Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1795327-The-Soul-of-Chessire-Park
Rated: 13+ · Novel · LGBTQ+ · #1795327
Mystery, Supernatural, Lesbian, Novel

         CHAPTER ONE          


I have a lot of secrets.

This is mostly for the safety of my family who would surely be captured, interrogated, and eventually killed if my secrets were to come out, but also because I like to be a mysterious person. For example, sometimes, for no reason at all, I flirt with strangers and then disappear so they stand around feeling paranoid and embarrassed because they have a creeping feeling that they’ve just hallucinated a person flirting with them. It gives them a chance to explore their own narcissism.

You’re probably going: What? Disappear? Like hide behind a passing ice cream truck, or duck into a small ball on the floor? But no, you are quite wrong. I guess I can share a few secrets with you, if you promise not to tell anyone. And it doesn’t count if you tell someone and say: Well, I’m not supposed to tell anyone but...

The particles in my body expand and contract so that I can appear and disappear at my will. If you thought that was fancy, wait until I tell you about the greyish black wings (that only I can see) that sprout from underneath my arms every time I feel like flying around all night.

It is also, quite to my advantage I must say, that my muscles, although they are rather lean and soft, can support unearthly amounts of weight, can make me move faster than the speed of sound, and can transform themselves to make me have a completely different appearance. Sometimes this is called shape shifting, I simply call it changing. Oh and don’t whisper things about me when you’re anything closer than a hundred miles away, because my ears could detect a pin dropping in a violent thunder storm. So in conclusion, I’m immeasurably strong, damn near impossible to catch, I have overly developed hearing and can disappear, and appear somewhere else, and look completely different at any second.

Neener neener neener.

Okay, okay, I won’t rub it in. But there is a down side. (Isn’t there always?)

I can only survive if I steal human souls. I tried the whole animal thing and it’s just not worth it. It weakens my powers, it makes me transparent instead of invisible, it makes changing almost impossible, and frankly it tastes like... it’s hard to compare it to anything because anything tastes better than what animal souls taste like to a creature like me. In legends, I’ve been called a monster, a death walker, a cold one, a ghost, a demon... The truth is that I have no idea what I am; all I know is that I am who I am as a result of the events that took place on August 23rd, 2001.

August 23rd, 2001.

I was going to hold you in suspense, but apparently I’m better at keeping secrets from my friends and family than from innocent readers.

It was raining, because it’s always raining when something strange is about to happen in a story. The clouds were thick and relieved to finally be crying down onto the city. It had been dry for 94 days. The grass everywhere was yellow, the flowers wilted, the trees thirsty, the lakes shallow. It had become a topic of conversation- when will the rain come? How long are these huge clouds going to accumulate over our heads and tease us with the thoughts of fresh pouring rain? Finally, on the evening of August 23rd a large crack of lightning and thunder came down over our heads and showered us in the most refreshing bursts of cold wet raindrops that the city had tasted in months. I, like everyone else on the crescent of my street, was outside in my bathing suit, dancing about, opening my mouth to the huge drops of water that fell from the sky. Everyone was dancing, singing, clapping their hands; some guy even blasted All I needed was the Rain from his window so the whole street was having a fiesta. My ears began to hurt, with no explanation whatsoever, and soon I was crouched down on the floor, with my hands covering my head. Instinctively, both my parents, who’d been watching the party from the safety of the balcony, ran towards me and tried to see if I was okay, but it was when I rolled over and passed out, with blood trickling from my ear drums, that they called an ambulance and began to panic. Everything after that was a blank. Well, to me at least. Apparently I spent an entire year in a coma subtly growing physically, but doing nothing but stirring a bit and sometimes opening my eyes (which had no irises and were completely white, according to doctors.) When I awoke, it was August 23rd, 2002. I am not sure which date is more significant to me, but all I know is that August 23rd has traumatized me forever. Obviously, every doctor in the city wanted to examine me because it was virtually unheard of that a comatose teen would awaken precisely a year after they’d fallen into a coma, but my parents refused to have anyone pester me. This was probably for the good of everyone. I might have accidentally killed them with my new strengths. My parents brought me home and let me rest for a week, and since I appeared normal to them, they registered me to the nearby high school (Middlesex Academy) for the September semester, and I started school just like everyone else.


