Dana wishes she’d have just followed one rule...
The Mystery of Windesta Creek
CHAPTER
5
Lock And Key
The door was open, and there was no closing it. I thought Miss. Hollis was tall, but Aunt Greta was towering. She had red hair, like no one else in the family, and hazel eyes. She was wearing flats, jeans, and a red t-shirt. She looked pretty, prettier then I was.
“ Welcome! I’m so glad you came, Dana! I’m your Aunt Greta, but please call me Lil.” I stared at her. That nickname made absolutely no sense. Greta was nothing like Lil. Had she gone insane in all the years mom had lost contact with her.
“ Oh, it’s my middle name, Dana.” She sensed my confusion, “ Greta makes me sound like I’m about eighty, not thirty two! I’ve been called Lil since middle school.” She sure was... enthusiastic.
“ Well, what are you doing just standing in my doorway! Come in, dry off, and I’ll whip you up some nice hot tea. How does that sound?” I hated tea, but I wasn’t about to tell her that.
“ Uh, sounds great!” I lied, and walked in, trying very hard not to drip all over the ornate carpet, to no avail.
“ So, what rules do you have here?” I said eagerly. She looked at me like my hair was gradually turning purple before her eyes.
“ Rules?” She said faintly.” well, as long as you don’t make too much trouble, I feel that you are responsible enough to not get into too much trouble. Don’t rules just stifle adventure and creativity? I mean, you should have a line yourself between stealing your principal’s bobble head and being a complete bore. I hear you’ve done both.” Now I was upset. There was nothing wrong with sticking to the rules!
“ What room should I take?” I said stiffly, fists clenched.
“ Oh, anyone of the three empty bedrooms. Just don’t go into the fourth bedroom. That’s my private sanctum.” Great.
“ Please give me some rules!” I burst out desperately.
“ You really want a rule?” She said. I nodded, and she led me up the stairs. She took me to a nice, elegant bedroom with a beautiful bed and full bookshelf. There was a window with a gigantic tree outside it. And there was a golden lock on the door. I instantly fell in love with it.
“ Rules: This is your bedroom, you have to stay in your bedroom, and no dinner.” She said. And she locked the door, and left. That escalated quickly.
“ Wait, Aunt- I mean Lil! Let me out!” I shouted through the door.
“ You wanted rules Dana, and you got them.” Said Lil’s muffled voice. I turned the knob, but the lock was strong. But then I remembered picking the lock on the principal’s office. Most locks were pin and tumbler, easy to pick.
I scanned the room for a hair barrette, a knife, anything sharp. Then I smacked my head. I was wearing one! Wow, this couldn’t be less difficult. After I picked the lock, I could call the ferry, go to Beige Town, and sleep in the kitchen of Kate’s Sip N’ Chew.
I stuck the pin in, but there was no click. I tried again. Nothing! This lock wasn’t pin and tumbler! Literally everyone’s locks were pin and tumbler! I pressed my full weight against the door, but that thing was solid. It was like hitting a brick wall.
Then I remembered: the window! I could open the window, and use that big tree to climb out of this lovely prison! So long, Lil and her sadist ways!
It did strike me as strange that she was so friendly at first, and when I asked for rules and order, she went nuts. Maybe this was a test, to see if I would be bad and break the rules by leaving. Maybe if I just stayed, then she would keep me for the summer, but if I left... she would have to send me home. I would face shame, and my record would be marred. Plus, I would have Kasey to contend with.
So, I tried to pick the lock again. Still not working. So I sat on the bed for five minutes. But that window looked so inviting... I could just go, and do whatever I wanted outside.
I made a split second decision. I had nothing to lose by going outside. So, I opened the screen, and gingerly placed my foot on the branch. I shimmied down the trunk, and I was out. And worst of all, I didn’t feel guilty. Lil was wrong to lock me in there, so why shouldn’t I make it right?
I decided that it was high time to check out all the woods around here. I strolled through the trees, watching the birds chirp. The skies had cleared up, and it had become a sunny day.
