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The Attic

The Attic

Julie and Dana sat on the porch steps on the hottest day of the year in their bathing suits while tiny beads of sweat were forming on their foreheads.

“Do you think our parents have secrets?” Asked Dana.

 They had just returned from swimming at Julies’s house and had their wet towels wrapped around them while they sat on the porch steps.  Today was meant to be a water day as they were so hot but went back to Dana’s for freezies. Dana’s favourite was the orange ones and Julie liked the blue ones.

Julie thought for a moment.

“I think mine do.  I think it has to do with money.  I have heard my dad say that money was tight.

“I think mine do too,  Dana said, Sometimes they go into their room close the door and they chat, but I can never make out what they are saying.” 

Dana continued talking and asked if Julie’s parents store things in their attic.

“Ya, they do. My mom said they are just old boxes of stuff.

 replied Julie.

“What about your attic Dana?”

“I don’t know, maybe I should ask”

Let’s go back to your pool, Julie!  It’s too hot out.”

The girls skipped their way to Julie’s house, four houses down.  Even the pavement was hot on their bare feet so they moved quickly.  They ran up the grey cobblestone on Julie’s driveway and onto the wrap-around porch.  Even the wood beneath them was hot.

“Let’s let my mom know we are here.” as she called out to her mom.

“Hi girls, it must be really hot for you to come back so soon.

“It’s nice and cool in here Momma, Dana does not have an air conditioner.”

“Well, you are welcome here anytime Dana.”

Julie’s mom poured Sunny-D In tall plastic cups decorated with purple unicorns. 

“Ok, get yourselves in the pool, you may bring your drinks outside dInner will be ready soon, Dana you are welcome to stay.”

“Oh no Mrs. Jackson, my mom is making dinner too but thank you.”

The girls dove into the pool, Dana usually likes doing summersaults off the diving board.  Julie usually likes to go in slowly but they were so hot.

They swam for about half an hour and were playing Marco Polo when Mrs. Jackson called out.

“Dinner is ready, come get dressed and sit at the table Julie, I will serve you.  Are you sure you don’t want to stay for something to eat Dana?”

“No that’s ok Mrs. Jackson, I will head home now, thank you for having me over.”

“Bye!”  Shouted out Dana as she opened the door.

Dana ran home, towel in her arm feeling the heat once again. She was not looking forward to going to her house. It’s going to be so hot”

“Hi Mom, I am home!” as the door slammed shut behind her.

“Good timing Dana, dinner is ready, hurry up and go change.”

Dana rushed upstairs to change, glancing at the access hatch to the attic near her room.

Mmm, I wonder what is up there.

After she changed into her pyjamas she sat down next to her brother Jimmy, and Becky snickered.

“ You are such  a child all decorated in unicorns.”

 Dana glared at her. I wish mom and dad didn’t insist on me wearing cute childish clothes.

Dana looked at all the food at the table and her mouth watered. She was grateful for a cold dinner as the house was unbearably hot.  There were slices of ham, roast beef and turkey, on another plate, there were veggies, radishes, spring onion, carrots green peppers and cucumbers. Cucumbers and radishes were Dana’s favourite.  There was another plate with two kinds of buns. Jars of pickles and slices of cheese.

Dana helped herself to some radishes and cucumber and a spoonful of dip.

“ Mom you make the best veggie dip” 

“ It’s a secret ingredient.” Mrs. Jackson replies.

Can that be the secret they have?

Dana continued to help herself to some cheese.  Her mom buys the best cheese from Costco. So much better than the cheese Julie’s mom buys.  

While Dana was chewing her radish she asked, 

“What is in our attic mom?”

The table went quiet with the exception of her cat Max running around meowing.

“N-nothing, just some old boxes with stuff, nothing exciting.

“Can I go look?”

They fell silent again.

A moment passes and Mrs. Jackson responded,

“Someday perhaps, but not yet, maybe later when you are twelve I will take you up.”

That made Dana even more curious and determined to find out. She was certain the key to the secret was up there in the attic.

“Why am I always too young for everything?” 

Jimmy was fourteen and Becky was twelve, certainly, Becky wouldn’t know, she would have said something.

“That’s not fair, I am old enough! “ She stomped upstairs and slammed her bedroom door.

“Finish up your dinner Becky, Jimmy, help me with the dishes, please.”

Mrs. Jackson called out for Dana.

“Dana come down now and help clean up.”

As Dana came down the stairs she noticed her dad sitting on his chair.  Dana’s dad never helps in the kitchen, he never helped prepare it and he never helps with clean up.  He doesn’t even bring his plate to the sink. Instead, he grabs the newspaper, sits in his big leather recliner puts his feet up and lets out a big sigh as he unfolds the paper to read.

