Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2016 finalist, Julia Vajgel! Julia finished 4th grade this past school year. She wrote a mystery story about a missing family treasure. Enjoy!
by Julia Vajgel
SLAM!! The front door swung open and banged against the wall as fast as a cheetah could run. A muddy, angry-looking girl stepped into the doorway.
“What now…?!” The girl screeched into the hall with pictures hanging on the walls.
Her house had few stairs with carpet spread across them. In the front yard was a lovely little garden with tulips blooming, since it was spring, and a small wood fence. Her garden was much prettier than the neighbors’ garden. It was outlined with beautiful rosemary plants that were quite small and bushy. There was an old, rusty, wood fence that outlined the garden.
“Hey, Missy! How was school??” asked a tall, brown-haired older girl with blue jeggings and a white shirt with a cute design of an orange cat that was covered with sequins, paws to whiskers.
Then a pale-ish woman with a grey shirt and black jeans walked down the carpeted stairs and into the room where the girl was standing. She said, “Inside voices, kids.” Then she looked at the girl and asked, “How was school? Something’s up. The way you came inside… did you need to slam the door like that? You know you’re not supposed to do that!” She then looked at the other girl who had the brown hair.
“Dear, did you ask her?” Asked the pale woman.
“Yeah, Mom, yeah, I did, she didn’t answer.”
The pale woman who turned out to be the mom looked at the girl and then asked her, “How was school?”
The girl looked at her and shrugged. “OK, I guess.”
Then the brown haired girl tried to run upstairs.
“Oh, no you don’t!” The mom screamed. “Veronica, you’re her sister, I need your help.”
Turns out the elder girl with thick brown hair was named Veronica and she stepped down a step but didn’t go any further. “Ugh. I’m supposed to be on my phone with Chloe.”
“IT WAS JENNIBE, ALRIGHT?” The girl blurted out suddenly. “Yeah, It was Jennibe, OK?
The girl’s mom walked over to the green couch they had bought a few weeks ago. It looked nice in the living room.
“Hun, sit and tell me, please.”
She sat down and began, “I was jump roping when Jennibe came over with her puny pal, Taylor, and grabbed the hand I was jumping with. Little did I know that I was right in front of a puddle that was huge.” It didn’t rain a lot where they lived. “Then WHAM, they tripped me and I fell in the puddle.”
“Then why aren’t you wet?” The mom said. “And didn’t Jennibe stop pestering you a few months ago? Hun, is there any other thing I should know about?”
“No, mom. And…. the water dried up.”
“OK, go into your room and do your homework.”
“OK.” The girl said quickly and ran to the kitchen, swung open the back door and sat down on a wooden chair in the yard.
“Veronica! I need your help. You’re her older sister, I need you to figure out what’s up.” Said the mom to Veronica who was upstairs in her black, green, BLACK room.
“Not now, mom! Chloe’s looking for a pic she wants to post! She’s gonna post it in a sec, I can’t leave my room right now!” Veronica shouted from her desk.
A brand new iMac computer was open with tabs involving Youtube, Google Docs, Facebook, Instagram, and a tab that was open at the time called “Serge the Flying Kitty Pet Episode 4” that soon changed to a tab about history and chemistry as Veronica’s mom walked in.
“Veronica, you’re not chatting with friends, watching Youtube videos including Serge the cat guy. Aren’t you a little old for it? Nevermind that right now, you’re gonna help me figure out what is on her mind. Your sister is being suspicious and she won’t tell me. Ask her some questions, please. She’s in the backyard.”
“FINE.” Veronica slapped down her laptop and walked down the stairs with her fists clenched and an angry expression on her face.
“HEY, SIS, I NEED TO TALK TO YOU.” Veronica said stiffly. She marched into the back yard and the girl was sleeping on a little wooden chair.
“WAKE UP, SIS.” Veronica tried not to scream at her sister.
“Huh? Who. Who? What. Wait- who…” The girl was pretty confused when she woke up.
“Veronie?” Veronie was Veronica’s nickname along with many others.
“Yeah, it’s me, GET UP, I need to talk to you about STUFF when I should be on my PRECIOUS-NEW-FANCY-SHMANCY COMPUTER.” Veronica had hard times when she wasn’t in her room with hot chocolate on her desk along with her “precious-new-fancy-shmancy computer,” looking up Serge the Flying Kitty Pet’s videos on Youtube and the pictures of his cartoon-self or going on Google Docs, Instagram, Facebook, Kik and all those other chat-apps and websites with friends.
