Her accent was American. Rose had not expected that, either.
There’s no one like me, she said.The girl laughed. That’s very true. I meant that I’m—
Don’t say it! Rose hissed, shocked at her carelessness. Anyone might hear. I know what you are. You’re doing a terrible job of it. You didn’t even buy the right kind of shoes!The girl looked down, then back up again, her face flushed. Well, you’ve got me there.Rose slowly lowered the letter opener. What do you want? Grandpapa isn’t home.
The girl took a step closer. Rose allowed this. She took another step closer. Rose allowed this as well.I came to talk to you, actually, the young lady said. I wanted to see how you are—to talk to you about what happened.
Rose shook her head, slapping her hands over her ears. No, no, no! We aren’t supposed to tell, we aren’t—
I know, I know, the girl said, crouching down in front of Rose. But…I could use someone to talk to, too. And there’s no one I trust more to help me, to keep my secrets.Rose could not tell her what the man had said. It would be like pulling splinters out from under skin that had already healed over them. It hurt so very badly to think of it.
But this stranger—not her Grandpapa, not any of the other travelers—believed her to be someone to speak to, not speak down to. She liked this idea, that she was strong after all. It was a very sad, hard thing, her Papa had told her, to be a traveler, for there were so very few people who knew what they could do, and fewer still that they could talk to.I’ll listen, Rose allowed, her voice trembling only a little.
The girl’s face clouded, her pale brows drawing together as she knelt down on one of the cushions, watching Rose come toward her, almost in awe. I’m sorry about your parents. That must have been beyond terrible for you, and you were so brave. I’ve lost someone I love, too. My heart still hurts, even though I understand why it happened.Rose stood with her back straight, clasping her hands in front of her as she met the girl’s blue-eyed gaze with her own. I’m not afraid.