What each man does will shape his trial and fortune.
For Jupiter is king to all alike; the fates will find their way.
Virgil, The Aeneid
Some things were certain; they were undeniable,
inarguable. Nora Lindell was gone, for
one thing. There was no doubt about that. For another,
it was Halloween when she went missing, which only
served to compound the eeriness, the mysteriousness
of her disappearance. Of course, it wasnt until the
first day of November that most of us found out she
was gone, because it wasnt until the day after Halloween
that her father realized she hadnt come home
the night before and so started calling our parents.
From what we could tell, and from how the phone
tree was ordered that year, Jack Boyds parents got the
first phone call. Mrs. Boyd, as prescribed by the tree,
called Mrs. Epstein, who called Mrs. Zblowski, who
called Mrs. Jeffreys. By the time the tree had been
completed, many mothers had already gotten word
of Noras disappearance either from usrunning from
house to houseor from Mr. Lindell himself, whod
broken phone-tree etiquette and continued making
calls even after getting off the phone with Mrs. Boyd.
It was a breach in etiquette that our mothers forgave,
obviously, but one that they agreed tacitly, behind
the back of Mr. Lindell, added unnecessarily to the
general confusion of the day.
The phone tree produced no new information. But it did, accidentally, serve to remind our mothers that the time change had come late that year and that all the clocks should be set back an hour. How wed forgotten, none of us knew. But somewhere in the branches and twigs of the phone tree, a mother remembered that in addition to having lost Nora, wed gained an hour. All our mothers could do was promise Mr. Lindell to ask us about his daughter when we returned home that night, an hour later than they expected.
With our curfew the same but with the day that much longer, while our mothers waited at home for our return, while the leaves changed and fell seemingly in a single afternoon, turned from green to orange to pewter to nothing, we stayed outdoors and away from our parents. We stayed away from the girls as best we couldall but Sarah Jeffreys who, for various reasons, was nearly impossible to want to stay away fromas though allegiance to our own sex would somehow solve the mystery, once wed learned of it, all the faster. We interrogated each other for information, eager to be the one to discover the truth. As it turned out, wed all seen Nora the day before, but seen her in different places doing different thingswed seen her at the swing sets, at the riverbank, in the shopping mall. Wed seen her making phone calls in the telephone booth outside the liquor store, inside the train station, behind the dollar store. Wed seen her in her field hockey sweats, in her jean jacket, in her uniform. We saw her smoking a cigarette, sucking a lollipop, eating a hot dog. Surely shed gone to the midnight thriller trilogy with us all (we called it the midnight show, though it was over by ten, just in time for curfew), and yet when we questioned each otherasked who had gotten to sit next to her, to share popcorn with her, to scare her when she was least expecting itnone of us could take credit.
Trey Stephens, the only public schooler among us, was the last to find out since his parents werent on the tree. He lived in the neighborhood and wed known him forever. His was the largest basement, with neon beer signs and stolen street signs, a giant fish tank and two dartboards, a full-size pool table and a drum kit.
And it was there that we congregated the evening after Halloween as the sun began to fall, determined to wait out the extended curfew, to tell him and each other the story of Nora Lindell gone missing.
Excerpted from The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard. Copyright © 2011 by Hannah Pittard. Excerpted by permission of Ecco. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
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