Dana wishes she’d have just followed one rule...
The Mystery of Windesta Creek
Trouble... Again?
“ I-I don’t know what to say. No, I do actually.” I told Lil.
“ And what is that Dana?” She said pompously. Her eyebrows were raised so high, I wondered if they were sitting on Mt. Kilimanjaro at the moment.
“ Well, I wanted to say...” Gwen looked at me encouragingly, “ I can’t believe you had the nerve to lock me in my room! I wanted rules, lady, and I can’t believe that you would do that. That was twisted, and if you think I’m coming back with you, Lil, you’re wrong!” I blurted out in anger. I hadn’t meant to be that cruel, but I was honest, truthful, and not getting out of that tree branch!
To my shock and surprise, Lil began to chuckle. That chuckle became a full fledged bellow, and then a knee- slapping, cackle giggling, floor rolling, hearty laugh. Had she cracked? Or had she always been this crazy? I was getting the feeling it was the latter.
“ You-“ She cracked up again, “ you don’t realize that you went out the window! Ha! Goody-Goody left! You broke a horrible rule!” She giggled. I frowned. Gwen scowled.
“ So? Yeah, it was a horrible rule. What’s so funny about it, anyways? what’s really funny is that you put me in a room right next to a big, sturdy old tree, that was great for climbing down.” Now, her face became stern, serious, and she looked sane. After the fiasco we had just been through, it was a bit late for that.
“ Exactly.” She said, “ You’ve gone off on your on adventure. I wasn’t sure if you’d do it. But I was pleasantly surprised when you decided to break a dumb rule. You made a friend, you’ve explored this Island a bit- so tell me, did you ever have much fun back at your home on land?
I sputtered. She set me up! That whole speech about how I was so boring when I first got to her house... she was trying to sabotage my plan for a fresh start. And yet, I saw her point. I was having fun. At home, maybe I had been a bit too uptight. I had never broken rules, at least not routinely, even if they made no sense. I never had a bit of something to call my own, except my paintings. I longed to reach out under the bed now, take one, and look at the brush strokes, maybe take a blank canvas and create some more. But I couldn’t afford to think that way, as liberating it would be. Hobbies were for when I had a college degree in psychology or something in the field of medicine. No, for after I had taken six years of graduate school.
Apparently, Lil wasn’t such a great studier as a kid. Maybe I wouldn’t be, either, not spending hours every day pouring myself into the work, if only I was naturally gifted at math.
“ Why?” I asked.
“ No reason. Don’t worry about it anymore. I give you my word that I won’t lock you in a room. Plus, you can choose your own. I just wanted to show you that a little adventure might not be so bad. Please give this summer one more chance. I pushed you too soon.” She pleaded. I gave her a steely gaze.
“ Plus, I have something you care about. Your record is in my hands, and a little birdie told me that if you didn’t stay with me, your college application would have a big black dot of ink smearing all of what you sacrificed so much to earn. Right now, your records are clean and perfect. But if you don’t come with me... that can all change.” She threatened.
“ Fine, but I need the room with the tree window in your mansion, as a precaution.” I said coldly, “ I don’t trust you, and you haven’t given me any reason that I should.”
“ See you soon?” Gwen said hopefully. “ We need to talk... about the Island and it’s, uh, history! Kay?”
“ You bet! Next time, you can show me around the island and I can win again when you decide it’s time to climb a tree. No backing down.” I challenged.
“ You’re on!” She cried, “ And this time was just luck. Next time, I’ll beat you by a mile!”
“ Sure... and tell Parker I say hi.” I said.
I hopped down from the tree, and went back to Lil’s house. As we went onto the front stoop, I couldn’t believe I was forgiving her already. But I really wasn’t, at the same time. I stayed a good distance from her, and I looked at her eyes suspiciously when they seemed to be nothing but helpful, and friendly, and smiling.
“ Can I go in your backyard?” I asked her. I didn’t want to go in her house, it seemed looming, and it’s shadow stretched for so long, it gobbled me up and swallowed me whole.
