Chapters 1-2 Summary
The story opens with the birth of Meridia, which took twenty-seven hours. When she was finally born, it took a while to get her to start breathing. Meridia grew up in a large house with her mother, Ravenna, and her father, Gabriel. The house was always cold, so as a child, Meridia was always bundled up in coats by her overly fussy nurse. The house had a beautiful garden and a perennial mist that hung around the front all year long. Even as young child, Meridia noticed that her parents led virtually separate lives, rarely being in the same room together. Ravenna seemed to have some kind of memory problem, as she often failed to recognize the people and places around her. Gabriel was a stern man who spent much time in his study. One day, Meridia ventured into his study to snoop around, only to be discovered by a disapproving Gabriel. Meridia’s germophobic nurse rarely let her leave the house, but one day, Ravenna decided to take her nine-year-old daughter to the market. Meridia was so excited that she lost track of her mother. When another woman found the distraught Meridia crying, the woman tried to convince her that her mother was playing hide-and-seek. When they finally located Ravenna (after Meridia smells her signature scent of verbena), the woman was horrified by Ravenna’s blasé attitude about losing her daughter. Meridia realized that Ravenna doesn’t remember that two hours have passed or that Meridia had gone missing.
By age twelve, Meridia was going to school, despite the nurse’s concerns about cleanliness. Meridia often saw an old wizened face in the mirrors and had a dream she believed was an early childhood memory: something falls, someone screams, Ravenna picks her up, and there is something warm running down her cheek. Gabriel continued his cruel disregard for Meridia, but one day, he called her into his study, where there were two men. In front of the men, he pointed out all her flaws, referring to her as...
(The entire section is 640 words.)