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Chapter One: Does not have a name. My ideas are: The long night, questions, and in the attic. I need some more ideas. Please help me! Thanks!
“It was nighttime in the farmlands surrounding Braic Shaatis. The birds were sound asleep in their nests, the sheep were grazing quietly in the meadows, and the farmers had already come in from the fields. All was well…
“Suddenly, with a harsh, splintering sound like breaking glass, a tree near old Kravy’s Prison exploded!
“As we had planned, the guards, who had been dozing outside the iron gate, snapped to attention. When their eyes found the tree and the flames, they rushed off to sound the alarm.
“When they were out of sight, your mama threw a rock through the window. Your daddy had already finished his job, and leapt out of the hole the rock had made, landing lightly on the tips of his toes. I remember your mama muttered that there was no need to show off. Then we just ran into the bushes and hid until Kravy got there.
“We had to get moving quickly, but I did get to see the guards’ faces when they saw that their prisoner, their number-one priority, the reason they were guarding the gate and tower, had escaped. And on their watch. It was hilarious!
“But anyways, we began to lay the false trail. I have to hand it to them, they did find out that the trail was a phony sooner than we’d expected, but it wasn’t soon enough: we were already behind Joe Benzly’s wood shed.
“When they were too far away to reach us, but close enough to hear us, your mama took a deep breath, steadied herself, and began to sob dramatically.
“’No!’, she cried. ‘No! Just take them and go!’
“’I won’t! I won’t leave you!’ I insisted.
“Throughout all of this, your daddy was just standing there, looking flustered because we hadn’t told him this part of the plan. And you know what? I still think that’s what really sold the story when Kravy and company arrived ahead of schedule.
“Devon screamed at me to run, and this time the fear in her eyes and hysteria in her voice were real.
“In a normal story, this is the part where, like in our play-acting moments before, the one who is asked to leave refuses, and then says something corny. But this isn’t a normal story, and your mama isn’t a normal elf; even in her panic, she was following the plan.
“I’d like to say that it broke my heart to leave your parents to be captured and probably tortured, but at that moment, I wasn’t feeling anything. It was like somebody else was in charge of my arms and legs: all my movements felt mechanical, forced. I had to push with all my strength just to move. Yet somehow I grabbed you two and your brother and ran. It seemed as though I was moving in slow motion, but I later learned that I moved with “inhuman speed”. Not surprising, because I’m not human…
“Anyways, as I ran, I heard Kravy’s footsteps getting closer. Closer and closer, until finally, when I got my hair caught on the thorns of a shrimble bush, Kravy caught me, and took Kalvine. He jeered at me for about three seconds, and then ran off, cackling, actually cackling, into the night. Then I went home with you two, announced that the plan had failed, and that your parents were dead.”, Rozzie finished in a rush. “Okay! How was it?”
Kelly didn’t really care for bedtime stories anymore, so she just mumbled, “It was okay, I guess.”
But Katrina just sat there silently. She stared at her aunt, her small mouth hanging open ever so slightly, her face skeptical. She raised one thin, slanted eyebrow, and then spoke. “You’re joking, right?”, she rolled her eyes exasperatedly, a comical gesture on a face as small and delicate as hers. “Look, I’ll admit, your beginning and middle were okay, but that ending sucked! Where was the suspense, the drama? It’s the perfect scene to tell why Daddy was in prison! I’m sorry Rozzie, I love you and all, but your storytelling skills rot!”
“Hey! You watch your mouth!” Rozzie exclaimed sharply, her eyes hardening the way they always did when she scolded them. It was so strange the way her normally delicate features transformed when she got angry. Her soft brown eyes hardened like molten rocks, her thin eyebrows narrowed, and her mouth set into that line. And if her skin, normally a creamy caramel brown, took on that red tone, you knew you were in for it. It being a bent-down-over-Rozzie’s-knee spanking. She could spank you so hard you wouldn’t be able to wear jeans for a month. And Katrina knew that from experience.
While Katrina had been dozing off into space, Rozzie had tucked them in, and turned out the light. So when, out of nowhere, Katrina felt a smoochy, slobbery kiss, she almost jumped out of her skin.
“Sorry.”, she apologized. “Spaced out for a minute…”.
“It’s okay.”, Rozzie assured her. “Get some sleep, I’ll see you in the morning.”
As soon as Rozzie was out of sight, Katrina threw off the covers, and rubbed her forehead. “Yuck! When’s she gonna stop doing that?! We’re not two anymore! I understood when we were four, even five, but we’re six now! Six, and our birthday is tomorrow! We’ll be the only seven-year-olds who’s aunties still tuck them in and kiss them goodnight! I bet Charlie’s mom doesn’t do that for her anymore! When will this nightmare end? Why does she keep doing this night after night? And she always tries to hide the fact that she locks the door every night! I get the lock, but the alarm?! That’s just overkill! We’re gonna be seven! You’d think she’d at least trust us not to sneak out and fall down the stairs! I mean, come on, the last time we did that we were barely two! And that was when we were sick, and we could hardly walk. Yeah, I broke my leg, and you broke your arm, but it wasn’t that bad! She’s so overprotective! This is so unfair!” Katrina tugged at her auburn hair, frustrated and unsure whether or not she was done fuming. With another sharp jerk of her hair, she decided she was, and flopped back on one of her fluffiest pillows with a sigh.
During the silence that followed, Katrina stared around the room. It had just been redecorated- an early birthday present from Rozzie.
No, it hadn’t just been redecorated, Katrina corrected herself. It’s been a month.
A whole month and still she never tired of staring at those jade green walls, bordered along the bottom by all the nonsense doodles they’d drawn. She never tired of staring at the dolls on the antique nightstand, never tired of staring at the Tikam posters that were plastered to the wooden headboard. But most especially, she never tired of looking at the wonderfully frilly sheets and pillows. She loved looking at that beautiful lilac color, loved the wonderful feel of her fingers against the silky smooth satin fabric.
Katrina smiled to herself as she found herself doing it again. She’d done it so many times in the past month that she’d begun performing the action unconsciously; all it took was one thought, and she would start stroking her pillows.
She rolled over, causing the new mattress to squeak, but she didn’t notice. She was too busy thinking about what would happen the next day. It was going to be a big one. She and Kelly would be having their birthday party, and then they’d finally be going off to school, big kid school, where you stay all year and only come home for holidays.
Except they wouldn’t get to go home, because Rozzie had got a new job to stay closer to them.
Being overprotective again… Katrina thought exasperated.
Hey! the Voice cut in. Look on the bright side; at least you’ll get extra desserts! It must be great having a mom who can bake well enough to get accepted as Head Baker at the Mertwanian Academy. You know, they don’t let just anybody in. You’ve got to be good.
