Laura opened the kitchen cupboards and threw pots and pans across the room. She dropped plants into garbage cans. In the living room she pulled drawers and dumped ballpoint pens, electrical cords, and dead batteries onto the floor. She wandered through the rooms examining things, tossing them aside. In the bedroom she opened the closet, where sweaters, T-shirts, pants, skirts, and jeans were packed together on hangers. She tugged at a blouse and all the clothes together flexed toward her and away, as if some great creature, startled to life, had begun to breathe. A shoebox at the corner of the upper shelf caught her attention. Inside, she found the bag.
Laura remembered the bag, although until that moment she had forgotten it. She felt a little unease, and a little thrill.
Mom had killed herself. Laura had been on the phone with her only a few hours before she pulled the trigger, and Mom had mostly talked about her houseplants. In hindsight it might have seemed that Mom was thinking of how the plants would do after she was gone, but she had often talked about the houseplants. She believed that allowing a houseplant to die was a waste of the money she had paid for it.
Laura lifted the bag from the shoebox. In her memory, the bag had been smaller, sized perhaps to hold a pair of sunglasses. But she saw that it might easily hold a box of Kleenex. It was made of some dense, soft material, suede-like and inky, as black as anything she’d ever seen. Her gaze instinctively skipped away from looking into the opening where the blackness seemed yet more intense, as if it could hurt her, like looking into the sun.
Laura had learned of Mom’s death from a young policeman standing in the doorway of her apartment. Fidgeting with the things on his belt and, curiously, smacking his lips. One of Mom’s neighbors, a Vietnam veteran who knew a gunshot when he heard one, had called 911. Laura didn’t enter the house until a couple of days later, when the body had been removed, and a hired service had cleaned up. A dot of mismatched paint on the kitchen wall marked the patched bullet hole.
Mom had had the gun around for years. For protection, she said. Laura was twenty-two years old now. Mom had been only forty-eight when she died, and Laura wondered if she had just been waiting until Laura was old enough to manage on her own.
She had never truly forgotten the bag, she realized, rubbing the material, soft as a baby. Instead she had forgotten that it was real. She had assumed that it was a memory of a dream, or that someone had played a trick on her, and in the way that time transforms memory, the jokester had become Mom. But surely it wouldn’t have been Mom who played such a trick. Mom never played tricks.
What she remembered: She had been about five years old when Mom showed her the bag. Then Mom held up a series of small objects—a ragged piece of quartz from the driveway, a keychain, a small spoon that had come by mail through a breakfast cereal promotion—and one-by-one, she dropped them into the bag.
Mom handed the bag to Laura. Laura squeezed the bag, turned the bag upside down, shook it. Nothing.
She had been delighted. She squealed and marveled.
But only for a moment—Mom yanked the bag away. “It’s not like that,” she said. “It’s not a toy or a joke.” And afterward, when Laura asked about it, Mom ignored her. When Laura threw a fit, stomped her feet, yelled, Mom acted as if Laura weren’t there. And when Laura broke a vase, then a lamp, Mom left them to lie broken on the floor for a week, until Laura herself silently picked them up.
It had been an iteration of a familiar pattern—when Laura lashed out, sulked, or pouted, Mom became ever more remote, adding to a distance that was already painful. Laura had learned not to do those things.
She touched the bag lightly, one finger at a time, and looked at the clutter of the bedroom. Mom never bought anything unless it could be bought cheaply, and free things were her dearest things. Laura took from the dresser a knockoff Swiss Army knife, branded with an appliance maker’s logo, and she held it over the bag’s opening. When she dropped it, it seemed to fall straight through the bottom of the bag, as if the seam were cut open. But the knife did not clatter against the floor.
She shook the bag. She put her hand in—strangely, this felt safe even while she didn’t dare look into the opening, as if it could snare her only through her eyes. Her fingers could not find the knife, nor the bottom of the bag. She pulled the bag to her shoulder, and it appeared as if her arm had been cut off at the elbow.
It was obvious what to do. She began to put things into the bag.
At first she set aside a few items. But when she came back to these, they seemed as useless as everything else. Soon she was pushing into the bag everything that fit. The jelly jars that Mom used for juice glasses, the stacks of check carbons, the unmatched gloves, the cardboard beer coasters—into the bag. The half-burned candles, the giveaway desk calendars, the margarine tub of cheap jewelry—into the bag. She dropped in a little plastic battery-powered ticking clock. It slipped away, the ticking vanished, and the bag was empty.