The Truth about charlotte’s ex boyfriends

This is where the story really begins. I was in the bathroom, eating lunch by myself in one of the stalls because I had no friends and so many rumours about me were flying around that I couldn’t stand sitting in the cafeteria, when all of a sudden, a head poked under the door. I shrieked in horror, obviously, even if I wasn’t doing anything discreet, and the head quickly retracted itself. I never meant to rip off the stall door when I came out to see who it was, but a burst of what I thought was adrenaline, came over me and the door was sent crashing into the opposite wall, breaking the metal window bars and creating a head splitting sound that reverberated all over the school. Charlotte Graham, who at the time was just another mean nobody to me, stood there with her jaw open and her eyes wide.

“Please don’t kill me.” Was the first thing she said to me. Although it was quite a dreadful situation, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud a bit. She sort of laughed with me but a look of terror was all over her pretty face. I hadn’t noticed it before, but her eyes were the darkest shade of teal I had ever seen, and the way her lips were shaped made me want to run my finger on them gently. A quick shudder brought me back to reality when a horde of teachers and students came running in to see what the ruckus had been. I stood there in shock and silent, while Charlotte lied to everyone, saying that she and I were just washing our hands when the door flew off its hinges and almost beheaded us both. It was a good thing that in the mess of everything, my spilled lunch box and my subtle hand indentations in the door went unnoticed.

I was surprised, however, the next day, when the bathrooms were blocked off for “repairs” and I found myself with no where to eat my lunch, that Charlotte crept up to me after class when the bell rang and asked if I wanted to sit with her. I thought this was an invitation for a nice little one on one, but it turned out that Charlotte actually sat with a bunch of popular girls and boys who ended up questioning us the entire time about our brush with death in the loon. Charlotte did most of the talking as I nibbled uninterested at my baloney sandwich. She was smart and confident and could make up total lies at the top of her head. That was the first day in my life that I realized I had a crush on someone.  After that, the next few weeks seemed awkward and strange. Charlotte was always talking to me about the boys who liked her in the class. Todd Barkley had told her she was pretty (which she was, of course), and Erik Satchette wanted to ask her to the Winter Dance. I kind of just nodded my head and smiled at her.

That year was spent mostly following around Charlotte to her various parties and outings, and staying as incognito as possible. We became almost like a duo, me and Charlotte, Charlotte and me. But to her I was only a best friend, a companion, someone to share her secrets with. I still hadn’t shared all of my secrets with her yet because I hadn’t discovered them yet. The Door Day, which is what we had called it at the beginning when we promised not to talk about it, was long forgotten by the time we reached 8th grade, and we were just normal teens living normal lives.

Charlotte got her first boyfriend on a random day in the middle of October. I think it was the 13th, and I think it was a Friday, so it made perfect sense to me. A boy called Clive (ew right?) came up to us during second period and slipped a note on the desk. Charlotte was too busy adjusting her bra to notice but I notice everything. My senses are sharp like that. I took the note and read it, even though I knew it wasn’t for me (the notes are never for me.)

Do you want to go out with me?  - Love Clive Stevens.

I almost puked. Instead, a huge explosion happened behind my eyes and the next thing I knew, the table we were sitting at was flung across the room and shattered on the opposing wall. I didn’t understand what had happened, but somehow I knew it was my fault. Everyone was screaming and crying and running around like headless chickens and a teacher grabbed my arm and Charlotte’s and grabbed us through the mess to the principal’s office where we sat for almost an hour before anyone spoke to us. Or at least it felt like an hour. It might have been only a few minutes but to me it felt like forever because Charlotte refused to look at me. My parents came in, Charlotte’s parents came in, and they met for the first time. I thought, “how cute, meeting the family, in the principal’s office”. It was the epitome of non-romance. I just sat there silently as always, and Charlotte ignored me. I noticed her note was sticking out of her pocket. Maybe she’d salvaged it in the madness. I heard a lot of talking happening around me, parents yelling, teachers protesting, the principal sitting calmly and solemnly behind his desk, nodding. Apparently Charlotte and I were a threat to society. Apparently we were the only two students in Middlesex Academy history who, twice, were involved in violent outbursts of flying furniture. I felt a sudden pang of guilt for dragging Charlotte into this. She was acting like she didn’t even know me, it was embarrassing and my ears and cheeks got flaming red. My mom noticed and took the temperature of my forehead with the back of her hand. In the end, Charlotte and I were both suspended for a day, and told to control our anger. We were both sent to therapy for the rest of the semester, but neither of us learned anything worth remembering during those long pointless hours staring at the clock in Madame Chicklet’s office.

