My alarm went off before I sat up and rubbed my eyes; six O'clock. My feet touched the wooden floor where the lingering cold settled each morning, waiting for me too awake. I ambled to my wardrobe to find my uniform that always awoke looking good as new each day. I took it off the coat hanger before changing into it. Aundry, my twin sister, groaned and rolled over in her bed, pulling the covers over herself. Waking up in the morning was definitely not her strong point. I grabbed my hairbrush and walked over to Aundry pulling the covers back off "Come on, get up Aundry. It's the last week of school until Christmas holidays. Let's just get through it. I don't want to miss the bus again because of you" I pleaded whilst brushing my hair.
"Alura go away I'm too tired to get up now" she mumbled back. While looking like a brain dead zombie, Aundry slowly arose from her slumber.
I creaked down the stairs. Candles that sat on the walls only slightly illuminated the trip down at night and in the early hours of the morning. I made my way to the bathroom. It was so icy, even compared to the rest of the house. All forty two rooms allowed no heat to be contained. The ancient floor boards were cursed with a spell that stopped the woolliest slippers from warming my toes in the winter climates, so it seemed. Poor Miss Jane would have to go around lighting all the fire places during winter. I never envied her career as our personal maid, but I was indeed somewhat jealous of her appearance. Miss Jane was quite petite for her age of twenty. She had short blond hair, flawless pale skin and sapphire eyes that glazed ever so gently. My Uncle Jimmy allowed her a room in the manor as she spent most of her time with Aunt Patrice. Although I felt sorry for Miss Jane, I felt more so for my Aunt. She's been in a deep coma ever since I've been alive. She spends all of her days on the top floor in her pearl pink room, which stares upon lush meadows and crisp mountains through a stunning stain glassed window. Uncle Jimmy always accompanied her; always swapping the old flowers sitting beside her bed with fresh ones straight from our vibrant garden that sat a hundred metres away. We always asked why he did it, but he never replied or changed the subject. He never spoke much about Aunt Patrice. As a matter of fact, he never spoke much at all. When he's not with Aunt Patrice, he hovers around in the manors library. It's most likely the reason why everyone in the village says he's gone mad. Some even think he died years ago. Aundry and I have always been curious as to what he does in there, more so in his office he would never let us go in. We came close to sneaking in there once, when we were little, but Uncle Jimmy yelled at us for weeks. That was a strange time, as he hardly ever expressed any signs of anger. He was always very spaced out and in his on world, so it as rather odd he would get so angry over something that would seem harmless.
I brushed my hair in the bathroom and noticed a family portrait hanging from the bathroom wall. Looking at it closely I tried to remember the day the picture was taken. In the portrait, me and Aundry were dressed the same. I was in a blue dress; Aundry in pink, the ribbons in our hair matched each outfit. Our brother, Blair, stood behind us with half a smile. He had no desire to be there. Next to him was Uncle Jimmy, standing tall and very proper. He was quite the poser. I finished my hair and walked into the kitchen. The old, stocky cook, Janice prepared our breakfast. She always catered for our stomachs when needed. And keeping in mind of our weight, she always made sure it was healthy but still made taste so scrumptious. She placed a pot of coffee next to the plate of raisin toast and fresh fruit. Jimmy had galleons of the stuff.
"Did you wake Aundry up yet, Alura?" Janice asked me as I took a seat on the massive dining table. "yes I did, the question is will she get out of bed today" I replied with a smirk.
Aundry then slowly walked in and slumped down on the chair next to me with her uniform on.
"Good morning Aundry did you have a nice sleep?" Janice asked
"oh yes it was great until it ended"
"we all have to cater to the day Aundry, here packed lunch for today" Janice placed our lunches on the table next to us. Corey, Uncle Jimmy's butler then walked into the kitchen sitting at the opposite end of the table. Corey was very tall with black neat hair, he was at times stubborn and rude but he was a lot of help to Uncle Jimmy giving him his depression medication and catering to his every need.