“Poor you.” The girl said sarcastically. “Now, what do you want?”
“To talk to you about why you were acting so… suspicious? Like at the time you came in. The talk of Jennibe. She stopped pestering you, like, three months ago. And water doesn’t dry like that. You would still be half-sopping wet if that ACTUALLY DID happen to you.”
“It DID happen.” The girl got up out of the chair and stamped her foot against the ground when she said “DID.”
“C’mon, sis, we know it didn’t happen, what’s buggin’ you?” Veronica was confident she would get a realistic answer that made sense.
“Alright, a car ran into me while you were walking me to school and then a bus hit your dumb head so you’re dead right now and I survived but it took a lot of surgery. You’re in the hospital still, the doctors still want to fix you up, even though you’re STILL dead and the doctors know that already but they’re too stupid to realize you’re dru-ee-eumm-ing…” The girl almost laughed out loud when she saw the dismay on Veronica’s face.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! That did not happen! Besides, you can’t dream if you’re dead… well, probably.” Veronica didn’t really get what her little sister had just said. She looked so confused that she decided to change the subject. “Hey, I heard you got a 23/25 on your decimals test. Remember your fractions test? Only kid in the math class that got 25/25 was you!”
The rest of the talk was mostly about how the girl was way too used to bragging and how her test grades were great, but everyone didn’t have to know that. Then they talked about P.E. and the story of how she fell on a bush which had an ant hill next to it which was owned by fire ants which… well, I’d rather not talk about the next part. They laughed and laughed as they told each other little stories of how they got bruised and scarred, but seemed to be the funniest stories when they weren’t actually happening.
Later that night, the girl was about to brush her teeth and go to bed when Veronica entered the bathroom making a noise like an elephant and waving her arm in front of her mouth which was supposed to be a trunk. The girl was confused then remembered when they talked about earlier. The story of how cousin Jose fell off an elephant during his tour in India.
“Oh, that story was hilarious, Veronie!” The girl screeched with laughter. Then the girl’s smile started to fade as she saw the look on Veronica’s face.
Then Veronica stood next to the girl and said, “We never finished our subject.” Then she glanced at the girl’s tooth brush and remembered she should get ready to sleep too. “So,” Veronica started saying as the girl started to blush, “What was with you being all odd this afternoon?”
“I already told you, a bus hit you and you’re–”
“What REALLY happened, sis. You can trust me.” Veronica knew something was definitely up. Lies, blushing, Jennibe? All just clues to the real thing happening.
“It was…” the girl washed her toothbrush, took a cup of water, poured it on her face and opened her mouth while the water ran down her nose to her lips. “Cold…exactly what I needed. The water feels so fresh. Try some.” The girl said as she thrusted the cup to Veronica and ran out the door.
She ran and ran and ran down the hall to her room. “OCCUPIED!” She yelled as she sprinted into her room and slammed the door (again).
“Did you find out ANYTHING?” The mom asked Veronica.
“No, mom,” Veronica replied. “You should go give her a hug-kiss goodnight. She’s probably waiting.”
“Yes. I will. You should be heading to bed too, Hun. Goodnight.”
The mom kissed Veronica on her forehead.
“YyYyYeEeEeESsSSsS!” Veronica whisper screamed as she walked up the stairs to her room.
A while later the mom was on her phone in the kitchen. She clicked Facetime and then clicked some more, then some more then a face appeared. A woman with pearl earrings and a yellow shirt. She had lines under her eyes. She yawned.
“Hi, it’s Alida. How are things, hun?” The mom said to the phone.
“Good.” Responded a voice from the phone. “The kids good?”
“They miss you more than ever, Marra!”
“Remember Da?” The voice from the phone said.
The mom stood frozen. She looked slightly sad. “Why-y bring up Da? Of course I remember Father, Sis. Marra, what’s on your mind?”
“The locket. May I see it? Please, Alida.”
“Of course, Marra, but why?”
“Senia decided to play baseball which ended up in a disaster when he practiced at home. It hit Da’s photograph and wrecked the frame up. It’s at a repair shop. The photo’s fine, just the frame. I’ve been lonely without it. Can I see the locket?”
