When the kitchen land line rang, Lainie was deep into getting the last smear of peanut butter out of the jar. She knew the call wasn’t for her. Her friends called her cell. The ancient answering machine clicked on, and a perky professional voice chirped, “Tini Ferrari here, KNWD-TV?” Lainie froze, forgetting the glop of peanut butter on her finger.
Everything Tini said sounded like a question. “I’m phoning for Madeleine Stanton about a possible New Year’s Eve interview? I understand you were Ohio’s first baby of the millennium? I’d love to talk to you about a feature we’re doing on 2K babies. Give me a call?” Tini gave a phone number and clicked off.
Lainie stared at the machine in disbelief. No one called her Madeleine. And in all her eleven years, no one had ever said she ought to be on TV. A feature! She’d be the star! Simply for having come into the world at precisely midnight at the turn of the millennium to 2000. It had been ages since anyone mentioned it. She licked her sticky fingers. Kids at school would think it was cool. But what if something went wrong? What if she belched, or got sweaty, or said something stupid? They put those things online. If she messed up, the worst moment of her life would become un-erasable. It could go viral in wacky memes forever—it could ruin her life!
She put the empty jar in the sink and wiped her fingers on the towel. Anyway, Dad and the Uncs wouldn’t like it. They’d freak out at the attention it would bring the family. Lainie was wondering whether to even ask her dad when she heard the stamp of his boots in the mudroom. A minute later he walked in in his stocking feet, face red from the cold, briefcase under one arm.
“Hey, kitten,” he said, patting her shoulder as he moved past her toward his study.
Lainie followed. “Dad, wait! Er—I just got this phone call.” He went to his desk and started pulling papers out of his case, but raised an eyebrow as though listening, so she pressed on. “That TV reporter Tini Ferrari? She wants to interview me! On TV! They’re doing a story on kids born at the millennium. What do you think?” She blurted out the reason she was afraid he’d say no. “I mean, it’s not like she’ll ask about, well, about what happened . . .”
“Hmm,” he said, pawing through the papers and frowning. “So, do you need a new outfit? Or to get your hair done? You can take my credit card.”
He looked up blankly.
She couldn’t stop herself from mocking him. “Get my hair done?”
Dad put down the papers and gave her his attention. “I’m sorry, honey,” he said. “I wasn’t listening. Is it important?”
Lainie sighed with frustration. But then she saw the anxiety on his face—anxiety that meant he had another long evening of student papers to grade before he could even think of working on his book. He had to publish the book to keep his job at Kenwood College, and for some reason he couldn’t quite finish it. The stress was making him weird. Every night he came home and went straight to his study, coming out only for a quick dinner. She couldn’t imagine what else her dad would do if he lost his teaching job. As far as she knew, he didn’t have any actual skills. Lainie launched herself forward and hugged him, hard. “Not important,” she said. “Hey—it’s Grampa’s chili night! With cornbread! I’m starved.”
In her room, Lainie tore through math, then English. Sliding her textbooks back into her pack, she smelled dinner and ran downstairs to find Grampa Jack putting a pan of cornbread and some broccoli on the table. He’d been a cook in the army and then worked in diners all his life. He believed in fast food, but only the kind you make yourself. He brightened on seeing Lainie. “Hey there, chickpea! Dinner’s ready. You know, there’s a song about cornbread.” He did a little two-step on his way to get the plates.
“I know,” Lainie assured him, knowing it wouldn’t stop him from singing the whole thing. With a bit of childish pleasure she rang the servants’ bells to call the others to dinner. There hadn’t been any servants for decades, but the almost ninety-year-old bells still worked. Within a minute, above Grampa’s yodeling, she heard the grinding whirr of Uncle Patrick’s elevator chair on the grand staircase. Uncle Daniel got there before him, moving briskly with his cane, and soon after, Patrick chugged in with his walker, stopping for breath every few steps. The Uncs, she called the three of them. Grampa Jack and his older twin brothers had grown up in the big, rambling house and knew every nook and cranny. Their parents had built it. Except for his time in the army, Grampa had lived here his whole life, even with his wife and daughter—Lainie’s mother.
Last came Dad, who appeared only after Lainie yelled for the second time. Apologetic, he slid into his chair and pushed the broccoli aside to make room for a student’s paper and a red pen.
“So, what’s the news for Wednesday the thirtieth of November 2011?” Grampa asked as they dug in.
“I hear the mayor got caught using tax money to buy a hot tub,” said Lainie.
Grandpa frowned. “Could we have dinner without gossip or scandals tonight?”
Lainie took the hint. “We’re out of peanut butter,” she said, looking at Uncle Daniel as if she could actually watch the steel trap in his brain add the item to his mental grocery list. “And the front door lock is messed up,” she went on. “I don’t suppose anyone”—she batted her eyelashes at Uncle Patrick—“knows how to fix it.”
Patrick grinned and spoke, each word an effort: “I’m . . . on . . . it!” The twin brothers had owned a hardware store together for many years. There was almost nothing they couldn’t fix.
Lainie looked at the men around the table concentrating on their dinner. Should she risk upsetting them or just forget about the interview? It was now or never. Lainie took a deep breath and told them about the message on the phone. “It might be fun to be on TV!” she finished. “You know—get a little attention without having to shoplift or do drugs or something?”
No one spoke for a minute.
Uncle Daniel frowned and broke the silence. “Are you going to do it?”
“I might. What do you think?”
“Does this ‘Teeny’ person know about . . .”
He didn’t finish the question. Lainie looked at the frowning faces waiting for her answer.
“Right. I was afraid of this.” She stood up and grabbed her fork and knife and plate. “It’s not fair,” she said, raising her voice more than she meant to. “You’re asking does Tini Ferrari know that long ago and far away in a distant galaxy some ancestor of mine was an alleged criminal. That stuff has nothing to do with me! And what’s wrong with talking about it, anyway?”
“It wasn’t some distant ancestor,” Grampa Jack said. “She was our mom.”
Lainie scraped her chair back, stomped to the sink, and dumped her dishes. “It’s ancient history,” she grumbled. “We don’t have anything to be ashamed of.”
Silence. Her grandfather and great-uncles looked at each other.
Dad looked up, noticing the silence. “What? Is it my turn to wash dishes?”
“About time!” Elle complained as Lainie trotted up to the bus stop. Lainie had been best friends with Rafaella Mendez since third grade, when Elle’s family had moved to Kenwood, Ohio. Elle’s parents were from Mexico City, but Elle had been born in California.
“I got a late start,” Lainie explained, munching a breakfast bar. “Uncle Patrick dropped his pill organizer. I had to help him sort like seven days of medications back into all those little compartments.”
Elle rolled her eyes.
“It’s not that bad,” Lainie protested.
“Are you kidding? It’s like you’re Snow White and you have to take care of the dwarfs. I can’t even tell them apart. Which one dropped the pills? Sneezy? Wheezy?”
Lainie couldn’t help laughing. Elle was right in some ways. But Grampa and her great-uncles had taken care of her much more than she had taken care of them, especially after her mother had died. She loved them, and they were pretty cool for old guys—it was hard to explain.
On the ride to school, Lainie told Elle about the phone call from Tini Ferrari.
“No way! Are you doing it?”
Lainie admitted she wanted to, but that she hadn’t decided. “I’m a little afraid.”
“I don’t blame you,” said Elle. “She’s a tough cookie. Do you remember when she ran the election debate and got the mayor all confused? Or when she got that tow truck driver to confess he was selling the cars he towed?”
Lainie frowned. Elle was the only friend she knew who watched the news. Not only that—she had a weird ability to understand and remember everything she ever saw or heard. “OK, so it’s a bad idea,” Lainie admitted. “Anyway, just look at her. All chirpy and eyelashes. She’d make me look stupid and ugly and then squash me like a bug.”
“Stop it! I didn’t mean that. You’re plenty smart. Besides, it’s just a fun New Year’s Eve story. It’s not like you’re running for mayor.” Elle grabbed Lainie’s chin. “And look at your pure and youthful glow—not one zit.”
“At the moment.”
“Shut up. I’m telling you—you’re Snow White. She’d be all Evil Queen next to you.”
Elle didn’t know the story from Lainie’s family’s past, why the Uncs didn’t want anything to do with news reporters. Out of loyalty, Lainie never talked about it to anyone. But now she wanted to tell Elle. She would, later. Walking into school, Elle reminded Lainie that she wouldn’t be on the bus home. “I’m hanging out with Lee,” she said. “We’re watching girls’ basketball.”
Again? It seemed like Elle was never on the bus anymore. Instead, she hung out after school with Lee Tannenbaum. Lainie tried to imagine a boy wanting to hang out with her. That would be fun—they could do things with Elle and Lee. A dating ad flashed into her mind: “Television star with youthful glow, currently zitless, seeks nice sixth-grade boy to hang out with after school.”
Anyway, today it didn’t matter. “That’s OK,” Lainie replied. “I have cooking tonight.”
“Ugh. How’s that going? Miss Violet still showing you up?”
Lainie sighed. Violet Randolph was in the Junior Chef classes her dad had given her as a present. Violet was a seventh grader with perfect hair, a perfect smile, and now it seemed, a perfect talent for whipping and chopping. Lainie and Elle kept trying to hate her, but annoyingly, in addition to being smart and pretty, Violet was really nice. “The thing is,” Lainie pointed out, “I’m a terrible cook even if you’re not comparing me to her.”
The bell for first period rang, and Elle hurried off. Lainie had an idea and called after her. “Hey, Elle! Let’s try to find out if anyone else knows about the TV show, OK?”
Elle gave her a thumbs-up and disappeared down the hall.
The minute Lainie got home from cooking class, she hurried to her bedroom, flopped on the bed, and phoned Elle to compare notes. She was assuming Tini would interview a bunch of kids, not just her. Most of the kids in her grade at school were turning twelve this year. But at school she hadn’t run into anyone else who’d gotten a call.
Elle had. “Only thing is, he’s a year older, in seventh grade.”
“That’s weird—who is he?” asked Lainie.
“This guy Seth. He’s in my French class. I also know him from church.”
“Maybe he isn’t older. Maybe he’s some kind of genius who skipped a year—except in French.”
Elle giggled. “Believe me, he’s no genius in French. At least compared to me. But I’ll say this: He makes up for it in hotness.”
“What?” Lainie teased. “Hotter than Henley Dalton Tannenbaum the Third?” Much to Elle’s regret, she had once revealed Lee Tannenbaum’s spectacular full name to Lainie. Lainie rarely turned down an opportunity to tease, and now she was surprised to find out that in spite of fluent Spanish and genius French, Elle didn’t know Tannenbaum was German for “Christmas tree.” “You’re kidding, Elle!” she squealed. “You don’t know that song? And it’s almost Christmas!” She launched into a wicked version of “O Tannenbaum” that left her giggling hysterically and made her friend hang up.
Just as Lainie got off the phone there was a knock at her door. It was Uncle Patrick with a bowl of popcorn in the front basket of his walker. “I’ve come to . . . spoil . . . your dinner,” he wheezed. He maneuvered over to an armchair and settled in.
Lainie swung her legs over the side of the bed and stood. “I’m sorry, Unc. I didn’t mean to upset you last night.”
Patrick set the bowl on the table in front of the fireplace. “We should . . . talk.”
“I know,” she said, heading for the popcorn. “I was being a jerk. I know for you it isn’t ancient history. I’m sorry I put it that way.”
It was true. The three old men and their younger sister Cicely had been children when their mother, Maddie—the Madeleine whom Lainie was named after—was accused of murder, convicted by a jury, and hanged. It was a sensational scandal. In the 1930s very few women were executed, and she had been a widow raising four children. After she died, relatives moved from a distant state to take care of the orphaned children.
Within minutes, attracted by the open door and the aroma of popcorn, Grampa Jack and Uncle Daniel joined them. Lainie loved the way her large, old-fashioned bedroom could hold a crowd. Half the room held her bed and desk, leaving plenty of space for a loveseat and two armchairs in front of a lovely old fireplace. Lainie’s great-grandparents had built the house of their dreams in 1927, a great, rambling place filled with quirks and character.
Lainie amused the Uncs by turning on the TV that was nestled into the fireplace and bringing up a video of logs crackling and glowing. There was no way they could make a real fire; the chimneys hadn’t been cleaned for decades.
“So,” said Grampa, settling himself into the cushions of an armchair. He laid a brown envelope on the table. “You seem to think this Tiny reporter doesn’t know about our family drama. But don’t you think she researched you? Don’t you think the real point of the interview is to bring up your great-grandmother’s birth and the whole gruesome story of her trial?”