Room to room to room, again and again she went, each time finding new, small things. She wondered if she should keep this or that. Every time she decided: No.
Soon the only items that remained were too large to fit into the bag—the broken blender, the stained coffee maker, the sagging sofa. And the dust, too small.
She took the bag home—her apartment was in town above a drug store in a block of old brick buildings, beside the abandoned train station where raccoons lived—and hid it. She went to work the next day and said nothing. She maintained the service part inventory at the car dealership.
A painful throb of betrayal beat in Laura’s chest for days and weeks after Mom’s suicide. She didn’t go out except to work or to buy necessary things. She lay in bed with her eyes closed, trying to distract herself by finding the moment when she could first detect the approach of one of the freight trains that came through town, trying to decide if that faint, faint sound was real or imagined. Sometimes she rose and sat at the window and watched people go in and out of the bar across the street. Sometimes she took out the bag and turned it in her hands and looked at it. She wouldn’t look into the interior, but she did allow the opening to brush the edge of her vision, like a touch of bedlam.
Laura had always oscillated between activity and withdrawal. She went to parties, danced, joked, and laughed into the morning hours—until things turned, when she wasn’t invited to a party, or she saw a friend talking with her boyfriend, or someone important to her left without saying goodbye. Then she closed out the world, ignored phone calls, did nothing but work, eat, sleep. She would eventually begin to go out again, but she did not forgive betrayals. She avoided the person who had hurt her, and as a result she lost entire circles of friends. But she felt it didn’t matter, since she always made new friends easily enough.
Mom’s suicide caused Laura to hold onto her loneliness even longer than usual, but eventually she did begin to talk to people again. She went to parties and drifted in and out of the bar across the street as if it were another room of the apartment. She danced late, talked late, took up with a series of boyfriends.
She certainly never showed the bag to any of these men. She felt it must not be shared and must not be treated as any ordinary thing.
But she did put a man’s eyeglasses into the bag. A short, fat, excitable man who ran a pet store—he peed all over Laura’s toilet seat and left it there. Standing in her kitchen he gestured at the countertop. “I’m sure I put them here!” He couldn’t see to drive without his glasses. She said her car wasn’t working. “Oh my God!” he shouted. “This is insane!”
A Yankees cap went into the bag. It belonged to a roofer with tar worked into the creases of his hands. He took Laura to movies and taught her how to bowl. But one day he brought over his laundry and asked if she would wash it. “Everything I touch just gets dirtier,” he said. She took the laundry without enthusiasm. When she handed it back, he grumbled that he didn’t like the smell; she used too much softener; she folded things weird. The next morning he wriggled halfway under the bed, searching, and came out bewildered. “I don’t know how I could’ve lost it,” he said, beginning to weep. “Daddy gave me that cap.”
And a letter from a hairy man with a gift for elaborate compliments vanished into the bag. Laura discovered it—twelve pages, unsent, addressed to an unknown woman—in his gym duffel while he slept. The zipper was open and the letter lay there like he wanted Laura to find it. He had written it by hand with round, childish cursive, to an ex-girlfriend. In the letter, he said that Laura was not very smart, sort of wide and heavy, and sometimes she fell asleep while he talked with her. But, the hairy man confessed, he really liked getting laid. The next day Laura bided silently while he beat on her apartment door shouting, “My letter! I know you’re there! Give me my goddamn letter!”
Two months later, when the pregnancy test came back positive, Laura felt like a person staggering out of a car crash. For days her thoughts spun at great velocity, a gyre of confusion. Yet she knew from the first that she would keep the baby. Since Mom had died, she had no family at all.
She found a little house for rent, a couple of miles outside town, on a square of lawn notched into the side of a broad cornfield. She liked her apartment in town with people nearby, but she believed that as a mother she would need to change her habits, and she would want to be alone with her child. With no neighbors within a half mile, they would lie on the grass of the backyard telling stories, watching the clouds, listening to the corn plants tick against one another in the breeze. She couldn’t really afford it, but she told the landlord her situation—no family, soon to be single mother—and he cut the rent by a hundred dollars. The management at the car dealership allowed her a few weeks off, unpaid, until she could put the baby into day care.