“Poor you, let me go get the locket.”
A few seconds later, the mom arrived with a golden necklace with a few silver-copper beads on a gold chain. “Here.” She reached down to open something such as a tiny, imaginary door but nothing changed. Same necklace, same people, same everything. No usual click of the necklace as the locket opened – wait, “NOO! The locket! It-IT-It’s NOT THERE. WAS I ROBBED? Who-What-Where-How…WHY!!??”
“Alida, quiet down, I know how much this means to you–”
“NO YOU DON’T!”
Marra had seemed to hang up.
“This is bad, bad, bad, BAD!” Alida ran up to Veronica’s room and pulled open the door. “The locket…. VERONICA, WHY AREN’T YOU SLEEPING?!”
Veronica was at her desk with her computer on Youtube watching Serge the Flying Kitty Pet. She also had several other tabs with Instagram and other chats. Her Walkman was on her and she was listening to disco music which could be heard very faintly if you weren’t the one wearing headphones.
“Huh, MOM… um, I… was… listening – no, putting sleepy music on my walkman to… help me get to sleep.”
“No you weren’t, I see those tabs, and I hear that disco music… Now, for really BAD news. THE LOCKET FROM DA IS MISSING. YOUR AUNT MARRA ASKED ME WHERE IT WAS AND I REALIZED IT WASN’T ON THE CHAIN.”
“Where was it, Mom? The last place you had it! Think! Grandpa gave you that necklace, we have to find it.”
“I don’t know.” The mom looked like she was about to cry.
“It’s ok, Mom,” Veronica walked over to her mom (she forgot to take her headphones off so it got un-plugged and the whole house could hear the disco music, but the mom paused it and closed the tab, which made Serge the Flying Kitty Pet Episode 6 pop up which the mom paused as well) and hugged her.
“Thanks, Sweetie, now why don’t you REALLY go to sleep.”
The next day Veronica was thinking about what to do to help find the locket. The locket was an ordinary, silver locket and when you flipped it open a picture of the Rossine family was there. The Rossine family was Alida’s family. Alida’s great grandfather, Marra, Alida, Alida and Marra’s da and mom and their great-grandmother along with many others. Friends were on one side of the locket and family was on the other. Her friends felt like family to her. To Alida it felt like losing a family if she lost her precious locket.
“WAKE UP FOR SCHOOL, KIDS.” She said stiffly as she took off the covers of the girl’s bed.
“Ehhh…. hehhmm… nooooo, hmmm.” The girl whined.
“WAKE UP NOW, I CAN’T HANDLE THIS.”
The girl sat up in confusion. She was very surprised that her mom talked in a deep, angry tone like that unlike her soft, soothing tone she used every single day. That was all the girl remembered.
“Mommy, are you ok?”
“I’M FINE.” The mom responded firmly. “It’s just…” a tear appeared in the corner of her eye but she quickly wiped it off along with her sad expression and began to be pretty angry again.
“I HAVE MIXED EMOTIONS RIGHT NOW.” The mom paused. “Get dressed.” Then she left the room.
The girl got dressed then put up her hair and picked up a white headband which she put on her head. Then she went down the stairs and into the kitchen for breakfast. It was 6:25 A.M. and school started at 9:00. She had plenty of time. But there was one odd thing. She was usually awakened by her mom at 7:30 which lasted until 7:50 if she didn’t have much sleep. But the girl was being woken up at 6:25. How strange.
Was it something special? Something involving a good spanking? Or was it something that could be fixed by a talk and hug? Was it even bad? Was it good? What happened? Veronica’s up early too? Why? What did she do? What did I do? Does it have to do with daddy? The girl had many questions of why she and Veronica were up so early. She couldn’t take it any more.
“Mom, why are we up early?! Is it special!? Or bad?! Or goodie-goodie?! Did I do something!? Will I get spanked or hugged?! Why is Veronie here?!” She blurted out which made everyone look at her. The girl started to turn red. “Oh…”
“Oh, what? Do you know why you’re here? Was it YOU?” Veronica sneered.
“Mum, wa-hi-y am I up thsoo eely?” The girl said as she stuck a big piece of toast in her mouth.