“Her name’s TEE-nee,” Lainie said, stressing the first syllable. She pretended to warm her hands at the fire, making Uncle Patrick chuckle—or at least wheeze harder. She knew what her grandpa meant about Madeleine’s birth. It was creepy enough that Lainie was born at midnight at the millennium, but people really freaked out to learn that her great-grandmother had also been born at midnight, exactly one hundred years earlier on the eve of the year 1900. “Why wouldn’t she just say so if that’s what she wanted?” answered Lainie. “She said it’s a thing on kids born at the millennium. It’s not about our family.”
Grampa started to speak again, and stopped.
“What?” demanded Lainie.
“Well,” he said, looking at the others, “actually, about the midnight births, there’s a little more to that story. You should ask your dad.” He changed the subject. “You know, your mom was convinced that her grandma was innocent, even though she never knew her. She read all the newspaper accounts and decided she would prove it somehow. Of course, she couldn’t. There was never any doubt that our mom killed that man. She swore it was in self-defense, but she didn’t have any proof.”
Lainie looked at the three elderly men. “What do you think?” she asked quietly.
Patrick startled them by speaking sharply: “She never . . . could have . . . done it . . . except . . . in self-defense!” The others nodded.
“Your great-grandma was whip-smart,” said Grampa. “She went to college. Studied math and chemistry. After Dad died, she got the job in that lab during the Great Depression when half the country was out of work. It’s true she was a little off in her own world. She wasn’t the kind of mom who got down on the floor and played with us. But she worked hard to support us.”
Daniel’s voice hardened. “The newspapers were filled with lies. That was the worst part. If you go on TV now, they’ll dig everything up again. It’s too good a story for them not to. If Mom deserved it, that would be one thing. But the lies—they’re just . . . unbearable.” The others nodded grimly.
Grandpa Jack sat staring into the nearly empty popcorn bowl. “And you know, the reporter might talk about Cicely, too.”
The guys’ younger sister, Cicely, had died a few years ago after a lifetime in hospitals for the mentally ill. The Uncs didn’t talk about her much. “She wouldn’t!” Lainie protested. “Having a disabled relative isn’t news.”
“Maybe,” said Daniel.
“Cicely was only five when Mom was arrested,” Grampa Jack said.
“You know, I guess I never knew exactly what happened to Great-Aunt Cicely,” said Lainie, wondering if it was OK to ask.
“It’s another story your Teeny person would find fascinating,” said Daniel. “Our nanny Bertha ran away with her after the trial. She left a note and they just disappeared. No one could find them. Bertha changed their names and moved around. When we were old enough, we started looking. We hired a detective every few years until we found her.”
“Bertha . . . or someone . . . committed her to . . . an asylum . . . when she was only . . . seven,” huffed Patrick. “We don’t know . . . why.”
“But at least you found her,” Lainie said.
Grampa looked stricken. “She didn’t remember us.”
“It was criminal,” said Daniel. “I mean, Cicely was high-strung when she was little, and she was slow. I remember her trying to learn the alphabet, and we teased her because she wasn’t able to. I think she was probably just dyslexic. But those places destroyed her mind.”
Patrick shook his head sadly. “All those . . . years, without anyone . . .”
Lainie scraped the last kernels out of the bowl. “You know, if my mom hadn’t died, I’d know all this stuff,” she said. When Lainie was four her mother had been diagnosed with cancer, and when she died a year later, Lainie and her dad moved into the rambling old mansion with Grampa Jack and the Uncs. Growing up, Lainie had often been curious about the death of her ancestor and everything that followed. The old guys’ mother had been hanged, and they didn’t talk about it. Lainie wasn’t brave enough to ask for the details, but if she’d had a mother or older sibling, they would have told her.
It was a horrible story, but she still didn’t see any reason for Tini Ferrari to bring it up. Maybe people of the Uncs’ generation felt differently about these things. Now, though, she was curious to know more. “Do you still have the newspapers?” Lainie asked.
Grampa Jack reached for the envelope and handed it to her. “I’m way ahead of you. Maybe if you read these, you’ll understand how we feel.”
Grampa and Daniel stood to go, and Lainie gave Patrick an arm as he hoisted himself out of the chair and pushed his walker into the hall. Daniel lingered by the door until the others were gone, then turned for a last word. “Lainie,” he said, “I don’t think you realize what stirring all this up might mean for us.”
“Especially for Patrick,” her great-uncle went on. “He’s not strong.”
Lainie felt a rush of fear and guilt. “I would never do anything to hurt Uncle Patrick—or any of you! Do you want me to forget the whole thing?”