The baby was a girl, and when the nurse set the little creature into Laura’s arms, an unexpected passion flooded her. Instantly all the pieces of her old life seemed to retreat and reorganize around this tiny, purpled face.
Laura named her Celia. She’d never known a Celia and wanted a name that would be as new to her as her child. She liked to say Celia, over and over, the whispery feel of Celia.
As the child of a single mother herself, Laura thought she had an idea of what she was getting into. But the first years of motherhood held toil, stress, sleeplessness, and a dazzling stupefaction of exhaustion past anything she had imagined—sometimes she could bear through only by closing her eyes a moment and thinking of the bag, her bag, her perfect secret.
Celia wanted, in those days, to be held. Laura would have liked to spend days lazing with her, tickling her and making her laugh—a particular delight, because Celia otherwise had a studious calm that was a little unnerving. But in order to work, Laura had to leave tiny Celia in daycare for many hours. And even when she was home, she had to put Celia aside to clean, cook, wash, pay bills, attend to the lawn, and a thousand other things. She ached, in her limbs and in her soul.
But time passed, and the difficulty eased a little. At kindergarten age, Celia was already unusually self-sufficient, quiet and serious, soon able to make a bowl of cereal, to bathe, to put herself to bed. She began to dislike being tickled. Now, if Laura tickled her, Celia grew furious to the point of weeping. She liked to be alone.
Laura felt rejected and betrayed by this change, but if she became rather still and distant from her daughter, Celia appeared to scarcely notice. Celia always seemed happy, or, anyway, not unhappy, with her attention concentrated on her own toys and purposes.
By the time Celia turned six it was clear that a gap of incomprehension had opened between them. Laura asked herself what was its origin, and she thought: the bag. She had a secret, and Celia had grown old enough to sense it.
“I’ll show you something special,” she said.
They sat on the living room floor, and she held up the bag. She let Celia grip the bag and feel that it was empty. She dropped in a nickel, and let Celia feel again. The nickel had vanished. She put in a pencil; it vanished. She put in a can of soda; it vanished.
Celia laughed happily. Laura allowed her to put her hand inside to feel for the objects. Celia asked where they had gone.
“Gone,” Laura said.
Celia frowned. “But where?”
“They just, disappear.”
Celia turned the bag upside down and violently shook it. She pushed her little hand inside again. She began to cry.
“Celia,” Laura said. She reached for the bag, but Celia jerked it away. “It doesn’t make sense,” Laura said, “but the world is full of things that don’t make sense.”
Celia’s held the bag with both hands and strained: It seemed she hoped to tear the bag apart. Laura pried her fingers away, and Celia screamed as if Laura were stabbing her.
Laura feared that she had made a mistake, and she hoped that Celia would soon forget it had happened. She did not speak of it, and neither did Celia.
But there was a change. Although Celia had always been interested in how things worked, now, when she encountered a new toy, a kitchen gadget, a strange utensil, an appliance—anything with compartments, components, moving parts—she examined it obsessively, manipulated it, worked every button and hinge. She would not be distracted until she understood it completely, what it did and how. At six years old she could study a toy endlessly, and never play with it.
For a time, Laura left the bag well hidden and did not look at it, as if this might help Celia forget, or as if Laura herself might forget. But as weeks and then months passed the bag instead came into Laura’s thoughts more and more, until she knew she would inevitably take it out again, and it seemed pointless to resist since the result would be the same. The bag ran luxuriously between her fingers. Trembling, she let the fearful interior darkness glance off the edge of her gaze.
She fell in with a group of friends who also had children, and they shared babysitters so that they could all go out, often until late. Celia got along with the other children, in her quiet way. When Laura broke with these friends amid arguments about parenting, her bitterness had great depth. She knew Celia would be sad to lose her friends. When she told Celia that she wouldn’t be seeing them anymore, Celia didn’t complain, but she had a distinct way of looking closely at Laura.
Then Laura made new friends. In time she lost those friends too. The repetition of this cycle began to seem dull and exhausting. Meanwhile here already was Celia—studious Celia, fifteen years old—bringing home her first boyfriend.
He came slumping in the door to watch TV and “hang out,” and Laura really was glad. She wanted Celia to be more alive, to have experiences. Except—this boy, Laura saw, was a mistake: Large and torpid, he smelled of boy stink, spoke to Laura with condescension, and treated Celia like a servant, leering as he sent her to fetch snacks, abandoning his trash for her to pick up.