Stop it! Kelly cried. It’s bad enough having Katrina in here without you too! How come you can hear us anyways?
Yeah! Katrina echoed. How come? I always wondered about that…
I don’t know. How come you can hear me? the Voice challenged.
Katrina was stumped, but she wasn’t about to admit that. Of course, now that she thought it, there was no hiding it; anything she thought, whether she said the words in her head, or it came as a fleeting idea, Kelly and the Voice would most likely hear it, and vice versa.
So Katrina felt the Voice’s smug satisfaction, and Kelly’s annoyance, but as usual, her emotions overpowered the rest.
It was one of the first things they had discovered about their link: you could know what they knew, feel what they felt, but what you were thinking, and what you were feeling was usually above the rest. Sometimes it was hard, sometimes it was clear as day. One thing was for sure, though: it made tests easy. Katrina studied one part, Kelly took the other, and even the Voice sometimes helped them out.
They only other thing they knew was that if you really tried, you could hide things from the others. But it came with a price; you’d get a terrible headache if you kept whatever it was a secret for more than a few hours. A few minutes was okay, so, in the beginning, they’d done it without thinking. They’d be having one of their internal conversations, and hide stuff.
It’d be pretty hard to have a conversation if we couldn’t even do that. Katrina reflected. Cause they’d know what I was gonna say before I said it. It’s good that I found out what we were doing, but I wish it could’ve happened a different way…
Katrina had broken Kelly’s favorite doll when they were two. She’d lied about it for three whole days. By the time she’d confessed, she was so pale and shaky and weak that Rozzie had begun to think about taking her to the hospital.
Hello? Earth to Nina! Anybody in there? Kelly’s thought sounded slightly amused.
What? I just got distracted, that’s all. Hey! Are you laughing at me? She paused for a moment. I knew it! You are laughing at me! No fair!
Why no fair? Kelly asked, even though she knew that Katrina knew that she knew the answer already.
Because you’re both laughing at me! Katrina whined.
You know guys, you really should go to bed now. What if you sleep through your party? the Voice said anxiously.
Oh, all right already! You’re not our mama! Go away! Kelly yelled.
Kelly! Be nice! Hey, Voice, its okay. You don’t have to leave. Katrina said.
But the Voice had already gone.
Another silence followed, but this one wasn’t so peaceful. It was the kind of silence that begs to be broken.
Kelly absolutely hated it when it was too quiet. Katrina knew that the silence scared her. She also knew that Kelly would rather die than admit it, so she always pretended not to know. Sometimes she’d say something so Kelly wouldn’t have to, but tonight she didn’t.
Kelly was getting increasingly uncomfortable, so finally she decided she was “bored”, and was going to tell a joke to have something to do.
Hey Katrina! Wanna hear my joke? Kelly asked.
Sure. Katrina replied. You’re gonna tell it whether I like it or not. Pirate one, right?
Kelly ignored her twin’s comment and plunged into her joke. Okay, so there’s this band of pirates who have lots of treasure. And lots of treasure means lots of enemies, right? So one day, the first mate runs up to the captain and says, “Captain! Four enemy ships on the horizon! What should I do?” And so the captain says, “Bring me my red shirt!” So the first mate does, and they fight the enemy and win. Later, the first mate comes up to the captain, puzzled. “Why’d you ask for your red shirt?” he asks. And the captain says, “It’s so that if I got shot and was bleeding, the crew would not notice and keep on fighting.” About two days later- remember, they’re rich, lots of enemies- About two days later, the first mate runs up to the captain again, and this time he’s wide-eyed. He shouts, “Captain! Twenty enemy ships on the horizon! Do you want your red shirt?” And so the captain says-
“No! Bring me my brown pants!” Katrina shrieked the last line and burst into giggles. Kelly joined her. She wasn’t annoyed that Katrina had stolen the punch line: She knew the moment she began telling it that Katrina would finish it, because she always did. And the whole twin telepathy thing did help a bit.
Suddenly, Katrina had an idea. Or maybe Kelly did, she wasn’t sure. But either way, it was a great idea. They’d sneak out of their room and go see what was in the attic. They weren’t allowed to go in there, and the door was locked.
But that won’t be a problem, Katrina realized. Hey! Hey Voice!
Yeah? the Voice said warily. You gonna yell at me some more?
No, no! We wanted-
Oh, no! I’m not letting you inside my head again! Not after last time! And besides, what if you get into trouble again? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be in time-out. the Voice said.
Okay, I have two things to say to that. One, “last time” was three whole months ago. And two, I don’t think that Rozzie knows you exist, so you won’t be in any trouble. Katrina pointed out.
the Voice said nothing, and then-
Thank you! This is gonna be great! Kelly exclaimed.
You could have at least let me actually tell you my answer, the Voice said irritably.
But why? Kelly asked, confused. We knew you were gonna let us in your memories as soon as you did, so why wait?
Because its polite! That’s why! the Voice snapped. Now can we just get this over with? Good. Now, before you dig around inside my head, lets make some rules. First-
Go only where we’re supposed to, don’t snoop or get sidetracked, don’t let any of our memories out, and don’t get lost. We know the drill. Katrina said in a bored voice. It’s not like this is our first time. You know that. So, as you said, lets get it over with. It’s not all peaches and cream for us either. Remember the first time, when we got lost? By the time we got out, we didn’t even remember who we were!
Okay, okay, I’m ready! You guys ready, too?
’Kay, you can go now!
The twins rolled over onto their stomachs, and began their breathing exercises. Katrina sucked in as much air as she could, held it for a moment, and then let it out slowly. Over and over, she repeated the steps. When she could bear it no longer, she stopped, annoyed.
This isn’t working. she sighed.
Its because you’re not in unison. the Voice explained, helpfully. Try it again.
O-kay. Thanks. Katrina replied.
Again, Katrina sucked in as much air as she could, waited, and let it out slowly, but this time she paid attention to her sister’s breathing.
I’m going too fast… she thought.
She slowed her breathing to match her sister’s, and kept going. Finally, she felt the tingling in her toes and knew she had succeeded in lowering her body temperature, and slowing her heart rate.
I can’t stop now. she reminded herself. This was always the hardest part: Separating herself from her body. She had to slow her brain activity to the point where she could hardly think.
Shhh. Stop thinking now. Only primitive emotions, remember? Kelly reminded her.
Oh yeah. Oops.
She made herself stop. Just stop. She listened to the sound of her own breathing. Nothing more, nothing less. In… and out. Just the breathing. Nothing else existed. Only the breathing, and the air that made it possible. She herself didn’t exist. There was no Katrina, was no Kelly, no Voice inside her head. Day and night had no importance. Nothing did. Only the breathing. It was like a fog, lulling her deeper and deeper into nonbeing.
