“How long do you think we’ll be in Eagle’s Nest?” she asked.

Eddie exhaled deeply and watched his breath disappear into the cold air. “As long as it takes.”

A headache started at the back of her skull. The sooner she could leave Eagle’s Nest, the better.

FIFTEEN

Mercy felt like a thief.

No backbone, hiding in the shadows, waiting for people to leave the house.

She’d taken a gamble that her parents still attended their Tuesday night social club. She’d crossed her fingers it wasn’t their turn to host. Hell, she didn’t even know if they still participated, but it was the only way she could think of to see Rose on her own.

I could have called.

No doubt she could locate a phone number somewhere, but she didn’t want to risk one of her parents being in the room when Rose answered. So she’d resorted to slinking around like a criminal.

At 7:50 her father’s old pickup turned out of their drive and sped down the highway. She spotted two people in the front seat.

Some things never change.

Before she lost her resolve, she turned the key in the ignition and guided her vehicle to the driveway. The home was set far back from the highway. Typical of her parents’ mind-set, the drive wasn’t marked and wound cautiously through a few fields and groves, placing lots of distance between their home and the rest of the world. Maneuvering down the winding drive took forever. She finally parked in front of the familiar house and stared at it for thirty seconds, calming her vibrating nerves.

It looks exactly the same.

Her years in the small white farmhouse built by her father had been good ones. As a kid she’d been too busy to sit around and wish for a different life. Plus she’d been taught to appreciate what she had. It seemed as if today’s kids focused on things they didn’t have and how to convince their parents to buy them.

I must be getting old.

She had officially become “an older generation” by complaining about the younger one.

Do I want to do this?

She missed Rose dreadfully. For years she’d felt a physical ache when she’d thought of her sister. Only during the last few years had it eased, but it still echoed in her bones like a bad break that had never healed quite right. The longing had grown exponentially since she’d been back in Eagle’s Nest. She loved both her sisters, but she knew Rose’s heart. Four years her senior, her sister had never seemed blind to her. Rose had run and played as hard as the rest of them. Skinned and bruised knees never slowed her down.

Her sister had been happiness personified and had never expressed anger at the fate that made her blind from birth, at least not to Mercy’s ears. But Mercy had been angry for her. Many times she’d cried at the unfairness of a world that revolved around sight when her sister would never see a glimpse. She’d beg God to transfer Rose’s blindness to her, and then live in fear that one day he would actually do it.

Over and over she’d describe colors to her blind sister, but there was nothing for Rose to correlate the descriptions with. Rose could recite that grass was green and the sky was blue, but she’d never experienced the sights or seen the subtle color changes. To her they were empty descriptions. Grass was soft or pointy or dry or crunchy or silent. The sky was untouchable; it felt and sounded of nothing.

People asked Rose stupid questions. Mercy understood they were curious, but it was the same questions over and over.

“What do you see?”

“How do you match your clothes?”

“What do you see in your dreams?”

Their mother had solved the clothing issue by having Rose wear only jeans or denim shorts during the summer. “Everything goes with denim,” she’d say. Rose also had more dresses than the other girls; dresses didn’t need to match anything.

Rose claimed her dreams were just like her everyday life. “I taste, hear, and smell in my dreams. There’s nothing to see.”

Her favorite things were sounds. Thunderstorms, the sizzle of meat on a grill, any musical instrument.

Her siblings watched over Rose like hawks. Heaven protect any stupid kid who thought it’d be funny to hide Rose’s cane. They would have four Kilpatrick siblings to answer to.

Mercy took a few steps toward the quiet house, unable to shake the feeling that she was making a huge mistake.

Did Levi warn her that I’m in town?

Levi hadn’t contacted Mercy. She half hoped that he would. She was tired of pretending the past had never happened.

She and Levi and Rose shared a secret. One that had stayed silent for fifteen years.

She stepped heavily on the wood steps, wanting Rose to know that someone was coming to the house, even though her sister would be fully aware that a vehicle had stopped in front. The sound of the unfamiliar engine would tell Rose her parents hadn’t returned.

Mercy knocked on the door.

A few seconds passed. “Who is it?” came her sister’s firm voice through the door.

Mercy closed her eyes as her lungs seized at the familiar sound of her sister.

“Rose. It’s Mercy.” Her voice cracked.

She waited.

Locks slid and clicked. The door opened to show a shocked Rose. “Mercy?” She held one hand forward at the exact height of Mercy’s face, fingers stretching, aching to touch.

“It’s me.” She took Rose’s hand and guided it to her face. Her sister’s expression lit up as her hands gently danced across Mercy’s features and hair.

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