Laura put his shoes—expensive, neon-colored basketball shoes—into the bag. He had size twelve feet, and she had to push and work to get them through the opening. When they were gone, the bag somehow seemed a bit larger.
After a long search, he left in his socks, bewildered and huffing, but curiously subdued—almost, it seemed to Laura, frightened. She didn’t mind this.
That night she woke with an unsettled feeling. She rolled over and faintly perceived Celia standing beside the bed.
Celia asked where were her boyfriend’s shoes.
Laura looked at the ceiling—a hazy presence in the dark, it might be a mile away or only a couple of feet above her face. She said that she didn’t keep track of other people’s shoes.
Celia turned on the light. The room snapped into place around them. She opened the closet and pushed things around. There was no risk she would find the bag there. She opened drawers, peered under the bed, into the trash can, into the hamper. By the time Celia was done she was crying a little. But she said nothing.
At times the bag’s inner darkness seemed to hover to the side of Laura’s vision. She took it out more often now. She made a couple of new friends; she lost them. Her solitary life was perhaps her only real life. Celia graduated from high school and left for college. She was going to a big university where she had scholarships to study engineering. Laura was immensely proud and told everyone at the dealership.
After Celia left, however, she rarely called, and she came home only for a couple of days at Christmas and a week or so in the summers. Laura let the bag laze in her lap like a cat. She touched its softness to her cheek. Celia finished college with solid grades and took an engineering position specifying machinery and directing upgrades at a factory that manufactured tractor tires. The factory was about forty miles south of town, so she was not far away, but still Laura rarely saw her. She was glad for her daughter’s success, but it would have been nice to see her. She trailed her fingers over the bag, and when she looked up, night had fallen, the lights were off, the TV off: ordinary darkness had engulfed the world.
A young man named Ben proposed to Celia. She was excited when she told Laura, which made Laura happy. Celia said she would bring him to the house so that they could meet, and she arrived in a nervous state, fidgeting, flushed. Laura hadn’t seen her daughter in months and tears came to her eyes.
Ben—in law school, intellectual property—stepped into Laura’s living room and shook Laura’s hand with a smile that communicated only a sense of obligation to smile. He followed Celia around with a dull attitude of dignity, reserve, vagueness. He let Celia talk for him and roved his gaze as if assessing value, finding little. Laura watched him touch the dust on a windowsill and look at his finger. The ring he had given Celia shone with a single huge diamond. Celia spun it and slipped it on and off, on and off.
Laura was making dinner when Celia and Ben went out the backdoor, toured the yard, and stopped before the tall corn. Ben looked solemn and stern. A cold weight of dismay lay in Laura’s stomach. Celia didn’t need solemn and stern, dignity and vagueness. Laura turned, and there lay the ring, on the table, agleam.
She opened an upper cupboard, moved aside the oils and vinegars, and took down the tub labeled LARD. She scooped out a layer of lard and pried out a second lid underneath. Here was the bag. She dropped the ring into the bag. Then she put the bag back into the tub, replaced the lard, and returned the tub to the high cupboard.
Some twenty minutes later Celia realized the ring was gone. “I left it here,” she said, looking at the place where she had left it. She panicked in, of course, the most methodical way, searching every conceivable space, looking into every floorboard gap and under every furnishing. She worked at this for more than two hours, eyes going bloodshot. “It’s all right,” Ben said, long after it had become hopeless. “It’s not such a big deal as that.” He looked as if he were grinding his molars into paste.
Laura searched too, wringing her hands, regretting her impulse. She could almost convince herself that she might find the ring under the stove or in the sofa cushions and save the situation. When Celia first realized the ring was missing she had cast one awful glance at Laura—the look of a drowning person toward a boat in the distance, heading away.
Laura sank into isolation. She rubbed the bag compulsively between her fingers. She’d abandoned all her friendships and couldn’t imagine starting again. People her age weren’t so open; they already had families and long-standing relationships.
Ben had left Celia, and for months afterward Celia wouldn’t pick up her phone when Laura called; she only replied in text messages, that she was Fine.
