Secret of the Family Tree: Digging Up Old Roots

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Chapter 10: Whispers Overheard

“Nice and soft,” Zen reported of his new mattress, “just like I like it.”

Samantha felt their rooms were similar in size and appearance. The only difference was, his windows faced the back of the house, and hers faced the front.

“Hey, Zen, how long do you think the Kitchets have lived here? Do you think they have any grandkids our age? We know Bess has a niece, Rhiannon, maybe she has kids.”

“I don’t know. I’m more interested in that stuff Grandpa Innis talked about in his letter. He mentioned something about treasures. Do you think it’s some kind of rare gems or money hidden here on the property?”

“I don’t think it has anything to do with money. I feel it has something to do with the trees.”

“Or the treasure is buried under one of trees! We should get a shovel and start digging.”

“Zen!” gasped Samantha.“You heard how Aunt Mayra talked about these trees earlier. If you know what’s good for you, you better not go digging under one.”

“Calm down. Even I know when not to push my luck,” he said, opening his bedroom window. “Sooo, marvelous… miraculous…magical, what could that be?”

Samantha leaned her cheek against her fist as she tried to figure out the meaning behind her grandfather’s words. “Let’s look closer at what Grandpa actually said. He said the marvels.”

“Hey maybe he meant superheroes, you know, like the ones in comic books.”

“Well, marvel can be short for marvelous and marvelous means wonderful, amazing, glorious, something really spectacular.”

“All of those words spell out superhero to me. I mean trees are beautiful and all, but they just don’t spell out marvelous, miraculous and magical. Those words are meant for something truly amazing.”

“I agree.” Rubbing her eyes and yawning, Samantha all of a sudden felt very tired. “We can figure it all out tomorrow. I’m going to bed.”

“Bed? Ahh come on, it’s too early for bed. Tell you what, you stay up and we can go check out the attic tonight.”

“Sorry Zen, I’m too tired and our parents will be up in a bit to say good-night.”

“They won’t come up. They’ll get to gabbing and forget all about us.”

“See you in the morning, and hey, close your window. It’s cold in here.”

She gently placed her new pendant in its leather pouch, as she got ready for bed. Yanking the covers up tightly under her chin, she warmed herself against the chill in her room. I hope someone comes and lights the fire soon. The white-faced clock on her dresser glowed in the dark, reading 10:45pm. Zen was right, it was way past the time her parents would normally come up to say goodnight. Listening to the gentle tapping of the tree branch outside her bedroom window her eyes slowly closed, and she began to dream. In the dream, her grandpa Innis was a tree and he spoke to her, parting his tree bark lips saying over and over, “marvelous, miraculous, and magical things.”

“Samantha, Samantha, wake up!”

She wasn’t sure how long she’d been sleeping before being jostled awake. Opening her eyes, she saw Zen standing next to her bed. “What…what…what’s going on?”

“Come on, hurry up. You gotta hear this,” was all he said as he dragged Samantha from her bedroom.

She followed him into his room, lit only by the light coming from the fireplace. “Zen, what are we doing in here, turn on the lights.”

“Shh, be quiet,” he whispered, pressing a finger to his lips. He signaled for her to stand with him in the shadows beside his open window, where Samantha heard Aunt Mayra’s voice coming from below.

“I feel we should have said something about the call.”

“What good would come of it? It just would upset Anna and Sam, bringing back those memories so soon after their father’s passing. No…no, they have enough to deal with. Let’s just stick to the plan.” It was Kitchet’s voice.

“I knew we should’ve told them the truth when they were older. I warned Innis this day would come.” Samantha could tell from Mayra’s voice that she was very worried about something.

“I know, Mayra. We’ve been over this, but remember, this is how Innis wanted us to handle it.”

Mayra sighed heavily. “Tell me again, what happened?”

“His car must’ve broken down, because he was on foot when a truck driver spotted him about a mile out of Hearthshire, collapsed on the side of the road. By the time Bess and I arrived at the hospital, the medication had taken over his mind. He wasn’t making any sense. We couldn’t get out of him where he had gone, or who he met up with. I can tell you this, Mayra, Innis seemed at peace in the end.”

“Yes, but tell me exactly what he said, Kitchet.”

“He said he finally knew who killed Ameara and—”

“Samantha, Zen what are you two looking at?”

They both flinched and spun towards Anna’s voice coming from the doorway,

“This window won’t stay shut,” Zen said, fiddling with the latch. Samantha came in to help me fix it.”

Too stunned by the conversation she just overheard, Samantha said nothing. Who killed Ameara? She stared blankly past her mother.

“How can you do anything in the dark? Here, I’ll help you,” Anna said, switching on the lights.

“Got it,” Zen said, pretending to fix the bolt. Thanks, Samantha. Now I can get some sleep without it blowing open.” He pulled the curtains closed, and jumped into bed.

“Do you need anything else? Should I ask your mom to come up or—”

“No, no I’m good now, Aunt Anna, night.”

Heading out the door behind her mom, Samantha and Zen exchanged puzzled looks.

Back in her own bed, Samantha watched as her mom threw a log on her fire. “Goodnight, Samantha.”

“Yeah…night, Mom.” Her body may have been in her bed, but Samantha’s mind was back at the cemetery. I knew it. I knew something was odd about them dying on the same day. Whispering into the darkness, she said, “But, I would’ve never guessed it was murder!”

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