Winters was going home. She had only been back to the small Michigan
town of Dreyerville once in the past eight years. Her motherís funeral
had demanded a return, but she had left the following day. Only a few
close friends had attended the brief, graveside service held at the
Greenhaven Cemetery. Marsha Winters had started drinking the day her
husband disappeared. Abandoned with a month-old baby in a ramshackle
house at the edge of town, she took up the bottle and didnít put it down
for twenty years. Neither she nor Syl ever saw Sylís father again.
had been hard back then, but the years Syl had spent in the charming
rural community surrounded by forested, rolling hills held memories she
cherished. She was a good student, and she was popular. In high school,
a glowing future spread out before her: a scholarship to college and a
career in nursing, a husband and children, the sort of life Syl had
always dreamed of and never had.
was never predictable, she had learned, and often times cruel. At
nineteen, during her first year at Dreyerville Community College, Syl
had fallen in love. She and Joe Dixon, the schoolís star quarterback,
were engaged to be married the summer of the following year. Syl
couldnít imagine ever being happier.
world came crashing down around her, and all of her dreams along with
it. A routine doctorís appointment had brought news so grim that the
week before the ceremony, Syl called off the wedding. She packed her
belongings that same afternoon and left for Chicago.
hadnít been for her motherís sister, Bessie, Syl wasnít sure she would
have made it. Aunt Bess and Sylís dearest friend, Mary McGinnis Webster,
had been responsible for getting her through the most difficult time of
things were different now.
studied the double yellow line in the middle of the two-lane highway
leading into Dreyerville. The air conditioner hummed inside the car,
while outside, the temperature was hot and a little humid this late in
the summer. Dense growths of leafy green trees lined both sides of the
road, and a narrow stream wove its way through the grasses, bubbling and
frothing in places, lazy and meandering in others.
drove her newly washed white Honda Civic toward the turn onto Main
Street, a feeling of homecoming expanded in her chest. She recognized
Barnettís Feed and Seed, just down the road from Murdockís Auto Repair
at the edge of town. Making a left onto Main, she spotted the old domed
courthouse built in 1910 and the ornate clock tower in the middle of the
grassy town square. A little farther down the street, Culverís Dry
Cleaning held the middle spot in the long, two-story brick building that
filled the block on the left, and there was Tremontís Antiques, right
next to Brennerís Bakery.
smiled. The apartment she had just rented sat above the garage at Doris
Culverís house. Doris worked at Brennerís Bakery, had for years. The
middle-aged woman was practically a fixture behind the counter of the
friend Mary had found her the apartment. A job as a nurse in a local
doctorís office had recently appeared in the employment section of the
Dreyerville Morning News, and Mary had convinced her to send in an
application. After flying out for an interview, Sylvia had gotten the
coming home at last. She wasnít sure what sort of life she could make
for herself in the town she once had fled, but something told her coming
back was the only way she could conquer the demons that had haunted her
for the past eight years.