I don’t know what those strange people are doing at my house. I don’t know who they are, what they want, or why they are here. I am in my room with Mary right now, but I want to be with Lydia. Lydia is my best friend. Mary is not. Mary is the opposite of a friend to me. She never helps me the way she should, she never is nice to me the way I like people to be nice to me, and she always tries too hard to get to know me. I’d much rather be with Lydia right now, even though she is dealing with the strange men. I hope they don’t come up here because I do not want to have to trust Mary with my life. I trust her to defend me, but I don’t think she will stand much of a chance against three full grown strange men.
“Mary,” I ask her tentatively, “Who were those men?”
“I don’t know. I’m sorry.” She responds.
“Do you know why we can’t be down there?”
“It is dangerous and you are too small to defend yourself well against anyone.”
“It’s okay though! We can do whatever you want right now while we wait for your father to come get us.” I honestly don’t want to do anything with Mary right now, but I clearly don’t have a choice.
“Um. Can you read me a story?” I ask her. I don’t have to actually listen to her and I can think about whatever I want instead of listening to her.
“Sure. Which one?”
“You can choose. I’ve heard them all before.” Mary picks up a book and starts to read it to me, but I am not going to pay any attention because I don’t have to. I can’t hear anything happening downstairs, which worries me. Those men didn’t look normal and certainly weren’t nice, judging by the horrid expression on their faces. There were only three of them, but they didn’t need anyone else to join them. They were over six feet tall, if I were to guess, and they were not skinny at all.
“Lucia!” Mary whisper-yells at me, “Did you hear what I said?” Nope.
“Sorry, no. I am finding it hard to pay attention because those men were so scary and I am so worried about my family.” Ha. If I am overly nice to her, then maybe she’ll think I like her, even though I don’t.
“That’s okay. It makes sense. I know the feeling.”
“But you don’t have a family.” Duh, she has no friends either.
“I used to. Before I came to help your family, I was with mine.”
“Why did you leave? Did they die?”
“. . . Yes. They died. I was forced to leave against my will.”
“Oh my. I am sorry.” Fake endearment always sways people. I could care less about her family. She doesn’t seem to care about mine, so why should I care about hers?
“Thank you. It was such a long time ago; it doesn’t hurt a much anymore.”
“What do we do now. I want to go downstairs.”
“We can’t and you know that. Do you want to play a game?”
“Hide and Seek!” I can ‘hide’ downstairs!
“Okay. But stay in your room! I don’t want you to be in danger.” Yikes, maybe I won’t get away with it.
“You count first.” Mary nods and closes her eyes.
“1, 2, 3, 4 . . .” Her counting fades away as I sneak into my adjoining bathroom to hide behind the door. “9, 10! Ready or not, here I come!” I can hear her walking around my room, moving furniture, and finally making her way to the bathroom. She walks in and closes the door, unveiling me.
“Boo!” I say, startling her.
“Oh my! I suppose I found you!” She says louder than she probably should given the situation downstairs. I giggle despite my dislike of her.
“Your turn,” I announce, telling her to hide. I close my eyes and start to count.“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10! Ready or not, here I come!” I look around, under my bed, behind the bathroom door where I was, and in the closet. When I open the closet door, I am greeted with darkness, which is strange because I always leave the light on. I turn on the light and see nothing except what I normally do. Racks of different dresses for different occasions, all color coded in rainbow order. I look between the racks and behind the dresses. I finally get to the last rack, the black and white dresses reserved for special occasions. I peer behind the dresses and am met with Mary’s smiling face.
“You found me!” She whispers. I step back letting her out from behind the throng of dresses. “What do you want to do now?” I am about to answer her when there is a knock at the door. It is the simple one-two-threefourfive of the family code, so I know it is Papa or one of my siblings. I rush to the door and open it to see Papa with a tear stained face. He pushes past me into my room where Mary waits. “Is everything alright, Sir?” she asks.
“No, Mary, nothing is okay.”
“Do you need me to get anything?”
“A plate of cookies and tea, I guess.” Papa says slowly, as if every word pains him.
“Papa what wrong?” I ask, scared of what he will say, “Who were those men? What did they want?”
“They were monsters,” Papa sighs. Mary starts, a look of shock dancing across her face. She quickly collects herself and hurries away on her errand. “They wanted Elizabeth and Molly. They said they have magic and needed to take them away for our safety. I tried to stop them and begged and offered everything I could, but they were insistent. They said they would kill us all if we didn’t let them take the twins. There was nothing I could do. I had to let them go. Philip and Lydia are downstairs still, in the parlor. Let’s go join them.” I have no words. I do not know how to respond. The only thought that’s in my head right now is that I should have treated them better. I should have been nicer to them, tried to get to know them more. Now I wish I had done more with them, accepted their offers to do things with them, play with them. I’ll bet Lydia feels the same. We arrive at the parlor, the door wide open to reveal Philip and Lydia on the couch, holding each other, crying.
“I should have been nicer to them,” Lydia sobs, Philip’s tears silent as he pats her hair, “I should have spent more time with them.”
“I know, I know. I have regrets, too, but we can’t focus on what we should have done. There is no changing the past.” Philip laments as I walk in with Papa.
“We’ve got each other and we’ll get through this. We’ve gotten through worse before and we know they aren’t dead. And once we collect ourselves, we will do everything in our power to get them back.”
“If I may interrupt, Sir, I can help you. I have experience with these monsters, for I am a victim of their kidnappings,” Mary interjects, surprising us with the strength in her voice. “I can help you find the twins and share all I know about the monsters who took them. I have magic, too, although I have not used it for 10 years, I’m sure I could be of some help.”
“Why, of course Mary. Anything you could do to help will be greatly appreciated.” Papa accepts her proposal and Mary launches into an explanation of her past and of her magic. It seems like the next few months, maybe years, will bring a lot of adventure and excitement, but also sadness and misery.