Slowly, oh so slowly, Katrina began to lose her sense of self. It took all her willpower to let go of herself, the one thing she had been taught to hold above all else, and she forced herself to let it go. Let it go. It was nothing. Only the breathing mattered. Only the breathing. Only the breathing. Only the…
And then Katrina was gone. She ceased to exist, and only the breathing was left. The sound of the breathing.
But suddenly, she was. She was more alive than she had ever been before. Katrina was filled with life. The thrill of life was exhilarating. It filled her with joy. It was intoxicating. She wished she could stay that way forever.
Then the fog, the dense fog that had clouded her thoughts, lifted, and she knew things. She knew so many things that had been lost to her, to others. But more importantly, she knew who she was, and why she was there.
Katrina gasped, and looked around. Where was Kelly? They had to hurry. It had taken so long getting there, and they were going to run out of time.
Yeesh, its about time you figured that out. We need to get going. Come on. Kelly was impatient.
I only just woke up. Can’t we stay a little longer? Katina pleaded. Then she heard what she’d said. Oh my gosh! We need to leave. It’s pulling me again! Let’s get out of here!
No need to be so dramatic. the Voice muttered. Her words echoed all around them, lingering far longer than they should have. Well, now that you’re in my head, get searching.
[It shouldn’t take the idiots that long to get moving]
Hey! You can’t hide your personal thoughts now, remember? And since when do you forget that in the first place? Kelly asked. You know what, never mind, we should get going, in case you-
Don’t say it! the Voice warned in an odd whisper. Don’t even say it. It’s bad enough already without you talking about it, so stop.
Why? Scared to-
Yes. And you are too, so you can’t even talk. Now get going!
Okay, I was just-
NOW! the Voice yelled.
You have to tell us what happened first. Katrina said, aware that she would need reminding in her current state.
Oh, right. Th-thank you. the Voice stumbled over the words. I was sick [And I shouldn’t think about that now…] and I was bored…
And then the Voice’s voice faded into the background as the nothingness that had previously surrounded them transformed, revealing what appeared to be a child’s bedroom.
It was dark out, Katrina/Kelly/Voice already knew that from the countless times she’d staggered out of bed, dragging her blankets with her, and crawled over to the window. Once again, she pressed her nose to the glass, and stared out at the gloomy world. She tried to get up, but her legs wouldn’t seem to support her. She couldn’t stop shaking, and the world spun around her, making her head pound. Finally, Katrina/Kelly/Voice sank to the floor, and stayed there, staring at the raindrops, and watching the lightning flashes without really seeing them, until ~~ came back.
~~ dropped the tray when she saw her sitting there. “I thought I told you to stay in bed! You’re sick enough without catching your death of cold!” [~~, you worry too much. I’m not that sick…Ohhh…I was wrong. I didn’t mean it, please, no! I don’t want to-]
Katrina/Kelly/Voice’s stomach churned, and the next thing she knew, her pancakes, eggs, and bacon, were all over ~~’s skirt. [My stomach…my head. Why do I have to be sick? I never get sick!]
“Oh you poor baby! Are you okay? I’m so sorry. Well, no more of that kind of breakfast for you. Until you can keep your food down, all you’re getting is toast and water.” ~~ told her.
[What? No fair!]
“Not even butter toast and milk?” Katrina/Kelly/Voice asked as pitifully as she could.
“Not even that. Milk and butter have calcium, and that could make you sick.”, ~~ explained.
[Not fair! I want real food! …Or, maybe not, but I’m already sick, so…]
“But I’m already sick.”, she was confused.
“No, honey, I meant it could make you, you know, th-”
Katrina/Kelly/Voice felt the squirming sensation, and couldn’t even get out her exasperated sigh before she found herself facing more of her breakfast. [Ugh! ~~ knows I get sick when I hear people say it. I’m already sick, so she doesn’t even have to say it. As long as I know she’s gonna say it I- No. I’m not gonna- Aww, man!]
Once again, Katrina/Kelly/Voice met her breakfast. “Did you have to say it ~~? You know it makes me… Do that. I hate being sick!”, she whined.
“You’d get better faster if you’d stay in bed-”
“And take my antibiotics, I know. But that doesn’t stop me from saying that you’re devoid of cell between your ears, incompetent in the areas of factual science, that I am far superior in the areas of intelligence and charm, and that my facial characteristics far surpass your own.” Katrina/Kelly/Voice felt a little better after insulting her nanny.
“Okay, I don’t know what that first bit was, but I’m smart enough to know that the last part is completely wrong. Just because you’ve got your perfect almond eyes that perfect turquoise color, and your hair perfectly silky with its perfect auburn color, and your perfect little nose, and your perfect little rosebud lips, and your perfect peaches and cream complexion,”~~ paused to take a breath. “doesn’t mean you’re perfect.” She listened to what she’d just said, and then laughed. “Okay, I guess you’ve got me beat. But just cause you’re a kid genius doesn’t mean you get to insult your nanny with your big words. You got that?”
[I’m gonna do it anyways. There’s nothing she can do about it…]
~~ stepped into the room. “If you would leave, young mistress?” ~~ said, with a twinkle in his eye, and mischief in his tone.
“Oh! Of course, Mr. ~~. Right away Mr.~~ .I was just going.”, the nanny excused herself.
“There’s my little girl!” ~~ spun her around. “How are you doing?”
“Oh, ~~, please, stop that infernal gyrating. My serotonin levels are low, I am currently experiencing brutal nausea, food in my digestive tract has inverted itself, and I feel ghastly. ~~ thinks its just a bad case of gastroenteritis, but the inverting has occurred so many times, and in such rapid succession that I think she may be wrong. I think she has given me a noxious case of food poisoning with her atrocious eggs!” Katrina/Kelly/Voice moaned.
“So let me get this straight. I need to quit spinning you around because you have a headache, are feeling pukish [ohh…please, no], have already thrown up [stop it, please…], and you think your nanny gave you some bad eggs even though she says it’s the flu?” ~~ sounded bemused.
“That’s what I said isn’t it?” Katrina/Kelly/Voice was bewildered. “I thought I was using simple words… What did I do wrong?”
“Oh, nothing. I was just checking.” ~~ was hiding a smile.
“You’re being mendacious! Not fair!”
“No I wasn’t! Umm, hey, look, I’ll show you magic trick!”, ~~ said, trying to distract her.
“I know it’s going to be spurious, but I guess I could watch.”, She agreed, somewhat reluctantly. [This should be interesting. Its too bad my other friends won’t talk to me… Oh well, I guess its better than ~~’s puppet shows. You’d think I was two! But I am two. I’m extremely intelligent, but I am two. She just doesn’t know what I like yet. We’ve only had her since I could walk and talk…A half a year really isn’t that long…Oh, he’s already started!]
