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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

Outside Valentine

A Novel

Liza Ward

Henry Holt and Co.

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From Outside Valentine:
She was a fine lady with sad soft eyes and fancy things. But she did not so much as take off her shoes when she sat down on the edge of the bed. I had the knife, but I did not know how I would ever use it. The lady laid on her side, curled up her legs and put her hands together under her head.
I found a picture on top of the dresser of the lady with her husband and what looked to be their boy, happy as you please. The boy grinned with sleepy eyes and heavy lashes. "Can you bring me that picture?" the lady asked.
I went over and put the frame in her hands. For a second she closed her eyes and then let out a sigh. "I'm not waking up," she said. "I'm not dreaming, am I?"
"I'm Jeanette," the lady told me "That's my
husband Arthur, and that's Lowell. He's your age. I thought I could never love a person more than Arthur," the lady went on. "Then I had our son, and I held him for the first time and I knew." Her voice was coming out fast from nowhere, and her words fell over each other one on top of the other, like she'd been thinking about saying this her whole life long. "There isn't any love like that. No matter what he does, or who he becomes, I will always love him." She took a breath and put her face in her hands. "Save me," she said.
Outside a pine tree squeaked in the wind with a little old voice, crying tears against the window.