Daniel considered. “Yes, maybe,” he said finally. He turned to go, then turned back. “I’ll just say this: Be careful. Do your homework. You need to be prepared.”
A Dark Past
Later that night, Lainie found the envelope Grandpa Jack had given her and grabbed her old teddy bear off the shelf. “Come on, Rumpy,” she said to him. “I don’t want to do this alone.” She crossed to the far side of the room and opened the door of a massive wooden wardrobe built into the wall. She slid the hangers aside and pushed on a carved medallion. The back panel slid open and small lights blinked on, revealing a narrow staircase. Lainie stepped inside and headed down the stairs to the library to read about her great-grandmother Maddie’s trial and hanging.
The old library was one of Lainie’s favorite places to nestle. Situated at the back of the house, it looked out onto the lawn and garden, so that on summer nights with the breeze blowing in the window through the oaks, or on winter nights like tonight, already dark out, it was the most perfect place in the world to sit with a book or her laptop. Next to a comfy stuffed chair in the corner was a tall standing lamp with a rosy beaded shade, and Lainie had put several large pillar candles nearby in the fireplace.
She lit the candles and pressed a small lever to the side of the fireplace, where a wall panel slid open to reveal shelves piled with old videos and DVDs, board games, and blankets. She grabbed a a knitted throw and settled into the chair with Rumpy Ted, then shook several brittle pieces of newspaper out of the envelope.
RESEARCHER DIES IN VIOLENT STRUGGLE
Mr. Miles Bernard Slade, 42, an executive at the W&H Pharmaceuticals Company, was found dead of grievous wounds yesterday in a laboratory at the downtown location. Employees at the scene told a reporter that the wounds were inflicted with a pair of surgical scissors.
Mr. Slade, who had been with W&H for 11 years, was Vice President of Research. The developer of several patent medicines, he leaves a wife and two small children.
Police are treating the death as a homicide. Detective Michael Heightland said details of an arrest are imminent.
WIDOW QUESTIONED IN LAB DEATH
Mrs. Madeleine Eleanor Carruthers, 35 years old, of 32 West Elm Avenue, was taken into custody yesterday and detained on suspicion of murder in the slaying of her supervisor, Mr. Miles Bernard Slade, a licensed pharmacologist and executive at W&H Pharmaceuticals.
Mrs. Carruthers, a widow, was first employed as a laboratory assistant at the firm and has been a research assistant there since 1932. Her husband, attorney Samuel A. Carruthers, died earlier that year from an apparent heart attack.
MRS. CARRUTHERS TO STAND TRIAL IN GRUESOME MURDER
Mrs. Madeleine Eleanor Carruthers was arraigned before Judge Matthew Joseph Napoli to answer a charge of murder in the death of her supervisor, Mr. Miles Bernard Slade. Prosecutors contend that Mrs. Carruthers stabbed Mr. Slade with laboratory scissors after he refused to lend her a large sum of money. Mr. Slade made the accusation on the scene before he died.
After entering a plea of not guilty, Mrs. Carruthers was taken back to her cell to await trial in Criminal Court, which Prosecutor Emanuel Dritch said would take place within three weeks.
Mrs. Carruthers is a widow and mother to four young children.
MRS. CARRUTHERS TO HANG
Mrs. Madeleine Carruthers was today sentenced to death by hanging for the murder of Mr. Miles Bernard Slade after a verdict to convict was handed her by a jury. The widow and mother of four stabbed her supervisor when he refused to lend her money.
Prosecutors charged that Mrs. Carruthers was financially desperate as a result of reckless spending, and that she had devised a scheme to extort money from Mr. Slade.
Mrs. Carruthers appeared shaken when the verdict of guilty was returned. Upon hearing the sentence, she was overcome and had to be assisted from the courtroom.
MRS. CARRUTHERS HANGED
Mrs. Madeleine Eleanor Carruthers, 36, was executed today at the midtown jail gallows for the murder of Mr. Miles Bernard Slade.
Those were the “respectable” accounts, from the city’s main newspaper. The rest were from gossip papers and magazines. These were longer and filled with insinuation and photos. The headlines were shocking: “Spendthrift Widow Kills Reluctant Lender,” “Mother from Hell in Lurid Crime Leaves 4 Orphans,” “JUSTICE! Mrs. Carruthers Swings.”