I found a clear lake, shimmering in the sun. I could see big fish happily swimming just below the surface. Reeds poked out of the banks, and bunny was nibbling at some grass. This would be an amazing place to paint. But then I remembered that all my supplies were back in Lil’s house of Doom, so I’d probably never see them again. I wanted to cry, but that didn’t seem mature, so I just took off my sneakers and put my toes in the cool water.
Just then, I heard a boy’s voice.
“ Mom wants me to go beat the maze before anyone else, but it’s so big! How can she expect me to get through?” He protested.
“ Yeah, but the first person to beat Pear’s maze is gonna get 1,000 dollars and glory.” A girl’s voice reasoned. Then, I saw them, and they saw me. The boy was strong, with near black hair, and the girl had lighter brown hair, freckles, and wore jean shorts and a pink t-shirt that said “ My Hogwarts Letter Is Coming Soon”. I wanted to know where she bought it.
“ She’s not from around here!” The boy said.
“ Yeah, no duh, Parker.” The girl said.
“ Then where is she from?” He said. I gave him a glare. He shot it straight back at me. I noticed that his eyes were a stormy grey, swirling with the clouds of his thoughts.
“ If you haven’t noticed, you two, I’m sitting right here!” I said crossly. I didn’t appreciate the boy, Parker, especially pretending that I was somewhere else.
“ Sorry.” The girl said. Parker rolled his eyes.
“ I’m from a different town, but I stole a bobble head from my principal and I got shipped here as punishment to stay with an evil Aunt that no one in my family really knows. Aunt Greta, who asked me to call her Lil, locked me in my room. So, I escaped. I’m not exactly in a fabulous mood under the circumstances.” I left out the part about how my friends betrayed me.
“ Yeah, Greta? She locked you in your room? She’s a bit of a free spirit, but she’s not the type to do that. Weird. Are you gonna go back?” The girl asked.
“ No, I think I want to go home, instead. That woman is insane!”
“ Well, the ferry- it only comes once a month. If you want to go home, you’ll have to wait a month. But Parker and I can help you out, somehow.”
“Gwen, there’s no way we are about to help a girl that we found in the middle of the woods!” Parker protested, again speaking like I wasn’t in front of him. Gwen ignored him.
“ What’s your name?” She asked me.
“ Dana. You know that boy over there, Parker? Does he always act like such a jerk?” I purposefully acted like he wasn’t there.
“ Nah, he’s just in a bad mood because his mom wants him to go into a giant maze that people have died in because it’s so unsolvable. Don’t worry, he won’t actually do it, he’s too chicken. Parker will warm up to you, it just takes a while. Come on, I have something really, really cool to show you!”
She grabbed my wrist and pulled me through some forest. Then she pointed to a huge tree, with lots of branches. Luckily, I was a good climber, because I knew what was coming.
“ Bet I can beat you to the top!” I taunted her. Then I scurried onto the first branch, but she was on the third already. Wow, she was fast! But I rose steadily, and I knew she was going too fast to be hanging on well. So I wasn’t surprised when I saw her hanging on to the branch above her with one hand. While she struggled to get up, I made it to the top.
“ Ha! Slow and steady wins the race!” I shouted.
“ Yeah, but you just admitted that you’re slow!” Gwen panted, “ Okay, okay, fine. You did win fair and square.”
“ So why is this tree so special, anyways? I mean, we’re in a forest. It’s not like there’s any shortage of plant life or something.” I did see that this tree was different from the others in that it was extraordinarily tall. It was kind of the “Queen Bee” tree, watching over it’s little, normal counterparts.
“ Just look. You can see Windesta Creek.” Gwen said.
I stared, and saw the Island. It was better then I could have expected. Though haze still covered most of the Island, peeking through I saw bursts of color. Rocks worn down for centuries by water. Birds chirping. An old, wooden house protected by an iron gate, and surrounded by hedge statues of peacocks and bears, foxes and dogs. And I thought for a moment that I was glad to have made a friend.
“ Wow.” I gasped.
“ I know.” Said a familiar voice. But it wasn’t Gwen’s. It was Lil’s.
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