May and Adam are dressed like children who are fawned over; their feet are wrapped in stiff leather, their small bodies are covered in clouds of white cotton. The people that they pass on the street smile at them wistfully at first, but their faces crumble a little and their brows furrow a bit; well-dressed and well-appointed children are usually not seen walking alone down these crooked, cobblestone streets. May doesn’t seem to notice the women pushing black prams and the men who tip their hats and the workmen eating lunches on lawns but Adam does. Even the smallest, gentlest of old ladies that they pass on the city street looks like a gingerbread witch to them. They’re all strangers. The only familiar face is that of his sister, and she looks different now, too. Her face is flush and her hair is blonder in the steady sunlight in the street. But he follows her still (he always follows May), and they walk along for a long time.
After five blocks or so, before Adam gets the courage to clear his throat and ask his sister hesitantly, “How much longer, May? My shoes are shrinking and I’m tired and are we going to see Daddy?”
May looks at him over her slender shoulder, she can see that he’s floundering a little, that any adventure that’s in him is being squashed to tiny shards. She smiles and slows her pace, puts an arm around him and draws him close. At ten she’s over a foot taller than her eight year old brother. “He’s where we’re heading to. Don’t worry, it won’t take long. It’s just morning, still and Mother hasn’t noticed we’re gone.”