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Hiding places

Updated: Apr 19, 2019

Illustration by Julia Ogden (

When I was a kid, we'd visit my grandparents most summers. Their house, a white Victorian in the Italian section of Syracuse, New York, was a place of endless fascination for me. I spent hours exploring its farthest reaches, breathing in the hot staleness of the attic and the damp earthiness of the basement, where trunks and old furniture and unnamable objects passed quiet days. One item was my favorite, and I returned to it again and again. I'm not sure why what was probably a smoking stand held such appeal for me, but I remember it vividly—a small, square box on spindly legs, without ornamentation of any kind, that made a good house for my troll collection.

Given how much I loved this little cabinet, I suppose it's not surprising that it (and the house, fish pond, and garden) became part of my book. (Kira isn't modeled on me, but we have these places and this cabinet in common.) My grandparents' property was full of hiding places, some big enough for a child, some big enough for a toy troll or horse. That's the role the cabinet plays in THE WILD IMPOSSIBILITY—it's a hiding place, or a suspected one. Kira rediscovers it one day when she's in the attic of what had been her grandmother's house. (The fragments in this excerpt are what Kira calls the visions she's having.)

Kira woke to a darkening attic, chilled, her throat dry. No fragments, no answers, nothing but a waste of time. She rocked to her feet and the chair’s cushion flew off, landing near a small cabinet, a cube of dark wood with a single door, perched on skinny legs. She’d played with it as a child, forgotten it completely. It was the perfect hiding place for whatever had been precious to her then—rocks and marbles, a snow globe of San Francisco, plastic horses, wild-haired trolls in various states of undress. She opened the cabinet door, revealing dust and mouse poop, and disappointment flashed through her. Honestly, did she expect to find her mother’s photos and letters, answers to all her questions? She swatted the door closed. Time to go home.

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