"I just wish I knew why," Lisa whispered as quiet settled in a thick blanket through the cabin.
"Why what?" Karla said, her voice so soft it blended with the howl of the wind.
"Why did he ask if the baby was his?"
"That's definitely King Arthur's fault."
"You think he's been telling Todd I'm fooling around behind his back?"
"Oh, no, he'd never say anything like that outright. He just hints and asks innocent little questions that only come up with one answer. He killed our mother that way."
"What?" Lisa flinched as she jerked upright. "I thought your mother died in a car wreck."
"She did. She was running away before her loving husband could have her committed to the psycho ward."
"Committed?" She had no trouble believing that. There were times she thought Todd would drive her crazy. Or at least drive her into eating whole half-gallons of ice cream in one sitting.
"When Mom was pregnant with Charli, he treated her so good. I remember. And I remember how he ignored me, and kept talking about his son. And then Charli was born and he... he didn't want Charli. He was so cold to Mom. He said she cheated on him. And he made a big production about forgiving her, as if she had done something wrong in giving birth to a girl instead of a boy."
"What happens if I have a girl instead of a boy?" Lisa whispered.
"He'll accuse you of cheating on Todd, same as he accused Mom of cheating on him every time she had a girl. Until she got Todd. I saw how differently he treated her after Todd, and I knew he was nasty to her when I was born, too." Karla raked her fingers through her hair. In the shadows from the fireplace, she looked pale, with deep circles under her eyes. "He was so nice to her... until the doctors said Mom would die if she had another baby. He wanted more sons. He tried to sue the hospital for not taking care of Mom. Then he got nasty. He decided it was all her fault, that she had committed some huge sin so God only let her give him one son. And... she had a nervous breakdown just before Todd's second birthday."
"She ran away from the hospital?"
"No, not really. I remember the doctors gave her medicine and she came home and she was very quiet, but she smiled more and he left her alone. For a while. And then he started in again, making her cry. Never yelling. Never arguing. But all the little things he would say... When he said he was sending her back to the hospital, she couldn't take it. She hugged us and said she was going somewhere she could get her thinking straight, and then she would send for us. She got in a taxi. And we never saw her again."