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The Misty Truth
The raindrops dripped down the car window. All I could see was trees and mud. The rain trapped me inside the car. If you could go crazy from boredom, I was pretty close to going insane. I had a very impatient disposition, and six hours in a car was not my idea of a good time. I wanted my mind to soar away from this dull land, but the trees kept my mind inside my head. All it could do was bounce around. I was forced to relieve the events that brought me here.
“Mom!” I shouted. The postman had just dropped off the mail, and I wanted my mother take it from my hands. She rushed down the stairs and snatched it from me.
“Bill, bill, junk, catalogue,” she rattled off, “bill, and oh, a letter?”
We both stared at the letter in wonder. Who would send us a letter? I ran to a drawer and began digging through it. I found my prize: the letter opener. Its rusty blade was covered in dust. I handed it to my mother, who then gingerly opened the letter. Her eyes filled with tears.
“Linda…” she whispered.
The letter fluttered to the floor like a dead butterfly. I picked up, nervous about what I would read.
“Linda…” I whispered.
As my father attempted to read a haphazard map from 1982, my mother dabbed her puffy eyes. I thought about Linda. My second cousin. She was my second cousin. Was. The past tense, however true, was odd. Why did Linda die? My great-uncle neglected to mention that tiny detail.
Linda was probably my favorite cousin. I had only met her once, about five years ago. We spent the entire day my town pool, having a lot of fun. I didn’t know her very well but Linda was a good listener, and a strong swimmer, especially at the butterfly kick. Since then, the occasional email or text was exchanged.
“Aha!” my father shouted, jolting me awake. He found the mansion where my great-uncle lived. As he turned onto the driveway, I noticed a huge lake with an eerie white mist over it. The huge mansion looked like a small castle, with a huge cherry tree by the lake. A group of men were digging a hole underneath it. A grave.
“Linda.” I whispered. She really was dead. I needed to get out of the car. I felt like I was drowning in the raindrops coming down the car window.
“Can I go inside?” I asked. I really wanted to meet my mysterious great-uncle. I also wanted to ask him more about Linda. The few texts she sent really didn’t define her personality.
“Calm down Madeline.” My mother warned. “I’m sure your uncle is very upset.”
“I know Mom.” I said. I tried not to be impatient.
“Go,” she sighed, noticing my eagerness at entering the mansion.
I hopped out of the car and was promptly splattered with mud. It was cloudy like lake water and probably ruined my white jeans. I ran to the huge front door, wary of the large mud puddles I was spreading.. As I knocked, I looked at the huge lake. I was glad I brought a bathing suit so I could go swimming. I was so fixated with the lake that when the door opened, I jumped.
“Sorry to have frightened you.” a man said. He was wearing a grey suit with a green tie. “I am Mr. Tuttle, the butler.”
A butler? Wow, my uncle was rich. Trying to seem classy and elegant, I stood up straight and called to my parents.
“Mother, Father!” I called, while trying to keep my dignity. Jeans and mud do not help your appearance. My father almost dropped his suitcase.
The butler ran out to help them, and I snuck inside. Not very dignified, but I wanted to see the inside of this mansion. I was fascinated at the inside of the mansion. Tapestries covered the walls, and statues adorned every corner. I thought Queen Elizabeth was going to walk around the corner. When my parents stumbled in, they were awestruck.
“Wow.” my mother breathed.
“Is that armor?” my father asked.
“Yes. It is from the 1500’s,” a deep voice said from down the hall. It was my great-uncle, walking briskly. He had greying hair, and wore khakis with a red sweater. His footsteps echoed off the stone hallway. The hallway was drafty, and I rubbed my arms to remain toasty.
“Call me Uncle William,” he said. “I apologize for the chill-stone doesn’t warm quickly.”
I nodded. My dad was taking pictures.
“Uncle William,” I asked. “How did Linda die?”
A cloud of darkness passed over his face. My mother tried to nudge me but I didn’t care. I knew it was rude, but I had a right to know how Linda died.
“A tragedy. We all are sad about it.” Uncle William said. His tone was clear: no more questions about Linda.
“Can I go swimming tomorrow?” I asked, trying to change the subjects.
“No!” he shouted suddenly. “You could easily drown!”
I shrunk back and stopped talking. We started walking to the end of the hallway. A huge painting of a girl about eighteen or so hung on the wall. She had her brown hair braided to one side. A gorgeous blue ring lay on her finger. Uncle William saw me looking at it.
“Linda.” he said.
“Lovely ring.” I said. I wasn’t used to this kind of conversation.
“There’s a matching bracelet. I gave her them from London.” Uncle William’s voice echoed years of pain.
Linda looked alive in the painting, not dead like she was. I hurried into the room Uncle William had opened the door for. I was bathed in warmth the minute I entered. A couple old aunts and uncles mumbled their hellos and quickly got back to talking. My mother and father sat down and started to talk. Uncle William ushered me back outside.
“I want to show you Linda’s room. You are going to be sleeping there.” He said.
Sleeping? In a dead person’s room? The thought terrified me.
He took me to a small blue room. It smelled floral, and the furniture was green. A patchwork quilt covered the bed. The shelves were crammed with books, and I wanted to sit down and start reading. Uncle William looked sad for a moment, and then silently left the room.
While looking for a book, I found a leather one marked DIARY. I decided to read it. Linda was already distant in my mind, through family ties, and miles. I felt no guilt.
I lost the blue ring Uncle gave me. I couldn’t resist the water, even though I’m not allowed. Yet when I splashed my hand in the water, a bit of seaweed caught the ring and bracelet and they came off! I then heard Mr. Tuttle and had to quickly leave. I look for it tomorrow, but I have to be careful. My feet would get stuck in the mud a lot. Uncle is too paranoid. I couldn’t ever get hurt there.
I woke up early the next morning and snuck out to the lake. I needed to check it out. While walking along the path to the lake, I saw other footsteps. The mist on the lake surrounded me and whispered things, saying I should leave. My skin crawled and my common sense told me to leave, but ignored it. I had a sixth sense, and it was pushing me to the lake.
“Linda.” I whispered.
The lake was gently lapping on the shore. It was so placid that I splashed my hand around and saw a flash of blue. I felt around, and my fingers closed around a ring. Pulling my hand out of the water, I saw that it was the same one as in the painting. Still feeling around, I found a smooth rock. It was a bracelet with butterflies engraved on it.
Linda. I lost the blue ring. I was holding it. My feet would get stuck in the mud a lot. My feet were too. The mist grew thicker. I still want to go back to the lake. The footprints on the path. I couldn’t ever get hurt there.
“Linda..” I whispered. Oh, silly Linda! You could get hurt! You could die! You did die!”
By now the mist was a swirling vortex of the truth. I remembered her diary, what I was holding, and the facts. Uncle William’s hate of the lake suddenly made sense.
I ran back to the house, clutching the bracelet and ring. Mr. Tuttle gave a little shriek when he saw the cane.
“It was…can’t be…lake…” he whispered.
Uncle William had the same reaction. When I tried to return the ring, he closed my hand around it and told me to keep it. He wanted the bracelet to keep.
“This is our secret, OK?” he asked.
The funeral was sad, but lovely. I wore the rubicund dress and was respectful and polite. My aunts and uncles sobbed on scraps of lace. Uncle William kept it together, while Mr. Tuttle sobbed. My parents both cried.
The mist on the lake seemed to whisper to me once again, this time welcoming me. The blue ring on my finger seemed to tingle ever so slightly. All the cherry blossoms fell on top of the mound of dirt, making it beautiful. A butterfly soared over the grave.
“Linda.” I whispered.