You have always been one-and-a-half, my dear.
I know that somewhere in the beginning you were a cross-eyed newborn, then a fat-cheeked cherub. But those versions of you have faded into fables. They are stories I once told myself.
You are one-and-a-half and ever shall be, world without end.
At night we sit on the bench atop the bluff, your head resting on my shoulder, and listen to the rush of the river below. I think sometimes you are sleeping, you are so still. But when I peek you are only staring at the lights of the towers downtown.
I remember naps. Drawing the dusty blinds against the afternoon sun and holding you close in the big bed. Your hair grew damp with sweat, your thumb pickled in your mouth, and I too would sleep, lulled by the scent of your blameless breath.
Sleep was sweet. That’s what we were promised, isn’t it? Endless sleep.
That was a lie. We never sleep.
I can stand it for myself. I’ve done things. Certain things for which I deserve some measure of penance.
But you, my daughter. What did you ever do?
There’s no one to answer. So we’re stuck here in Hollywood Cemetery, you and I.
And you will never be two.
It’s not so bad, being dead. Not when you have company. The trouble is, tombstones don’t do much to entertain a toddler. The nameless narrator of IT IS NOT NIGHT wanders Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery, making friends and enemies with forgotten Richmond luminaries and spying on a young couple living in the old gatekeeper’s house. What begins as an idle distraction turns into an obsession as she watches the pair unravel — and why does the girl seem so fearfully familiar?
IT IS NOT NIGHT is the new novel from Melissa Scott Sinclair.
Below is a map of Richmond’s historic Hollywood Cemetery.