Hi there Eight.

It's a little hard to find anything here these days because the House looks like it was decorated by a librarian on steroids. It's a little disconcerting to be running into elves and brownies at every turn and did you know the Faraway Tree is now growing in our backyard? Of course you do. You put it there. Thank goodness we never need to worry about neighbours here.

What's it today? Malory Towers? I thought so. I almost ran into Mary Lou on the stairs as she fled from a spider. You know, someday we're going to have to resign ourselves to the fact that we'll never be kind, generous, warm Darrell. We're going to end up like Alicia, sharp, unkind and manipulative. We always liked Alicia better anyway. And at any rate, we're didn't become Gwendoline, so that's a plus. Don't worry honey, we'll have better taste in books someday and as long as Ten keeps that Nancy Drew phase mercifully short, we'll live yet.

The grownups think it's wonderful we read so much. We're acquiring a nearly obese vocabulary and you're seeing double right now 'cos they haven't figured out that we need glasses already. But we know the truth don't we, Eight? We read because it's the safest thing to do. There's a world out there and it's too hard to walk out into it. We never quite fit.

But Eight, it doesn't matter how frantically you pile the books into towering walls. You're not safe here, not even in the House where we were always safe. This is the year you see the monsters and there's no running from them. They'll bring you on a journey and you'll have to go all by yourself, in the dark. In fact, we had to do it more than once. But first time is always scariest isn't it? And you're only Eight.

They say bad things happen for a reason. That they make us better, stronger people and when we look back, we see the good that comes of it. Forgive me, Eight because even now I have not breadth of soul to say I was glad it happened after all. Perhaps Thirty will say it, or Forty, though truth to tell, I hope we never become that trite. But I will say this. That everything that happens makes us, us. And we'll try not to be sorry for that.

I won't stay long honey. Even now, I don't quite like being so near the monsters. I don't promise it will be alright in the end because I haven't seen the end. I'm only Twenty-One. But I do promise Nine will be better and that's as far as Twenty-One can see. So you hang in there alright, and I'll meet you on the other end. There will be another end.