Then, one morning, the landlord came. Behind him shone a glorious dawn of silver and fire, and he studied a crack in the concrete of Laura’s porch. He seemed reluctant to speak. Laura closed her eyes a moment to hear a wind gust progressing across the fields, the swish and rasp moving west to east.
Laura had been a good tenant, the landlord said. But, well, he was getting divorced, and he needed to liquidate the house. He needed the money. Laura would have to move out when her current lease expired.
She had lived in the house since Celia was born, almost thirty years.
Hunting for rentals, she discovered that her rent had been unusually cheap. Extraordinarily cheap. For what she had been paying she could find only tiny filthy apartments, shared rooms, dank basements. Finally, a mechanic at the dealership connected her with a nephew renting a place in a trailer park south of town. She went to look at it and found water stains on every wall, a stench of gas from the toilet, old tires on the roof, and dog shit in the beaten earth yard. But she could almost afford it, so she signed the paperwork. She drove away in a fog of despair.
Back at the house she took the bag from its hiding place. She closed her eyes, opened the bag, bent her face to the opening, and, after a moment, she looked—
It was a disappointment, in a way. The interior of the bag, which she had avoided all these years, didn’t blind her or twist her mind, although it was extremely dark—it seemed to draw in the surrounding light, so that looking into the bag made everything else turn dim.
And, oddly, as she looked, she thought she could see a tiny glimmer of light there, faraway.
That night she walked around the house taking photos with her phone—cluttered drawers, full cabinets, laden closets. On the little screen she saw how worn and dingy everything looked. It struck her that her things were no better than Mom’s had been: cheap, improvisational, ugly.
She texted a couple of photos to Celia. Celia would on rare occasions now answer the phone, but Laura had learned that she was more likely to reply to a text. I have to move, she wrote. How’d I end up with so much stuff? With an impulse of hope she added, Any way you can come help?
Sorry, Celia wrote back. Big project at work. Super busy.
Celia had been promoted to a supervisory position at the tire factory. She often talked as if she worked literally all the time. Going to get rid of lots of stuff, Laura wrote. Tell me what to save for you.
I’m a minimalist, Celia replied.
Laura returned to the bag and hesitated a moment. She could not afford new things. But right now she hated her things. She plucked out a couple of T-shirts that she hadn’t worn in years. Surely she could be rid of them. Then she put into the bag some old magazines and expired coupons. Then, several loose bathroom tiles that she didn’t know why she possessed. At first she studied these things a moment, to set them into memory before they vanished. But there were many, many things—soon she dropped them into the bag, one after another, with hardly a glance. More and more.
It was hard to say when she crossed the line from putting in things she didn’t need to things she should have kept. All of her things seemed alike in uselessness. She moved around the house in a frenzy, thrusting objects into the bag as fast as she could, in in in, creating the marvel of unoccupied space, of nothing.
She worked, sweating, until all the things that would fit were gone—still she searched the house, desperate to find one more thing. In the kitchen cupboards, she found a small saucepan. She tried it at all angles, but it didn’t fit. She ran the fabric of the bag between her fingers, massaging the opening, working carefully, as if coaxing a sleepy lover. It seemed to give a little. She worked at it for several minutes, then tried the saucepan again. It dropped, vanished. She laughed.
She selected a bread pan, then a skillet, each larger than the last. After teasing and tugging the fabric, the bag accommodated.
An hour later the bag had accepted her largest pot. The kitchen cabinets stood empty. She took a couple of photos and texted them to Celia. Progress! she wrote.
Celia replied, At least give the stuff to Goodwill.
Laura nearly dropped her phone into the bag. But she put it in her pocket. In the living room she stretched the bag and put in the lamps, the electronics around the television, a radio, two wicker trash cans. She reviewed the furniture, and decided to start with a set of small wooden chairs. She spent a long while working the bag’s opening. Then, with some effort, she fit the chairs inside. Next went an end table. Soon she fit into the bag the dining chairs, the coffee table, the television.
Yanking and tugging, she drew the bag over the desk, then the dresser in Celia’s old bedroom. She dragged the mattress off Celia’s bed and pulled the bag sideways over the headboard, then the frame, then the mattress.
Her own bed was larger. But the bag seemed to have grown increasingly pliable; she massaged the opening for twenty minutes, and the bed went in.
She returned to the kitchen, and now it was simple to pull the bag over the stove, the dishwasher, the refrigerator. Massive objects, they went through the bottom of the bag—the bottom it appeared to have from the outside—and vanished.