Charlotte and Clive dated for three weeks. Every day at recess, he came to the door of our classroom and waited for her. She sat with me in class but barely spoke to me. Then at recess I was on my own again. She sat with Clive in a corner and did what she called dating. It was basically a mixture of giggling, tickling, and swatting away his hands when they got too close to her. She broke up with him because she saw him sneeze into a Kleenex, and then a bunch of boogers were drooping out of his nose. I was quite happy to have my Charlotte back. But that was only until she started going out with Alexis Cornwall. The difference between Alexis and Clive was that Alexis was older, cooler, and would never be seen with boogers drooping out of his nose. So what were the chances that that was going to happen again? It pained me to even conceive of the notion, but I couldn’t deny that what I probably had to do, if I wanted to avoid the possibility that Charlotte may truly fall in love with this guy, was intervene in my own way to make sure that that never happened. Now that I’m older I recognize the childishness of the following actions, but I still can’t honestly say I regret them.

The spring formal was Charlotte’s idea of one of the most important days of a girl’s life. For me, however, who already knew that the date I wanted to bring was going with someone else, a boy for that matter, and who couldn’t stand the idea of wearing tights and make-up, the spring formal was going to be the worse day ever. The irony of this will become apparent as you continue to unravel the stories of my existence, but for now, let’s stick to the idea that the spring formal=bad.

The way that Alexis Cornwall asked Charlotte to the spring formal was, in my opinion, the most unceremonious and undeserving attempt at swooning I’d ever seen.

I had fantasized in my head about asking her to go with me, even if it was just as friends, and it had involved a secret anonymous love letter left with a bouquet of lilies (her favourite) in her locker on Monday; a second romantic letter on Wednesday, this time arranging a meeting, quietly tucked under her pillow; and finally, a reunion under the lighted-up gazebo (that I’d have pre-prepared with flower decorations) in Chessire Park, on Friday night, with me in my finest suit and a single white rose in my hand. I’d have gazed into her eyes and asked her to the dance, after lightly kissing her cheek and grazing her lips with mine…

When Charlotte and I got to her locker however, instead of a bouquet of her favourite flowers, there was Alexis Cornwall, leaning on the door, chatting with the infamously slutty Bianca Fladell. Charlotte stopped me instantly in our tracks, and spoke in our secret “don’t look at each other and talk without moving your lips”-talk and said,

“He’s talking to her?” In the saddest voice I’d ever heard. I would have ripped his head off if I’d known, at the time, that I could.

“Don’t worry, she’s probably just being a whore and he’s probably blowing her off.”

I said confidently, taking her pinky finger in my hand at our sides. She knew that was my special way of saying “it’s gonna’ be alright”. When Bianca walked off, after some very obvious kisses on both of Alexis’ cheeks, Charlotte and I hesitantly walked towards her locker. Alexis Cornwall, in all his grace, just walked up to her and practically blurted at her,

“Oh by the way, you’re coming to the spring formal with me ‘cause Jake said he was gonna’ ask you so I wanted to get to you first.”

I thought Charlotte would see what a pitiful request this was. I thought she was going to be insulted and storm off in a fit of fury. But I was wrong. All that was heard in the hallway was a loud high-pitched shriek and before I knew it, she was in his arms, with her legs wrapped around his waist. He pounded her into the locker and kissed her hard on the mouth. The shriek didn’t seem to have affected anyone the way it had done me, because I was suddenly on the floor with both my hands covering my ears, and it had felt like my ears and head had exploded. A teacher ran up to me when she saw me go down and helped me to my feet, showering me with questions like Are you ok? What happened? Why is there blood on your neck? Turns out the blood was coming from my ears. Her shriek of excitement had literally busted my ear drums!

