For this story, the following words had to be used: Sunday, curiosity, secret, island, wallpaper, notebook, swap, marathon, sister, demand
Sunset beamed in through the slats of the boarded up window, casting its dusty golden light onto my sister’s faded wallpaper. It was Sunday. We had just finished a marathon cleaning session – our feeble attempt at making this run-down box look like a desirable place to live.
“I hope whoever comes next weekend has a great imagination,” she quipped.
“Or they swap their good sense for morbid… charm,” I quickly amended. “This house does have a lot of charm!”
“Hey! Remember that time we tricked our neighbors into thinking the place was haunted by island spirits?” she laughed.
“And they spent a whole year trying to spy on us so they could call the police and demand our removal from the area? Nope. Don’t remember that at all.” My cheek was suddenly met with my sister’s dirt-soaked rag. “Yeah…. Good times,” I said with thumbs up and a wide TV smile.
“Ain’t we lucky we got ’em?” my sister sang. I swear, that girl knew every lyric to every TV theme song and commercial jingle ever written. But I wouldn’t fall for her ploy. She pulled out lyrics like this when she wanted to deflect conversation. But why bring up the old neighbors if she just wanted me to forget them again? Maybe she was testing me. I’d have to tread carefully. Make sure my curiosity didn’t overtake my reason.
“Whatever happened to them, anyway?”
“They disappeared about a decade-and-a-half ago. Never sold the house or said a word to anyone.” My sister lifted the tea kettle off the burner just as its whistle was about to sound. She always knew the exact right moment. For everything.
“Curious. And the house is still vacant?” I asked as I tried to brush a cobweb from my forehead and my chin. I reached out for the tea my sister offered and watched her gracefully move about the kitchen. But my question had her rifling through drawers and slamming cabinets shut after selecting various items. She placed a pot of honey on the table in front of me and practically tossed a plate of cookies as she slumped into the seat across from me.
“Why?” she asked, trying not to sound bothered. My sister was never good at hiding her emotional responses from me. I pretended she was, though.
“Well….. It’s curious because I found a notebook upstairs. In the attic. It was filled with clippings.” My hand tightened around my teacup. My sister’s chair slammed onto the floor.
“You weren’t supposed to find that,” she said. Her eyes rolled black and menacing. “Now it’s your secret, too.”