Oh, How Sweet and Fitting by Shelley K. Davenport

Every year, Pearl travels to the local cemetery to celebrate her birthday with a stranger who died when she was a child, in Shelley K. Davenport's enchanting parallel world.

In Port Kittanning there lived a very old woman named Pearl.

Port Kittanning is landlocked, and only called a port because of its abundance of hilltops for docking airships, and the confluence of several rivers necessary for shipping goods up and down the country. Pearl lived in the neighborhood of Merryside, on a bluff above the Tuscarora River. Her house was solidly built of brick and slate, with a fence of black iron spikes. A small conservatory was attached to the house's southern side, in order to make the most of scant sunshine during the long winters.

Pearl had few friends and no family. She had never married. She had been in love exactly once - at the age of nineteen - with a hazel-eyed man who returned her affections for three weeks, and then lost interest. He went on to marry a taller, prettier, and much meaner woman who (Pearl hoped) made his life miserable. She hadn't seen him in half a century, and she wished that she had another half century not to see him in either.

For nearly sixty years she made a living by teaching mathematics to young ladies with rich parents. In retirement she traveled on her savings by airship, train, and boat. Now she was too old to travel, but her house was filled with treasures she had collected - a bottle of green seawater from the west coast, fossils collected on the shores of the great fresh lakes, a vial of ruby red sand from the southern desert, and a steer horn carved into a letter opener. She had many books and liked gardening. In a fit of boredom she had taught herself how to play the harmonica. She could do the cryptogram in the newspaper in eight minutes flat.

The twenty-first of April was the most important day of Pearl's year. Waking in the morning, she was pleased to see how lovely the weather was. She dressed in a yellow-checked dress and shiny but sensible red shoes. She put on a string of pearls, the ones her father had given her for her sixteenth birthday. She brushed her hair into a halo, and even put on makeup, not so much to hide the signs of being old, but to enhance what was still pretty in her face.

Next she carefully packed a picnic lunch in a wicker basket with a wooden lid on hinges. She went into the conservatory and cut a single, yellow rose from the prize bush. The petals smelled of cardamom and cream. Picking up the candlestick phone, she called the operator to be connected to the cab company. While waiting for the driver, she sat on the front porch with her white cardigan around her shoulders, admiring the fluffy greenery that adorned every tree on every hill, the sparkling of the river, and the fresh scrubbed sky. Her tulips were coming up, she noticed. It was a great sorrow to her that she could no longer garden robustly; raking and weeding were mostly beyond her now. She considered arranging for a gardener to come, finding the thought demoralizing. But the weeds could not be allowed to prevail, could they? Ah the grim choices of old age.

The automobile drew up on the brick street, puffing steam, all glittering spokes and glossy black panels. The driver, a young man, hopped out to meet her on the bluestone sidewalk. He had a curled mustache that she disliked, but he spoke in a thick Kittanning accent, so that was all right. He stored the picnic basket in the hatch, and then helped her into the back seat.

"Where to, young Miss?" he asked cheekily.

"Tuscarora Cemetery, please," she said. The automobile started with a jolt. She would never get used to cars, she thought. She missed the horses.

"Upper or Lower?" he asked over the noise of the steam engine.


"Calling on someone special?" he asked.

Pearl gave him a hard look in the mirror. What if she were going to visit the grave of her beloved husband? Or a lost child? He made it sound as if she were making a social call.

"It's my birthday," she said loudly. "So I'm having a picnic. By myself, in the cemetery. Because I like to be alone, especially on my birthday. In the cemetery."

The cab driver, feeling rightly rebuked, gripped an unlit cigar between his teeth and swerved onto a broader thoroughfare. The trip to the cemetery took nearly half an hour, although it was no more than a mile from her house, as the bird flew. In Port Kittanning there were precious few straight roads. Because of the hills and rivers, a driver had to navigate ravines and steep slopes, drive around the airfields, wait for trains to pass, dive through tunnels, cross arched bridges, and contend with other equally disoriented drivers. Really, trolleys were much more efficient. But Pearl was too old to catch the trolley.

They eventually entered the huge cemetery by its north gate.

"Where now, Miss?" ventured the driver.

Pearl directed him past the great mausoleums with their angels and sphinxes, past the obelisks and the odd circular family plots where everyone was buried like spokes in a wheel, with headstones around the edge. At the top of the third hill, she told him to stop.

"Please be back in two hours," she said, as he handed her the basket.

"Are you sure you can carry that?" he asked.