"Good morning Corey" Janice said
"morning Janice, Aundry, Clair, where is Blair this morning? Is he not getting up for work?" asked Corey
"no, no definitely not he has come down with a cold and must stay out of this icy weather today, all he needs is a bed, a fire place and hot tea, same goes for Jimmy today as well, let's just hope the girls don't get it too, which means no one sick is to enter Aunt Patrice's room, we can't have her anymore sick her temperature was racing yesterday". Janice handed Corey a hot coffee "thankyou Janice, I did notice Jimmy was coughing a lot yesterday, that reminds me I have to pick up his new medication today and go to the newsagency for the paper" He said before taking a sip of his coffee "yes, I thought miss Jade was going to do that today?" "No, she is also a bit sick so can't go out in the snowy town, which also leaves me to catering for Patrice today". Me and Aundry finish our breakfast and said goodbye to Janice and Corey to go to school. Listening to Corey and Janice speak was like listening in maths their daily life taking care of the mansion so dull and boring. As we were walking out the front door Uncle Jimmy came out of the library, he looks down at us then pushes his glasses further up his nose holding the pen he took everywhere just in case he would need it. Uncle Jimmy was very thin and tall but with an older frame and very brittle, he always wore a locket around his neck with a picture of himself and his wife who is in the top floor in a coma. "Good morning Uncle Jimmy, were you in the library all night again?" Aundry asked "uh good morning my two girls, I don't quite remember how long I was in there for, for time is only a word and theory girls, life is a whole not broken down" "uh ok well were going to school now have a nice day"
"you too thankyou girls, be careful not to step on the mushrooms". We walked outside and shut the doors
"well Jimmy's not getting any saner today" Aundry said. "Well he did stay up all night in the library again I would be a bit sketchy on ideas too" I said shutting the gate to the manor and walking to the bus stop.
We got to the bus stop and sat on the small wooden seat as tiny snowflakes fell from the sky landing on the long dead road before us. I had never noticed how isolated the mansion was, it was on a top hill in the country side with a few tree's and flower patches here and there consisting of only our house and a bus stop, with one cold dirt road to get in and out of the small town of Scotdale. The Manor was the only mansion for miles, with fields full of wheat and wine grapes, in the spring and farms with sheep and cows in this huge unknown land.
I heard footsteps coming from down the road I turned my head it was Ethan. Ethan was mine and Aundry's best friend had been for six years when we met in grade seven, He was funny and tall with shoulder length light ginger hair and pale skin. Today was the first day of snow fall for winter and Ethan showed it quite obviously with his woollen beanie and homemade sweater with blue reindeer's on it, he looked quite proud of himself as he approached the bench and sat next to me. "Morning guys" he said with a great smile on his face. "Why so happy Ethan?" asked Aundry "so happy because it's the last week of school until holidays, who wouldn't be happy no more homework, ever, year twelve is done were free range now! What are your plans when this week is over?" he asked so excited. Aundry looked half asleep and not paying attention. I looked at his smiling face and replied "well I haven't really thought it through, Janice is going to talk to us about it soon I guess, I mean I need a job after the break" "Janice? Why would she need to talk to you? do what you want with your future, you don't always need your maid's and butler to think for you" he said opening a candy bar
"yeah well… hey isn't it too early for candy" I asked secretly wanting some ignoring the fact that he basically called me lazy.
"No it's the last week of school; I'm going all out this week" He opened it with his long gloved hands and popped it in his mouth. The old faded yellow school bus pulled up in front of us. We stood up and one by one got on it to begin the cold ordered day.
We had finally arrived at school where teenagers spread over the snowy court yards or huddled inside the warm hallways away from the snow and wind. Scotdale secondary school was about ninety years old; with brown brick buildings and rusted metal pipes holding the school up, it was well past it's time as misery lingered around every corner. The class rooms were like dull picture theatre's where no one was to speak but everyone look to the front, watching usually an old battered teacher. Even though this school represented death itself I had spent six years here and after this week I would imagine I would miss being here. As we walked in the gate like marching robots attending to another given day the first bell rung and students set off to their first class for the day.
After school, we got off the bus at the same bus stop we had got on in the morning and said good bye to Ethan as he walked in the opposite direction to his farmhouse and we parted with him off to our manor. We walked up the long pebal driveway towards the two huge doors. "I can't believe my geography teacher gave me homework on the last week of school, I'm not doing it" Aundry said in disgust. We opened the doors and walked in, I walked into the kitchen where my brother Blair was sitting at the table having soup. "Hey Clair" he said with his croaky voice. "Hello Blair, how is being sick?"
"Great I didn't have to go to work today" he replied. My brother was a very tall boy with black messy hair and deep blue eye's he looked different from me and Aundry but we all had the same fair skin. "Where is everyone?" I asked him "Uncle Jimmy is in the library, Janice is in the garden patch, miss Jane is in the house somewhere and Corey went out a few minutes ago and I'm here" he replied sipping on his soup, everyone always leave's Aunt Patrice out of general conversation when Jimmy is in the house just in case he is around and can hear, he doesn't like the mention of his frail wife.
Dinner soon arrived and we all gathered at the dining table, I sat next to Aundry as usual. Janice carried in bowls of vegetables, a seasoned chicken and a bowl of gravy. We all thanked Janice and started to eat.
"So when is your farewell formal?" Blair asked me and Aundry, we both looked at each other "I've forgotten all about it" I said in a shocked voice, then Aundry added
"I didn't, it's this Friday night, we still haven't gone shopping". Everyone looked at Miss Jane as she was the one who usually took us into town for shopping. She looked up at us
"Well we could go tomorrow afternoon to look for some dresses?" she said in her quiet squeaky voice.
"YES!!" Aundry said in excitement. Everyone continued eating then we heard something drop like metal on a tiled floor everyone looked as Uncle Jimmy had dropped his fork as his hand hung from the table, his face in utter fear. Jane got up straight away and picked it up catering to his arm holding it above the table "are you alright sir?" she asked in a panic "yes, yes just a bit tired is all, may I be escorted to my sleeping quarter" he said in a frail voice. "Of course sir" She said helping him too his feet.
"Good night everyone, thank you for dinner Janice, girls, Blair, see you all tomorrow" he said puffed out as he stumbled away in Jane's arms. I looked at Janice and Corey who were giving each other a worried look; we were silent for the rest of dinner. I knew something was wrong, Uncle Jimmy was getting sick and Janice, Corey and Jane knew something us children didn't.
It was ten O'clock and I was reading in bed when Aundry walked in her room and got in her own bed which was next to mine. She got under the cover's then turned to me
"Clair, do you think there is something wrong with Uncle Jimmy? He has been acting extra strange lately, more quiet than usual" she asked, I put my book down and turned off my lamp turning to face her.
"Yes I do, I think he's just getting a bit sick" I replied then she came out and said
"he is getting very old, what if he is losing his memory?" "What makes you think that?"
"Well the other day I asked him where Blair was and he asked who Blair is… He knows who Blair is, Blair is usually his favourite"
"maybe he just got his words mixed up?" "Maybe… well I'm going to sleep, I'll see you in the morning, good night Clair" she said before turning around. I didn't think Uncle Jimmy was losing his memory but I did think something was wrong, the way Janice and Corey looked at each other at the dinner table. Soon after thinking about what had happened at dinner I had fallen asleep.
The next day was school as usual, then after school Miss Jane took me, Aundry and Ethan who I invited to tag along into town to look for formal dresses. We drove into town in Uncle Jimmy's old, long dark blue limo, people knew who the limo belonged to every time we went into town as we were the only ones in the town with a limo. We pulled up in a snowy car park and got out of the car. People looked at us every time we went into town looking out for Uncle Jimmy who they all thought went mad. We walked along the old paved footpath together, past the fat man's butcher and old lady's antique book store. "Let's walk up town where the better more expensive clothing shops are" Aundry said, Ethan tagged slowly behind her looking curiously into the shops.
We arrived to a shop called 'fancy and fair' the windows flooded with different coloured silk dresses, we walked inside and a bell above the door went off as the door opened. A small town lady stepped out from behind a rack of clothing; she was round and short, with short perfectly cut brown hair.
"Welcome, how may I help you?" she said looking us up and down like she was judging us. Miss Jane then replied to her as me and Aundry looked around the store "hello, we are looking for two formal dresses for the girls". The lady looked at me and Aundry very closely "uh I see, ok well I know something to perfectly suit this one here" she pointed at me with her round cubby finger then pulled out a puffy orange dress with black sleaves attached to the arms. It was a hideous dress, Miss Jane looked at it and her eyes widened, Ethan was trying to cover his laugh from the shop keeper. She held it arms out stretched in my face I looked at it then back at her and said as politely as I could
"Um… no thank you, I was actually looking for something blue" I said "Blue!! We have got a great collection of blue, let me show you" the lady said rushing over to a rack of blue dresses bunched on a railing on the wall. I looked at the collection of blue as the lady suggested the worst of the dresses. I looked back at Miss Jane for her to walk over and rescue me from this eager shop keeper when I spotted the most wonderful long blue dress behind Miss Jane. It was a dark blue glittery silk, with a strapless top, it was simple and elegant. The lady ranted on as I was looking at the dress in the far window. I had to interrupt the shop keeper before she suggested another dress for me to try on
"Excuse me, thank you for the help but may I please try on the blue dress in the window" I asked her, she turned and looked at it
"Oh that one, are you sure, dark blue may not match your brown eyes dear" she said
"No I am sure that one thank you", she walked over and fished it down with a hook. Miss Jane smiled at me "nice choice" she said.
After buying the dress I wanted and leaving the horrible shop where the lady seems to know more about me than I do, Aundry was complaining that she didn't find a dress she liked in that store and wanted to walk up town more to a very expensive dress store called 'little blue bird'. We walked up the street and around the corner, Aundry and Miss Jane went to the dress store to look for a dress while me and Ethan decided to go into the cookie café, where everyone from school went to after a movie or in their spare time to socialise and get a milkshake or hot chocolate. We walked up to the café and went inside, a few boys from school and some blond girls sat at the tables. We went and got a milkshake each, I shouted Ethan one since he didn't bring any money. The post boy Patric Dormey who finished school last year was ordering a hot chocolate beside us. Aundry had a crush on Patric and every time he came to our house on a Sunday to drop of the local paper she would run outside to collect it or be gardening every time he would arrive, just so she can say hi and try and start a conversation before he went on to the next house.
When we had finished our milkshakes Aundry and Miss Jane walked into the café and sat near us, Aundry sat beside Ethan and started talking
"I got the most amazing dress its…" before she went on she spotted Patric her crush then whispered to us
"Guys, Patric is here, should I go say hello?" Ethan then laughed "why not just ask him to the formal and then marry him" he said jokingly. Aundry gave a serious look then got up
"Good idea Ethan" she said walking towards Patric as he sat alone at the bar. "She did know I was joking right?" Ethan said watching, with eye brows raised. We watched Aundry talk to Patric closely leaning in a little to hear their conversation, like immature school children. A few minutes later Aundry came back smiling and sat down as Patric left the café. "Well?" said Miss Jane to her "well… he's my date to formal!" she showed us a piece of paper with his name and phone number on it; she giggled and squirmed with joy.
For the rest of the week it was the same routine, school, dinner, sleep nothing exciting had
happened, Blair's sickness went away and Uncle Jimmy stayed in his library most of the week, we had a huge roast dinner the night before our end of year school formal, to celebrate finishing school. It was Friday afternoon; school was just wiping desks and clearing out trays for next year even though our year won't be there. Aundry and I were getting ready for the formal after school. Aundry's dress was green and short with a tutu like bottom which was lime green with sparkly bits in it. I had my dark blue silk dress on and was twirling around in front of the mirror. Miss Jane and Janice were helping us get ready; Janice had a tear in her eye. "So beautiful, you two grew up so quickly, I remember you two climbing on the huge oak tree's out the back, pretending you were in a different world, now your chasing boys and going to formals" Janice said pining up my hair and putting small flower clips in my bun. Me and Aundry looked at each other and smiled, Janice always says motherly things like that, it was comforting, especially when we didn't have a mother to say those things to us. "Who are you even going with Clair?" asked Aundry, "Ethan of course, we've been best friends since year seven, we thought it would only be appropriate, plus the girl he wanted to go with is going with that Rick guy" I replied.
"oh… well I can't wait until Patric gets here and sees me like this" she continued powdering her nose with makeup.
Five O'clock came and we were ready to leave we went downstairs where Uncle Jimmy, Janice, Miss Jade, Corey and Blair were waiting to see us at the bottom of the stairs. The door bell rung and we could see two shadows of male figures at the door.
"I'll get it" Corey said as he went to the door to let in Patric and Ethan in. "You girls look wonderful, just wonderful" said Uncle Jimmy coming to give us a hug. Corey let in the boys and they smiled at us saying hello to everyone.
"Well let's not be late for your formal now, let's go outside and see what Uncle Jimmy has ordered for your transportation" said Janice leading the way out side. We all walked outside to see two beautiful horses and a pearl white carriage with pink roses stuck around the door of the carriage. Me and Aundry were amazed, we turned to Uncle Jimmy and gave him a hug "thank you so much its beautiful" Aundry said "well I wouldn't want you going in our bleated up limo, now you girls have an excellent night". We thanked everyone especially Uncle Jimmy and said good bye and got in our carriage departing to the formal. I sat next to Ethan on the carriage and Aundry sat next to Patric, slightly moving closer to him hoping he wouldn't notice. Ethan told us about how his mother started crying when he left the house, because she was so proud of him and Aundry of course giggled loud at that, trying to catch Patric's attention.
At the formal in our large school hall which was decorated with balloons glitter and confetti, everyone was dressed so nicely in dresses and suits, there were tables set up with decorations on them and a dance floor with streamers hanging from the roof. Usually the hall looked like a plain room with a wooden floor; we had never seen it so alive. As the night progressed, teachers made speeches and handed out awards Amy Bell and Liam Craig Got Prom king and Queen, we ate a variety of meals and deserts then we danced the rest of the night on the dance floor. I danced with Ethan, Aundry and Patric until Aundry and Patric left to go talk by the punch bowl. I danced with people I never even talked to throughout my time here, Penny Colbrin and Emma Norwidge, everyone danced even the social outcasts who I never had made fun of, then leaving with a small gift bag from the teachers which included sweet chocolate lollies, a fake flower, and a wrist band with the school logo on it saying our years name and our school motto 'learn as one'. It was hardly a jump for joy gift but it was thoughtful. After the night we would never forget, Miss Jane was in the limo outside the school ready to pick us up, Patric had kissed Aundry on the cheek when we were about to get in our car which made her smile then and all the way home. Ethan's mother came to get him and soon after everyone got picked up we were home.
The next morning I woke up very tired with makeup still smudged on my face. I had slept in quite late, it was midday and Aundry was already out of bed. I went to my camera which Miss Jane had taken photographs of us in our formal wear the night before. I was flicking through the photos of cake and students dancing when I heard someone coming up the stairs. The bedroom door opened and it was Corey He stood there and looked at me for a moment then spoke in a quiet voice not one I had heard very often in my time knowing him. "I'm glad your finally awake did you have a nice sleep?" "Uh yes I did thank you" "that's good… listen you have to come join us in the lounge room, something has happened". I looked up at him and put my camera down, curious to his tone of voice.
"Something? What do you mean something" I asked. He hung his head down "I would rather you not hear it from me Clair" my heart sank a little.
"Corey, just tell me" I demanded "well… we can't find your Uncle Jimmy; he's gone missing from his bed"
"Well maybe he just went for a walk" "there is more… I would really rather you come down stairs Clair" He said before walking out leaving me puzzled.
I slowly walked down stairs and down one of the halls into the main lounge room my mind being puzzled and pulled with different thoughts and ideas running wild. I walked in the lounge room and everyone was sitting on the couches, everyone including two police officers and a detective. I sat next to Blair who had his head in his hands.
"What is going on here?" I asked looking around at everyone. Janice put her arm around me
"Uncle Jimmy is missing, we cannot find him anywhere, and he has left something" the police officer handed me a piece of paper, it was a letter from Uncle Jimmy it said:
'dear family, I must part my ways and go with death, I leave the house to no one don't come looking for my body you will not find it see you in heaven love Jimmy Bloom.'
My body froze I just stared at it and passed it back unable to look at it again. Blair put his arm around me as a tear rolled down my face, I did not make the sounds of crying but it felt like I couldn't breathe, breath stuffed with too much air choking me.
"We cannot conduct a search without any evidence of where he might be, is there anywhere you think he may have went to find his resting place?" The detective in the black suit said. "No, none at all, this house was all he ever really liked, and his library" "were going to search the library for any clues otherwise we can't start a full investigation". The police officers and detectives got up and forwarded into to library, one of the police officers stayed with us "I would just like to make a few notes if you would like to answer some questions please" The police officer said to Corey. The day was long and painful with everyone crying and being questioned, police searching the house all day, it was the longest and most quiet day in th