“…And you just straighten it out.”~~ was saying. “Next you stick it in. Make sure that the ridged side of the bobby pin matches up with where the ridged side of the key would be placed. Then you gently push and turn the hairpin-at the same time, remember- until it opens, like this! But don’t push too hard, because if you do, it might break the pin, and it also might cause the lock to lock itself all over again. Oh, and make sure you take it out right away, because you don’t want it to get stuck inside.” ~~ took the pin out of the silver lock he had been using to demonstrate.
“Here. Why don’t you try?”~~ handed her the lock. Katrina/Kelly/Voice picked it up, and…
The memory winked out. Katrina found herself lying on the her bed again, soaked from head to foot in sweat. She rolled over, and found Kelly on the floor holding a bucket.
“Why-?”. A wave of heat washed over her, leaving her shaking and suddenly much too aware of why Kelly was holding the bucket. She seized the bucket, and emptied the contents of her stomach into it.
When she finished, she wiped one violently trembling hand across her mouth and said, That took longer than I expected. What happened? And why did I get back later than you? Usually we have to fight over the bucket…
Hey, don’t look at me, I didn’t do it. Man, of all the consequences this power could have, it has to have the one that freaks us all out. Pu-
Don’t say it you idiot! I just did you-know-what for like five minutes straight, and I do not want to start again.
Hey, Voice? Why do you always shield the names and faces? And why was it from your point of view. Why weren’t we invisible people? Why weren’t we all separate? Katrina asked.
I don’t know why. I was two! I was imperceptive then.
You didn’t answer Katrina’s question! Kelly pointed out. Why?
Because I thought you knew. You burbled your sister’s name just now. But if you don’t know, then I guess I’ll have to tell you. You see, it’s for my protection. ~~ says I’m not supposed to show you guys names or faces. Just in case… the Voice’s thoughts clouded.
In case of what? And since when do we hide names and faces?! We’ve never done that! Katrina argued.
I don’t remember why I have to, just that ~~ says it’s important. And yes you do! I don’t even know your name. the Voice answered huffily.
You just did it again! Look, we can’t just keep thinking of each other as voices in each other’s heads! It’s driving me and Katrina insane! This is so stupid! Why can’t we just say some magic words and be able to hear each other’s names?! Kelly asked, frustrated.
I- Katrina started.
Look, retard, its obvious that our real names can’t be heard, so why can’t you just give up already?! the Voice was angry now.
If- Katrina began.
No! A Crystal never gives up! Kelly said hotly. We can fix this!
HEY! Knock it OFF! Katrina yelled. It was silent. Now, if you’ll listen to me, I have an idea. The Voice said we can’t say real names, but-
My name, said the Voice, is ~~!
Yes, but we can’t hear you say that! Which is the reason I need to tell you my idea. Now, Voice from who knows where, what did you say about names? Katrina asked her.
That it’s obvious our real names can’t be heard, but what-
Shut up, Voice! Go on, Nina! Kelly urged her.
Voice, what did Kel just say? Katrina asked her.
Kel just said “Shut up Voice. Go on, Nina!” the Voice mimicked.
There! Katrina said triumphantly.
What? I don’t get it. What are you so euphoric about? the Voice was puzzled.
Yeah, Nina, what? Kelly was lost.
Don’t you get it? The Voice said “Nina” and “Kel”. Which means she heard me and you say them, Kel. We can’t use names, but we can use nicknames! Katrina exclaimed.
Oh. Oh! OH! I get it! You can’t hear me say ~~, but you can hear me say Mikkie? the Voice was beginning to understand.
Wait, so if I call myself Kel, you call yourself Nina, and the Voice calls herself Mikkie, we can use names?! Nina, you’re a genius! Oh, and speaking of geniuses, why didn’t you tell us, Mikkie?
Tell you what? Mikkie asked, the very picture of innocence.
That you were a genius. I, mean, yeah, we would have been a little, what’s the word? Intimidated…if you’d told us right away, but you could’ve told us once we were used to you. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, we’re friends. We would’ve understood. Why didn’t you tell us? Kelly felt hurt.
Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you knew. I‘m not really a genius; my nanny just used to say that because of all the big words I used. Mikkie explained.
Oh, well, I guess it’s okay, but I still think you should’ve told us. From now on, just be yourself. We’re linked, so if you say a weird word, we’ll know right away what it means. And if its not clear, there are such things as dictionaries. Kelly smiled, and Mikkie knew that all was forgiven.
Okay, well, now that that’s all over, don’t you guys have an attic to sneak into? Mikkie reminded them.
Oh yeah! C’mon Nina, lets go!
Don’t forget to tell me the details! Mikkie told them.
Why not just listen in? Katrina asked.
It seems a little presumptuous…You’re certain? Thanks, Nina, you’re the best! Umm, right, sorry Kel, you’re the best too. Mikkie added. Good luck!
The twins quietly pushed off the covers, and slipped out of bed.
Wait, do you have the bobby pin? Mikkie asked.
Yeah, in my hair somewhere! Katrina answered, trying hard not to giggle.
I still can’t quite comprehend why you keep your hair so long. I mean, auburn is a really pretty color, I should know, with my hair, but how can you endure combing all of it every day? Why not cut it short, like mine? Wouldn’t it be simpler? Mikkie reasoned.
Oh, we don’t comb it. Our friend does. He’s a dwyrn, and you can think of him as Starry because that sounds exactly like his name. Our auntie hired him when we were babies to be our playmate. She’s rich, remember? Kelly said.
Wait, your aunt is rich? What about your mom? Mikkie was confused.
Kelly hesitated, and then said, Our mama, daddy and big brother are dead. Crazy Kravy killed them. And-
Oh, come on, Kel. Mikkie’ll figure it out sooner or later. Katrina interrupted.
Figure out what? Mikkie tried to find out for herself, but her friends’ minds were filled with a mixture of sorrow, longing, and…was that guilt?
Yeah, it is. Katrina sank to the floor and sighed sadly. Every inch of her being echoed her mood. Her turquoise eyes, usually sparkling and full of mischief, were now dull and lusterless, the corners of her mouth were turned down, and her bottom lip quivered as she tried to hold back tears. Our mama and daddy and Kalty aren’t really dead. Rozzie, that’s what we call our aunt, she says we can’t tell anyone, or else they really will be dead. But they’re alive. We never get to see them because they’re trapped in Kravy’s prison.
But why? Mikkie was bewildered.
Katrina was crying now. Her voice filled with shame as she explained. Because-Because of us! It’s our fault, Rozzie even said so!
Kelly had been silent up until that point, but now she spoke. Yeah, but she was mad. Later she said she didn’t mean it, remember? She said sorry like a million kajillion times.
