Above the Darkness

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The Bumpy Road

I looked at the driver, and he didn't look friendly. As I hopped into the back seat, the scruffy, dirty cab driver asked me, “What is a young girl like you doing up so early?”

I tried to keep my answers short. “I have swimming lessons. My parents gave me money to take a cab, so they didn't have to wake up.”

“Smart folk. So where are we off to Miss? The Y?”

“Uh. No actually, I am taking the lessons at the school.”

“I didn't realize they had a swimming pool,” he asked suspiciously.

“Well, there isn't. Not at my school anyways, but there is one at the high school and that is where I am heading to.” I said with assurance, so he wouldn’t question me.

“Oh I see. I was going to say you look a bit young to be attending high school.” He grinned slightly. It gave me the shivers. I was starting to think maybe I should be investigating him. I tried to ignore it, and did not reply. We were heading into town now and it would only be a few minutes until we were there. “So you’re a Jamison kid are you?”

“Excuse me?” I asked confused.

“The Jamisons. I didn't know they had any children.”

“Oh, yes. I am the only child. They don't talk about me much. As you know, they are often away on business trips.”

“So, they leave you all alone?” His voice was soft and eerie. I began to sweat as my face heated up.

“No. Of course not, I am still too young. I have a babysitter.” I answered quickly, trying not to sound nervous.

“I bet it's one of the Murphys' kids. They got so many, I wouldn't be surprised if they started shelling them out for money.” He then let out a screechy wicked old witch laugh.

I was utterly disgusted by this comment. Sometimes I think adults just think of kids as some parasite that they must control. Even though I wouldn't put it past my parents to do something like that, it was still rude to assume they were like that. Maybe they chose to have so many children because they love kids! I don't know why what he said angered me so much. I started to breath deeply to calm myself down. I was almost there.

“No. It is not one of the Murphys, my aunt comes out to babysit me.”

“Oh really, who is your aunt?”

What was with all of the questions?! Okay, I have got to calm down.

“You wouldn't know her. She lives on the other side of town, and never uses cabs. She thinks she is too good for that. She will even call a friend or family to drive her somewhere, if she is desperate for a ride.” I couldn’t believe how fast I came up with these convincing stories, and without even thinking about it. I normally hated lying, and was very bad at it, but something inside of me pushed the lies through me. It was for my own good.

“Oh really? Seems like a bit of a snob. Just my type. Haha.”

It wasn't funny to me. “Yeah...” Finally we arrived!

“Okay, here is your stop little lady. That will be $25.32” I only had 30 dollars. I wasn't sure yet how I was going to get home. I thought it would be cheaper than that. I think he may have gone a longer way. No wonder I was getting irritated.

“Here you go.” I didn’t want to question him; I didn’t know what he was capable of.

“Thank you my dear. Have a good swimming lesson.” He winked at me, as he gave me my change. My stomach rolled over, ready to explode. I got out of the car as fast as I could.

I don't know why but I started to run, and fast. I also wasn't sure where I was running to until I was there, in the middle of the football field. I looked around to discover that there was nobody in sight. Sitting down, I felt the grass that was still damp from the morning dew underneath me. As I sat there for a bit looking up to the sky, I pondered where I should look first. I then noticed a forest in the distance. It looked like it was about a 10-15 minute walk. I didn't think I could find anything there, but I remembered Ruth and Harmony telling me to follow my gut. A sense of urgency grew within me as I shot up and ran towards the forest.

When I got to the edge of the forest, I noticed that it was not very thick. This was surprising, since most of the forests around here are dense. I could see the sun's rays piercing between the trees, onto the brown mossy blanket that covered the floor. It was a heavenly sight as the rays picked up every outline of a tree, every leaf, and every tiny stone. The sandy brown soil shimmered with delight.

I was disturbed by a crunching noise in the distance. I looked harder through the trees and then all around me but saw nothing. I started to sweat again- something I was experiencing a lot lately. I thought, it couldn't be a person. Why would someone be out here so early in the morning? I guess I could ask myself the same question.

I still heard the noise and it was approaching quicker. I looked and looked but nothing. Nothing at all! Were my ears playing tricks on me? It sounded very close now, and still, nothing in sight.

