Author: Aubyanne M Poulter PM
Approaching her twenty-first birthday, a young English woman's life turns upside down with the acquaintance of a mysterious young man soon after she is sent to care for her young cousins in New England.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Supernatural - Chapters: 7 - Words: 12,797 - Reviews: 3 - Updated: 11-30-03 - Published: 01-20-03 - id: 1191600
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
© 2002 Aubigne Spratling
(As always, consideration of
the copyright is not only appreciated but required.)
A thin beam of sunlight shines through a tiny crack in between the two shutters over the window just above the kitchen sink. Though preoccupied with scraping remnants of homemade dough off the inside of a mixing bowl, Vera instinctively seals it with a dish rag.
"What does Blue No. 5 mean?"
"It's ah," she quickly turns to answer the small child. "It's an excuse for a lack of creativity, Benjamin," she bends to gather a few scattered pages of a colouring book on the floor. "Davis, where's Lissa?"
"Not a clue."
Vera storms out of the kitchen, shoving the bowl onto the nearby counter and moving quickly to face her cousin who is rather disinterestedly watching television.
"You haven't any idea," she repeats, angrily.
His eyes remain fixed upon the screen. "Nope."
"Well, then." She grabs the remote, shutting it off. "Perhaps this shall jog your memory."
"Not like it's my job to watch them, Vera. Mother doled that out to you."
"Don't I know it," she sighs, turning back to the kitchen a moment, before turning back to face the young man on the couch. "Though let's not forget they are your siblings, and you could help out with them."
He ponders this a moment. "Could, sure. But I have other things to do."
"Other, I see. Not even better."
"No. Besides, why would I want to?"
"That's a fine question." She rolls her eyes, now turning to the stair. "Oh, well. Lissa!" She calls through the house. "Lissa!" It grows more insistent; she murmurs. "Where would a ten year old girl be keeping herself?" She snaps her fingers, as if driven by a new line of thought. She climbs the stairs to the third floor and then opens a small locked door to one wing of an older fashioned attic. "Lissa?" She calls, lowering herself to crouch into it.
"Over here, Vera," comes a small voice.
Crawling faster now through the small space, she arrives to a larger open one where the child sits contented with a small outdoor lantern and a book of pictures – no, a photo album. The candlelight casts shadows over and about it.
know that it's dangerous to have any kind of flammable light source up
here. The time when Davis brought matches comes to mind."
The little girl looks up from the book upon her lap. "Oh, I know Vera. But honest, I couldn't find a flashlight. I looked everywhere."
Vera looks down at the book, pushing back a few pages upon which she finds photographs of their family. "What even brings you up here?"
Vera gets a thoughtful look upon her face and clasps her hands together. "But angel, Aunt Saera is gone."
"I know." And she continues flipping slowly. "But she's here too."
She crooks a brow, taking another good look at the photograph of her mother. She sits perched upon a rock. Dust and sweat across her brow, with her dark red hair streaming and clear green eyes bright in the shadow of Kilimanjaro.
She's disheveled, but beautiful. And proud as she holds up an ancient jade carving. Looking at the pale remnant of a captured moment of time, she can faintly hear the touching eulogy within her mind:
"Saera Thierry was a strong-willed woman with admirable morality for a pioneering archaeologist. Her personal affirmation firmly stated that each individual walking the earth has a past, and they are entitled to it, lest they be respectful of others pasts. Her excursions and excavations therefore only took place within realm of fragments of her own ancestral past. And she was all the better for it."
Vera remembers the day as if it were recent, and not nearly thirteen years ago.
She was eight years old then, and soon to be turning nine; her birthday. Never one without a special surprise, Saera chose to share a bit of their heritage with her only child. She explained that a great, great ancestor of the Scottish clan from which they originated first wore a brooch containing the star sapphire now fitted into a lovely pendant -- which she still wore about her neck. She added that there was rumour that the woman went on to become royalty, and as a result, the stone held great worth.
However, Vera had always been skeptical of this, concluding that her mother simply might have concocted such a lovely tale to add a touch of mystery and a spot of glamour to an otherwise colourless existence.
Though she was certain that many little girls would have exchanged their eye teeth to be the daughter of Dr. Thierry, Vera was equally assured that they would have demanded an exchange the day that her pilot lost control over the Indian Sea. She was given no such option. Instead, her claim of ownership of the title, and all which sprang with it, was hers for life.