Katrina desperately wanted it to be true, but somehow she felt that Rozzie hadn’t been just angry, hadn’t been kidding . She sometimes felt like her entire world was made up of lies, and that was the only time Rozzie had ever told them the truth.
Oh, come on, Nina. You know that’s not true! Kelly tried to reassure her, but then she remembered the look of hatred on Rozzie’s face when she’d told them it was their fault. She still had nightmares about it, and that had been ages ago!
Look, you guys, that’s ridiculous! How could it be your fault? You were babies, remember? Maybe your aunt was just sad. Maybe she misses them too. It’s not your fault she’s sad. Grown ups get sad and angry and scared really easily. It can’t be your fault. She tried to sound sure of herself, but Katrina knew that even as Mikkie spoke the words, she began to doubt them.
Katrina stopped crying, and picked herself up off the ground. Maybe there’ll be some answers in the attic. Maybe that’s why we can’t go in there.
Kelly started feeling through her hair for the pin Rozzie had put in that morning, and sure enough, a few seconds later, she found it, in between the natural layers of her hair.
Following the directions that Mikkie’s mysterious friend had given them, Kelly unlocked the door. She had her hand on the doorknob, and was getting ready to turn it when Mikkie cried out, Wait! Aren’t you forgetting something?
When the twins didn’t answer, she sighed and said, The alarm, you dumdums!
Oh, yeah! Kelly walked over to the edge of the door, stood up on tiptoe, stretched her arms as high up as she could, and felt around in several different spots. At the last one, she grinned, and flicked the switch up, into the “off” position. She’s really not as sneaky as she thinks. I know all her hiding places.
Kelly opened their door just wide enough to slip out the crack. Katrina followed her, holding her breath. The moment she was out, Kelly eased the door closed.
Katrina turned and stared down the hall, nervousness crashing down on her in waves as she thought about what could be hiding in those shadows.
Don’t be a scaredy-cat. Mikkie told her. I wanna see what’s up there. Hurry up!
Kelly moved first again, and Katrina followed her. She was trying not to think about monsters again, so instead she looked at the portraits that lined the walls.
Great-Aunt Charlotte, Great-Aunt Andrea, Great-Uncle Zachary, Grandmother Kristyn, Grandfather Timothy, Grandfather Christopher, she put names to the faces she recognized, and skipped the ones she didn’t.
They moved in the order they were taken, so it was easy to trace the family tree. Katrina stopped for a while, and looked back down the narrow hall. Her shadow loomed across the shaggy brown carpeting, ominous and frightening in its enormity. She shivered, suddenly cold, and moved on.
When they reached the staircase, Kelly paused for a moment, and then started making her way up as fast as she could. Katrina followed more slowly, sliding her hand along the polished wooden rail as she went. Her footsteps echoed strangely in the silence. She let her mind wander as she climbed, step after step.
Would there be anything in the attic? Maybe Rozzie had hid their presents up there. Maybe she always did, and that’s why they weren’t allowed. But if that was it, then why didn’t she feel that sense of rightness, that familiar little click that told her when she was on the right track? Maybe there was a secret passageway that could take her to Kravy’s Prison! Maybe they could free Mama and Daddy and Kalvine, and take them home!
Don’t be silly! she told herself. That’s not going to happen. That’s just in fairy-tales.
But still, Katrina couldn’t help but think about what would happen if she really did help Mama, Daddy, and Kalvine escape. Maybe they could come to the party! Happily, she envisioned the scene. She would blow out her candles, and make her wish. Only this year she’d wish out loud. She’d wish for them to be alive, and then they would come through the door and give her a big hug…
Katrina was so wrapped up in her daydream, she didn’t notice that she had reached the top. She stood on the last step, eyes unfocused, and smiling absentmindedly until Mikkie’s voice broke through the haze her of her reverie.
…are you doing?! Hurry up already! We don’t have all night! Mikkie nearly yelled at her, irritated.
Oh…Sorry. Katrina mumbled.
What were you doing? Kelly was curious.
Umm, nothing. I was just thinking about stuff. Tomorrow, mostly. Katrina answered, abashed. It’s not a lie, she told herself. I was thinking about tomorrow…
Okay, well, I was thinking maybe you could-
Just spit it out already Kel! Mikkie cut her off.
I was thinking maybe you could open the door instead of me. I did everything else first. Not that I’m scared. Kelly defended herself. It’s just that I thought you’d like a turn.
Okay. Katrina understood, so, before she could talk herself out of it, she unlocked the door, and stepped into the attic.
The first thing she felt was a rushing sense of deep disappointment. All the stories Rozzie had read to her had led her to believe that attics were wonderful places full old toys and things like that, but this attic had nothing.
Or close to nothing, she realized, peering through the darkness. There was an old box in the left-hand corner, but other than that, the attic was bare.
Katrina mover farther in, and as her eyes became adjusted to the darkness, she noticed that the old floorboards were rotting, and all over them were piles of what looked suspiciously like cat poop. Shards of glass littered the floor around the window. There were holes and scratches covering the walls.
And yet for all the attic’s flaws, it still seemed tidy. Another, closer, look around the room told her why. The floorboards were rotting, and yet there wasn’t a single one broken off. The cat poop wasn’t really all over, it was only on one side of the room. The glass was only underneath the window, not spread all around as it would have been if someone had simply thrown a rock in from the outside, as it had looked. There weren’t any splinters underfoot, as there should have been for so many holes in the walls. And, strangely, the scratches were only on one wall. It was as if someone was keeping it neat.
And with that, Katrina felt the familiar clink of the pieces falling into place, and she understood. At the same time, she felt Kelly stiffen, and knew that Kelly did too.
Somebody lives here. she breathed. Somebody lives inside our attic.
Who could it be? Mikkie wondered. Maybe a ghost, or a witch, or some other monster.
Maybe it’s a fairy, or a dragon, or maybe a mermaid! Kelly suggested.
Mermaids need water, dumdum. I think it’s a pirate, or a burglar, or a, a, a, a hobo!
A hobo? You’re crazy, Nina. A hobo can’t live in your attic. Mikkie dismissed the idea.
Oh yeah? How do you know? I bet you’ve never even seen a hobo! I’ve seen lots of hobos. A million kajillion hobos. Hobos try to sneak in our house all the time. I found a hobo in my bathtub once!
Way to go Mikkie. You got her stuck on hobo mode. Kelly grumbled.
Well, so-rry! I forgot! I don’t live with her, I don’t know what she does all the time! Mikkie said crossly.
No you don’t, you’ve just been sharing her head with me since the dawn of time! Kelly retorted, and then ruined it by giggling.
