Whatever you want, Gil, you just pray for it, my nanny, Lila May, used to say. But by the year I turned eleven, I knew. Prayer wasn't enough. That year everyone in my school turned mean, and my mama developed a conscience, as she put it, which meant she was always out. If she wasn't at a meeting for the citizens of Gordon County or delivering cans of Dinty Moore Stew to the local soup kitchen, or going horseback riding with her Hunt Club friends, she was checking on old Mrs. Mellinger, our widow–neighbor who had a habit of getting lost in her own home. Your mother, my dad said as he poured himself another whiskey, has a penchant for adopting lost souls. Do they ever find them? I asked. He didn't answer. He just rattled the ice in his cocktail glass. I could tell by his sad eyes that he missed her as much as I did. My mama and daddy had stopped talking to each other that year, so even when she was home, our house went so quiet, it felt like the inside of a funeral parlor before the mourners arrive. On the nights when we sat down to the supper table together, I felt a hush in the air and a chill. As if snow were falling inside each one of us, and no one would make it stop.