What now? Amid the dust on the living room floor the bag lay black, empty, and huge. Could she stretch it to fit over the house? The dealership, the train station, the town, rivers, cornfields, cities, oceans, the world?
She sat next to it. The walls shone bare white. The bag hulked blackly. She lifted an edge. Surely something faintly glimmered in the distance.
She still had her purse, her keys, her car. She drove to the hardware store and bought a ball of string and a flashlight. Strange, the empty sound of the house when she returned. She tied the string to a doorknob. Holding the string and flashlight in one hand and phone in the other, she lifted the opening of the bag and put her head in.
She took a breath, set forward. Moving on her knuckles, she edged in until the bag sagged closed behind her. Now the only light came from the flashlight. The world outside held the tension on the string in her hand. Everything else had a soft velvet surface.
She lifted the phone and called Celia. It rang and rang until voicemail answered. She hung up and dialed again. Voicemail again. Again. And again. On the fifth attempt, Celia answered.
Laura apologized, said that she knew Celia was busy, but—
“What is this?” Celia asked. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” Laura said. She squirmed farther into the bag.
“Really?” Celia said.
“I just need to say some things, try to explain things.”
Celia said, calmly, “It doesn’t sound like you’re all right.”
Laura said nothing.
“Okay then. I guess I’ll come over.”
“You don’t need to do that,” Laura said. She didn’t know why. Wasn’t that the reason she had called? Regardless, Celia seemed to ignore her; through the phone Laura heard Celia starting the car. She crawled a little farther. When she fumbled with the flashlight and briefly let go, the light dimmed away. She closed her hand where the flashlight had been—no flashlight.
She took a breath and crawled on. Far off shimmered the faintest twinkle of light. Celia said, “Mom? Keep talking.”
So Laura explained about the bag. She talked for a long while. She told of finding the bag, of putting Mom’s things into it. She told of putting in the eyeglasses, the Yankees cap, the letter, and meanwhile she kept moving, unraveling string as she went. Then she took a breath and told of putting in Celia’s boyfriend’s basketball shoes.
Celia was silent.
Laura asked if she was still there. Celia said yes.
“I showed it to you once, when you were little,” Laura said. “You remember?”
“I don’t think so,” Celia said.
“Maybe when you see it,” Laura said. She realized that the bag’s fabric no longer weighed down on her, or it weighed only lightly, like a mist. She stood and walked, feeling her away ahead. But there was nothing to feel. She told Celia about the ring. Again Celia said nothing. The string continued to extend, as if it had grown impossibly long. “Aren’t you angry?”
“I’m angry,” Celia said.
“I only ever wanted to be rid of the bag,” Laura said, which wasn’t true, but felt true as she said it. The twinkle of light had grown perhaps a little closer, and otherwise the darkness remained absolute.
“If this bag makes things disappear, as I understand it,” Celia said, breaking the silence, “and you want to be rid of it, then why don’t you turn it inside out, so that the bag will make itself disappear?”
Laura laughed. “I wouldn’t have thought of that in a thousand years.”
The string came to its end in her hand. It startled her. She stopped.
“I’m here,” Celia said. “Parking.” Through the phone, Laura heard the car door.
“Do you see it?” Laura asked. “The bag?”
For a long while Celia said nothing.
Then she said, “Yes. Yes, I see.”
The line of the string ran to Laura’s hand. The glimmer of light had certainly grown larger; perhaps it was a flame. Go on, her mind said. Let go the taut string. Something is there.
A tremble of the string reached her hand.
Laura stood perfectly still, furious and exhausted and regretful. Oh, the ache of it! She wanted to let go and move forward; she wanted to return to Celia, who despite everything had come for her. She wanted both, release and return. But it wasn’t possible. The spot of paint on the wall. The baby in her arms.
The string twitched again—Celia was gently tugging. “Hey,” she said. “I’m here.”
The light urged her to let go. Or perhaps it was the darkness itself that pulled, as tenderly as the drawing of a breath.
“Mom?” Celia said. “Mom?”
Her daughter. She sounded, Laura realized, frightened.
For how long had she been frightened? Laura shut her eyes against the gleam ahead and the darkness around, and in that darkness in the darkness, she knew.
“Celia,” she said, turning to follow the string.