LeAnne loved to look out her bedroom windows and see the fireflies at dusk. When she was little, she wanted to catch them and put them in a jar to see if she could light up her whole room. But her mother told her she would kill the little bugs and even if they lived a while, they wouldn't light up inside a jar. They would be too afraid. So she had learned to watch them and enjoy them in their natural environment.
She could see the fireworks on the 4th of July just by standing at her upstairs window and looking over the tops of the trees to the lake. She could hear the band playing some years, or sometimes an announcer saying something she couldn't understand. Her bedroom had everything in it that she could ever need, so she had no wish to go to the lake and swat mosquitos just to see the fireworks.
LeAnne's room had its own private bathroom. When she had a cat, she kept it in her room and put the cat pan in the bottom of the linen closet with a neat hole cut in the lower panel of the door for kitty to go in and out. Kitty didn't seem to mind having just two rooms as long as she had LeAnne's company. They watched television together and read books together and cuddled together every night for almost ten years before Kitty was just gone one morning, her toys and her kitty pan simply gone. LeAnne mourned her for a while and then thought she would like to have a bird. The bird was soon let out of his cage and enoyed the freedom of both rooms. He lived with her for five years before developing some sort of disease. He dropped all of his feathers and stopped eating. One morning, the bird was gone, along with his cage. LeAnne decided she didn't want anymore pets.
LeAnne loved watching television. She had a computer, too, and would look up the stars of her favorite shows and sometimes write letters to them. She seldom got an answer, but she kept on writing anyway, so they would know she still liked to watch them in their shows.
Sometimes, LeAnne would hear loud voices outside her room somewhere in the rest of the house. She didn't like loud voices and would sit on her bed, watching the door into the hall, hoping that no one would knock or try to come in. She kept the door locked, of course, but three times a day, a tray of food would be pushed through a gap at the bottom of the door. LeAnne was a picky eater and liked to have her food just so, nothing touching, for instance, and the same meals on the same day of the week, sort of like the cafeteria at the school she used to attend. She simply stopped going to school one day, she couldn't remember when or why, she just woke one morning in her lovely room and never left it, nor did she want to leave.
If she wanted music, she had a small radio that also played discs, and she had her little electronic piano that she played while wearing headphones so no one could hear her if she made a mistake. She had a little refrigerator, where the cat food used to be stored, where she kept her cold drinks and sometimes some little snacks, like chocolate bars or applesauce if she got hungry between meals. Sometimes when she woke up, there would be a small grocery bag filled with treats for her refrigerator. She never heard the door open or close when the bags appeared, the same as she never heard anyone come in and take Kitty or her bird away. She just seemed to sleep more soundly some nights than others.
LeAnne appeared to be sleeping in the polished box where she lay on satin sheets and a lace-trimmed satin pillow. She wasn't at home anymore and never would be again. The door to her room was open and the room was occupied by her younger sister, who sat crying near where LeAnne lay.
"Don't cry, Cheryl," said her mother softly. "LeAnne has always been happy and see her face? She's still happy now."
"But Mama," cried Cheryl, "why did she have to stay locked up like she did all those years?"
"Don't worry about that, sweetheart. Nothing like that is ever going to happen to you." Mother helped Cheryl to her feet and said, "It's time to go to the cemetery now. We'll bury LeAnne on top of the hill in the grove of pine trees."
"But Daddy is buried on the other side of the cemetery,isn't he?" asked Cheryl as they walked out to their limousine. "Shouldn't they be together?"
"No, dear, you and I will be buried with him someday. LeAnne needs to stay by herself, just as she has since that awful accident, the one where Daddy fell off the ladder and broke his neck. You wouldn't remember, dear, you were just a baby."
"I may have been just a baby," Cheryl thought, "but I remember LeAnne laughing when Daddy fell. She laughed and laughed, and the next morning she was in her room and I never saw her again."