Just then something grabbed onto my leg. It wasn't teeth, or sharp claws. It was small and tingled up my leg. How could something so small, make so much noise? It ran up my stomach, then onto my shoulder and stood there for a moment looking into the woods, as I did. Then it scampered down my arm into my hand and gave me a curious look. Its large brown eyes batted as if it was trying to charm me. Its hair was fluffy and was made up of black, white and rusty colours. I burst out laughing as it twitched his tiny ears and batted its eyes again. I could not help myself. I was so terrified, and it was only a cute little chipmunk. It chattered as it looked up at me. It seemed as if it was trying to tell me something.

Then it seemed frustrated that I could not understand it. I looked up into the blaring sun and asked if one of my helpers would help me listen. No one came, but a whisper entered my ear.

Be silent. In your heart, in your mind. And you will hear. The truth.

I thought I was being silent.

In your heart, in your mind. Close your eyes.

I closed my eyes and tried not to think but the more I tried, the more annoying thoughts came barging in. I stopped trying. I still felt the critter on my hand. I listened to it. Slowly the chatter became familiar sounds that eventually formed words, and now... sentences! I could understand it! I opened my eyes.

“You are going the right way. Please follow me.”

“Where will you take me?” I anticipated.

“I will show you. Follow me.”

It was impossible not to trust such an innocent creature. Its face was so warm and friendly and its eyes glistened ever-so slightly. It ran up my arm, down my stomach and my leg onto the unmaintained brush. The chipmunk camouflaged into it, like a missing piece of the puzzle. I could barely see it now, but that wasn't a problem since it was a heavy scamper.

The woods were getting thicker and I had never been so far away from home, except the time we took a train into the mountains to a ski resort about 2 years ago. It was something my brothers had wanted to do for years, and my dad finally gave in, but there was only one condition: the girls were not allowed to ski. You might think he would leave us at home, but he made such a big deal about it to his church and work buddies, that it had to be a family vacation. It was one of my worst nightmares. It took about 5 hours to get there. The sightseeing was beautiful but it got a little boring after an hour.

My older brothers and sisters had their own agendas, as usual. My brother Jordan listened to his iPod and played computer games on his laptop the whole way. Ruth seemed a little bit happier that day, but not enough that she would talk to me. Maybe it was because we were finally getting out of the house, and when we got there she was actually allowed to go her own way for once without the restrictions.

My parents weren't very strict about keeping tabs on those of us over the age 12. It seemed they thought that was the age when you became an adult. Maybe that was true a long time ago, but it is far from the truth now. Ironically, my mother was overly paranoid, about me and Jordan, so when we got there we had to keep close. That was a total disaster because my brother, like always would tune everything out around him, and just completely ignored our mother. So, I was her only outlet.

I can't remember everything that she told me, as I tried to block most of it out. She told me things about her past and about her and dad. All of that was way too much information and definitely not rated G! Again, the utter contradiction. That's what my mother was and is: a hypocrite. She treated us like we were 5 years old one second, then the next, she would be telling us things that only adults should hear.

The whole experience, was a therapy session, with me as the therapist and her as the client. I thought I would have to take on that role until I was at least 12, but the drink became more of her permanent therapist.

About an hour had passed. The chipmunk was still in front of me, I stopped. “How much further?” I closed my eyes.

“It won't be long now, I promise.” It did not lie. About 5 minutes later there was a clearing. I still could not make out the other side, but I started to get butterflies in my stomach, only they were good ones this time.

I picked up speed, and I was running now. It didn't seem to get closer. I ran faster. I lost track of the chipmunk. “STOP”, it squealed. “You must pace yourself. There might be others there. We don't want to draw attention.”

She made a good point. Now, I was getting the nervous butterflies. When we got there, my heart dropped like an avalanche, faster and faster, heavier, and heavier until it sunk into my stomach, like butter into warm bread.

