The Sullen Child

By April, Sarah’s behavior at home began to change in a way that caught her parents’ attention, her mother, Dawn, especially. She first noticed it as Sarah practiced violin, which she did as required to earn her allowance, every day at 4 o’clock in the three-season porch. Whereas normally Sarah played with robust fervor, attacking notes, drawing the bow over the strings with what Dawn heard as youthful yearning…now, one day, Sarah’s playing sounded lackluster, flat in pitch and weary. Even fearful. She pushed through “Edelweiss,” a tune she had mastered, as if paddling a canoe upstream, not correcting her mistakes as usual, but screeching with resentful overtones, to the end, joylessly, offering no final flourish.

In the evenings, she stayed in her room, not even coming down to watch her DIY shows with her father, which she loved to do. Sarah was the type of girl to seek out company—whether with Dawn herself, interrupting her reading or chores—or calling her best friend Claire, or even a last, desperate option, her X-boxing brother Daniel. But now she seemed to savor isolation, kept from bumping into others as if nursing a body-wide bruise. Something was up—Dawn would find out what.