Once there was a girl named Ada, who fell in love with two brothers: first Simon, a charismatic businessman, and then Walter, a young inventor. She nearly broke her heart trying to choose between them. But of course, Ada could marry only one. She made her choice, and devoted herself to her husband. Mind and body, heart and soul. Together, they lived in a grand house, almost a castle. They had a baby girl.
But Ada’s husband was ambitious. He dreamed of creating something that would astonish the world. His small, precious family was not enough. His dreams turned to obsession. By the time Ada realized the danger, her husband had wandered too far.
Remember, Ada loved him. She vowed to save her husband. But when she tried to follow him, Ada got lost, too. And by the time her husband realized his terrible mistake, it was too late.
“Did Ada’s true love ever find her?” Evelyn would ask, cuddling against her grandmother’s side. She’d often ask about the other parts of the story, too, but Nana just as often refused to explain. This was the only question that Nana always, always answered.
And her Nana would say in her hoarse whisper, “He tried to bring Ada back. But her mind was gone, forever wandering. Because that was easier than facing the truth.”
Evelyn didn’t understand. She was only six years old, and truth was something you told. Not something you could see.
Her Nana would say, “Listen to me very carefully, Evelyn. If you face whatever you fear the most, no matter how bad, no matter how frightening, you’ll take away its power. Then it can’t hurt you. That’s what I want you to always remember, even when it’s dark. Promise me.”
Evelyn nodded faithfully, believing every word.
Later, when she was years older, she’d realize how strange it was that Nana told a child such stories. She figured that Nana had wanted to teach her how to be brave. Nana must have seen some weakness inside of her, something that needed to be patched over and shored up. And it worked, or so Evelyn thought. She was never afraid.
But after Nana died, when the nightmares started, Evelyn learned the truth. It hadn’t been her bravery but her grandmother’s steadfast presence that kept the fearful things away. When you were all alone and dared to look into the dark, sometimes the bad things looked back.