It was a beach. I have waited so long for this moment! In all my years, living so close to the ocean, I have never had the opportunity to see it or swim in it. My parents had hidden this jewel from me for so long…or did they? Maybe they did not know about it. They always said it was too far, but I knew from maps that that was a lie. Maybe it was just an excuse not to haul all of us over here? Either way, it was an incredible surprise to learn it was so close.

The beach was secluded, not large at all, but definitely good enough to swim in. Luckily there was no one there. I thought maybe the only people that would really know about this place were the teenagers from the high school that would wander off. Although, Tanya didn't mention anything about it. Maybe Ruth went by herself, or with someone else?

I looked down to see if the chipmunk was still there but it wasn't. I was hoping to say thank you. I closed my eyes and did anyways. I always thought it was necessary to show my appreciation. Maybe because any little good thing that happened was a blessing to me, since the things that should be good- weren’t.

You’re welcome. You listened well. But more is to come. Be safe, be confident.

Be safe? Be confident? What did the chipmunk mean by safe? Was I in danger? And I thought I had already been confident. I couldn't ponder much longer. I would just have to wait and see. I didn't have much time, since I had to get back before all the family stuff happened. I am sure my father would have called the whole family: aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and others. I wasn't looking forward to the family reunion. I hoped the funeral wouldn’t be for a few days. I wondered if there was anyway I could see the body. Not that I would like to or anything, but that maybe there was some kind of clue.

“Hey! You! Over there! What are you doing here? This is a secluded beach, how many times do I have to tell you kids!” The burly man stumbled toward me. ‘Time to be safe’, I thought. He came closer, moving faster now, but still inelegantly.

“Uh. I am sorry sir. I mean no harm.”

He was in my face now. “NO harm! HA! That is all you hooligans mean is harm! Leaving your cigarette butts and beer bottles smashed all over the place. I have even found used condoms- disgusting! I paid good money for my cottage, and you kids come in and pollute it. No respect, no respect.” He shook his head vigorously.

“You are absolutely right sir.” I said stepping back slowly.

“What did you say to me?” he said, still in my face. I could smell the reek of his fishy breath pouring down on me. I tried to hide my disgust, and resisted pushing him away. I didn’t want him to take offense and get more upset.

“You are right, about those kids. They are very disrespectful. I, on the other hand, do not intend to do any of those things on this beautiful beach, sir.” He just stared at me still hovering.

Be confident. “If you don't mind, I would like to ask you a few questions though. Last night were there any of those 'hooligans' on the beach?”

He slowly stepped back, scratched his head, furrowed his brow and replied, “Well, uh, let's see, uh. Yes. There were some kids around last night. That's why I was so upset. I thought you were one of them coming back to collect your evidence, although that wouldn't make sense, would it? As I just said they leave everything here…” He grinned a bit, and so did I.

“Well, like I said sir, I am not here to mess up your beach or disrespect it or you in any way. Something terrible happened last night, and I have a hunch it might have occurred on this beach. Do you remember any of their faces?” I asked, hopeful.

“Please, call me Sal. And I am sorry but there are so many of them, and it is usually dark out, so it is hard to say. Although, there are some regulars, two males and two females.”

“Okay, Sal. These regulars, were they here last night?”

“Yes, I believe so. I can usually tell because they are always with a larger, older looking guy. He might be in his early 20s, maybe older. I always wondered what these 15-year-olds were doing hanging out with someone so much older, but I figured they just used him for beer or somethin'.”

“Hmm. Was there anything out of the ordinary?”

“Uh, not really. Just the regular loud talking, laughing, and carrying on. Sometimes, they even bring instruments. Not last night though. And actually when I think about it, they were a lot quieter last night than usual.” Ruth plays the guitar.

“Hmm. What kind of instruments do they usually bring?” I asked while pulling out my notebook.

“You’re not going to record that I said any of this are you?”

“Well, I was hoping to, yes.”

“Well, I don't want any police coming along. Not that I have anything to hide. Just those pigs really irritate me. They try to blame me for all the racket and garbage. But I say what is it to them? Me and other people that live on this beach are the ones that have to clean it up! I bet it's that Joe guy down a few houses. He is always trying to blame me or the others for anything that goes wrong.”