Photos of their large, rambling house accompanied speculation that the young single mother was unable to keep up the mortgage payments and was in danger of losing the property. There was a wedding photo of Maddie and Samuel in an article that questioned the true cause of Samuel’s death: “There are poisons whose effects mock that of a heart attack. How much insurance money did the widow gain from her husband’s death?” There was a photo of the family portrait on the landing that Lainie walked past every day and knew by heart. Another photo, one she hadn’t seen before, was of Maddie in high school. Lainie stared at it for a long time, her great-grandmother in 1916, sixteen years old, only a few years older than she was now. The Uncs always said Lainie and her great-grandmother resembled each other, and here was proof.
When Lainie had folded the last clipping and put it back in the envelope, she sat unmoving, awash with the sickening reality of what her family had been through. As children, the Uncs had lost their father and then suffered the violent death of their mother. And what a cruel tragedy, if Maddie was innocent! Lainie too had lost her mother, but to cancer. Even a child soon grows to understand how disease causes death. There’s no shame in it.
She remembered what Grampa Jack had said: “If you go on TV, they’ll dig everything up again.” The lies, Daniel had said, were unbearable. Maybe she should forget it.
But selfishly, Lainie didn’t want to forget it. She wanted to have her moment. She didn’t think of herself as a show-off, but it had been forever since anything had made her seem special. Other kids won awards or got straight A’s. Other kids got noticed. She wanted to be more noticeable. Like Elle. Or Violet. The problem was, doing that at the expense of her family just made her a jerk.
Or maybe . . . maybe there was some way to prove that her great-grandmother was innocent. The Uncs had no doubt their mom was fighting for her life when she grabbed those scissors. They would be thrilled if she could prove it. Not only would Madelaine’s reputation be restored, it would be restored with a lot of publicity. Everyone in the city would learn of it. Maybe by doing the interview, she could actually save her family. The thought gave her goosebumps.
Hearing the clock in the hall strike nine, Lainie picked up her things, blew out the candles, and went upstairs by the main staircase. On the landing she stopped to look at the old oil painting of Maddie and her husband Samuel with twins Daniel and Patrick, toddler Jack, and baby Cicely. This time, Lainie saw the resemblance. Like her, Maddie was short and solid and freckled, with a wide nose and mouth. They had the same eyebrows, dark and trending toward a unibrow, something Lainie hated. But there were also differences. Maddie’s dark hair was bobbed and waved in the fashion of the day, while Lainie’s hung straight; Maddie’s face was rounder and her eyes a warm hazel, whereas Lainie’s were more of a light brown. Lainie had always thought of the people in the painting as old, from a dusty, ancient time. But if you stuck Maddie’s face into a modern haircut—
Standing there with her great-grandmother’s eyes upon her, Lainie was reminded of something . . . a distant memory. The thought hovered but did not come, something . . . what was it . . . something about her mother? She had an uncomfortable feeling that it was important, but Lainie had almost no memories of her mother. For a moment, just a moment, she did something she rarely did. She let in a little tug of longing.
“If only you could speak,” she thought. But the hazel eyes told her nothing.
Midnight in the Mirror
Late in the night Lainie woke. She’d fallen asleep in her room reading in her chair, the light still on. The house was quiet. She glanced at the clock: 11:58 p.m. Although she really, really just wanted to stay asleep, she padded down the hall to the bathroom. Careful to be quiet, she followed the family no-flushing-after-midnight code and stood at the mirror yawning as she washed her hands, half-open eyes looking back at her. She leaned in closer. Maybe they actually were hazel.
The overhead light dimmed a little and Lainie blinked. Something wrong with the wiring—nothing new. But then the light dimmed dramatically and the face in the mirror softened and became rounder and paler, the hair in waves. The face was no longer Lainie’s, but the eyes were familiar—with a shock Lainie recognized Maddie staring at her from the mirror. When the image spoke, it was not from the lips, but from those desperate hazel eyes.
Lainie, said the eyes, Remember! You have to remember. Then the eyes closed and the face turned slowly, twisting at the neck—twisting and rising helplessly in a loop of coarse rope.
Almost before Lainie could react, the light brightened and the illusion was gone. Her heart pounding, she stared at the mirror. “Whoa!” she thought. It was like some kind of waking nightmare. Was she even awake? She blinked hard and looked again, but all she saw was her own sleepy self. All this stuff about her great-grandmother must really be getting to her!
With a hair-raising feeling that something was following her, she hurried back down the hall and jumped into bed.