"Yes. I will be fine," she answered. "Go on." She waited until the automobile had gone round the bend on the narrow track, and then set the basket down. Before her lay a haphazard group of headstones, a collection of unrelated individuals. The largest stone faced east. It was decorated with scrollwork and draped in stone flags. At its base an eagle gripped a shield, and at its top was a carved ring of laurel leaves. It was a grave from the Great Civil War that had torn the country apart almost one hundred years ago.

She bent to read the epitaph.

Thomas Dunne
Killed at Five Forks, April 21
In the 35th year of his life.

"Hello, Thomas," she said.

She set the yellow rose on his stone, then took out a woolen lap blanket and laid it out on the grass. Her shoulders ached, so she thumped the picnic basket down. Then she sat, a process which took an embarrassingly long time. At last, she arranged her legs beneath her skirt and pulled out the picnic she had packed. A frosted bottle of lemonade. Ham sandwiches. Pears. Pickles. A modest slice of cherry pie.

"How has this year been for you?" she began. Without waiting for an answer, she said, "I'm ninety-two, today, can you believe it? That would make you... heavens, how old? I can't do the math." (This was a joke.) Thomas Dunne had died at thirty-five on her first birthday. If he were still alive, he would be 126.

The cemetery was beautiful in April. Soft little leaves burst forth everywhere, making the trees hazy with green. Pink and white blossoms twirled lazily down. A squirrel, perched on a tree branch, yawned, showing his tiny, perfect red tongue.

Pearl told Thomas how beautiful the day was as she ate her picnic food. She told him the most recent news: the riots in the nation's capital, the doomed arctic and jungle expeditions, and the ferocity of the past winter.

"A black bear!" she said. "An actual black bear wandered across the river ice and into Market Square! Can you believe it?"

Thomas could not.

Pearl had never met Thomas in real life, but she had always felt that she knew him. Thirty years ago, when taking a stroll, she had happened upon his grave. Something about the headstone made her stop in mid-step, and something about the epitaph, when she bent over it, made her want to cry. Her birthday was the same day the Great Civil War ended, and it was the day he was killed. How awful! There was nothing sweet or fitting about it. Sometimes it seemed incredible to her that she and Thomas Dunne had been alive in the same city for one whole year. They had breathed the same air, looked at the same moon, and lifted faces to the rain and the sun.

A robin with a red breast hopped up onto a nearby root and cocked its head at her. Pearl threw it a crumb. She had to shift position and the earth felt rock hard, even with the blanket. There were tree roots everywhere. She hitched herself along the ground until she could lean against the warm stone, and there she remained for some time, feeling content.

"Did you have a wife and children?" she asked. She asked the same questions every year. "Someone must have cared about you because you have this nice stone. Who was it? Maybe it was your parents. I wonder what you did before the war. I bet you were a fire-fighter, or something dashing."

She thought about the Great Civil War in which the Westerners had tried to secede and take the Plains with them. For all she cared they could have it - the West. Let those rebels break into smaller and smaller states that all fought each other over gold mines and wheat fields. Let them get massacred by the native people they had displaced and enslaved. They deserved it. But Thomas had died to prevent it. The world was strange.

"Do you know," she said. "We're all federated again. Yes, we are, all Five States again, for decades now." She had never told him this before. She held up her fingers and counted. "The West Coast, the Western Mountains, the Plains, the Eastern Mountains, and the East Coast." (Port Kittanning lay in the heart of the Eastern Mountains). "And of course, they let all the slaves go. You should be proud."

Thomas was indeed pleased.

"I thought that would like to know," she said.

There fell a companionable silence. Pearl looked at the tips of her candy-apple shoes, admiring the way they caught the light. She fingered her drop earrings.

"Not to change the subject but guess what?" she said. "A gentleman asked me on a date for my birthday! I said no, of course."

Pearl was secretly proud that she did not lack for suitors. Even the most greatly prized bachelors - those who still had all their hair, teeth, and wits - attempted to court her. She was happy to entertain them for one evening, but she was always glad when they left. She could not imagine one of them living in her house, chewing loudly, clearing his throat and spitting, and doing God knew what in the bathroom.

She sighed. Her time was almost up. She cleaned up the remnants of her meal, drank the last of her lemonade, and twisted up the wax paper. Laboriously she climbed to her feet.

"Ow," she said. "Oh Thomas, I'm ancient, but I just can't seem to stop living!"

She rested her hand on the pollen-dusted stone.

"I will be back, my dear," she murmured. "Next year - if I'm still alive - we'll have another picnic. How does that sound?"

