Welcome to One Page, a newsletter that transports you into the world of an outstanding book for a few minutes. A couple of times a week, we'll send you a great passage from a book we love. (To subscribe, unsubscribe, or donate, see below. Selections are editorial unless noted as sponsored.) Red Room Editors Gina and Huntington selected a page from Don't Let Me Go (2013), by Catherine Ryan Hyde, to share with you today:
Billy opened his eyes. He lay still a moment, staring at the cracked off-white plaster of his ceiling in the dim light, trying to clear his head and return from the dream.
This time he knew. It was clearly not a dream in any way. It was Grace's hissing voice, a loud stage whisper through his door.
He tied on his robe and stumbled his way to the door to let her in.
"What are you doing up?" he asked, looking down at her.
She stood on the cold hardwood of the hallway, wearing a new-looking blue nightshirt and shifting from one bare foot to the other.
"What's wrong?" she asked. "Why were you shouting?"
"Oh. Was I? It was nothing. Just a bad dream. You can go back to bed now. Everything's fine."
"No, it isn't! Why would you even say that, Billy? You shouldn't say everything's fine when it isn't!"
She pushed past him and into his living room and hoisted herself up on to his couch. Billy closed the door and sighed.
"Don't you even want somebody to be with you until you're done being all scared, and you're ready to go back to sleep? When I have a bad dream, I run get in bed with Rayleen, and she strokes my forehead, and she asks me what the dream was about, and then she says, 'Poor Grace, never mind, Grace, it was just a dream, and dreams can't hurt you.' Don't you want somebody to do that for you?"
Tears sprang to Billy's eyes, but he held them in as best he could. Yes, he did want that. Had all his life. He had just never known it existed until that very moment.
"OK," he said, and sat down with her on the couch.
"What did you dream?"
"I dreamed there were these wings all around me, these really huge white wings."
"Like bird wings?"
"Not like any bird wings I ever saw."
"Like angel wings?"
"I don't know. I never saw an angel. I don't think so. Because I think if they were angel wings they'd be comforting. These aren't comforting. I dream about them all the time, but usually they flap. And it's very disturbing, the way they flap. This is the first time they ever held still."
"Oh," Grace said. "Then why were you yelling at them to flap?"
"Oh. You heard that. Well. Because... I'm not sure. I can't really explain it. It's like you know something bad is going to happen, and the suspense is too much. It's almost better to just get it over with. But I'm not sure if you know what I mean. Maybe you just had to be there."
"Doesn't matter," Grace said. "Dreams are like that. They're not usually very understandable."
Grace pulled up to her knees on the couch and stroked Billy's forehead.
"Poor Billy, it was just a dream, Billy. Never mind about that dream because dreams can't hurt you."
"Thank you," he said, fighting tears again.
"You're welcome. I think I'm gonna go back to bed. Can I sleep on your couch? Oh, no, wait. Rayleen would get scared cause I was gone. I better get back."
"I'll be OK," Billy said.
"I know you will, cause dreams can't hurt you."
She padded across his rug to the door, opened it wide, then stood still with both hands on the knob.
"I just want to tell you something," she said. "I just want to tell you I'll always find you. You might not be able to find me, but I know how to find you. So, wherever I go, if I do, which I hope I don't, but if I do, and Rayleen can't get me back again... cause, you know, I keep saying she can, but every time I say it everybody looks a little green and funny, so if maybe that doesn't work out, just remember I'll always find you, even if I have to grow up to be eighteen first. Cause you're my very best friend."
She pulled the door closed behind her with a small muffled thump.
40% off Books, and Lunch with a Red Room Author
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