of the Center for Children's Books
|Each month we choose a favorite quote--something fun or something to make you think. See the archive for quotes from previous months.|
I was an unwilling conspirator in my next-door neighbor's secret. Her secret was so big, so cruel, it filled her own house and spilled over into mine. The secret of the woman next door was that every night, somewhere around midnight, she'd lock her children in an upstairs closet and wouldn't let the out again 'til morning.
Our row houses, on West Garrison Avenue, mirrored each other. The closet in the house next door was an exact reflection of my own. Those closets were small, too small for me to stay in for very long, much too small for the kids next door to spend each night in. All through the long hours, those children stood, jammed together inside that dark, airless closet, pleading with their mother to be let out. "Please," they would whisper. "Please, Mommy. We'll be good. Pleease."
I heard every cry they uttered, every rise of panic, every whimper. Sleepless, I listened in my room, my bed pressed against the common wall between our two houses.
|-- Karen Hesse, "Waiting for Midnight," When I Was Your Age, Volume Two: Original Stories about Growing Up, ed. by Amy Ehrlich (Candlewick, 1999)|
This page was last updated on June 1, 1999.