“Small bits of the toast, don’t wanna choke.” The mom said. “I have to talk to you.” She looked at the girl. “Do you know… about the locket… that my da gave me. Your grandpapa?”
“Grandpapa? Yes, I know about the, the, um, the locket.”
Strange… Though the mother.
“Uh, what about it?” The girl asked nervously.
“It’s missing. Do you know where it is?”
All of a sudden the girl went cold. She seemed to have froze. “Aye… No. No, I don’t know where it is.” The girl said in an uncomfortable tone.
“Do you know who could have–”
“I have… homework, buh-bye!”
The girl ran up the stairs as Veronica shouted, “It’s six A.M.! You don’t have homework!”
“Whatever!” The girl shouted back.
Then as the slam of a door (the girl’s door to her room precisely), Veronica looked at her mom and said, “It’s obvious she’s lying.”
The mom sighed and walked to the living room. “Finish up your breakfast and grab your bag.”
“School starts in an 2 hours!”
“Do it. We’re going early.”
Later in the day Veronica arrived at school. Chloe, Lucy, Mackenzie, And Kenny were talking to each other in the front of Veronica’s classroom.
“Oh, Veronica! I love how you helped Kioria!”
“She’s so cute!”
“And she auditioned and I helped her sing for the Up For Town play!”
“Isn’t it fab? New girls rock! Hashtag: WorthANewPairOfHighheels!”
The girls blurted at her. Then they did the high-pitch-girl…n“SCREEEE!!”
“Hey Veronie! Hang over here! I gotta tell–”
“Oooohhh! It’s the NEW GIRL!”
“I have to go meet her!”
“OMG, her shoes are adorbs! She’s probably worth ten-million glittery-fab-sparkly-diamond-and-opal-cutsie-patootsie UNICORNS!” Chloe screeched.
“Well, her high heels are probably worth that much, which means-”
“Be right back, best friend!” Chloe scampered off to the new girl was talking to Lucy, Mackenzie and Kenny because they had already ran over to her.
“WHICH MEANS SHE HERSELF IS WORTH NOTHING.” Veronica said angrily. “New girls always take your friends. It happened to Liv. Hey, where is Liv? LIV?!”
“Here!” Came a voice from the sparkly hall. There was such a crowd that Veronica could barely see who said that. Finally the crowd moved along slightly and she was able to squeeze through the remaining people to see a Red-haired girl in a plain ol’ white T-shirt with brown jeans that looked exactly like Veronica’s jeans.
“Yep, I got your type of jeans! They looked so cute and comfortable I just had to buy a pair.” The red-haired girl said. Her name was Liv, Veronica’s BFF.
“You look legendary,” Veronica said as the hall cleared and every pale red locker became visible.
“Hey, people are starting to head to class. We should move along too. The ol’ bear ain’t got enough hair.” Liv’s favorite saying was “the ol’ bear ain’t got enough hair” which simply meant they couldn’t stay in that place forever. If a bear stood in one place forever, life would be hard. Veronica had heard her friend say this many times. She knew what this verse meant. They walked off to room 72 and went inside.
Later in the day at dismissal, Liv, Chloe and Mackenzie were talking with Veronica.
“So about Kioria…” Mackenzie started.
“Kioria is fab!” Chloe said for the one-hundreth time, “You must meet her!”
“I don’t know guys, I feel like… nevermind.” Veronica was worried her friends like Kioria better than her.
“Any problem, Veronie?” Liv asked.
“Liv, many problems, many.”
“Like what?” Mackenzie asked.
“The locket I’ve been talking about has gone missing.” Veronica responded sadly.
“We’ll talk about this tomorrow, I gotta walk home. Chloe, c’mon. Our playdate?” Mackenzie said.
“I know, I know, gimme a sec!” Chloe shouted at Mackenzie.
“If your sis or friend took it, just search their room or something, that’s what I do when my bro steals my iPad to record a video and post it while his is charging. Now I gotta go with Mackenzie. Hope you find it, see ya!” And then Chloe ran up to Mackenzie who started walking a while ago.
“Hey, Liv, don’t we have a playdate today?”
“Oh, yeah! I forgot! Let’s go!”
During dinner, later that day, Veronica asked if she could be excused. She had barely eaten anything so she came up with the excuse “I had a huge lunch” which was not true.
