January 3, 2012
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I awoke to the sound of an engine spluttering to a halt. Rubbing my eyes, I looked around sleepily. My grandma was in the driver’s seat, adjusting her yellow sun hat.

I had been gone for a couple weeks at my grandma’s house in New Orleans because I was having some problems, mainly between me and my family. Now, back in New York, I let out a sigh of relief. I was away from my grandma’s nuthouse full of voodoo dolls and tarot cards!

I hopped out of the old blue Volkswagen beetle and looked around at my little ranch. It was surrounded by fields, and the grass was un-mowed. The tire swing still hung forlornly from the big maple tree in my front yard, just as it had for seven years. I smiled at the memories it brought back to life.

I turned around, waved at my grandma, and called, “Goodbye!” She only smiled and put her hands in her lap.

Giving a mental shrug, I turned and ran up to the door. I pulled it open and jerked to a stop.

“What the…” I glanced wildly around the room.

The living room was empty! The old lazy boy recliner was missing from its place by the fireplace on the far side of the room. The couch was gone, too, except for the indents in the carpet. That means it was moved recently, I thought numbly. I started breathing faster. The TV was gone, the table, the lamp, the pictures! Even the curtains on the windows! I ran into the kitchen, and it, too was empty. So was the bathroom, my parent’s room, my brother’s room. Even my room! By then I was sobbing and gasping for air. As I turned to leave, I found a piece of paper stuck to the wall next to the door. It had my little brother’s handwriting on it. It said-
Dear Riley,
Mom and Dad say we can’t take yu with us. I’m sorry. I luv yu.

Tears streamed down my face as I read his jerky handwriting. I folded it and put it in my pocket.

Before I left, I checked the garage. It was bare as well. I went over to a loose brick in the back wall and slowly pulled it out. I sighed. The old locket that I had found in the back yard was still there. I admired its lapis lazuli face, which had the image of a white lark on the front. Inside was a faded picture with writing on the back in Latin. I still couldn’t understand it. The picture itself was of a young man with curly hair and a mischievous smile. It was black and white, and one corner had a burn mark, as if it had been in a fire. I fastened it around my neck as I slowly walked backed to my grandma’s car, which was still parked in the driveway. Suddenly, I knew that she had known all along. I stormed up to her window and cried, “You knew, didn’t you! Why-why didn’t…?”

She smiled a sad smile and replied, “Would you have believed me if I told you your parents abandoned you?”

I admitted that I wouldn’t have.

“C’mon. We’ve got a lot of driving to do if we’re going to make it home in two days.

As I sighed again, in resignation, my lip trembled. I climbed into the passenger seat and my grandma took off down the road. Watching my house as it disappeared in the rearview mirror, I had a feeling I wouldn’t be seeing it for a long time.

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