I woke up shrieking like a banshee and a cold trickle of sweat ran down the side of my petrified face. I glanced at the clock, 3:35 in the morning.
I woke up shrieking like a banshee and a cold trickle of sweat ran down the side of my petrified face. I glanced at the clock, 3:35 in the morning.
It was just a dream Celia, you're fine go back to sleep, I thought as I lay back onto my fluffy, pink pillow. My pillow was sopping wet with the tears I had shed during my dream about my poor mother's death. My mom had vanished from my house last year, when I was twelve. I moved to my father's house and have had to live here ever since. Don't get me wrong, I love my dad. He is a great man, but it seems as though he doesn't care about me because he is always in his study, "managing a ten-thousand dollar corporation". I snuggled down into my satin sheets and curled into a ball, thinking about my best friends, Delilah, Piper, and Jackie. My crew was absolutely inseparable, we know everything about each other, we go everywhere with each other, and we are all so alike. Memories of my friends are some of the only happy times I can recall. I love those girls, they are my family. And with that thought, my eyes drifted shut and I slumped into unconsciousness.
"Aaaahhhh!" I sighed as I peeked my eyes open to be greeted by the inviting, California sunlight. I lazily tilted my head to the side of my pillow, to gaze at pink, flowered alarm clock. 10:00 in the morning, uh-oh! I am supposed to be meeting the girls here at 10:15. I sprung out of my bed and dashed to my closet, tearing anything that I could possibly wear today, off the hanger. I finally found my signature Celia outfit, my pink and lime green sundress.
"Yes, I found ya!" I muttered as I pulled it over my head. I pulled the curlers out of my honey blonde hair and raced down the stairs, into the kitchen. I quickly swigged a gulp of orange juice, downed a leftover cinnamon bun, brushed my teeth, and got my room ready for my friends' visit.
Ding-dong! I sprinted downstairs and pulled open the heavy, oak door. My father's house is huge! He owns 60,000 acres of the California Coast and his house includes 15 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, and about a million other useless house features. Please keep in mind, dear reader, that he used to live by himself, never knew he had a daughter, and is richer than Midas.
"Hey Celia! What do you want to do today?" My absolute best friend, Piper, squealed excitedly. Piper was trailed by Delilah and Jackie, who were splitting their faces with ear to ear grins.
"Hey guys, I was just thinking maybe we could play…TRUTH OR DARE!" I yelled the last word, knowing that it was my acquaintances' favorite game.
"Yeah! Great idea Celia!" the girls screamed, bouncing up and down with obvious joy. "Let's start now!" A few minutes later we were all lounging around on my bed, chatting about typical, thirteen-year old girl topics. I was half-heartedly listening to their hare-brained conversation because my mind was spinning with vexatious images of my mother's loving face, smiling at me with understanding eyes and-
"Celia, Celia! Is anyone home in that head? Celia, it is your turn! I dared you to lick the garbage can," Delilah was screeching in my ear and banging on my head, as if she was trying to make my brain pour out of my ears.
"Sorry, I was just thinking about my mom. It is so weird, I have been having dreams about her and thinking about her constantly. I have just missed her sooo much now that she is de-" I froze and quickly added. "On a business trip!". Oh and for your information, I haven't told the three most important people in the world to me, that my mother is dead. I know, I know, it is really shallow and untrustworthy of me, but I couldn't bring myself to look into their bright, happy eyes and tell them that my mother had passed on. None of them have ever experienced anything as tragic as I have, I am absolutely sure of that because we tell each other everything. We all know each other's deepest secrets, most embarrassing confessions, and every other possible fact that we could ever figure out.
"Celia, are you going to do the dare or not?" Piper bombarded my train of thoughts abruptly.
