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Kaolyn and Wallace continued to peer at various objects in the room, not touching anything, but looking forâ€¦ somethingâ€¦ they knew not what. Tess sat quietly on the back of the chair, grooming her wing feathers, waiting with the patience that seems innate to crows, carrion birds and certain appointed bureaucrats.
After a few minutes, Mrs. McKey returned. â€œStep out of the room, please,â€ she requested. â€œYou too, please, Tess,â€ she added when the bird remained behind. The others crowded the landing behind the woman while she knelt on the floor, just outside the doorway to Kendraâ€™s bedroom, and placed the stub of a pencil on the floor. She passed her hand over the pencil, murmured a few soft words, and stood up.
As they watched, the nondescript, yellow stub of wood and lead began to move, first standing upright, then tracing a line into the bedroom. It left no mark on the thick carpet, but seemed to be drawing a series of long, flowing curves, something akin to the movement of a symphony conductorâ€™s hand.
As the pencil moved further into the room, Mrs. McKey stood and leaned forward to keep it in her view, but she did not yet set foot in the room. The pencil continued to curve and weave across the rug, stopping for a moment here, circling in another spot for a time, finally coming to rest against the backpack that theyâ€™d come to examine.
â€œWhatever it is,â€ Kaolyn suggested, â€œis in there.â€
*Â *Â *Â *Â *Check out the main page for "The Side Ways," and request the password for all parts after "Chapter 1.1: Stray Girl," if youâ€™ve got a mind to.