The six-year-old wanders into looming corridors and crawling rose gardens, snuggling into blankets as wind wuthers over lonely moors, looking for ghosts and a key. Potions glob and roil, while Gink companions along, diving in and out of scrapes on her broomstick. The wolves howl across frosty wastes and up to the ornate door, knocking with the tyrannical stranger, teaching her to cling to her cousin (or any loved one left) out of sheer stubbornness.
Nancy, Bess, and George get a fourth companion for their sleuthing. An invisible companion pulls Aerin out of the carnage and drags her broken body back home. The gallows swing behind Gwyn, but the wind pushes her out across the countryside for one more adventure. A less silly sister snickers with Lizzie and Jane and gossips about the occupants of Netherfield. Like Jack, I believe it, but I don't believe it.
Too often I think my life experiences were experienced in fiction first. Though I have been blessed with many wonderful friends throughout the years, my first true friends were the books I read. My brother Nathan used to tease me for reading too much and for knowing the librarians at school better than anyone else. But those librarians gave a lonely little girl a gaggle of friends who understood, and I am grateful to them for seeing that I needed those friends. As I add more friends at Goodreads, it makes me a little giddy to add both types of friends to the shelves in my heart, even if they are a little dusty.