"Yeah, yeah I would never back down from a dare!" I giggled playfully, pushing all of the depressing, soul-crushing thoughts to the back of my mind. I gracefully pulled myself off of the bed and loped over to the bucket of impending doom. I slowly tilted my head backward and saw my friends whispering, giggling, and each of them had looks of revenge on their faces. I bent down until I was eye level with my metal, garbage-filled trash can. I extended my tongue, squeezed my eyes shut, and prepared myself to lick the fetid can. I robotically moved my head and felt my warm, tender tongue melt at the touch of the metallic trash can. I abruptly tore my head backward, closed my mouth, and tasted(if this is possible) the putrid, decaying trash on the inside of that emaciated, metal layer that had just separated my mouth and the mold, filth, and slime that was in the trash. The next few minutes happened in this order: I sprinted out of the room, screaming bloody murder, then I ran into the bathroom and saturated my head in cold water, and finally I ran back into my bedroom to find my friends rolling around on the bed, tears running down their cheeks, and holding their stomachs as they bellowed out thunderous laughs.
“Hey, you guys are being rude! I bet you couldn't do that without freaking out!” I bellowed angrily as I stomped back towards my bed.
“Ok Celia, we're sorry. Let’s get back to the game!” Piper apologetically sighed.
Not wanting to be a party-pooper, I put a grin on my face and said, "Allright, allright! Now, its my turn! Piper, I dare you to go in that dingy, abandoned house on the corner and stay in there for a whole hour!".
The girls stared back at me like I was a few fries short of a Happy Meal and then Piper spoke up, “"Fine, but I am only going in that dark, dirty place if you all come with me,".
She said this with a smirk as if she was daring all of us, more than I had dared her. Each of us have our own personalities, Piper is the bravest, I am the most caring, Delilah is the smartest, and Jackie is our artist.
“Okay, we will go up there with you Piper, won’t we girls?” I asked.
“Yeah, we’ll go up with you guys!” Delilah answered for herself and Jackie energetically.
“Ok, let’s take the shortcut and hike up the hill, it should only be about a quarter mile,” I told the gang as we stumbled down the stairs and stepped into the beautiful California sunlight. It was excruciatingly bright for a moment, then the sun’s warmth began to melt our tension, the sun seeped through our skin, and found its way into our hearts. We locked arms and happily skipped up the steep incline, until we finally reached the old, renounced house.
Piper tried to break through this moment of awkwardness by saying "You guys do know that this place is supposed to be haunted. Legend has it that Old Man Crumber used to live in it and he ran out of money. He resorted to eating his wife, children, animals, and then he finally killed HIMSELF!" Piper belted out the last word and we all felt a shiver race along our spines.
I drew in a sharp breath and nodded at the girls, who gave me thumbs-up, and I pushed open the heavy, oak door. Instantaneously, a malodorous wind flew out of the house, making me stagger backward and gag. I pulled myself into a vertical position and I cautiously advanced into the black hole that was the house. I peeked back at the girls behind me and saw them forming our usual line, Jackie following me, then Delilah, and bringing up the rear, Piper. I felt a bubble of fear and anxiety rising in my chest, threatening to explode and send me sprinting out of the house, shrieking like a mad woman with a serial killer chasing her. There was a drafty breeze wafting through the house, this was to be expected because it had not been occupied since 1992, but it did not mean that the logic of this feature made it less creepy. I glanced at the other girls and saw there expressions. Their faces revealed that they were torn between feeling anxious, terrified, curious, and timid. I hated seeing my girls this way and I was going to put an end to this madness.
"Guys, this is really creepy! I think we should abandoned the dare," I whispered to my crew. We all glanced at each other and gave a quick nod, then we dashed out of the living room, into the kitchen, and into the balmy sunlight. Oddly enough, Piper is the bravest member of our group, but she left the house with the most haste out of all of us. We continued running for about 25 yards until Jackie screeched to a halt and collapsed on the ground, holding her aching side and gasping for air.
"This was a great day and all, but I think I am going to mosey on home. It's getting really late and the sun is setting," Jackie panted between breaths.
I absolutely agreed with Jackie, it had been an enjoyable day other than the trashcan licking and our horrific encounter with the abandoned house, but I was ready to go home.
