Two little girls banished from a neighborhood birthday party take a wrong turn down an unfamiliar Baltimore street -- and encounter an abandoned stroller with an infant inside. What happens next is shocking and terrible, and three families are irreparably destroyed. Seven years later, Alice Manning and Ronnie Fuller, now eighteen, are released from "kid prison" to begin their lives over again. But the secrets swirling around the original crime continue to haunt the parents, the lawyers, the police -- all the adults in Alice and Ronnie's lives. And now another child has disappeared, under freakishly similar circumstances ...
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September 30, 2004
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Excerpt from Every Secret Thing by Laura Lippman
"Interesting," the ophthalmologist said, rolling away from Cynthia Barnes in his wheeled chair, like a water bug skittering for cover when the lights went on in the middle of the night.
"Not exactly my favorite word in a doctor's office." Cynthia tried to sound lighthearted. The metal apparatus was cold and heavy on her face, and although it wasn't literally attached, she couldn't help feeling as if she were in a vise. Each flick of the doctor's wrist?Better here? Or here? Here? Or here?-seemed to tighten the machine's grip on her.
"Good interesting," he said, rolling back to her. "Now, is it clearer with the first one or"-he flipped something, inserted something, she had never been sure what he was doing?"or this one."
"Could I see those again?" She sounded tentative, even to her ears, which shamed her. Cynthia still remembered what she was like back when she was always sure about things.
"Absolutely. This one"-the letter O, bold but a little wavy around the edges, as if it were underwater-"or this one." This O was not quite as bright, yet it was clearer.
"The second one?"
"There are no right answers here, Cynthia. An eye exam isn't a test." He chuckled at his own wit.
"The second one."
"Good. Now is it better with this one or"-another flip-"this one."
"The first one. Definitely the first one."
She felt a little glow of pride, then embarrassment for caring at all. She had arrived at the doctor's office on a wave of apologies, having skipped her annual exam for the last three years, despite the friendly little postcards that arrived every spring. She was AWOL from the dentist, too. And she might have passed on this eye exam, if it weren't for her younger sister's sly observation that Cynthia was squinting more often these days. "You keep straining like that, you're going to have one of those little dents," said Sylvia, who had never forgiven Cynthia for getting the one pair of green eyes in their generation. "Better reading glasses than Botox."
Cynthia had almost snapped: Get off my damn back, I've earned that dent. Instead she had made this appointment with Dr. Silverstein, who had moved to the northern suburbs since she saw him last.
Satisfied, Dr. Silverstein swung the machine off her face, returned her contact lenses to her, along with a tissue to catch the saline tears that flowed from the corners of her eyes. He was younger than she, it dawned on her. He must have just been starting out when she first went to him thirteen years ago. She wondered how those years had treated him, if his life had gone according to his expectations and plans.