She ran upstairs and scampered as quiet as possible with Liv up to her sister’s room (Before that she stopped in her room and grabbed a detective magnifying glass and hat. Then she put on a cool lab coat that she got at an intervention. Yes, an intervention, long story).
“Cool coat, Veronica,” Liv commented.
“Thanks, now let’s snoop around my sister’s room. We have to find that locket.”
“You’re using Chloe’s idea?”
“Yeah, what’s wrong with that?”
They crept into her room and looked in drawers and shelves and books and on her desk. Even under her bed which was was voted “Top Stinkiest Under-The-Bed Award since the 1st year of life!” named by Veronica.
“I can never un-smell that.” Veronica winced.
“OK, Veronica, never mind that keep searching.” Liv responded.
“I found a bracelet, a shovel, candy, possibly a dead rat….” Veronica was really freaking out about that smell.
“Hey, Veronie, I found a toy shovel. Why would she have a real and toy shovel?”
“The only place there are real shovels is the garage and she’s not allowd in the garage! That sneaky little–”
“OK, let’s just figure out why she has it, Veronica!”
“Liv, there’s dirt on the shovel. And next to it is a… red and green rat?”
Liv rolled her eyes and looked under the bed where Veronica was looking. She took Veronica’s magnifying glass and pointed it at the “red and green rat.”
“No, silly. It’s a tulip. A pretty nice red one. Does your family have tulips in their garden?”
“YES! We have many in the back yard!”
They sprinted down the stairs and swung open the back door. SLAM!! They looked for the tulips.
“They’re right next to us!” Liv yelled in glee.
And sure enough there were trails of red tulips along the edges of the pathway. Oddly, there was a clump of dirt where a bright red tulip was supposed to be.
“There!” Veronica screamed, pointing to the clump.
“I brought the toy shovel by accident.” Liv said then laughed and Veronica joined in.
“The real shovel would’ve been useful, but this is good enough!” Veronica grabbed the shovel out of Liv’s hand.
“Hey, Veronie! Why?!”
“He, ha, he, revenge.”
Then they both laughed again. They eventually stopped fooling around and dug up the clump of dirt.
“This won’t take long, how far can a 3rd grader dig?” Veronica laughed again.
“How far can a 6th grader dig? Hashtag: NoneForLife.” Liv laughed when she saw the look on Veronica’s face.”
“Um, I’m a 6th grader? L-O-L. 7th graders are too old to dig! They break their backs.”
“Oh, c’mon, Veronie.” They both laughed and laughed as they dug and dug deeper into the ground.
“I feel something!” Veronica said as she banged the toy shovel against something that made a clump-clump sound.
She did it again. “Music!”
Clumpity, clumpity, clump, clumpity, clumpay, clumpoo, clumpaa, clumpity , cluuuump, clump, clump, clump, cluuu-oooh-umppp! Liv danced the chicken dance and the sprinkler and tried to do the moon walk and but tripped on a large stick.
“I’m OK!” She said as she got up with her hand on her hurting back.
“Do the disco.” Veronica said.
Liv got up and did the regular disco moves but they failed pretty bad. They both laughed and laughed.
Finally Veronica pulled out the wood object from the ground.
“It’s a box,” Liv said after a while. “What’s in it? Hmmm…”
Veronica sniffed it and put her fingers on her nose so she couldn’t smell it. “Ewwwwwww….!!” It smelled like and old decaying shack with worms sliding all over. Turns out there were a few worms on it which Veronica and Liv plucked off and put back in the hole.
Veronica shook the box. Clatter, clatter, clump.
Liv stood up getting ready to dance, but Veronica signaled her to get down. She didn’t feel like dancing right now. This could be anything. It could be the locket which they hoped it was. It could be an ancient object buried under the ground for several years. It could be anything.
“Let’s open it,” Veronica suddenly said.
As she said that the mom and girl walked over to the hole.The girl looked very nervous, but she walked to it anyways.
She flicked a little lever on a metal hinge and the box flipped open. All of them peered into the box to see a round glistening beauty. Veronica and Liv stood in pride as a silver beam seemed to reflect against the sun, coming from the box. Copper streams of light swirled into it and gold details took the center. The words, made from copper, “Hope” were on top of the center in beautiful cursive script. It flung open as Veronica grabbed it and you could see a young, beautiful family. Gold details swirled inside.