“ No, I’m afraid that my backyard is overrun with- um... Poison Ivy, and is in no condition for visitors. Unless you want a rash, dear, I suggest you stay out of the yard.” She said. But no matter how she tried to hide it, I heard some serious hesitation in her voice when she said Poison Ivy. Either she had forgotten... or she was hiding something. Maybe she was hiding something in her sanctum, too.
But my hunger was overriding my fear and paranoia ( because on a nice island like this, there was no way my Aunt could be up to anything), so I decided my thoughts were irrational, and walked inside the lavishly decorated mansion. I smelled potatoes and melting butter together.
Dinner was nice, but Lil kept asking me questions, and I just didn’t want to talk. I hated being grumpy, but I hated the questions just as much. So I opted for one word answers.
“ How is school? Are you in honors classes?”
“ Yeh.” I didn’t even want to give her a full yeah.
“ Do you have a lot of friends? A nice girl like you, I bet you have a full fan club!”
“ No.” At least, not anymore. Kasey had ruined that. I found myself gritting my teeth, although it was just a truly innocent catch-up question. I mean, she hadn’t spoken to our family in years. But wasn’t that her choice? I never knew her, it certainly wasn’t my fault.
“ Aw, why, dear, um... what did you say your name again? Tip of my tongue, if you know what I mean. You know, I’m so busy with volunteer work, I hear so many names all the time.”
“ I’m Dana, and I really, really don’t feel like talking to you about why I’m lacking friends. Anyways, what do you do for volunteer work? Mom said you settled down here and stuff.”
“ Um, yeah, helping the needy and all that. I’ve lived here all my life, and I’ve done everything there is to do on the island. You know, food shelter, stuff like that.” That story was as filled with holes as a piece of Swiss cheese. It made no sense.
“ Mom told me that you moved here six years ago, and if you grew up with mom, you lived on the mainland until you were a teenager. You couldn’t have lived here all your life, and I didn’t see any food shelter when I got here. Plus, this area is really wealthy. I haven’t seen any homeless, but I have noticed a ton of mansions. Where I live, people volunteer because there are people that need help, that are on the streets, and volunteers help them get a job, or get back on their feet. There shouldn’t be volunteers in an area without the people in need.” I said flatly.
“ Well, you sure can talk a lot, dear, but if you had looked harder, you would have seen a food shelter, clear as day. Trust me.” I didn’t.
“ Thanks for the dinner, Aunt Greta-“ I started, before she cut me off, quite rudely.
“ Lil, remember?”
“ Yeah, Lil, can I be excused and go read in my room? It’s been a long day, and I’m pretty tired out.” I lied/ didn’t tell the whole truth. Lying was such a harsh term, wasn’t it? I was tired... I just wasn’t going to read.
“ You didn’t even need to ask, bud! Go right ahead? What are you reading? Junie B. Jones? The Magic Tree House? Cool books, huh?” I wanted to laugh. I was a teenager, not a first grader.
“ Um, I’m reading The Old Man and the Sea.” I told her. No need to explain to this woman that I liked Hemingway’s elusive references, and that though Junie B. Jones was fine and dandy, it certainly wasn’t for me.
“ Oh, dear, I thought you had some reading issues, and that you were in the kindergarten honors class because you failed for all those years. Aren’t you not ready for Hemingway? You have to pass elementary school for that. It’ll happen someday, don’t worry.” Now I was truly starting to despise Lil. I was going into 9th grade!
“ I’m in high school, Lil. I really should go to sleep now.” I heard the acerbic undertone in my voice, and I felt small and cold.
“ Whatever floats your boat!” She said buoyantly. I slumped upstairs, and slid into bed. I fluffed the pillows angrily, when I heard a tapping on the window. Gwen was outside.
“ Psst.” She whispered, “ I told you we needed to talk, remember?”
“ Yeah.” I sat up again, groggily.
“ Well, I had to tell you, I’ve known Greta for 6 years, and this lady you call Lil isn’t her. Greta is shorter then 5 feet, and ‘ Lil’ is tall. Greta has black hair, and Lil has red hair. I had to warn you- this lady is not who you think she is. She’s not your Aunt, Dana.”

Keep Reading

Chapter 7

The Maroon Bathing Suit of Doom

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