Knowing that Charlotte was willing to submit to such lowly levels of affection and romance broke my heart. I don’t think that she realized what a special girl she was. She was the center of my universe, my only reason for waking up every day. Hearing her laugh was like sending tickling shivers all over my spine. The mere fact that she was letting this boy treat her like she was an afterthought made me rage violently inside. I knew that I had to do something about it- I couldn’t let her feelings grow for this person; I couldn’t let her think that this was the way that love was. That was when I decided that I was going to concoct a plan to break them up. Said like that it sounds silly and selfish but in the larger picture of the world, I wasn’t doing this for me- I was doing this for all unappreciated girls everywhere.


The Stoner Cup

Charlotte awoke from a strange dream that she told me was a nightmare, but that I knew was probably just a memory of the day before. She cuddled into my body and wrapped the duvet tightly around us. Her sleepy eyes looked up at me and I melted all over again, the way I always did when I saw her face. It was impossible not to. Her eyes were giant pools of turquoise ocean water, with flecks of orange flame surrounding the iris. Her mouth, small and pouting gave her that sexy innocent look that had me wandering off in my fantasies. I couldn’t help but think about how beautiful she is every time I laid eyes on her. I wrapped my arm securely around her. Mine, I thought.

After a tough break-up with whom she thought was the love of her life, Charlotte had slept over at my apartment so that I could distract her and comfort her. Ever since grade school, we’d been best friends. I’d always been the shoulder for her to cry on when her love life went to shit and she needed the love of her eternal secret admirer. Cuddling her head onto my chest, she began recounting me her dream.

“I don’t even know how to describe it. First I was just sitting on Jadyn’s lap in that pretty lit up gazebo at Chessire Park, you know the one right?” I nodded, remembering how I’d planned to ask her to a silly little school dance at that very same spot, what felt like a hundred years ago. A reminiscent smile spread across my lips and she nudged me,

“Are you listening?” She asked, knowing me so well that she knew when I was off in my head somewhere just by my facial expression. “Anyway, so I’m kissing him and he’s tickling me and it feels like how we were when we were just a brand new couple,” She broke off into a barely audible weep, and I tightened my grip around her shoulders.

It’s ok baby, I whispered, so low that she didn’t hear me.

“Then out of nowhere, this weird ghostlike thing just swoops him away and he’s gone. And so I’m running around like an idiot with no shoes on, cause you know I took them off cause the heels would dig into the grass and I would ruin my shoes, so I’m running around screaming ‘Jadyyyyyn’, and he comes stumbling up to me like he’s completely drunk and starts babbling about his soul! So I’m wiping his forehead cause it’s drenched in sweat, and he just collapses in my arms and stops breathing. I started panicking like crazy, trying to find his pulse, giving him mouth to mouth, but I could feel him dying in my arms.” Another tear trickled from her face to my chest and I felt it through my tank top. I kissed the top of her head gently and squeezed her hard.

“It was just a dream,” I lied, hoping that she wouldn’t feel me shaking beside her.

Lying to Charlotte had become somewhat of an art. There was no other way to describe it. I just couldn’t possibly risk her feeling different about me if she knew the truth. Although, after I thought about it- she’d felt the same old platonic best friend feelings for me since I’d known her, except for the Boathouse night of course, and maybe her feeling different was exactly what our relationship needed.

I sighed deeply and pressed my lips to her forehead. What was I kidding myself? I seemed to be spending a lot of time lately reminding myself that Charlotte wasn’t going to randomly wake up one morning and be interested in... me.

I knew that it wasn’t an attraction thing. I’d always known that I was pretty. It wasn’t a vain thing or an attention thing; I’d just been told so many times that it had become fact. Everybody always said, “Wow, you have such beautiful hair,” or “Is that your real eye color?” A transvestite even asked me on the night bus one time if I was wearing lashes or if my eyes were just “Every queen’s dream.”

I was always asked where I work out, what’s my special diet, where do I get my hair styled. And I’ve always answered with a blank uneasy look because me working out is a joke, me even noticing what I eat is hilarious (I’m a very on-the-go type of gal!), and the thought of paying someone to fix my hair is equal to the thought of paying someone to brush my teeth for me! I just got up, put on whatever was clean and went about with my day.