Pearl shook out the blanket, scattering crumbs for the robin. Then she picked up her basket and walked slowly down the lane to meet her driver.

The following year seemed unusually long. She hired a driver once to take her to see fireworks downtown on Independence Day, and once to take a walk along the Tuscarora to admire the fall foliage. She worked a little in her garden, using a stick with a nail on the end to poke at weeds, and pruning dead flowers with kitchen scissors. She swept the steps, the walk, and the conservatory tiles, and brought the hanging plants inside.

In October, as always, came the clouds, heavy and sullen, pulling across the sky like a dirty down blanket. Soon it was too cold to sit outside. The neighborhood library caught fire and had to be closed for repairs. Then the person who made the cryptograms for the newspaper caught ill and died, and in place they put a word scramble, which Pearl detested.

In order to maintain her sanity, she stuck to certain rituals.

For breakfast she had buttered toast and black coffee. In the mornings she tended to her roses in the conservatory. At lunch she had a sandwich, a dill pickle, and iced tea. In the afternoon she dusted her curios and took a nap. For dinner she had a hot dinner, along with one glass of Kittanning lager. After dinner she ate a small dessert with another cup of black coffee. She cleared her plate as she had been taught, setting her cutlery neatly across her plate, and folding up her napkin.

When the sidewalks were not icy, she put on a coat and wrapped her head in a scarf, then walked up the hill past five houses, and then back, three times. This helped her to sleep, and also made her more grateful to be inside.

The news in the papers was depressing, and the radio even worse, so in the evenings she listened to records of music on her phonograph. She tried to reread the books in her house but found herself staring instead into the gas fireplace as the flames flickered blue to pink. At night, in bed, she liked to listen to the barges plowing through ice up and down the rivers, and the trains that ran alongside, blowing their horns, and hearing the whap-whap of propellers of the landing and ascending airships.

In early March, the leaden sky began to break up to show raw patches of blue. Effie, the woman who cleaned and cooked for her, came to Pearl where she sat in the conservatory eating her lunch.

"I'm going to visit my daughter in Ashvale," Effie said. "She had a baby, my first grandchild!"

"Congratulations!" said Pearl. "Boy or girl?"

"Oh, a lovely big boy. I'll be gone about a fortnight. Will you hire someone else to come in? I can make inquiries."

"No," said Pearl. "Thank you. I can manage. Just fetch me some groceries and I'll make do."

"Yes. Well. It's just that I'm worried. You've heard about the robberies?"

"No," said Pearl, because she did not listen to the news anymore.

"Yes, in the south of the city, a gang of men have been breaking into houses and robbing them. And now they've started murdering owners too!"

"Oh my," said Pearl.

"They're even preying on elderly women. The last one, down in Elfinwild, they strangled a woman who was seventy-six! Why'd they do that?"

"Terrible, yes, but that's all across the river," said Pearl. People in Port Kittanning - even criminals - did not like to cross rivers. As there were a lot of rivers, it resulted in a certain tribalism and unwillingness to leave one's territory. There was no reason that the South Side murderers should be any different.

"They haven't come to the East End?" she continued.

"Not yet," admitted Effie. "But - please, I don't want something to happen to you. Maybe you could come with me?"

Pearl could not imagine what a terrible burden she would be on the long trip down the length of the mountain range. And anyway, airship tickets were hideously expensive.

"Thank you. You are very good to me. But the only way I am leaving this house is in a pine box," said Pearl.

Effie sighed, but she was actually relieved. "My cousin is a policeman," she said. "I will tell him to stop by and check on you."

"Thank you," said Pearl again. "But he needn't bother for my sake."

"Well, he had better bother for mine," said the woman.

Together they called the grocery store and ordered crates of preserved foods - tins and cans and bags and boxes. Effie also prepared a number of meals to be heated.

"Thank you," said Pearl. "I can manage from here. Kiss the baby for me."

"Lock your doors," said Effie.

Over the next week the house became very silent indeed, except for the distant airfield sirens that wailed perpetually (March winds made for difficult landings), and the welcome dripping of melting snow. Pearl ate all of the prepared meals, and after that she heated canned soup and ate crackers. She made terrible milk from powder and ruined her coffee. She rationed out her beer strictly, because she did not know the number for the distributor.

The cousin policeman checked on Pearl nearly every day, and she gave him tea and chatted with him.

"Keep your doors and windows locked at all times," he told her. "There have been more robberies."

"In Merryside?"

"Not yet."

