Hanson didnít want to go home. It was Katie, her ten-year-old
daughter, who wanted to visit Dreyerville, the small Michigan town
where Marilys had been raised. Katie had begged for months to
finally meet the grandmother she had never known. Marilys had
She pressed the brake pedal, slowing the car to make the turn onto
Main Street. Unable to resist a look at the town she had left twelve
years ago, she drove along the sycamore-lined streets, passing the
old domed courthouse and the ornate clock tower in the middle of the
She remembered Tremontís Antiques in the block to her right, and
next to it, Brennerís Bakery. She and her mom had made it a
tradition to go there on Saturday mornings. Marilys could almost
smell the fresh-baked cinnamon rolls, see Mrs. Culver in her pink
and white uniform, her gray hair tucked neatly beneath the matching
cap, standing behind the counter, smiling and welcoming them inside.
Of course, that was all before.
Braking again, she turned onto Fir Street, drove a couple of blocks,
and pulled up to the curb in front of a gray-and-white, wood-frame
house with fading paint. Katie slept in the passenger seat, her head
against the window.
Marilys turned off the engine and for long moments just sat there,
staring at the house that had once been her home. The house she had
fled that awful night.
After so many years, just being there again made her stomach churn.
Where she gripped the steering wheel, her palms were sweating. Years
of emotional turmoil threatened to surface, but she firmly tamped
She hadnít seen her mother since the night she had left, the night
she had run off with Burly Hanson, one of the town bad boys. Even
when they were dating, Burly drank too much and flirted with other
woman, but he would never hurt her, and Marilys was desperate to get
away. When Burly offered to marry her and take her away from
Dreyerville, she had jumped at the chance.
She had sworn that night she would never return, but she had a
daughter to think of now, a child who had just survived a series of
brutal radiation and chemotherapy treatments for brain cancer.
Against the window, Katieís bald head gleamed in the sunlight
slanting down through the early spring clouds. Marilys had
considered shaving off her own shoulder-length blond hair the way
people did when a loved one was fighting the disease, but Katie had
begged her not to.
ďI donít want to see you, Mom, and be reminded how awful I look.Ē
And so Marilys had tamed the soft curls that were her secret vanity
into a modest French braid and silently thanked her brave little
She glanced over at the child sleeping peacefully in the seat. The
prognosis was good, the doctors said. With luck and time, Katie
should recover. Marilys clung to those words, but it was too early
to know for sure if the treatments had succeeded.
Which was the reason she was back in Dreyerville.
After what Katie had suffered, the child deserved her most fervent
wish: to meet her grandmother, Winifred Maddox, Marilysí mother, one
of the few relatives Katie had.