Hey, guys, focus! We’re supposed to be figuring out who the heck lives in our attic, remember? Katrina reminded them, ignoring the fact that she had been the one who got them off track in the first place.
Right, sorry. Kelly apologized.
Katrina walked over to the window, and looked out. There was a an old maple tree growing a few yards away from the wall, its branches rising up to the window, and higher.
Maybe this is how they get in! she thought.
Hey Nina! Come look at this!
Katrina didn’t need to look to know where Kelly was. In her mind’s eye, she could picture her sister, crouched low on the floor, her long hair covering her face. She turned in the direction she knew Kelly to be, and stumbled toward her. When Katrina reached her, she squatted down next to her.
What is it? she asked, excited.
See for yourself. Kelly moved out of the way, and Katrina nearly shrieked out loud.
What she had previously taken for a box was actually a very large, very ornate trunk. It had polished cherry wood that gleamed in what little light got past the tree branches outside the window, and a great brass lock that looked brand-new.
Someone took really good care of this…she realized.
Who cares! Kelly scoffed. Let’s open it!
Yeah! Mikkie squealed enthusiastically. Do it!
Katrina looked toward her sister hesitantly. Do you mind if I-
No problem. Go ahead. Kelly urged her.
Katrina held the pin out in front of her for a few moments before she began to pick the lock. After a short while, she heard a soft click, and took the pin out hurriedly. With her hands trembling-whether from fear or from excitement she herself couldn’t tell- she pulled the lock off. It was icy cool against her skin, and she put it down quickly, shivering.
Katrina pressed her hand against the trunk, and felt around for the crack. As she did, she felt long ruts twisting all throughout the wood.
She traced the path of one of flowing grooves up with one slender finger, and found herself gripping the lid. Katrina hesitated, and then thrust the lid up.
Inside the trunk, wrapped in a tattered linen sheet, were several paintings.
Katrina took them out, and set them carefully on the floor. She picked one up, holding it as gingerly as a mother would hold her newborn child, and studied it. A bronze frame, wrought with several intricate patterns, surrounded two elves, a man and a woman. Their faces were portrayed beautifully, and it was evident that the artist had spent an unusual amount of time on this picture; it was remarkably detailed. You could see nearly every hair on the woman’s head, and even the stubble on the man’s chin. The woman had soft green eyes that seemed to laugh, bright red hair, and a soft smile, warm and inviting. The man, however, was a sharp contrast. Although, he, too, was smiling, he didn’t exhibit that same sense of serenity. His dark hair hid most of his face, but Katrina thought his gray-blue eyes looked haunted, as though he had been through a rough time recently, and there was certain quality about his smile that made it seem forced. But by the way his arm was wrapped lovingly around the woman’s waist, and her hand caressing his shoulder, it was evident that the two really cared for each other. For some reason, Katrina felt a sense of kinship for the two. The reason why was lingering on the edge of her mind, but before she could think of it, it was washed away by the sound of Kelly’s thoughts.
Nina, you need to see this. Her sister’s voice came out in a strangled whisper.
Katrina tried to see the image in her sister’s mind, but Kelly had hidden it from her.
No. You need to see this.
Okay…Katrina scooted over to where her sister sat.
Kelly had another of the portraits in her lap, and she was staring at it as though seeing a ghost. Katrina had to tug several times to get it out of her sister’s grasp. When she finally did, Kelly looked around, and then at her hands, confused. Katrina ignored her, and turned the painting around in her hands.
When she saw what it displayed, her mouth went dry. The two elves that had been illustrated on the other canvas were depicted here. But this time, the woman held two small bundles wrapped in green blankets, and the man held a third. Tufts of red hair were all that showed of the two the woman held, but the third was different. The child’s face was clearly visible. And on the left cheek, there was a star-shaped birthmark. The same one that was on Kelly’s face, and her own. Unconsciously, she reached up and touched it. She knew, from staring at it in the mirror and wondering about it, that the birth-mark was about the size of her fist, stretching from her left ear all the way to the edge of her nose.
You realize who they must be, don’t you? Kelly asked quietly.
Instead of answering, Katrina pushed the picture back at her. She picked up the other picture, and sat staring at it for a long time. Finally she handed it to her sister.
Katrina studied Kelly’s emotions as she looked at it, and was shocked to find that they were completely different from her own. Kelly’s mind was full of curiosity and excitement, exactly what Katrina had always thought she would feel when she discovered what her mama and daddy looked like, the way she wanted so desperately to feel now. But instead, she was angry, scared, upset, and thought she was going to cry.
I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not-
She couldn’t help it. She couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. Katrina started crying. Not loudly, not fake, the way she did to get attention, but silently, the way she did when she was alone. She didn’t know why she was crying, really, just that it hurt. Knowing that , and knowing that she couldn’t help it made it worse. She just sat there and cried.
Suddenly, Kelly moved over, and touched her arm. Hey? What’s wrong? Oh, I’m so sorry. I was so busy I just didn’t notice. Are you okay? Kelly asked, concerned. Are you still worried about what Rozzie said?
No. It’s just-I don’t know! Katrina cried harder. I don’t know.
She felt Kelly probe at her thoughts, her feelings, and was shocked, even through her tears, when she felt Kelly begin to cry.
Katrina threw her arms around her sister, and continued shed silent tears. They stayed like that for several minutes, until there were no more tears left.
Mikkie was silent throughout all of this. Katrina could tell she was concerned, but afraid to interfere. Finally, she asked, Umm, are you okay?
I’m fine. Thank you. Katrina mumbled. To change the subject, she asked, So, do you think Rozzie put them here?
I don’t know. Kelly responded. Are you sure there’s nothing else in the box?
Umm, no. Katrina’s face lit up. Maybe there’s something else in there!
She picked herself up from the floor, dusted herself off, walked over to the trunk again. The lid was still propped up against the wall, so she just peered inside. It was so obvious Katrina didn’t know how she had missed it before, but propped up in the corner was a small, worn, leather-bound book. She reached down to grab it out, and as she did, all of the pages scattered across the floor.
Smooth Nina. Real smooth. Kelly said sarcastically.
Hey! I meant to do that! So shut up!
Katrina scrambled around, picking up pages. While she did, she browsed through them. She picked one at random and tried to figure out what it said. It was hard enough for her to read without the fancy calligraphy, so she could only read a few words out of every couple sentences, but the few whole sentences she did catch were enough to make her gasp aloud.
Rozzie tells me Kelly walked on her own for the first time last week. I wish I could have gotten here sooner… But if I had, she might have remembered me and Charlie, and I know-
The page cut off there, torn jaggedly, but Katrina had read all she needed to.
Kel! Mikkie! Did you get that?
Yeah, I got it! Oh my gosh, I’m so happy for you! Mikkie exclaimed.
