dark block in the far corner of the room. She could hear her parents' twinned snoring from their bedroom in the new wing down the hall from the kitchen, the wing they'd built this past...