Second Sight, my middle-grade mystery set in 1910, features a boy with secret paranormal powers who knows his friends are being poisoned—but cannot act without betraying himself and possibly losing his home. The story starts as Danny Eliot arrives in Somerville to live with his grandfather.
By Cecily Nabors
CHAPTER 1: OUTSIDER
If things don’t work out, Danny thought, I’ll take to the river. They’d passed it just before the train pulled into the Somerville station. He could find it again, easy.
Soot from the long trip to Maryland speckled his sweater and knickers. Standing on the platform, he brushed at his clothes. He didn’t want to run away. He wanted to belong.
“Are you Daniel Eliot? I’m Mrs. Madison. I keep house for your grandfather.” Gray braids crowned the woman’s smiling face.
Danny dropped his eyes so as not to see her glow. Be like everyone else! “Yes, I’m Danny.” He looked around the platform. “Where’s my grandfather?” Too late, he realized that sounded rude. But what if Dr. Eliot didn’t want him after all?
Mrs. Madison said, “Shame Doc couldn’t meet you, but ‘My patients come first,’ he always says. I’m having your trunks carted home.”
Home. It rang like a promise.
Mrs. Madison hurried him through town. She pointed to the two-room schoolhouse. “That’s where you’ll finish sixth grade.”
Danny’s attention centered on meeting his grandfather. Hello, sir. Please let me stay.
Mrs. Madison chattered on as they walked. Danny was too anxious take in much, but he caught occasional phrases. “Why, I didn’t even know Doc had a grandson till that telegram…” and “You’re surely hungry–boys generally are.”
When she fell silent, he looked up. A young woman smiled as she passed them in the lane. Danny stared and stumbled. Her glow! It shimmered around her, haloing her head. He’d never seen a glow so brilliant.
“Who’s that?” He hoped he sounded casual.
“Miss Serena Borland.” The housekeeper pressed her lips together.
That glow dazzled Danny’s mind. Then fear torched in him. A person with a glow like hers might discover his secrets.
What if she told his grandfather? He would send him away on the next train.
Mrs. Madison turned onto a brick walk and led him around to the back of a big white house. She stopped. Her hand moved toward Danny’s face.
He flinched. Memory made his slapped cheek sting again.
Mrs. Madison bit her lip. Then she smiled and brushed the hair off his forehead. “Your thick hair is like Doc’s,” she said. “His is white, not sandy like yours. But your eyes are just as blue.”
Dr. Eliot’s office was a small building in the back yard, with flowerbeds around its doorstep. As Mrs. Madison and Danny approached, the office door opened. A tall white-haired man came out.
“Hello, Daniel.” The doctor stared down at Danny. Eyes like Danny’s father’s blazed under bushy white brows.
Nervousness flickered in Danny’s throat. All the words he’d thought to say fled his mind. He could only manage, “Hello, Grandfather.”
Against the white background of the office, the doctor’s glow flared around his body in blues and greens. Streaks of red shaded to yellow around the white hair. Danny looked away.
Dr. Eliot frowned. “Look at me, boy. I know your father was hardly ever home in Boston, but didn’t he at least see that you got fed?”
Danny’s face felt hot. He was already a disappointment.
“Now, Doc,” put in Mrs. Madison, “he’s had a bad time and a long journey.”
Dr. Eliot ignored her. “Cassie Madison will feed you up. You’ll be well taken care of here, but you’ll be expected to earn your keep. People in this house have responsibilities. I hope you understand that.”
“Yes, sir.” With an effort, Danny brought his eyes up to his grandfather’s face.
“Your father ran off because he did not understand that.” The doctor pulled at his long white mustache. “How old are you, ten?”
“Plenty old enough.” Dr. Eliot turned back to his office. Over his shoulder, he said, “Be on time for supper, Daniel.” He closed the door behind him.
Mrs. Madison clicked her tongue. “Don’t mind Doc, Danny. He can be a little tetchy but you won’t be a bother to him, will you?”
“No, ma’am.” He’d stay out of Doc’s way.