He froze in mid-step, intensely aware of his own paleness encased in hairy wool and khaki. He had not expected anyone to be here when he mounted the worn steps up to the garden. The big gray stone house had been deserted when he had come here with Dylan last summer. It had been empty for years and had become one of their special places, where they went to play and explore. It was called the Wish House, Dylan told him, because the trees around it seemed to be in constant motion. Even on a day as still as this, they seemed to whisper, "I wish . . . I wish . . ." It gave the house an extra creepiness that added spice to their visits. The sound was there now, mixed in with thinsounding, slightly discordant music made by stringed instruments and a drum. That was what had made Richard mount the steps, thinking he’d discovered something genuinely mysterious — until he saw this woman.
He tried to look away, but he couldn’t shift his focus. He held his
hand up, as if to ward off the vision or to block it out of his own line of
sight. He reached behind as though to steady himself on the warm lichen-embossed wall. He was beginning to sweat. He felt the dampness creeping through his hair, the beads break out on his forehead and upper lip.Should he go on? Should he go back? He did not know what to do.
The decision was made for him.
The woman rose up on one elbow, squinting at him, shading her eyes
against the strong sun shining from behind him, the glare oflight shimmering up from the sea.
"Well, hello there. And who are you?"
THE WISH HOUSE by Celia Rees. Copyright © 2006 by Celia Rees. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.
Excerpted from The Wish House by Celia Rees. Copyright © 2006 by Celia Rees. Excerpted by permission of Candlewick, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.