Laura's Reviews > The Little Friend

The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
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Oct 01, 08

Read in September, 2008

"With Ida had vanished many comforts. Among them was sleep. Night after night, in dank Chickadee Wigwam, Harriet had lain awake in gritty sheets with tears in her eyes--for no one but Ida knew how to make the bed the way she liked it, and Harriet (in motels, sometimes even at Edie's house) lay open-eyed and miserable with homesickness late into the night, painfully aware of strange textures, unfamiliar smells (perfume, mothballs, detergents that Ida didn't use), but more than anything else of Ida's touch, indefinable, always reassuring when she woke up lonely or afraid, and never more lovely than when it wasn't there.

But Harriet had returned to echoes and silence: a spellbound house, encircled with thorns. On Harriet's side of the room (Allison's was a mess) everything was perfect, just as Ida had left it: tidy bed, white ruffles, dust settling like frost.

And so it remained. Underneath the coverlet, the sheets were still crisp. They had been washed and smoothed by Ida's hand; they were the last trace of Ida in the house, and--as much as Harriet longed to crawl into her bed, to bury her face in the lovely soft pillow and pull the clothes up over her head--she could not bring herself to disturb this last small Heaven left to her. At night, the reflection of the bed floated radiant and transparent in the black windowpanes, a flouncy white confection, as soft as a wedding cake. But it was a feast that Harriet could only look at, and long for: for once the bed was slept in, even the hope of sleep was lost.

So she slept on top of the covers. The nights passed fitfully. Mosquitos bit her legs and whined about her ears. The early mornings were cool, and sometimes Harriet sat up foggily to reach for phantom bedclothes; when her hands closed on air, she fell back on the coverlet, with a plump, and--twitching like a terrier in her sleep--she dreamed." (459-460)
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