Charlotte on the other hand, was pretty because she liked to look her best every day. But she was definitely not one of those fake girls. Everything about her was as real as real gets. She worked very hard to maintain her perfect body. She worked out every day, jogged at least three miles, didn’t eat anything with more than four percent fat, sugar or sodium, and had a routine of hairstylist, mani-pedi, waxing and tanning every week! Her long blond hair was natural, and had never been dyed so it was soft and light and shiny. One of my favourite things was twirling a wavy lock of her hair between my fingers while we cuddled underneath my blanket and watched geeky movies like Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica.

It was the middle of the night, but I got up to make some tea for Charlotte. She always loved to drink warm Chai tea with milk when she had a bad dream, or when she couldn’t sleep because there was a storm outside and she was scared that I’d go into a coma. She had no idea that when I’d woken up from my year long imprisonment I had been turned into something inhuman, but I had told her the abbreviated version of the story- the one that the newspapers were told as an explanation for the mystery. The doctors had concluded, although reluctantly, that I had suffered a terrorizing trauma because of the thunderstorm and that I had probably gone into shock. Ever since I’d told Charlotte the story in ninth grade, when she had badgered me for a week to tell her why reporters sometimes followed me and asked me questions about “The Storms”, she had become increasingly afraid of thunderstorms. That may also have been related to the strange coincidence that the storm alert in the city had tripled since my “miraculous resurrection”.

“Do you have skim milk?” Charlotte called out from the bedroom.

“Do I ever?” I whispered loudly back. I grabbed my 2% out of the fridge and added three small drops, just the way she liked it. I had poured the warm, cinnamon-y tea in the “stoner cup”. It was a huge round porcelain cup that could have been a bowl! We had found it at a garage sale in the summer of 2007, the year her parents had left for the entire month of July and we had spent the entire time high. The cup was multicolour with a cartoon mushroom hand-painted on it. Apparently it had been owned by a druggie artist- and the joke between Char and I was that one could not exist without the other. Ha Ha.

With the warm tea balancing agilely in my hands, I slipped back under the covers and carefully handed Charlotte the large cup. She held it up to her nose and inhaled deeply, gathering in the comforting scent and making a subtle ‘mmm’ sound before blowing on the hot steam that curled upwards and taking a generous sip of the delicious beverage.



“I think I found something!” Timothy Mavryk called out from under a pile of dusty old books. He was sitting in the basement of the public library, rummaging through a very private vault.

“Scootch over, I wanna see.” His little sister Crista said, pushing him over with the side of her body. She propped down next to him, facing the large book he’d laid open. The pages were yellowed with age and they had that dusty smell of books that she’d always hated.

“To expose the Eldest tree, a single drop of blood from a member of the founding families is needed. It should be dropped into the abyss of the Wishing Well, by a direct descendent of Montgomery Mavryk, Sailbyss Grendwald or Marius Van Der Fields.”

“A Wishing Well?” Crista echoed, looking at her brother quizzically.

He stood up and began pacing back and forth.

“Wishing Well, Wishing Well,” He muttered under his breath.

“Wanna go to Chessire Park and look around?” Crista suggested.

“For a Wishing Well? We’d have better luck finding it in the walls of this library, somewhere in one of the books.”

“There’s a bookshop on Chessire Road.” She offered, doing anything to get out of the basement and into the sunlight. She thought that if they were going to solve the mystery of Chessire Park, they should stop staying cooped up with books and be out there figuring it out.

Knocking over an empty soda can, Timothy got up quickly and pulled the keys of his beaten up Nissan Sentra out of his pocket.

“Let’s go.”

The entrance to Chessire Park was designed to be found only by those who know where it was. From the street, it was impossible to see that there was any way into the twenty foot high cobblestone wall, on which vines and hedges had grown freely since its construction over a century ago. It was one of Trailwood’s most infamous mysteries. Tourists often came from afar to try to decipher the mystery of the Secret Garden but only those who had grown up in Trailwood, and who had descendents in the founding families knew how to get in. Luckily for Crista and Timothy, the Mavryks were one of the earliest founders to have settled in, owning one of the largest estates of the land. Ever since their grandfather’s death, the two of them had made it their mission to discover all of the secrets of Chessire Park. After the lavish funeral, they’d gained access, through his will, to all of their grandfather’s vaults in the basement of the public library.  They’d spent the past few months there between work and school, devouring the pages of hundreds of old books and newspapers that told tales of the concealed park.  Some stories were more believable than others. That private weddings and parties were held inside the walls. That it was a meeting place for the founding fathers to discuss town affairs. Other stories brought forth by the vivid imaginations of authors told of ghost hauntings and murders, hidden hostages and buried victims. Many fiction writers used the popularity of the mystery of Chessire Park as a starting off point for their writing- imagining what could be so secret that it had to be hidden away.