It wasn't that she was not most adoring of the children; quite to the contrary. Lissa had been a darling girl since she first set eyes upon her eighteen months past. Benjamin possessed his mother's sky blue eyes and his father's budding prominent chin, and Davis... well, there was never much to say about Davis. He sort of existed within the household as he had concluded until he became eighteen, there was no other place to exist. And they all chose to muddle along as best as they could.
Still, Vera would be in grave error to state that she did not miss her father. In truth, she did terribly, for he was all that she held claim to in the world since her mother's tragic passing. They each somehow survived the rest of her education up to secondary school before the bottom fell out of things.
Dr. Jonathan Thierry, prominent egyptologist decided then that it was finally time to take upon himself the most phenomenal burden of his career, and it required a stay for an indefinite length of time in Cairo. But wouldn't have thought for a moment to put them both through such a transition. As a result, not more than six months thereafter, Vera found herself at the mercy of the Westing family.
As if by a cruel jest on the behalf of Fate, Paul Westing chose that very week to break his marital bindings to Jessica Westing, the sister of her late mother. Therefore, she was often usurped by her an overwhelming depression which allowed her to spend ridiculous hours with the symphony of which she was a member. It also left plenty of opportunity for Vera to become a live-in babysitter. And she wasn't yet even at the tender age of sixteen.
God, how she missed home. How she missed them both.
"… in the doorway, or sometimes by the dresser. She brings me daisies."
"Daisies?" Vera gasped, partially due to the dank atmosphere, the rest a result of being lost in thought. "Who brings you daisies?"
Lissa grins. "Aunt Saera."
"But Lissa, that's impossible."
The little girl shook her head. "No, it's not. She even got me the picture book."
She was growing adamant. "Lissa, stop making up these stories now, please."
"Honest, Vera, I'm not." She thinks a moment, setting down the book and pointing to the pile of boxes. "Think I coulda moved them all myself?"
Vera looks to the stack of boxes; it could be eight, or even ten large boxes.
"Davis put you up to this? Does he find it funny?"
"No, Vera, listen…" She pauses, rolling her eyes and flipping over a few pages.
"Here," and she removes a pressed daisy from in between them, handing it to Vera.
She holds it carefully within her hand, in a strange sense of awe. "It's Holland-grown…" she recalls from various courses in botany.
"Right. And though I'm just in second grade, I know that's far away."
Vera is preoccupied. "Yes, yes, Lissa. Very far from New England." She thumbs her necklace nervously, rising to leave the attic, handing the flower back to Lissa who places it back in the book.
"Aunt Saera is so pretty."
"Damn it, Lissa!" Vera cries before catching herself; Lissa looks to her in surprise. She sighs. "Yes, Lissa. My mother was very beautiful."
"But aren't you gonna say hi to her before she leaves?"
"Lissa, this isn't funny anymore," she demands, turning toward the exit. "And be careful with the lantern."
"She's real proud, she says. And…" The little girl trails off and laughs. "Wow, Vera. Did you know that we're related to a real princess?"
Vera stops for a moment, staring into the thick blackness. "That's bunkum, Lissa. Don't ever repeat it."
"But why? It's the truth –"
"Not another word! If you continue with this, the first thing I'm going to do is tell your mother about it when she gets home. Understood?"
Scarcely waiting for a reply, she crawls out of the narrow space back into the main attic. Upon reaching the small door, she sees only blackness. "Lissa," she calls back. "Tell me that you brought a key."
The girl's mouth flies open. "It's locked!"
"Bloody American homes," Vera sighs, beginning to pound on the door. "Davis! Davis we're locked up here! Somebody closed the door!" She waits a moment, Lissa trailing behind. "Davis! Davis, this isn't –"
Before her words have finished, a moderate wind kicks up within the attic. The lantern flickers out. Vera calls out to Lissa, drawing her near, struggling to maintain her own sense of sanity and composure.
Merely a moment later, there is a quiet click, and the door to the exit slowly swings open. In a single swift motion, Vera pushes it open and falls out, Lissa is close behind.
"What on –"
Lissa is speechless. "I don't know about the wind, but… Aunt Saera opened the door."