Here’s Molly, Juniper’s grandma and the last of the key players of Monsters in the Park.  I also included a little bit about Timber Haven itself, since this will likely be the last excerpt.

Again, not edited.

As always, hope you enjoy.

Molly

Molly looked down at the sheet of paper.  It was her handwriting, she knew, but she couldn’t remember writing the terrible things.  They had just been on the sheet when she came out of her daze by the window.

Underneath, in the Pitch, where the hair and the vomit and the refuse of the world go, there stands a lone tower.  At the top of the tower is a green, smokeless flame, a signal to Ancients who no longer see, nor do they care to, if they yet live.  Acknowledgement of such a realm is unnecessary to such as they; better to forget the Pitch than to allow its existence to sully their paradigm.

But that does not serve the denizens of the Pitch.         

No, it does not.

Oh yes, there be Pitchborn among that rabble, castoff from reality and forced to grow as rot does beneath a fallen branch.

The tower serves merely as a reminder to the Pitchborn that they are unwanted, and for that, they hate it.  They have their hate and their hunger.  For all Pitchborn know hunger.  It is what sustains them in the Pitch, in the Everdark.  It lets them know they exist, in a reality that would rather they did not.

Molly’s hands were shaking as she finished reading it a third time.  She could hear Juniper seeing Jake out.  She’d come into the kitchen soon.  Molly hid the note she didn’t remember writing in the pocket of her coat and began to set the table for lunch.  Somehow she had made tuna casserole.  It sat, still piping hot on top of the stove.

Another tuna casserole.

What was wrong with her?

*     *     *     *     *

Molly had lived in Timber Haven all of her life, which is to say she knew a thing or two about options one had, avenues in which to figure out things that wouldn’t make sense anywhere else in the world.

Once, when she was fourteen, Molly had gone away to a camp in New Hampshire in an effort, she was told, to find her way.  She hadn’t felt lost, necessarily; certainly no more so than any other kids her age, but she’d gone anyway.  No fuss, just packed her bag and boarded the bus as instructed.

When she arrived at the camp, she discovered that growing up in Timber Haven had skewed her understanding of normal.  Other kids did not, in fact, speak Fairy (which is speaking your own language while thinking about what honeysuckles taste like.  An easy dialect, Molly always thought) nor did they know or care about the connection between warts and toads (never pick up a toad who’s on a quest) or that saying the phrase “graham cracker crust” really quickly and correctly at 9:03 on a Sunday night lets your Shade know where you are. (Which nobody wants to have happen at nighttime.)

In Timber Haven these are well established facts that every Old Town Havener knows by heart before they even start grade school.  Molly lived in New Town now, sure, but it didn’t mean she couldn’t wander her old haunts seeking guidance when the need arose.  And Molly had to admit that it was long past time she figured out what was going on with her blackouts.  She was healthy physically, she knew, she’d just had a physical, so that only left something was wrong with either her mentally or it was related to living in Timber Haven.

She wasn’t prepared to deal with something being wrong with her mind, not with Juniper to look after, so Molly’s only other option was Burning Elk and his hoodoo being able to find a way to sort her out.

Molly wound around through the familiar streets and paths of Old Town, down past the Fell Hotel and into the Village.  She found herself enjoying the sights of handcrafted tables and colorful scarves; the smells of stout whiskeys and aged cheeses, the fires burning and the endless chatter of haggling going on all around her.

Molly stopped at Burning Elk’s tent to find nobody there.  Just a sign hanging from a wire that read Gone.  Molly looked around when she heard someone calling her name.

“He is not here, Molly” came a voice from the tent next door, “he is gone down to river to speak to it about his brother.”

“Oh, okay, Pela.” Molly said, ignoring the confusing element of the statement, instead asking, “Did he say how long he might be?”

Pela had looked to be a woman in her mid-thirties ever since Molly, herself in her late fifties, was a little girl.  Whatever gypsy magic kept Pela young seemingly had no effect on her disposition toward Molly, though, as she had disapproved of her ever since a fairly innocent indiscretion with Burning Elk in Molly’s teenage years took place.

“No,” Pela said, absently fingering a purple scarf from a collection at the tent next door, “he did not.  What is it we can do for you?”

“I,” Molly began, not sure how to explain anything, “No, I’ll just come back by later.”

Pela looked up from the scarves, “You are having troubles.  Troubles you wonder if my dziad can assist you with.” Pela started picking over a table of jewelry. “He cannot.”

Pela only threw Polish at Molly when she was in a particular nasty mood, and Molly had no interest in listening to any more.  She had come for help from Burning Elk, not to be lorded over by his petulant wife, partner, whatever she was to him.  But then Molly noticed that the more annoyed she got with Pela, the more she felt like a fog was lifting.  She began thinking more clearly, more like herself.

The quickness of it forced her to sit down on the ground.

“Are you okay?” A man walking by asked.

“I really don’t know.” Molly replied.

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