Apparently, Delilah was thinking the exact same thing and we muttered, “"Me too!" at the same time. I looked back at Piper to see if she agreed with our idea, but for some reason, her face looked crestfallen. She looked as if she was dreading going to her house with her family. Piper has two brothers, Jacob and Steven. She also has two parents,I am so very envious. I have never actually been to her house, but the way she talks about her family, all dreamy-eyed, the little green rage monster breaks out of its shell and nests in my brain. We were trudging down the hill and we finally arrived at my house. I ran up the steps and glanced back at the group. I flashed them a quick smile and sent them a petite wave.
I pushed open the door and let out a deep sigh. I was so relieved that we made it out of that house. I know I must sound like a huge wimp, but if you were in the situation that I was, I guarantee that you would not be calm and collective. I shrugged of my jacket, kicked off my pink sneakers, and loped over to the kitchen, to enjoy a snack. I searched around in the cabinets until I found a box of Goldfish and a bottle of water. I was jogging up the stairs when my father’s hand grabbed me and stopped me abruptly. I corkscrewed around, ready to throw his hand off of me, but I saw his face and resisted the urge to run. His face was full of pain as he opened his mouth to speak.
“Hello Celia, how was your day?” he casually asked, despite his conflicted emotion.
“It was fine,” I paused. ”Dad, don’t try to play sugar-coat with me, I know something is up,” I told him with an icy tone.
“Ok, I know that I have been a very isolated parent lately and I want to change that. I know that you have been very depressed since your mother died, I have heard your screams at night. I want you to know I am here for you,” he explained earnestly. He seemed genuinely sorry, as though he wanted to help me.
“Dad, I am fine and I do not need your help,” I said, I was shutting him out and that is what I need to do. He can not be an important character in my life, what if I lose him too?
Whenever I have conversations like this with people, I always reach for my jewelry. In this instance, I was wearing a ruby encrusted locket that my mother had addressed to me in her will. It is a prized family heirloom and I treasure it with all of my heart. Oddly enough, I did not feel its clean, metal exterior when I reached for it. I frantically grasped around, trying to find it. I could not. It was gone.
I immediately began hyperventilating and clutching my chest, still searching frantically for my necklace.
"What is wrong?" My father asked, sounding concerned.
"I have lost the most important item in my life. After my mom was taken, she had passed a ruby locket down to me, I was wearing it today and now I can't find it!" I screeched as I hurried up the stairs and threw my bedroom door open. I could hear my dad running up the stairs behind me, but I shut the door and slid down against the wall. I felt like my life was ending and I could do nothing but stand and watch. I was determined not to let my overwhelming depression dominate my mind and I jumped up to begin searching every nook and cranny that my necklace could possibly be found in.
About thirty minutes later, I checked the clock and realized that it was nine-thirty. I had checked every possible place that my necklace could have fallen or been pulled off. I was in obvious distress when my dad came in, carrying a tray of milk and cookies. He looked as if he did not know what to do in a situation like this. I want to give my dad credit because I am sure that not many fathers have an obvious game plan when their thirteen-year old daughter has lost her dead mother's locket. I admired his next move, he walked into my room, sat the tray of desserts down on the floor next to me, gave me a sad, sympathetic smile, and slowly moved out of my room. I gobbled down my cookies and lay against my bean bag, all of my tears drying on my face.
I woke up the next morning and stretched my arms far out wide. I began recounting what had happened last night and the pain that I had felt immediately filled my heart once again. I slumped over to the window and saw that the girls were loping up the road toward my house. A burst of joy momentarily filled my heart and I was outside, running down the street in what felt like two seconds.
"Girls, girls!" I screamed as I ran into the street in my pink pajamas, slippers, and hair curlers. I figured I must look like a train wreck but for once, I did not care about my appearance or about fitting in with the crowd. I needed my best friends' help to find my mom's locket and I was going to do my best. "I need your help, I have lost my prized necklace that my mom gave me! It is really, really special, now that my mom is de- on a business trip!"
"Celia, it is going to be fine. You can just get another piece of jewelry from your mom," Piper said, trying to calm me.
"No Piper, it is not that simple! She is de- on a lifelong business trip in South Korea! I might never see her again and that necklace was my only remnant of her I have and now I have lost it!" I croaked as a steady stream of tears flowed down my cheeks.
