The Deception of Roses: Chapter 4
By Pilar Lu-Heda & Catherine Santino
This excerpt picks up at the start of chapter four. Our two main characters, Winifred and Bernie, are departing from their train, and must run separate errands around the city of Manchester.
Part of me didn’t want to part ways. The thought of going to Luella’s alone now seemed daunting. I had maps and my journal and her letters, but something made it seem scarier than I was willing to admit out loud. We stopped just behind the archway and off to the left to avoid the commotion of exting passengers. I pulled out a railroad map that I had taken from the school library, trying to balance it in its half unfolded state, while closing the unruly carpet bag and snapping the clasp closed. Bernie looked over my shoulder. “Myrtle and Union?”
“Yes, my friend’s family owns a dressmaking shop and that was the address they last used. Why?” He traced over the map next to the pencilled circle around the corner of Myrtle and Union, a few blocks over, and stopped over the wavering blue line.
“River Irewell. My father took me to the riverfront as a boy, we used to have picnics there while my brothers were at school. It also happens to run right next to the library, see?” He pointed once again at the map, this time stopping over the fine print that read Chetham’s Library, est. 1853. He turned toward the doorway. “We can go together!”
I twisted to my side to fit out of the grand doors, as people were still all around us and there was little space to be had. I half skipped to reach him before walking in stride with him. “What makes you think I don’t want to go alone?”
“Oh. Do you want to go alone?”
“I think I could manage.”
“That does not answer my question.”
“Do you know how to get there?”
“I haven’t been before, but I used to pick up sweets for my sister on Myrtle. It should only be two blocks west.”
“Lead the way then.” I realized he must have been doing that since we stepped out of the station, because I was still a step or two behind him, following without questioning. Carriages rambled by as we ambled on, each block looking more or less the same. The road was divided into lanes but it was quick and chaotic. I opted to walk on the inner side of the street, away from the foul-smelling puddles and whirring metal rims of wagons. When I realized we had been going on for quite some time I asked, “How much longer do you think?”
“Thirty minutes to the shop maybe, but ten to the library.”
“Oh.” I pretended I remembered or understood at all that the library was closer to the station than Luella’s shop. Was I holding the map upside down? “Well, would you like to visit the library first?” He looked surprised by my question, and I realized that perhaps the intention all along was for us to split ways once he got to the library, but my question implied we were visiting together…
“Sure. If that’s alright with you. I just have to pick up my father’s book from the reserved section, it should be brief.”
Now was probably best to ask. “Should I come with you? I can wait outside, or walk the rest of the way to the dressmaker if you prefer.”
“Well, you’re welcome to come. I used to visit with my family when I was younger; it’s beautiful inside.”
“I think I will. Thank you.”
Bernie pointed to a narrow road up ahead. As we crossed the street and joined the bustle of the city, I couldn’t help but be proud of myself. I had a long journey ahead, but the first step was complete. No matter what happened, at least I knew I finally had left Griffith Hall, something that had been a fruitless dream for years.
Bernie stopped in front of a sprawling rosy brick structure, curving around the road and towering with its colored windows. The library.
It looked like Griffiths, only awake. The doors looked as if the very breath of life had blown them open, inviting scholars and academics into the arched rooms with their rich mahogany shelves and endless volumes of fabric bound books. The smell of warmth and parchment was faint in the foyer, reminding me of Briar’s room at home. I wondered what she would think of the library now. I stood by the glass display cases, idly reading the pamphlets tacked up beside them. Help wanted, experienced young writers needed. Or, skilled carpenters wanted, something about ship work. We had passed by the bustling docks at some point, and the burning smell of fish and sewage stinging the air was still vivid in my mind.
“Rose1?” Bernie’s voice cut through my thoughts.
“Yes. Sorry.” I really had to get around to telling him my name.
“I’ll just go over to the desk and ask for my book.”
“Okay.” It seemed so personal, what Bernie was doing. It struck me that he was truly picking up the last of his father, that he was piecing together the bits of his family, starting with this book. “I can stay here.”
1 It is Bernie’s belief that Winifred’s name is Rose, since introduced herself under that pseudonym in chapter two.
In this moment, Winifred is working towards finding her distant sister and hopes to receive help from an old friend, Luella. Bernie must pick up a reserved book from a library, which he believes holds clues to the scandal of his late father’s will.
Pilar Lu-Heda is a high school junior who enjoys creative writing and sculpting. She writes a range of work, including reviews and editorials for her school newspaper. Her favorite books are Anne of Green Gables and The End of Everything, and she hopes to study Gender Studies and Children’s Literature in college. She lives in Brooklyn with her family and her dog, Sadie.
Catherine Santino is a freelance writer based in Manhattan. She specializes in culture, entertainment, and beauty and has bylines in publications such as The Zoe Report, People, BuzzFeed, Insider, and Wonderland. Catherine is also an experienced copywriter and marketer.