Thursday passed slowly. It seemed as if each minute lasted an hour. Idy’s eyes involuntarily darted to the window throughout the never-ending day.
“Quit looking out the window. He isn’t coming back,” Mrs. Renard said. “And if you burn a hole in that shirt, you’ll go to bed hungry.”
Idy looked back at the shirt she was ironing. I’ll go to bed hungry anyway, she thought, just like every night.
Mrs. Renard examined Idy’s work. “You missed a spot.”
Idy ran the iron over the wrinkled area, but said nothing. She hadn’t said a word to anyone since the previous day, nor did she plan to speak to anyone unless she thought it vital.
“Ma,” Fay said, twirling a pencil between her fingers. “Now that Jacob’s not here anymore, we’ll see who the real thief is. If anything goes missing, we’ll know it was Idy.”
Fay waited for Idy to look at her, but Idy ignored the girl.
“In fact,” Fay continued, annoyed, “if anything around here goes wrong, we’ll know it was Idy’s doing.” Her lips curled upward and she waited to catch Idy’s eye, but Idy concentrated on her ironing. Fay peered at her waiting for a reaction.
“Fay,” her mother snapped, “stop yapping and finish your schoolwork.”
Fay noticed Idy’s smirk, and her face grew hot. She clenched her teeth tightly until they hurt. I’ll get you, Idy, she thought, a tiny seed of an idea already budding in her vindictive mind.
“It’s raining again,” Mr. Renard said, coming into the kitchen and stamping his muddy feet on the mat.
Idy watched wet, muddy boot prints track the kitchen floor as Mr. Renard strode to the stove to warm his hands.
“Looks like it will turn into quite a storm.”
Mrs. Renard opened the door and looked out. “Sure does. Is the oilcloth secured over the chicken coop?”
Mr. Renard’s mouth formed a dour smile. “That’s what the girl’s for. I’ve got a sick arm.”
“What are you waiting for?” Mrs. Renard said to Idy. “You heard what he said.”
Idy set the iron down.
She brushed past Mrs. Renard and ran through the rain to the barn. She pushed open the heavy wooden door, already shaking from the cold.
The barn was dim from the lack of sun. Idy slowly made her way to the back where the chickens were. Water poured in through the holes in the roof, and Idy felt sad for the innocent fowl.
“Sorry,” she said to her feathered friends as she felt along the wall for the oilcloth. “I’ll have you out of the rain in a minute.” Her hand brushed over the leather strap that Mr. and Mrs. Renard used for punishment. She pulled in her bottom lip. Poor Jacob. Then, on a whim, Idy pulled it down from its hook and rolled the strap into a tight ball. Her pulse racing, she dropped to her knees and dug under the straw and dirt as deep as she could, burying it from sight. She knew it was senseless, but she felt vindicated. Mr. Renard would never hurt Jacob with it again.