A letter from Father arrived on my seventh day at Yonahlossee. The postmark was from Atlanta. I pressed his letter to my lips. His script was slanted and flowery, like a woman’s. I had never in my life received a letter. A postcard once or twice from Georgie, when he was in Missouri visiting his mother’s family. But anyone could see a postcard—it was read first by Mother before she handed it to me. No one in the world knew what was inside the letter except for my father, and now me.

Dear Thea,

I was so very sorry to drive away from the camp. Although I must say that it is a beautiful place to spend some time. Before your mother knew me, she loved to be around other people; her coming out lasted nearly a year. I see so much of her in you.

We all love you very much. Take care of yourself at the camp. Think of it as an opportunity to learn more, from different (perhaps better) teachers. It bears repeating that your family is your tribe; this is but an interruption in our lives. We kept you too secluded at home. We should have sent you away sooner. You will learn how to behave around other children there, Thea. I hope that is not too much to ask. We know what’s best for you, though at this moment you may believe, very fervently, otherwise. That is the way of parents and their children.

Love,

Father

He had called it a camp, not a school—I was here until the end of summer, no longer. I placed the letter back into its envelope and slid it under my pillow, next to Sam’s handkerchief. I was not a child. And it was a punishment, to be sent here, even though he and Mother had said it was not; he had as good as admitted it in his letter. Anyway, he was just parroting what Mother had said. She was the one who had always decided what to do with us.

But mostly, I missed Father. I could hear his voice, softly reading the words. Miss Lee would have told him to speak up.

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls