The Secret

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
A teenage girl, Viola, discovered that something strange has been happening around her. She has been sharing a bad relationship with her family ever since her beloved mother went missing. Owing to the lack of trust and affection from her family, Viola can only turn to her best friend, Alex, for help. Together they work to solve the mystery, while learning more secrets.

Submitted: June 11, 2019

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Submitted: June 11, 2019

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It was a gloomy Sunday. No birds singing in the trees. No cars passing by on the road. No little chattering from the noisy neighbors. Everything was dead silent. Too silent.

The sound of the bell ring from the nearby church startled Viola. She slowly opened her eyes and looked around carefully. Everything seemed normal. The Christmas stocking from six years ago was still tied to her bed. The monkey toy she received on her eighth birthday was still clinging on one of the curtain. On her desk, textbooks scattered randomly, just like the way they were yesterday. Everything was perfect. But Viola knew that something was wrong.

“Third time this week,” Viola frowned, as she lied next to her best friend, Alex, under the only cherry tree in the garden, after the morning worship ended. “I don’t get it.”

Alex threw a piece of candy into his mouth. “What’s missing this time?”

“My mom’s scarf,” Viola looked up to the sky. “We found it in the Lost and Found center at the train station. That’s where people last saw her before she disappeared.”

Alex sat up. “So you first lost your mom’s hair pin, then you lost your mom’s gloves. Now it’s your mom’s scarf. Cool!” Alex laughed in a weird way.

Viola sighed. “That’s what I don’t quite understand.”

 

 

At dinner, everyone was happy except Viola. Her dad, Nelson, kept repeating again and again the subject of how he was being admired by his boss, and that he assumed a promotion and rise in salary upon him very soon --- only exaggerating than it was mentioned the night before. Her stepmom, Scarlett, who worked with her dad, kept embellishing the whole event, making the situation worse. As for her younger brother, Jasper, he was not even listening to his parents but kept texting to his gangster-like friends with sometimes deafening laughters during the whole session. No one cared about the unhappy Viola. Yeah, she thought to herself, my family sucks, ever since mom was gone.

Viola took a long bath before she finally cleared her mind with tears and came out. She went back to her room. But someone was already there.

“Jasper!” Viola shouted, “what are you doing in my room?”

Jasper was shocked and dropped something to the floor. Viola picked it up before he did. It was her mom’s diary!

“What do you want with this?” Viola asked.

“Nothing.”

“Nothing? You read Mom’s diary.” Jasper did not reply. Viola suddenly thought of something. “Was it you that came into my room and took away Mom’ stuff these days?” she questioned him.

Jasper seemed angry. “Yeah! I did read Mom’s diary. But guess what? Do you think you are the only one who misses her? I miss her, too!” He then ran out of the room with tears in his eyes.

“Hey! You haven’t answered me……” It was too late.

 

 

“Wait a second! So you suspect that your brother did it?” Alex exclaimed while they were doing group work in math class.

“Shh!” Viola looked around. The teacher was staring at them with a warning expression on his face. “What could I do? He was caught red-handed holding my mom’s diary.” She lowered her head pretending that she was doing her work, as the teacher started walking around in the classroom. “He is forbidden to step into my room, you know. And anyway, he didn’t deny it.”

Alex hesitated for a while. “But he didn’t admit it, either.”

“Whatever.” Viola wrote down the correct answer on the paper, “Jasper said he missed Mom too, but I don’t believe it.” She handed the paper to Alex. “What I believe is that he sold these stuff for more pocket money, just like what his friends would do.”

Alex hid his face behind the paper. “You do hate your brother, don’t you?”

Viola shrugged, and did not reply.

 

 

Viola came home late that night for extra basketball practice with Alex. She had accepted to join the after-class practice offered by the school basketball team every day since her stepmom stepped into this house. Viola could never forget how great her disappointment was to her family when her dad told her the bad news. It was the worst day in her life. Worse than the fact that her mom was dead a month ago.

“Stepmom? What stepmom?” Viola picked up a card left on her bedroom floor. She and Jasper was about to start a new round of their card game, but both of them stopped by the sudden announcement.

Nelson smiled, “You guys will have a new mother soon.”

Viola and Jasper turned and looked at each other. What? Viola thought.

“But…… but why?” Jasper asked without ease, but soon changed his question upon receiving the harsh look projected from his dad. “I mean…… who is this…… this stepmom?”

“Her name is Scarlett. She is currently my secretary,” Nelson answered. “A wonderful woman she is. You two will love her, I’m sure.” He added in a tone of persuasion, which did not suit him.

Viola knew she had to do something right now. “But Dad, we are fine being with each other. Right, Jasper?” she turned to his brother for help, but only found him lower his head and with no reply. “Really, Dad. I don’t think we really need a ---”

“Nae! Stop it!” Nelson warned. “That’s my decision, not yours. No! Don’t you ever say anything about it!” Viola was planning to persuade more to her dad, but shut her mouth at once. “Good! So that is it. Go to bed now. Both of you!”

Viola looked hopelessly at her brother. “Good night.” Jasper stood up and left her room. He did not look at her. He dare not.

 

 

Viola was chatting with Alex through her cellphone when her dad called her from the stairs. The final round of the basketball season was on air tonight, and her coach from the school team assigned them the work to pay careful attention to the moves and strategies each players used during the final game. Viola ran to the living room excitedly, but her joyfulness soon faded away when she saw her stepmom sitting beside her dad with an uninterested look on her face. I can’t leave. I have to stay. She told herself firmly. And slowly, she moved to sit on the other side of the sofa.

The first hour went okay. Viola couldn’t hide her excitement while watching the game, though she really detested being in the same room with her stepmom, who was fast asleep after the game started. Viola wished her stepmom would never wake up, however……

“Score!” Nelson shouted. “Excellent!”

Scarlett was awaken by Nelson’s sudden exclamation. “Mmm…… what?”

“That guy, you see? He is my favorite player. Very talented.”

“Who? Oh, forget it.” Scarlett stretched her body, “Like I will care......”

As her stepmom was stretching her arms, something shiny and familiar caught Viola’s eyes.

“What's that?” Viola asked suddenly.

“What?”

“That bracelet you’re wearing…….”

“Oh, that. Well,” Scarlett showed it to her. “Clear?” It was her mom’s bracelet!

Viola froze for a while. Then she asked as she tried to calm her voice, “where did you get it?” She thought she had kept all her mom’s belongings in her room. Then why didn’t she notice its missing?

Scarlett sneered, “From your room, of course, little princess.” She took the bracelet off her wrist, “I was cleaning your room last night with all that mess……” she paused and laughed, then started watching the bracelet from different angles. “Anyway. Then I saw this cute little thing. So beautiful, don’t you think?” She put it back on again.

Viola was really angry now. “That belongs to my mom ---”

“--- who was dead. Yes!” Scarlett pretended to make a sad face. “So now it belongs to me. Let’s not waste its beauty, shall we?” Scarlett laughed as she added.

“That’s not you to decide!” Viola was so heartbroken. She ran to her stepmom and tried to grab the bracelet on her wrist. “And give me back the other stuff you took away. It was you, right? It was you!” Viola screamed.

Scarlett was shocked. “Hey, hey, hey. Get away from me, you crazy girl. Nelson!”

Nelson ran to Scarlett’s rescue. “Stop it, Viola! Stop it!” Viola was exhausted and could not fight back anymore. “Go back to your room. Now!”

“And clean that mess in your room!” Scarlett ironically reminded, as Viola ran upstairs without another look at her parents. “Do you hear me? Or I will do it for you.”

 

 

“Okay, let me sort this thing out.” Alex sat down on the grass, near the school playground, during nap time. “So this time you think it’s your stepmom?”

Viola drank some water as she leaned against a big tree. “Yep! That’s it.”

“Are you sure?” Alex found his best friend with a confused look, “I mean, have you seen your stepmom wearing…… ugh…… your mom’s scarf or…… gloves? After all, it’s quite hot these days. I don’t think she will need these things.”

Viola came sitting next to Alex. “Maybe they were thrown away.”

Alex shook his head. “Then it’s no reason why she didn’t throw all your mom’ stuff away.” Both of them lost in thought for a while. “Anyway, what about your brother? ”

“Well, I don’t know.”

Alex put his arm around Viola’ shoulders. “Wanna hear my suggestion?” Viola looked at him, and nodded. “I think you should forgive him. It was really not his fault not helping you out against your dad’s decision.” Alex added, “He was afraid.”

Viola lowered her head, and paused for a while. “Yeah. I know.”

 

 

Viola persuaded her dad for some time before he finally agreed to let her stay over at Alex’s house that night. She was so happy that she could free herself from the bad luck she had got at home, for just one night, though. When she and Alex arrived home after practice, she couldn’t wait but run to the attic that used to be their secret base when they were little, no matter how hard Alex tried to stop her. As she opened the door, however, she was stunned at the scene she saw.

By the wall next to the door, there used to be a cabinet for placing their toys and other playthings, but now a closet had replaced it. In front of the window, there used to be two little wooden table for them to study, but now an old desk was there instead. Across from the window, a bed took up the place where they used to sit or lie on a huge rug having fun.

“Didn’t you hear me calling?” Alex was breathless from running up the stairs.

“Wow! What’s all this about?”

“Ha ha…… it’s just a…… ugh…… a guest room.” Alex answered.

Viola laughed. “Really? You have a guest?”

Alex seemed uncomfortable. “Yeah…… she is…… one of our family relative.” Alex pushed Viola out of the room. “Hey! Let’s go downstairs and help my mom prepare dinner, shall we?”

“Oh! Sure.”

 

 

Dinner was wonderful. Alex’s mom prepared all her special dishes which tasted just like what Viola’s mom would cook for her. That reminded Viola of those years when she could wander around in the kitchen and watch her mom cook like a professional cook. Except that the memory was painful, Viola really enjoyed the meal. During the meal, the guest that Alex had mentioned never showed up, which Alex’s mom explained that she was out to do some shopping. Later on, they talked and laughed a lot about Viola and Alex’s childhood and some funny experiences. It was not until Alex’s mom accidentally looked at the watch and found that it was already past 10 p.m. that they helped clean the dining table and went to bed.

The next morning after having breakfast, they said goodbye to Alex’s mom and went to school. As they were about to leave the house, Viola saw a woman hurriedly and anxiously go into the kitchen and talk to Alex’s mom, from the other side of the corridor behind her. The back of the woman looked so familiar.

“Alex, the relative you said…… do I know her?”

There was a moment of silence. “No.” Alex looked ahead and started walking.

 

 

The happy and joyful feeling Viola had long forgotten but regained last night went well with her during school and after-class practice. Yet, it slowly faded away as the time she went home drew near. Unlike the other days taking the school bus home, she chose to take a walk instead. When she finally arrived home, she first heard some loud noises, then she saw her dad working in the garden. He was cutting the cherry tree!

“Dad!” Viola shouted and ran to him, “what are you doing?”

Nelson did not stop what he was doing. “Just as you see, I am cutting the tree.”

“Why? You know it was planted by Mom. Mom took so much care of the tree.” Viola cried as she started pulling her dad’s arm, “Stop it, Dad! Please!”

“No! You stop it!” Nelson escaped from his daughter’s catch, and looked into her eyes. “I’m having enough of you. It’s been too long. I know you missed her very much, but it’s time you forgot about her.” He drew the chainsaw near the tree again, “I will help you with that.”

“No! Dad!” Viola screamed. She tried to grab the chainsaw, but was kicked by her dad and fell to the ground.

“Stay away from it!” Nelson warned. “You will get hurt.”

Viola got up. “Don’t pretend that you care about us, Dad. You are just like that woman.” She picked up her backpack on the ground, “if it were really you that took away Mom’ stuff for her, I would never forgive you.”

“What stuff?”

“You really don’t know? Those missing stuff were heirloom from Mom’s family. Treasures, Dad.” Viola sneered, “only you and I know that. Or maybe…… she has already learnt about it.” She turned and ran away.

“Hey! Where are you going?”

 

 

“Heirloom?” Alex met with Viola at the nearby park. “When did you find out?”

Viola sighed, “Just now.” She showed him the ring she was wearing on her left hand’s middle finger. There was a letter J on it. “Jonathan. That’s my mom’s family name.” She gave the ring to him, “they got this mark on all her family’s heirloom. My mom told me when she gave me this ring.”

Alex looked carefully at the mark. “So this is another piece?”

“No. It is the last piece.”

Alex looked up. “What are you planning to do?”

“It’s yours now,” Viola said firmly. “Temporarily. You will keep it for me.”

Alex thought for a while, and gave the ring back. “No. You keep it.”

Viola was confused. “But this is the last one.” She looked at the ring and added fearfully, “no matter who that is, he or she will definitely come to me. For this!”

“That’s right,” Alex smiled as he said. “Time to reveal the mystery.”

 

 

Viola couldn’t sleep. She was too nervous. Rolling over her bed, she kept telling herself to relax, and convincing herself that nothing ever happened to her, and that it would still stay the same after tonight, as Alex had promised her. But……how could he be so sure? Was he watching over her somewhere? Impossible. Viola laughed at the weird thought she had. Clenching her fist tightly, she could feel the warm and sweaty ring in her hand. You are safe with me, Viola thought in her head.

When it was past midnight, Viola finally fell asleep. From not far away, she heard what seemed to be someone tossing rocks against the outside wall. The sound was so clear and near. Maybe it's the gangsters of the neighborhood again. They like to sneak into our garden. Viola rolled over and fell asleep again. Unknowingly, the chill of the evening breeze started blowing toward her. Viola frowned as she searched for the quilt. Did I forget to close the window tonight? Before she could reach for her quilt, however, she felt it covering her shivering body, as someone had slowly and tenderly pulled it over for her. So comfortable, Viola thought. She swept aside her long bangs on her forehead, and felt the cold breeze on her sweaty bare hand.

Wait! Viola roused up from her sleep. She opened her eyes, and saw a woman with a mask watching her. Just as Viola was about to scream, the woman covered her mouth gently. She looked into her eyes. So caring. And so familiar. They were the ones she had been missing day and night, but only appeared in her dreams.

“Mom?” Viola whispered.

“Shh!”

The woman gazed at the shocking expression on Viola’s face. Then she nodded, turned, and went to the window. Before Viola could recover from her surprise, the woman was gone. Viola rushed to the window. Two figures were running pass through the garden, with the one at the back who seemed to be a boy holding a ladder. Viola went back to her bed. She never fell asleep again that night.

 

 

Viola did not say a word about her encounter with her mom to anyone until a few days had passed, when she finally had the courage to bring up the unbelievable story a week after she first told Alex about the mysterious event.

“So, this is it.” Viola lied down next to Alex in her garden, under the only cherry tree that had a few poor cuts on its trunk this time, after the Sunday worship ended. “The mystery was finally solved. It was…… my mom.”

Alex went silent for a while. Then instead of being shocked or telling Viola to stop fooling around, he applauded.

“What?”

“Congratulations!” Alex was still clapping his hands.

Viola hit him on the back. “Stop it! Alex.” She paused, then smiled as she added, “but thanks, anyway, for believing me all this time.”

“Yeah. I know,” Alex replied. “So……” he hesitated then asked, “when are you coming over to see her?”

Viola looked confused. “What?”

“In my house,” Alex said. “She’s been living with us for a while, you know.”


© Copyright 2019 Jeffris. All rights reserved.

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