“Well, you don't have to worry about the police. Even if I do talk to them, I will make sure I just heard about this whole beach thing from kids at school, okay?”

“Okay, thanks. You sure are precious one. Not like those other girls, nasty things.”

I ignored his comment and continued my investigation, “By the way were you ever able to get a good look at any of the girls? Did one of them play a guitar? And it would be helpful if you could tell me the other instruments.”

“Oh yeah. Sorry about that. Yes, there was a girl with a guitar. She was actually pretty good. Dull and dark lookin' though. All of them were actually. The older guy always played a drum of some sort. Doing calls and makin' the most racket. I don't believe the others had instruments. Maybe another drum? And uh, one of those shaky things?” He said as he fluttered his hand side to side in the air.

“A tambourine?”

“Yes! One of those. I am sorry, but I don't think I have much else to tell you. I know the guitar girl had long dark hair. The older guy as well, had uh, about shoulder length hair, dark too. Or maybe it just looked dark? Maybe a little lighter than her hair? The other two, well one always wears a sweater, with his hood up. And the girl, I can't remember a thing about her for some reason, I am sorry.”

“That is okay. You have been very helpful, thank you. Would it be okay if I took a look around? Maybe they left something important.”

“Sure thing. And if you get hungry, or think of some other questions, I am just the second house up the left side of the beach here.” He pointed towards his cottage.

“Okay, and thanks again.”

“No problem. You take care.” He started to waddle back towards his cottage, when he stopped dead, and turned around. “Wait! I forgot to ask, what was this terrible thing that happened?” I really wished he had forgotten completely. I didn't know whether I should tell the truth or not. I decided not to.

“Well, someone was hurt at the high school just through the forest, and there had been rumours it was one of the kids that come to this beach.”

His face changed suddenly, worrisome. “Well, I hope that kid is okay. And I wouldn't doubt it if one of those hooligans hurt an innocent kid, like you or younger.”

I didn't want to give away too much, but I figured the whole town would hear about it eventually. “Unfortunately she is not okay. She passed on, actually. People say she killed herself. She was my friend. That is why I am so determined to find out what really happened.”

His face grew sadder. “Wow. I did not know it was that bad. I am so very sorry. Why do you think something else happened to her?”

“Well, she was my best friend. She told me everything. And besides a few minor things at home, she was pretty happy.” I didn't want to tell him she was my sister, because he might ask more questions, and I didn't want anyone to know I was investigating. Also, I couldn't very well tell him about what happened to her at home. He would think she killed herself for sure then.

His eyebrows danced, up and down. He probably doubted my story, but didn't ask any more questions. “Well, again, I am sorry. And I wish you the best in your findings. But, I must say, it might be best if you leave the dirty work up to the police. I am sure if there is any sign she didn't kill herself, they will look into it.”

“Perhaps, but that could take months. Thank you for your concern, and answering my questions.”

“No problem. Bye for now.” He waved then walked away again, slower now.

“Bye!” I called out.

I wanted to stay longer and search the whole area, but I knew now that Sal and his nosy neighbours would be watching, so I decided to just look around the fire pit they created then get home. My family would probably notice I was gone by now and I couldn't expect Jamie to cover for me all day.

I took a long stick to scrape through the ashes. I didn't find anything except a couple of burnt plastic bottles. I wondered what they would be doing drinking water, when they were drinking alcohol. I heard alcohol dehydrates you, but they didn't seem like the conscientious type.

I searched around the fire pit and only found a couple of beer bottles. I decided to take one, just in case I could somehow get DNA from it. I know that would be nearly impossible, but it wouldn't hurt to try.

I looked for a few more minutes. I was going to have to give up for today, and come back another time. I was leaving the beach when I had a craving to test out the water. I knew it would be far too cold still to swim in, since it was only mid-spring, but it was too inviting to resist.

I took off my shoes and socks, lifted up my pant legs, and began to walk towards the water. The warm sand seeped over my feet. I stood there, enjoying it for a moment before going to the water. Just as my feet touched the muddy substance, a wave crashed up and over them reaching almost my knee caps. The foam quickly dissipated back into the unreal mass of water, like a turtle’s head shrinking back into its oversized shell. The water was surprisingly warm, but the waves were intimidating so I stayed where I was, enjoying the steady flow.

