Less than five minutes after Fabio was gone with the dog, the doorbell rang, and I thought he had returned for something. I answered the door, and to my shock, it was Uncle Joshua. He was smiling from ear to ear, and I thought to myself that it couldn’t be bad news if he looked that happy.
A little girl stood next to him. She had a wheeled backpack in one hand and a doll in the other. She placed the backpack on the doormat, and I noticed it had illustrations from the Cinderella story on both sides. I looked back at the girl. She was an odd-looking child, the type I had seen on very rare occasions with their parents in the mall. Little curls hung down from beneath a bonnet. She wore a long floral dress that reached all the way to the top of a pair of white shoes with bows. She wore glasses with thick lenses—the Coke bottle kind—and she certainly was a sight to behold. But the most frightening part of those brief moments was realizing that Johnno was not with them. I tried to open my mouth, but it remained shut, as if I was suddenly paralyzed. “This is Effie,” Uncle Joshua finally said. “Are you gonna invite us in?”