"Nothing ever happens here," said Pearl.

"Until it does," said the policeman, eating a cookie.

Pearl could not imagine a gang of men selecting her tiny house to rob. And she had other things on her mind, like what to make for her birthday picnic, and her ongoing war with the new oven, which steadfastly refused to maintain a steady temperature.

The sun returned in April, as always, and Pearl felt a little hope. She went out to look at her crocuses, thrilling purple and gold, rising from the brown leaves. Effie phoned to check on her and said she would stay away at least one more week because the airmen were on strike, and it was causing delays all over the country.

"I have plenty of food," said Pearl. "And your cousin comes by almost every day. Don't worry about me."

It took her two days to make a proper birthday picnic. The pie was the hardest part because of the oven, and it looked messy and unappetizing. She had no fresh fruit, because of the strike, and so she had to pack tinned pears. On the morning of her birthday, she dressed with her usual care. She knew she might miss the cousin policeman and wrote him a little note to attach to the door so he wouldn't worry.

Then she called for a driver.

"I'm sorry ma'am, all our drivers are booked."


"Yes, they're very busy. The President is in town."

"The President?" Pearl did not like the current President. He had hair like cotton candy and an unholy smirk. She hadn't known about the President because she ignored the news. The woman on the telephone gave her the number of another driving agency, but it was the same story there, and everywhere. No rides until tomorrow, or the next day. What a stupid reason to miss her birthday! She didn't have her own car and didn't know anyone who did. Her neighbor Chester, with whom she sometimes played checkers and ate candied almonds, used to have a car, but his children had taken it from him when he drove it into a fountain.

And now she could not go visit Thomas! She always made the trip every year - even one memorable time in a freak snowstorm. But today there simply was no one to take her. She felt old and stupid and lonely. The sunshine seemed to mock her. She went back inside and did some dishes. She watered her plants in the conservatory, then tried to read, but it was no use. She found herself sitting on the front porch again, facing in the direction of the cemetery, with her hands in her lap.

After a while a robin flew up to sit on the fence. It had an extraordinarily red breast. Pearl watched it as it hopped from post to post and then back again. It dove into the grass and popped out, looking around alertly.

"Cheeky lad," said Pearl.

The robin, taking this as encouragement, gave a little trill of song. Pearl smiled reluctantly.

Next it took a theatrical bath in the rain cistern that provided water to the conservatory. Then it landed on the railing and ruffled its feathers.

"What are you after, little fellow?" she asked. It looked at her expectantly. She thought of the robins she had seen in the graveyard.

"Look," she said quietly, leaning forward. "Today is my birthday. Usually I spend it with... a friend. But I can't make it to see him today." She paused. It felt nice to confide in someone, even if it was just a bird. "Do you know the big cemetery over that way?" She pointed.

The bird stared at her hand.

"It wouldn't be a long trip for you, because you have wings. I need you to go and tell my friend that I can't - I won't be able to make it this year and that I'm terribly sorry."

The robin cocked its head and shuffled its bird feet.

"If I describe the gravestone, can you find it?" She paused and looked up and down the street quickly, worried that someone saw the nutty old woman talking to the robin.

The bird listened to her explanation with what seemed like patience, and Pearl began to feel heartened. Surely this was an extraordinary robin. It certainly seemed to understand her in a way that no human person could.

"Well?" she said, when she was done.

The robin did not move.

"Please? Can you go tell Thomas I'm sorry?"

It hopped towards her.

"No, you must go that way. Are you even listening?"

Pearl noticed that the next-door neighbor, who had been clipping his hedge, listening with his mouth ajar.

"Bird brain," she muttered, blushing. "Oh, never mind. Shoo!"

The robin looked at her for a moment with the most human expression in its eyes, disappointment and, she thought, hurt. It turned and disappeared into the woods.

Pearl's hand flew to her mouth. She realized her mistake. She could not come to Thomas, so he had come to her, to see why she had not visited him. How could she have misunderstood?

"Thomas?" she said. "Oh Thomas, was it you? Come back. I didn't recognize you!" She turned and gesticulated at the neighbor.

"Go on and trim your hedge! This is none of your business," she said. "Oh hell."

She sat back down on the front porch swing. She did not move all afternoon, nor in the chilly evening. But Thomas did not return, and when the sun went down, she had to admit defeat.

That night, feeling very depressed, she allowed herself to drink two glasses of lager. Stumbling slightly, she locked all the doors and windows. Then she got into bed and pulled the heavy blanket up to her chin. She could not sleep. She just stared at the shadows on the ceiling. She felt she had lost her dearest friend.