It was Timothy and Crista’s first time trying to get into Chessire Park. He parked the Nissan a few blocks away and they set off walking towards the center of the town. The way that the roads were built, they all led to the giant ring of walls that made up the secret park. It was like the entire city’s aerial view design revolved around the secrets behind those walls.

“Ok so what exactly do you remember about getting in there?” Crista huffed, trying to keep up with the fast pace of her older brother, two years senior. Her short chubby legs were no match for his extra-lanky long ones.

“I know it has to do with being a Mavryk. What is it he said again?” He answered, digging deep into his memory and trying to remember the exact words that his grandfather had whispered,

“I know there was something about blood.” Crista said, feeling the pit in her stomach. She had been hematophobic for as long as she could remember. Even just mentioning blood made her queasy. “Trust me, that part I remember.”

“If the blood in your veins is pure,” Tim said in a softer voice, trying not to be overheard by the many people crowding the street. He could picture his grandfather with his curly moustache, lying on his death bed. More like, lying on his 300 count Egyptian cotton sheets, his down comforter, and the veritable velvet cover blanket with the family crest embroidered in ten karat gold thread. They had been raised by him since their parents had died just after Crista was born.

“You are both aware that the Mavryk family was one of the founding families right?” He said, choking a little on his words.

“Yea, of course. The Mavryks, the Grendwalds and the Van Der Fields. Everybody knows that, Poppy.” Crista said, wiping a tear that had been threatening to fall down her cheek ever since she’d walked into her grandfather’s boudoir. She had never seen him this thin before.

“There is a tale, of a secret garden named Chessire Park,”

“In the fortress, in the center of the city,” Timothy said, interrupting him.

“So you’ve heard of it.” Grandfather Mavryk stated. “It is said to be of utmost secrecy.”

“No one can get in.” Crista added, remembering her class on Local History.

“Not no one.” Her grandfather corrected her, “Just not Anyone.” A twinkle appeared in his eye that she had never seen before. Crista leaned closer and asked him solemnly,

“Have you ever been in there, Poppy?”

“I have.” He answered, to her surprise, and to Timothy’s, who swallowed his gum in astonishment and was now choking on it.

“You’ve been inside!?” He yelped out, spitting the sticky gum out into his hand and wrapping it in a tissue.

“Shh!” His grandfather ordered, his eyebrows furrowing furiously. “Everything we say must be kept in whispers. We do not allow the staff to know about our family secrets.

“What’s in there?” Crista asked, genuinely curious. She had always been fascinated by the mystery of Chessire Park.

“I can teach you how to enter but you must listen to me very carefully,”

Timothy leaned in closer and Crista’s eyes widened.

“If the blood inside your veins is pure, and you stand across the eldest tree, without blinders, or a hindered cure, an entrance you are sure to see.”

“What does that mean?” Crista whined, looking up at her brother. Montgomery Mavryk III choked loudly and his body began to convulse.

“Get the nurse.” Crista yelled at Timothy, patting the old man’s forehead with a cloth and trying to hold him still so he wouldn’t hurt himself more.

“Poppy, are you ok Poppy?,” She whispered to him, hugging him closely with tears running down her face.

The nurse came flying in with a tray full of medication and told Crista to stand back. She forced a pill into his mouth and helped him to swallow it. After a few minutes, his body stopped shaking and his eyes stopped rolling back and forth in their sockets.

“He’s breathing,” the nurse announced, after checking his vital signs. “He probably just had a bad reaction to the new medication he tried yesterday. Now I want you two to shower him with love as soon as he’s conscious again ok?”

“You’re speaking like he could die anytime soon,” Crista spat out at her, returning to her grandfather’s side.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry.” The nurse said, while leaving the room. She closed the door quietly behind her and was gone.