"Celia, it's going to be fine, we will find your necklace," said Delilah, as she draped her arm across my shoulders. "We will look everywhere that we went yesterday!"
"Okay, I already checked every nook and cranny in my house and found nothing. I am afraid to say that the only other place we were, was Old Man Crumber's house," I whimpered, wiping my eyes with my forearm.
"Girls, I know that place is dirty, smelly, and revolting in every possible way, but we need to help our best friend find her prized necklace. Now who's with me?" Piper bellowed enthusiastically. We all felt a little higher in spirits as we raised our hands, including me, and I changed into a pink blouse with a white skort.
We followed the same routine of walking up to the house and heading into the living room. Once we were pushed into the midnight black blanket in the room, we flipped the switch on our heavy-duty flashlights.
"Everybody fan out and cover separate corners of the living room! We need to find Celia's necklace!" hollered Piper as we searched around the room for anything that looked like a ruby, let alone a locket.
Suddenly, all of our flashlights flickered off and we were not only in a ragged wasteland of filth, but now we were enveloped in pitch black and there was not a thing in sight.
Immediately, I began screaming like the true baby I am ""Aaaaahhhhhh! We are going to die in this rat hole and I will never get to say my goodbyes to my family! Aaaaaahhhhh!". Delilah and Jackie joined me in this terror chant but Piper never said a word.
But in a few moments, the flashlight's power was returned to them just as soon as their light had gone out. The room was flushed with sudden light and I glanced at Piper who was sitting in a chair in a corner, looking as though she had not a care in the world.
"Ah, ha! There it is!" squealed Piper excitedly, pointing at my ruby encrusted locket hanging from the chandelier on the ceiling. She immediately jumped up from her seat and dragged the old, wooden chair over to the base of the chandelier. She heaved herself onto the chair and gently untangled my locket from the metal wires that made up the chandelier. I was so overwhelmed with the feeling of relief that I hadn't stopped to realize how strange it was that my necklace had flown up about ten feet in the air.
"How in the world could my locket have gotten up there when I kept it in my pocket the entire time we were in the house?" I asked as Piper stepped down from the chair.
"Celia, may I see your locket?" Piper asked politely. I nodded and delicately handed my necklace over into her outstretched hand. Piper took it very slowly and began making her way into the kitchen, on a search for something. I silently followed her and watched as she pulled a metal mixing bowl down from the cupboard. Piper held my locket a few inches away from the bowl. What was she doing? Almost immediately, the locket slipped from her hands and hit the bowl hard, with a loud clank.
"Your necklace is magnetic, that’s why it connected to the chandelier,"
explained Piper, seeming very excited with herself for cracking the case. But there was still a piece of the story missing, how could my necklace have flown about ten feet into the air?
"But Piper, the chandelier or my locket must have an incredibly strong magnetic pull because the locket was lifted about ten feet in the air," I questioned Piper.
"Well that is weird, but I am just glad you got your necklace back!" replied Piper, seeming confused. Piper looked crestfallen kind of disappointed with her assumption. I did not want to make her feel bad about herself, but I really wanted to get to the bottom of this problem. Piper handed my necklace back to me and I fastened it around my neck. I gave a quick tug on it, just to make sure it was secure and it would not come of easily. Then, I carefully opened the flap on my locket, hoping to find a picture of my mother and me. The picture was taken when mother and I had gone on our last annual trip to Las Vegas. We always went to the city of gambling, casinos, and party people. Then, a crumpled piece of paper floated out of my necklace and fell to the mildew-covered floor. I quickly bent down and scooped up the yellowing piece of notebook paper. I cautiously unfolded the wad and almost fainted when I read the note. I was so shocked that the paper fell from my hands and dropped to the floor.
My dear Celia,
I know it was hard for you to comprehend that I had passed on and that you would have to live with your father. It will come as an even bigger shock as I tell you, I am still alive. I was captured by a psychotic madman that wanted to kill me. He left me to die in the sewer of New York City. I am very much alive and I need you to pick me up and bring me home, to California. I love you so much, see you soon.
To Be Continued