She said aloud, through the door, "Let me get dressed and then you can examine my toe, all right?"
"I'll go downstairs and finish the dishes. I'll be back up in a minute."
Once inside her room, Sara redressed for bed and sat at her desk. She looked over at the book, and was tempted to read it in her lap, but she had already experienced about the worst night ever, and there was something uniquely unsettling about that book which sent hordes of tiny beetles scurrying up and down her arms.
She shuddered and rubbed her hands over her bare arms, then got up, hobbled over to where the book rested, and scooped it up. She placed it (and the accompanying letter from her father) in the back of her closet and tossed some old magazines over it to conceal it, then closed her closet door.
A knock at her bedroom door.
"It's okay," she answered, "you can come in, Uncle Peter."
The door swung in and Uncle Peter entered, gazing noncommittally at Sara's foot, then nodded toward her bed, "Sit up there so I can take a look at it."
She did as he asked, then waited for him to sit in her chair and wheel himself over to the bed, at which point she held aloft her aching foot. Uncle Peter rested her heel on his thigh and frowned as he inspected the toe.
"How's it look?" she asked.
"Well," he shrugged, "I wouldn't take up ballet any time soon."
"I mean the nail. Will I lose it?"
He scrunched up his face and said, "I don't know, really. Maybe, maybe not. Depends on the swelling. Speaking of which, take a couple of these."
Sara took the offered ibuprofin and dry swallowed them while Uncle Peter produced a roll of gauze from his pocket. He explained that he was going to wrap the toe to protect the nail from snagging on something and further tearing. He hoped that the nail would be okay once the swelling went down.
"Uncle Peter, can I ask you about my dad?"
"Oh, wow. Uh, sure. What do you want to know?"
"Is he dead?"