Timothy and Crista sat for an hour next to him before he stirred gently and finally opened his eyes. He signalled for some water and Crista handed him his glass that had been sitting on the bedside table. He took a small sip and shakily handed her back the glass. 

“I want you to promise me something,” He began, curling his fingers around his white moustache, like he always did when he was being serious.

Crista’s large brown eyes were filled with tears. She couldn’t stand to see Poppy like this; he’d always been in excellent shape for a grandfather. “Anything,” she whispered, coming closer to his bedside and gently taking hold of his frail, almost translucent hand. She noticed that the gaudy graduation-heirloom style rings he usual wore were gone, and so she asked him,

“Poppy, where are those rings you always wear?”

He smiled a knowing smile, the kind that comes from years of having lived a very full life. He looked down at his old hand, as it reposed on the plump young skin of his grandchild.

“Those rings will not follow me in the afterlife.” He said, so low that it was almost inaudible. Crista leaned in and kissed his cheek.

“Promise me that you won’t believe anything unless it is proven to you.” He then added, propping himself up a little and speaking firmly.

“What do you mean?” Crista choked, between sobs and tears.

“Just promise me.” Montgomery Mavryk III said. Just before he took his last breath, he looked up at Timothy who was holding in his tears and nodding as a promise, and said, “You look so like your father.” Closing his eyes, like he knew it was coming; he placed both his hands over his chest and drifted off into a peaceful death.



It was late August and the sun was turning red again before it set behind the mountains. Sail was lying in the grass, taking in its scent, before she was told to go inside again. Momma was always making her stay inside to learn French and Arithmetic. Even when it was the summer, Sailbyss Aretha Grendwald was taking courses with her private tutor, Professor Graham. He was tall and slender, and smelled of cinnamon. She especially liked the way he pronounced words so carefully, like they might get offended if they were said wrong.

She heard the gates of the garden behind the house opening and she sat up. She scanned the area around her, seeing the giant weeping willow hovering over the lily pond. The rose bushes lining the stone path led to a large, hand crafted gazebo that had candles on all the ornately carved standing posts. The smell of freshly cut grass and wild flowers invaded the air, and the sound of chirping birds was everywhere.

“You’d better come in to study now,” Momma said to her as she appeared from behind the tree.

Sail hugged her favourite tree goodbye, blew kisses at the mommy bird and her birdies that were living in it, and followed her Momma inside.

She stepped through the large Victorian doors and an explosion of voices yelled out at her,


“Happy Birthday Sail!”

“Happy birthday sweetheart,” Momma whisked her into the crowd of happy faces. She was tightly squeezed by a slew of overly perfumed aunts and uncles and cousins until she was plopped down into a chair at the head of the family table in the great hall for dinner and drinks.

“On the eve of your thirteenth birthday, we are celebrating you, Sailbyss Aretha Grendwald, by building a Park. A Park so big that it can host the entire founding father reunion, a park so big that it has three gazebos, and four ponds; a park where you and your friends, the other children of the founding families, will be able to play safely.”

Sail’s eyes had widened at the idea of a park being built for her, but her hopes were quickly shattered at the thought that she would be forced to play there with the other founding family kids. She had never really fit in with them and she had always preferred her friends from the alley. In the alley, it didn’t matter who your parents were or what kind of linens you wore. In the alley, no one thought you were rude if you didn’t cross your legs like a lady, or wear lace gloves, or eat oysters with miniature forks. Montgomery Mavryk, the youngest son of another founding family was always teasing her for having messy braids; or for getting the hiccups during choir. Him and his trusty sidekick, the Van Der Fields boy, the one with the orange hair, Marius, could always find a way to make her feel unwelcome or silly.

“We shall dedicate this park to you, my dear daughter, by naming it Chessire Park- and you and the two other founding family heirs of your age will be the soul gatekeepers of this place.”

Sailbss sighed deeply. Great, she thought, Now I can go have a laugh with my worst enemies in our own private hideaway.

Her trail of thought was interrupted when a familiar smell distracted her. Professor Graham had sat down a few seats down the table and was smiling up the table at her. She gave him her best smile before looking away abashed. 

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