Dana’s dad gets newspapers every day and he reads it all from front to back. Sometimes he gives her the puzzles to do.  Dana wonders what could be so interesting in a paper, Dana has looked at it, but can’t understand most of it. Julie had once told Dana that there was nothing good in newspapers that it was all bad news and boring politics which she couldn’t understand either.

When Dana returned to the dining room she helped gather the leftover dishes and condiments.  Mom had already filled the sink with rich fluffy bubbles that Dana had bought her for her birthday, the dish soap smelled so good. Dana couldn’t resist using her allowance to buy this for her mom, it was coconut water and jasmine.  It made the best bubbles.

The kitchen was too small for all of them to work in so they took shifts, Dana gets the first load and Jimmy and Becky get the harder, heavier pots and pans and they put them away as Dana cannot reach them without a chair or step stool.

After the work was done, Dana quickly went down to the basement to get to the phone first.  She picked up the receiver and dialled Julies’ number.

“Hello,” Julie answered.

“Julie, it’s Dana. I have an idea, my mom and dad have meetings to go to tomorrow so they will both be out, come here for eight-thirty.  I need your help. I have a plan.

Dana hung up the phone and smiled with satisfaction. I am going to do this.

********

Ding dong, the doorbell rang.  Dana rushed to the door.

“Just in time Julie, my parents just left.  Let’s go to the basement and you can help me bring the ladder up.”  

Clumsily they went up the first flight of stairs. They paused at the landing and Dana went to the kitchen to get the flashlight that was in the kitchen drawer.

“We will need this,” said Dana

Up they went to the second floor.  Dana told Julie they were going to look in the attic.

“But your parents told you that you couldn’t.”

“Even more reason to go check it out.  I think that is where they keep their secret.”

Dana told Julie to line the ladder up with the attic, and together they moved it.

“We will have to bring the ladder all the way back down after.”

“Urgh it’s so heavy “ complained Julie.

They placed the ladder directly under the access hatch to the attic. Carefully Dana climbed the ladder when she was high enough in she pushed the hatch up and moved it over inside the attic. She turned the flashlight on.

“Ok Julie, I am going in.”

“Be careful”

Dana climbed into the attic and shone her light around. 

“It’s so cool up here,” Dana yelled out.

Dana looked around in shock, it’s like a real room, there were two small foldable chairs, a coffee table and a lamp. She walked over to the lamp and turned it on. 

Wow, look at all this.

She went over to the boxes first, carefully opening them. She was disappointed to only find bills and house receipts. There was a box of old nicknacks that she hadn’t seen before. Maybe they are grannies’ she thought.

The next few boxes were the same, more paperwork, a few more decorations, She also found boxes of old baby clothes.

Disinterested in the boxes Dana moved towards the cedar chest.  I bet this has treasures, maybe even secrets.

She opened the chest and found many treasures, old photo albums that she leafed through and thought she recognized both her grandma and her grandpa’s pictures. The pictures were so old they were in black and white. There were many pictures of a young girl,

That must be my mom.

Carefully, she moved the photo albums aside. 

As she rummaged through the cedar chest she found a baseball bat with signatures on it and a very old baseball glove.

She opened one of the boxes, and it was full of old books that were covered in leather. 

These must be the Shakespeare books mom was talking about.  As she glanced at them she realized that was what they were

They were beautiful leather-bound books,  Dana tried reading them but there were too many words she didn’t understand.

She went on to the next box and found jewelry, necklaces, brooches and bracelets.  There must have been at least twenty bracelets, all in silver. She tried one on and it was too big for her. She placed them all back in the box. There was also a box of beautiful shiny rings, they too were too big for Dana.

The next box was really pretty, wrapped in pink paper, with a ribbon tied around it. She carefully undid the bow. When she opened the box there was a pink bear, a baby bottle, and a baby rattle.  Her attention was drawn to a large envelope and it was not sealed. She gently opened the envelope to find more paperwork, but also two pictures. One was of a baby in a crib with a little pink bear, the same one that was in the box and the other pictures were strange. It looked like a baby..maybe this was pictures mom had of us when she was pregnant. She held the ultrasound pictures up to get a better look. I am not sure what these are and placed them back in the envelope.

Who is this, I don’t understand. Is this the secret?

As Julie looked out the window, she suddenly shouted “Dana!! Your mom is home!! She just pulled into the driveway.” 

 Quickly Dana closed the cedar box and ran to turn off the light 

Dana’s heart started thumping. Oh My God, I am going to get in so much trouble.

Dana hurried to the ladder, went down a couple of steps of the ladder and moved the access hatch closed, leaving dirty handprints behind. She had the envelope in her mouth, her teeth firmly holding it.

“We are going to get busted, what should we do with the ladder?

“Quick, we will put it in my room, no one goes in there.”

As her mom opened the front door, Julie and Dana were just closing her bedroom door.

“My meeting was cancelled, “ her mom yelled out as she walked into the house.

“We will be down in a minute,” Dana replied breathlessly 

Julie and Dana took large breaths to try and calm down before heading downstairs.

“Hi Mrs. Anderson,” said Julie.

“Oh hi Julie, you are here early. What are you girls up to?

“Nothing mom, we were just cleaning my room.”

“You must be working hard, your faces are flushed and you girls are all sweaty. Would you like me to make you breakfast?

“Yes please!” the girls replied.

The girls tried to pretend there was nothing wrong, but Mrs. Anderson knew they were guilty of something.

“Are you two hiding something from me?’

Dana stumbled over her words, she knew she couldn’t hold the secret, she had too many questions.

Dana looked at her mom and impulsively told her they had been in the attic.

Mrs. Anderson sighed. “What were you girls doing up there?”

Dana handed her mom the envelop she had taken out from the attic, pictures of the mysterious baby.  Mrs. Anderson’s colour drained from her face as though she saw a ghost.

“I know, I’m sorry mom, but I had to do it. It’s not fair, everyone knows the secret but me. I am just so curious.”

Dana handed her mom the envelope. “Who is this?”

It was Mrs. Anderson’s turn to flush in the face.

“I told you not to go in the attic.”

Julie and Dana were still shaky from their adventure.

“Come sit down here girls, I will explain.”

“This here is an ultrasound, it shows the baby growing inside me.”

Mrs. Anderson took a deep breath, she was not ready to tell Dana, but now she has to explain.

“This here is a picture of my baby before she was adopted.”

“What  baby?” Dana’s eyes grew wide.

“Dana, I got pregnant when I was fifteen, the baby you see here is mine.”

Julies’ jaw dropped open 15! She was shocked.

“I knew I couldn’t take care of a baby, so Grandma and Granpa and I gave the baby up for adoption. We named the baby Anna. My boyfriend’s parents forbad us seeing each other and I lost contact.

Her father is Lebanese, we went to the same school.  But when I was pregnant my parents homeschooled me, and we decided that I would change schools the following year.  We weren’t allowed to talk to each other. It was so hard because I loved him.

Dana’s eyes welled up in tears. 

“You mean I have a sister somewhere?”

“Yes dear, you have a half-sister somewhere.”

“Does Jimmy and Becky know about this baby?”

“Yes, they know, when they turned twelve I told them. I felt like you were too young to understand and I was waiting for your twelfth birthday.”

“I am old enough!” Shouted Dana as she ran up the stairs.

In a small voice, Julie said,

“I am sorry Mrs. Anderson, I helped Dana. I am going to go home.”

“It’s ok Julie, I know you didn’t mean any harm. You have both always been curious about things, enjoy your day and I am sure Dana will call you later.”

******************

Later that day, when they all sat down for dinner Dana announced that she knew of Anna, the baby.

Everyone looked shocked.

Dana went over the details of her adventures in the attic.

Have you guys been in the attic ?” asked Dana

Jimmy and Becky shook their heads no.

“How old would she be now mamma?”

“She is twenty now.”

Dana looked at her parents and said, “I want to meet this baby, I want to meet my sister.

Now it was her mom who had tears in her eyes.

“You have to be eighteen to apply to the Child Welfare program to see if there is a match between the adopted child and the parent or siblings. 

Mrs. Anderson took a deep breath and exhaled.

“I applied when Anna was eighteen, two years ago and I was finally reconnected with her a year later. I wasn’t ready to explain this to all of you, but dad and I  have met her. Her name is Sophie now She wants to meet all of you, but I have been putting it off as I really didn’t know how to tell you, guys”

In unison, Jimmy and Becky announced that they want to meet Sophie. 

“Me too, said Dana, I have to meet her. When can we meet her?”

Mrs. Anderson thought for a moment.

“Let me make a phone call, maybe I can make that happen for all of us, maybe we can have her over for dinner next week, I will try.”

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ditdot71

Welcome to my blog. My Non de Plume is Christine W Forgues. I have been journal writing for years. I took a course in Creative writing and found I enjoy writing short stories and poetry. I write more when I am hypomanic or manic.
I went into Rehab for Alcohol Addictions and have been sober for fourteen years.
Shortly after I quit drinking I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2, I have since been diagnosed with Bipolar 1.
I enjoy talking about my story, for people to learn or relate. I try and have a healthy lifestyle and try to use my coping strategies. Life is just too boring without Bipolar, it is a blessing but yet sometimes a curse.
I am currently working on a book and dream of publishing one day.
I am so excited to have found Wordpress.
This is my new adventure.

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