Kel? Are you all right? Kelly? Hello? Anybody in there? Katrina teased halfheartedly.
What? Oh, yeah, I’m okay. Kelly said numbly. Nina, I think I know who lives in our attic.
Yeah. So do I. I can’t believe that they were in here this whole time! Why couldn’t we just come up and see them? Katrina was confused.
I don’t know. Maybe they thought we wouldn’t be able to keep a secret. Kelly thought back.
But that’s stupid! She still doesn’t know that we can hear each other think, and we’ve been able to do that our entire lives! How can she-
Katrina broke off when she heard a crackling sound.
Did you hear that? She paused just long enough to get her answer, and then grabbed Kelly by the arm, dragging her over to the trunk. Get in.
As soon as Kelly was inside, she clambered in after her, and closed the lid with a soft thump.
There was a pause in the rustling, and Katrina held her breath. She leaned forward as much as she could in the cramped space, and peered through the keyhole. Kelly nudged her with an elbow, and Katrina scooted over so her twin could see. She watched in fascination as two small figures appeared outside the window, seemingly out of nowhere. They made their way along the tree branches with practiced ease, as though they had done so many times.
Do you think they’re burglars? Katrina asked. Or maybe-
No, Nina, they’re not hobos! I think that it’s Mama and Daddy. And maybe Kalty too. Now shhh, I wanna watch.
As they drew nearer, Katrina noticed that the figures had four legs, and tails.
Kitty-cats! she said wonderingly. Is that all?
Wait, Nina, they’re coming in here! Kelly exclaimed.
Katrina looked, and found that her sister was right. Two distinctly feline shapes were climbing through the window.
At the same time, Katrina heard the door opening. Her breathing quickened, and her heart pounded so wildly she thought it would burst out of her chest. She clutched Kelly’s arm as though it were the only thing stopping her from falling off a cliff.
Hey, let go of me! Kelly whispered furiously. Its only Rozzie.
Oh. Well I can’t see that. All I can see is the kitties.
You see better, what do they look like? Kelly asked.
Katrina turned back to look. The cats were all the way into the room now. They sat on the windowsill. The larger of the two was a light gray tabby with darker stripes running down its flank. It had a scar extending diagonally across its muzzle, and another that stretched from the base of its neck to is left hind leg. More scars wrapped their way around its paws, but those ones were fresh, still red and raw. She thought it was a tomcat. The smaller one, a dusky brown, wore similar marks. For some reason, Katrina felt sure that it was a female.
She had only just sent the images to Kelly when she heard someone lift the lid.
Katrina stared up into her aunt’s face, and was surprised to see she wasn’t angry. At least, she didn’t look angry.
“H-how did you know we were in here?”, she squeaked.
Rozzie laughed and said, “Well, lets see. You forgot to put the paintings away, pages from your mother’s journal are all over the floor, you didn’t close the attic door, you’re not as quiet as you think, and what else? Oh yeah, I’m your aunt. I’ve lived with you almost your whole life, and I know you. Oh, and I guess it helped a little that your Mama told me.”
“What do you mean, Mama told you? Is she with you?”, Kelly asked eagerly.
“Oh, she’s around here somewhere…” Rozzie said teasingly. “As a matter of fact, that would be her over there. Standing by the window.”
“What do you-”
Kelly poked Katrina in the back.
She did, and then turned back, saying, “So? A weirdo hobo guy and his wife are in our attic. Big deal.”
A husky voice sounded behind her. “That’s no way to greet your father after you’ve just seen him for the first time in six years!”
“Yeah!”, another voice chimed in. “And what about me? Don’t I at least get a hug?”
What the heck is going on?!?
Don’t look at me! I’m as clueless as you are. Kelly sounded truly puzzled.
Umm, Nina, I’m no genius, but I think that really is your Mama and Daddy. And you just insulted them both. Big-time. Well, what are you waiting for? Go talk to them!
Katrina shook her head to clear it, and noticed that the hobos-My parents?-noticed that the hobos were staring at her and Kelly worriedly.
She started to climb awkwardly out of the trunk, but the fibers of her lacy nightgown caught on the corner of the trunk, and she tumbled out. The hobos rushed over to help her up, but she picked herself up before they could reach her.
“I’m okay.” she said, dusting herself off.
“Are you mad at us?” The lady- My mama?- asked.
“No. Why would I be? You’re my mama.” Katrina said slowly. “You are my mama, aren’t you? This isn’t a joke?”
“It’s not a joke. I am your mother, and that is your father. Come on, we’ll explain everything.” The lady held out her hand, but Katrina drew back. She turned around to face her sister.
What do you think? she asked. Should we trust her?
I guess so. Even if she’s not our mama, Rozzie seems to trust her. We can trust Rozzie. She’d never let anybody bad come near us. Kelly pointed out. Lets do it.
What do you think, Mikkie?
Well, if she is your mama, you should talk to her. She’s been in prison for almost your whole life. She probably missed you a lot. Mikkie said sensibly.
Okay, lets do this. Katrina said in her best spy voice.
She helped Kelly out of the trunk, and they walked back to the others together, holding hands with the first two fingers crossed for luck.
“We’re ready.” They said, at the same time.
Rozzie examined them closely, and then sighed. “They don’t believe you, Devon. You’ve got to do better than that to convince them.”
“Well, I’m sorry, but I’m just not that much of a people person anymore.” the lady looked at her companion and smiled, as though sharing an inside joke.
“Maybe if we-”
“Hey!” Kelly shouted. “Maybe if you would stop talking over us like we’re not here, you could ask us what we think!”
The adults stared at her.
“Thank you. Now, I have my own way to tell if you freaks really are our parents. We’re going to ask you some questions that any good parent should be able to answer. If you answer good enough, then we’ll apologize for insulting you. If you don’t, we’ll just insult you some more. Got it?” Kelly demanded.
The strangers nodded, and after a few moments of Kelly’s best glare, Rozzie did too, albeit hiding a smile.
“Okay. Katrina, care to do the honors?” Kelly offered.
“Gladly.” she replied. “Question one: When were we born?”
The lady raised her hand awkwardly, and Kelly acknowledged her with a nod of her head.
“ You were born on the seventh minute of the seventh hour of the seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh year of our marriage, and Kelly arrived seven minutes after.”
“Not bad.” Katrina said, impressed, but unwilling to let her know. “How old was I when I began talking, and what was my first word?”
This time is was the man who stretched his hand to the ceiling, grinning.
“You never said a single word until you were four and a half years old, and the very first thing you said was ‘story’. Kelly began talking the exact same day, but two hours earlier, and her first words were ‘where daddy?’” , he said, and then his face grew somber again.
They’re good, but they’ll never answer this one. Katrina thought.
