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The Girl in the House

She’s eight North one West six Down, as far as she can tell, prying at cracks with the old dead ballpoint. Most of the rooms here are empty, but the floorboards almost never are: stones, tokens, coins, once a glass eye. Jackdaw gems.

Today it’s a plastic pill, one half orange and the other one clear. She opens it and out tumbles a scrap, the first piece of paper she’s seen here that wasn’t from the library. Inside, in big, quick boy’s handwriting, is written “Cosette.”

She sits, stunned and slumping. Beautifully, impossibly, horribly, she wakes to the idea of names.