In and out. In and out. It was never too quick and never too slow. It reminded me of the waltz. Simple, 1, 2, 3. ‘I must get home’, I thought suddenly, but I did not move. I knew I should have left right away but, instead, I kept standing there, and staring into the ocean as if it had hypnotized me. I wanted to soak in every moment so that I could daydream later about what dance the ocean would bring me tomorrow.

As I forced myself to walk out of the water I spotted something shiny and gold in colour. I rushed over before the wave took it away again. I washed it off, and held it. It was heavy and chunky. A necklace- of real gold? It couldn't be. I didn't know of anyone who had such expensive jewellery. It couldn't be Ruth's. She would never wear something that would bring so much attention. Plus, it seemed far too masculine to be a woman's jewellery. Maybe it was a man's then? Could it belong to one of the owners of the cottages? Not Sal. He looked like he could barely afford his cottage, although, people always say looks are deceiving. Maybe he had money but was cheap. That was it. He complained about paying so much for his cottage. It must be the only thing he has ever paid good money for. Maybe I should visit the other residences? I would not show them the necklace though. I would just ask if they might be missing a piece of jewellery. Maybe the necklace belonged to one of Ruth’s hooligan friends? Maybe they were stealing? I couldn't imagine Ruth stealing, or drinking, or smoking! But there is a lot I didn't know. I couldn't believe how naive I had been. It must come with the age.

I knew one thing for sure, and that was that she had been here. Why else would the chipmunk lead me here? And the girl Sal described sounded exactly like her. I would have to ask her if she went to the beach. I knew I couldn’t ask anything more than that, but I didn't want to waste anytime in a place that might not be valuable to my investigation and to Ruth.

I walked through the woods towards the school without even realizing it. I had too much on my mind. It didn't seem as long on the way back, but that seems to be the case with any trip. I quickly made it to the front of the school, trying to ignore all the teenagers hanging around. I thought they may have cancelled school. I guess that means they removed everything from the scene? I wondered if any of them knew what happened. I figured they did. There was an extra-dark cloud lulling over the school.

I still did not know how I was going to get back home. I decided to use a pay phone to call home. Hopefully Jamie had his car back and could pick me up. It rang and rang, but there was no answer. I hung up before it used my quarters. I tried Jordan's cell. “Yo man, what's up?”

“Excuse me, but I am not a man. I am your sister, Liz”

“Oh hey Liz. How's it hangin’?”

“Not too good Jordan. I am stranded here at the high school.”

“Why are you there? You don't go there, and besides none of us are going to school today.”

“I know Jordan. Now, is Jamie around?”

“Jamie? Uh. Yeah. Why? What's going on?”

“Please, can I just talk to him? No one answered the home phone.”

“I guess. But first tell me why.”

“Well obviously I got to get back home, and he is the only one with a car.”

“Okay, chill. Not sure if he has the car back. Oh yeah, he does. He drove me to the store last night. Before everything happened, that is. How you holding up anyways? And, what are you doing at the school?”

“Please Jordan. We will discuss it at home. Can you ask Jamie to pick me up?

“ Yeah, yeah we’ll be there in a flash. No worries.”

“Okay thanks. See you soon.”

“Yup, see ya.” Click.

I was anxious to get home. I didn't exactly know what I was going to tell Jordan, but I had to come up with something. I was trying to be low-key, but now that Jordan knows I was out, it might turn into a big drama-fest. I wanted to get back home as fast as possible, but I was also worried about what I was going to say to Jordan and Jamie.

I sat on the step, just in front of the school. Some kids almost stepped on me a couple of times, but I barely noticed, being so stressed. I could just tell him that I forgot a sweater or something here last night, but I doubt he would buy that. He would wonder why I would pay money to come here just to get a sweater.

I thought about Ruth and what she would think I should do. Would she want me to tell them the truth? Or keep it secret? I knew no one was supposed to know what I was doing, but I could probably trust them, although telling Jordan would be pretty risky. I don't think he keeps secrets very well and he has the best relationship with our father, and might tell him what I am up to. It was too risky; I had to tell him something else, but I had already told Jamie I was doing stuff for Ruth. Now the question is: what stuff? Crap. Right at that moment they drove up.