“Okay, just one more. What is our secret?”
Nina! You know they can’t answer that! Come on, be fair! Kelly protested.
This time, the two seemed to be pondering how to answer. At last, the lady spoke. “Your secret is that you can hear each other’s thoughts. You’ve been able to since birth. You never tell anyone. You tried telling your best friend once, when you were five, but she just stared at you. Then she ran away and never spoke to you again. You both cried your eyes out for days. There is also a third person, a voice inside your head. Sometimes she is the only person you think you can trust. The only other people you told were your imaginary friends, Jaykitty and Dovekitty. You pretended they were your parents.” And with that, the lady stopped.
Then, before their very eyes, she and her companion began to change. They got down on all fours, and began shrinking, their hair thickening before shrinking down into what appeared to be short bristly fur that covered them from head to foot. Their noses twitched, and suddenly there were snouts in their places. The strangers’ ears grew larger, and became triangular in shape.
Nina, look at their butts!
She did, and had to struggle not to laugh aloud. Their rear ends were growing longer and thinner, changing as the rest of their bodies did, but much slower. Their faces slimmed, and became sharper, more angular.
And gradually, they stopped changing. And there, sitting exactly where the strangers had been standing before, were two cats. The same ones Katrina had seen climbing through the window.
For the second time that night, Katrina felt the familiar click of pieces falling into place.
“It was you! Why didn’t you tell us?” she asked.
“I’m sorry. We wanted to, but the rule was that we could only see you as long as you believed in Jaykitty and Dovekitty.” the man’s-No, Daddy’s- voice sounded strange coming out of a cat’s mouth.
“But why?”, Kelly wanted to know.
“Because we were afraid that if we did, you would tell someone.” Mama explained. “We’re supposed to be dead, remember?”
“Oh. Okay. But you still should have told us.”, Kelly reproached her.
“I know that now, sweetie, but until a few moments ago, I didn’t. I’m really sorry.” Mama said.
“It’s okay, I guess.”, Kelly gave in.
What happened next was a sight to behold. Mama and Daddy began the same transformation as before, but everything happened in reverse.
When they were fully elven again, they sat down, and beckoned for Katrina and Kelly to come over.
“What?” Katrina asked, suspiciously after sitting down directly in front of them.
“We promised you answers, didn’t we?” Daddy sighed heavily.
“And we always keep our promises. Always.” Mama said, with a significant glance at Rozzie.
What was that about? Katrina asked, mystified.
Don’t look at me! I am not part of this. Mikkie declared.
“What can you tell us?”, Kelly asked cautiously.
“Whatever you want to know.” Mama replied simply.
“Okay…Where is Kalty?” Katrina questioned.
Pain flashed across Mama’s eyes, there one moment and gone the next, so quickly that Katrina wasn’t sure if she really saw it. “He’s…not here right now.”
“Well then where is he?”, Kelly asked.
“I - don’t know.” Mama said haltingly.
“What do you mean you don’t know?!” Kelly demanded.
“Look, it’s not our fault!” Mama said, as if she were trying to convince herself. “After your aunt ran away with you three in the woods, your father and I had to fend off Kravy and the guards. Halfway through the fight, Kravy just ran off. We tried to go after him, but the remaining guards blocked our way. By the time we finished with them, Kravy was nowhere to be seen. There was nothing else we could do, we just changed form and ran. There was nothing we could do.” Mama repeated.
“And after a few days of fleeing in terror, we sat down to figure out a plan.”, Daddy continued where Mama had left off. “We decided that being cats would be better for our health, since every one of Kravy’s guards had memorized our faces. After a couple months or so of scavenging scraps of food out of garbage, we figured it was time to head back to Rozzie’s place. We saw you two, and chose to stay as your imaginary friends, Jaykitty and Dovekitty.”, Daddy finished.
While Katrina was digesting that information, Kelly asked another question. “Is Kalty alright? Did Kravy hurt him?”
Mama looked at a loss for words, so Daddy spoke up again. “We don’t know. I’m sorry, baby girl, but we just don’t know. All we can do is hope, and try to remember that everything happens for a reason.”
“Okay Daddy. I understand.”, Kelly said, even though she didn’t.
“Hey, Mama, Daddy? I have another question.”, Katrina announced.
“Yes, dear, what is it?” Mama sighed wearily.
“Can we go to bed now? I’m tired.”, Katrina yawned hugely.
Mama and Daddy stared at her for a moment, and then burst out laughing. They kept laughing through her feeble protests that it wasn’t funny, and laughed harder still at the indignant look on her face while she was saying it. They kept laughing even when Katrina leaned against her twin and closed her eyes, which were beginning to feel as though they had sand stuck in all the creases.
By the time their laughter subsided, and Mama had wiped the tears away from her eyes, Katrina had given up trying to open her eyes again. She sat there in silence, striving to hear the grown-ups’ conversation through the fog of drowsiness that threatened to overcome her.
“…should tell them. They’re too young, and it’s much too dangerous. Better to let Andrea do that. After all, it’s her job.” Daddy was saying.
“They deserve to know! My mother made sure we knew from the start. It’s too dangerous not to tell them! What if they find out by accident? They already discovered their link, and that shouldn’t have happened yet! What do we do if they find out about the prophecy? What will we do then? They can’t know what they are! That would just-”
“Devon!”, Rozzie warned. “Katrina’s awake! Aren’t you, Nina?”
“Yeah.” Katrina muttered, lifting her head. “I’m awake. Kelly’s not though.” She elbowed her sister, who grunted.
“Wuzzgoinon? Whozere? WhadidIdo?”, Kelly mumbled sleepily.
“Nothing, sweetie. Go back to sleep, we’re gonna take you back to your room now.” Mama bent down to pick her up.
Katrina was so busy watching them, she didn’t notice Daddy had picked her up until she heard the attic door close. She looked around, and then Daddy said, “Shh, baby girl, go back to sleep.”
She didn’t go to sleep, but she did relax and snuggle closer to Daddy. She felt peaceful, and protected, nestled in his strong arms.
When they finally got to her room, and he tried to set her down, she protested, clinging to his shirt. “Please don’t go Daddy. Please stay here. Please?” she begged. “I don’t want you to go.”
Daddy pried her hands from his shirt. “I won’t leave. I’ll be right here when you wake up.”
“Promise?” Katrina asked.
“Promise.”, Daddy replied. “Mama will too. Now go to sleep.”
“Okay.” Katrina yawned. “Goodnight Daddy, goodnight Mama, goodnight Rozzie, love you, see you in the morning.”
She also whispered goodnight to Kelly, but her sister only snored in reply. It was with a smile on her face and sheer joy running through her that Katrina finally rolled over and went to sleep, exhausted from her long night.