"I am an ophtalmologist, precisely speaking. Which is to say, by day I oph, and by night I talm. Ophing I can do with my eyes closed, in fact I prefer it. But it's to talm that I need all the light that I can get."
- Earl T. Earwick, ophtalmologist, to his daughter Stephanie.
Stephanie Earwick, or Stephie if you're friendly, is a girl of ten-and-a-little. The youngest of three, she came after tall Violet and grouchy Evelyn. Her father is an eye surgeon and her mother is buried in the garden because the town cemetery is full.
Stephanie is also, as mister Earwick's contemporaries describe it so hamfistedly, 'sick with thought.' That is to say, Stephanie Erwick worries a lot. About everything. All the time. In fact, thanks to all these anxieties, Stephanie Earwick has built up so much pressure in her head that when she went to sleep one night, her thoughts blew out of her ears, slipped under her bedroom door and spread through the house like poison gas, creeping into the ears and noses and mouths of her sisters, her father, their maid, her mother.
And so, the Earwick family was cursed.
Cursed so that ever since little Stephie went to sleep that night, her family was not to be her family. Instead they became the waking thoughts Stephie has about them, and Stephie Earwick is scared, terrified, of everything.
|Art by Vasily Polenov, 1886
|Art by Piotr Jabłoński
|Art by Hassan Tabrizi
|Art by Jon Klassen