Beep beep. “Hey!” Jordan waved excitedly out the window. I waved back not so enthusiastically, moving slowly towards the car. “Hey! Come on! We don't have all day!”

“I'm coming!” I yelled back, walking a little faster.

“Come on, come on, get in.” Jordan edged on.

“I'm in, I'm in, relax.” I said frustrated with their impatience.

“No time to relax. We got to get back as fast as possible. Dad caught us leaving, and started asking questions. I told him you were at Ruth's friend's house to collect some of her stuff.” ‘Good story,’ I thought.

“Well, that's funny because that's what I was doing.”

“Really? Why couldn't you just tell me that this morning?” Jamie asked suspiciously.

“Well, I didn't know if you would understand, and I wanted to leave before dad came back. I became sort of close with Tanya and her mom. And her mom told me, last night, that I could come in the morning to get some of Ruth's things. She thought we should have them.”

“Yeah. I guess that's understandable.” He paused for a moment. “So what was so important that she thought we must have? Oh, and what were you doing at the school? And why didn't they drive you home?” All valid questions.

“Well, they drove me to the school because what they wanted to give to me was in her locker, and Tanya has her code.” Good idea. I should check it tomorrow. “And they couldn't drive me because her mom had to go to work.” I waited to see if they bought it.

“Oh. So where was Tanya, then? She went to school? Isn't she upset?” What is he a detective now?

“No. She wanted to break the news to some of Ruth’s other friends. I guess she feels better around people, as opposed to being alone at home.”

“Yeah. That makes sense.” Phew.

“Yeah, that makes sense alright, but what was so damn important Liz?” Jordan asked now taking his turn to drill me.

“Here. I will show you.” I pulled out the necklace. I had no idea if it was hers or not. And if it was, she could have stolen it, but it was the only thing valuable that I had on me at the moment.

“Woah! I never seen that before. She had bling like that, and we never knew it?” Jordan reached out to grab it, hypnotized by the golden sheen.

“Yeah. It was a surprise to me too. But it might not be real you know.”

“It looks pretty real to me. And kind of man-ish eh? I know a guy that has a similar necklace and it is real.” He said as he played with it in his hands, running it between his fingers and then holding up in front of him, as if he was trying to get a better look.

“It could be a girl's too Jordan. And I was hoping to find out if it’s real, maybe by a jeweller.”

“But Liz, she couldn’t afford anything like that. Even if it isn't real, it must have cost quite a bit to look that real.” He said, as he passed it back finally.

“Well, maybe someone gave it to her. And that is why she never wore it around us.”

“Like a guy? Cuz that would make sense. Dad would kill her.”

“Yeah for sure.” I didn’t think of that, but he had a good point. Our father never wanted any of us girls to date. He said as long as we lived under his roof we couldn’t date. And it wasn’t just that he was overprotective- it was a creepy obsession. My stomach boiled.

“Hmm. I would like to know where this rich boy is. He needs a talk and maybe we should give the necklace back to him.” Jamie said in a deep rustic ‘big brother’ voice. Only his intentions were out of love, unlike our father.

Although I appreciated his concern, I felt it was best to keep the necklace until I found out more. I also didn’t want to have a ‘talk’ with someone who would not welcome us. “No! I mean, he won't want it back. There would just be too many memories attached to it. And maybe they weren't even on good terms. Actually, I know they weren't.”

“Huh? What do you mean?” Jamie got concerning again.

“It's a long story. Tanya told me it last night, before we went to the school.” Uh oh. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything.

“Oh I see. Well, I would like to hear about it later.” Jamie said as he squinted his eyes at me in the rear-view mirror.

“Yeah me too!” Jordan eagerly agreed.

We drove up the lane, the tree was no longer there but there were some new cars.

“Looks like some of the family is here, and Liz, you’re explaining everything to dad and whoever else asks.” Jamie demanded.