Just before midnight she heard a rustle at her window. Moonlight spilled across the room. She thought it might be robbers but saw the silhouette of a little bird in the window. Pearl sat up. She pulled the window open, and the robin slipped inside.

"Thomas?" she said.

The robin took a tour of her room, from dresser to bed to bookshelf and back. Pearl felt very tired and lay back down, watching him with a smile.

"What are you doing up this late?" she asked. The robin cocked its head once, twice, as if listening for something in the distance. Then he flew straight to her and landed on her chest above her heart. She could feel his tiny heart beating against hers. Very carefully, with one shaking finger, she stroked his little head.

"I missed you," she said, and abruptly - exhausted from emotions and relief - she fell asleep.

She dreamed.

The South Side Robbers came to Merryside, and they came to her house. They broke a pane of glass in the conservatory and got in. There were two of them and they muttered to each other as they crept around the house. They pulled books off the shelves and tossed them onto the floor. But it wasn't just jewelry they were after. Like wolves, they were hungry for blood.

She opened her eyes. Thomas was gone. The bedroom door flew open, and a tall man stood in the hall. Beside him hunched an even heavier man. Both wore leather masks.

"There she is," said one.

"She's awake," said the other. "Hello, granny."

"Are you going to kill me?" asked Pearl.

"Shut up," said the first man, coming over. He yanked her up and tied her hands together with rough twine. Then he did the same to her ankles.

"This really isn't necessary," Pearl said. "I'm not going to stop you."

"Damn right you aren't," he agreed, pushing her back onto the bed. The second man showed her his knife and grinned.

"No one will hear you scream," he said with relish.

It was exactly the sort of thing a villain would say in a book. Pearl rolled her eyes as they left the room. She heard the smash of dishes and more books falling from shelves. They would ransack her dresser and find her jewelry, and then angry that there was not more, they would strangle her, or cut her throat. Why couldn't they strangle her first? Surely they could have killed her straightaway and then done whatever they liked to her house. But that was not the way of the world.

A flash caught her eye. A robin peeped over the top of the wardrobe.

"This is bad," whispered Pearl. "You should leave. I don't want you to see this."

The robin cocked his head, listening. Instead of flying out the half-opened window, he flew down and darted out the open door and into the hall.

"Thomas!" whispered Pearl. She had not been too afraid before, but now she was terrified. Perhaps he would try to peck their eyes out or claw them. And they would catch him and hurt him. They would dash him against the ground and tread on him or break his neck with their fingers. They would stop his little beating heart.

"Thomas," she called. "Come back!"

The scream that she heard in answer took the breath out of her. It was a sound she had never heard before, weird, otherworldly, half wildcat, half banshee. She heard things breaking, falling over. There were swift, savage blows, a man swearing in pain, and another racket of pictures falling from the wall. Something gurgled. Then it was quiet.

A figure slipped into the room and closed the door behind him with his scuffed boot. He wore an old-fashioned uniform and carried a rifle with a bayonet. He set the gun down against the wall. The blade was black and rusty, and his uniform was spattered in blood. He looked down at himself a moment, then took off the jacket and shirt and boots. He paused. Rather apologetically he took off his bloody trousers. She saw that his outer clothes had kept his underclothes clean. He came over, picked her up and set her down on the far side of the bed. He adjusted the pillow under her head, then lay down next to her, pulled the covers over them both. He had ruffled dark hair and light eyes, and he stared up at the ceiling.

"Thomas?" said Pearl.

"Yes?" said Thomas.

"Did you kill those men?"


"Which one of them screamed like that?"

"I did. It was something I learned from the rebels. Scary, yes?"

Pearl thought about this, then flexed her aching hands.

"Aren't you going to untie me?"

Thomas turned his head to look at her and she saw that his eyes were gray. "You can't have killed two men if you were tied up," he said. He had a quaint way of speaking. He sounded exactly like she had always imagined.

"I couldn't kill two men untied either," said Pearl.

"No, I believe you could," said Thomas. "But I don't want people to have any reason to suspect you. You have to stay tied for now. I hope the ropes don't hurt too much."

"No. Not too much," said Pearl. She could feel her shoulder against his. "Thomas?"

"Yes?" said Thomas.

"All those years, in the cemetery, you were listening to me?"

"Of course."

"I thought I might be crazy."

Thomas turned and pulled her into his cool arms. "The world is crazy," he said. "We're not."

Pearl smiled.

"Let's go to sleep," he said.

For the first time in her life, since she was a baby, Pearl slept in someone's arms.

When the rosy dawn came into the room she woke feeling as if she had drunk the most delicious draught from the deepest well. She was alone, but beside her, on the pillow, was a single red feather. She waited with patience as the sun mounted up the sky. When the cousin policeman came by and saw the broken windows, he kicked down the door to the house. Pearl could hear him exclaiming to himself as he saw the wreckage. He appeared at her door, looking white and terrified.

"Help," said Pearl.

"Sweet Lord preserve us!" he exclaimed.

He untied her and called the doctor. He was very agitated.

"You're lucky to be alive," he told her.

"I know," said Pearl.

When the doctor arrived, the policeman left the room. The doctor checked her over carefully and confirmed that her only injuries were abrasions from the rope, and bruises where the robber had clutched her roughly.

"You're lucky to be alive," he said, shaking his head.

"Thank you, I know that."

The policeman came in again, with an odd look on his face.

"How many men were here last night?" he asked.

"I saw two men," said Pearl, figuring a ghost did not count. The ghost rifle was gone, and so was the bloody uniform. "Why?"

"Well, either these two killed each other, or there was a third man present who killed them both and then ran."

"Well, I don't know anything about that," said Pearl. "I was tied up in the bedroom. I heard a lot of hair-raising noises, though. Those men were real brutes."

"Yes," said the policemen. "They were." He hesitated. "It's just that the wounds... Did you know I was in the army? I served in Indochina, and... it looks to me like these men were killed with a bayonet. A rusty one. Did you, ah, have such a thing lying around? I see you have other historical items." He meant her fossils and her horn letter opener.

"No," said Pearl firmly. "I do not own a rusty bayonet."

It took the police all day to process the scene, and take out the dead murderers, along with the bloody carpet and other items important to case. The policeman's wife and sister came and did their best to clean the floor and walls. They restored items to their shelves and swept up the broken glass.

"Thank you," said Pearl.

"You poor thing!" they clucked, and one of them brought a hearty stew for Pearl to eat. Despite the bloodshed and horror of the night before, she had a good appetite. She sat at the table and ate a bowl of stew with a glass of lager, then apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese, and coffee. She cleaned her plate and set the cutlery down neatly. She folded her napkin.

"I'll be back to ask you more questions tomorrow," the policeman said. "Get some rest. I have a man posted to keep an eye on you until then."

"I'll be fine," promised Pearl, because she knew she would be.

After they were gone, Pearl had a hot bath and put cream on her wrists and ankles. She organized her curios correctly, happy that most of them were unbroken. Then she sat in her robe in the chair by the fire and listened to the radio. For once the news was good - the South Side robbers had been killed, and a third suspect was on the run. There would be no more break-ins and no more murders of lonely old ladies. She turned off the radio. A warm spring rain was falling.

At ten she lay down in her bed, listening to the barges on the river, the trains calling in the distance, and the whap-whap of airships overhead. She stayed awake as long as she could, but the night air was hypnotically sweet. Just before she drifted into sleep the moon showed bright from behind the clouds. She felt the bed dip, felt cool arms slip around her, and breath in her hair. She closed her eyes with a shiver.

"Goodnight, Thomas," she said.

"Goodnight, Pearl."


  1. A lovely story, Shelley.

    1. Shelley K. DavenportJune 7, 2022 at 2:08 PM

      Thank you so much

  2. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Shelley Davenport's writing is as polished and exquisite as the pearls that line my favorite silver hair clip. Pearl herself never ceases to enchant me, and I do solemnly wish that I were one of her mathematics students...

    1. Shelley K. DavenportJune 7, 2022 at 2:09 PM

      Thanks for your lovely review!

  3. Beautiful period piece. Nice pacing. Very engaging story arc.

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  4. Beautiful details-- I actually feel like I'm living in Port Kettanning with Pearl. The twists are every bit as delightful as the twists in the rivers running through this idyllic town, and I end feeling full of hope after having survived a very dark night. Simply beautiful.

  5. Thank you, Shelley. Pearl certainly knew that the only way to eat apple pie is with a slice of cheddar.

  6. I loved the story. It was very well written. It kept your interest the entire time with all the details. You are a very talented writer, and I'm so proud of you.

  7. I absolutely love the story. I could not stop reading to get to the end. I feel like I'm in the store watching it like I'm at a live play. Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us.

  8. Beautifully chilling, Shelley! Great job!
    ~Chila Woychik