“Yeah, sure, it would be my pleasure.” I replied sarcastically trying to make a joke out of it, even though my fears were real.

We walked into the house, and the rest was a blur. Everyone was far too busy with their own concerns to even care where we were. I could faintly hear my grandparents sobbing in the kitchen as my mother told them everything as she prepared more food. As I walked past the living room I could hear the T.V. blaring and my father and uncles screaming back at it while smacking each other’s backs and clanging their beer bottles together. I then almost managed to slip past my older cousins who were fighting with my sisters about celebrity gossip, when Christine pulled me in. I just stood there nodding, waiting for my chance to escape.

After the chaotic social experiment died down, enough for me to slip away, I ran up to my room. I was just about to open my door, and walk in when I felt a tap on my shoulder.

“Where do you think you are going now?” I turned around. It was Jamie. “I would really like to hear that story.” I had no choice; I had to tell him. Even if I didn’t, I figured he would start his own investigation.

“Okay fine. Come in here though.”

“Alright.”

I sat on my bed, and he sat on my desk chair. We then stared at each other for a few moments. “So?” he said while his arms moved in a forward circular motion, as if he was saying ‘get on with it.’

“So... Okay, here it goes.”

I told him everything that Tanya told me, including everything about their love triangle and Ruth's outburst at the restaurant.

“Wow. So she really was involved with some guy? And I can't believe that she would be so crazy like that. It must have really hurt her, eh? Oh man… Tanya must feel guilty.” He rambled, talking more to himself than to me.

“Yeah she does, but she has no reason to. It is not her fault. That is not the reason why what happened, happened.”

“Well, it might be. Ruth wasn't exactly stable.”

“Yeah, that is my point. Even if that ‘pushed her off the edge’, it wasn't the cause for her instability. You know what I mean?”

“Yeah, that is true. So what do you think that necklace means? Are you going to talk to this guy? ‘Cause if you’re not, I will.” He sat up straight.

“Yes. I was going to go back to the school tomorrow, and try to find him.”

“Good. For all we know, he might have done something worse to her. Something that may have really pushed her off the edge.”

“Yeah, that is a possibility, but you should know, she had good enough reasons besides that. ``

``What do you mean? There is never a good enough reason, `` his voiced deepened.

``I know that. I just mean - you know, her home life wasn't exactly the greatest. ``

``Well neither is ours. And you don't see us doing something like that. `` His face was now distorted, and his voice rougher.

I was getting angry with him now. If only he knew what I knew. I tried to pace myself, taking deep breaths before I spoke. ``I am just saying she had it pretty bad, and some people’s strength is greater than others.``

``You’re right. I’m sorry. I shouldn't being saying something like that. It's just - I don't know - I’m having a hard time digesting all of this. ``

``Yeah me too. ``

After a few moments of silence he announced, ``I am going to go downstairs now, to see if mom needs any help with dishes or something.`` I didn't say anything as he walked out and closed the door behind him.

I knew it was getting really uncomfortable for him, and I didn’t blame him, but I wish he could be a little more open. I wish all of them could be more open. I tried not to worry about it.

The necklace was calling my name. I had to hold it. There was something enduring about it, almost possessive. I couldn't make out the energy it was giving off. I wanted it to be a positive force, but something was telling me it wasn't. I lay there, holding it for awhile, with my eyes closed. It wasn't until then that I realized how tired I was. I sat up again, so I wouldn't fall asleep. I put the necklace in my jewellery box. I knew I had to stop holding it. I realized then that the present that Oochoo gave me was glowing. I put it around my neck, and held the end of it where a heart-shaped trinket hung. I then heard Oochoo`s voice.

Hold on to this as you sleep. And put the other gift in your pocket. You will need both. Say these words as you fall asleep light all around me, guide me, protect me and love me. And rest well.

I thought his request was sort of strange, but I did not want to question it. I think he knew where I was going tonight. Before going to sleep, I read all of my notes for the day and even made some new ones. I tried to piece things together, but I knew I needed a lot more information. My head hurt - I needed sleep. I did what Oochoo asked, and fell asleep after only 2 times of chanting, “Light all around me, guide me, protect me and love me.”

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