Secret of the Family Tree: Digging Up Old Roots

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Chapter 8: Is There a Mystery That Needs Solving?

“So what do you think could’ve happened?” Samantha sat crisscrossed on her bed as she tried to pick Zen’s brain about her discovery at the cemetery.

Sprawled out on her floor, Zen patted his stomach. “Right now, all I can think about is how full I am.”

“Well you scoffed your food down so fast your poor stomach probably didn’t have time to taste it,” she scolded.

“I didn’t eat breakfast this morning.” Glancing at his watch, he looked shocked by the time. “It’s after dinner! My poor growing body won’t know what’s happening to it missing dinner, too.”

“Zen, you just said you were full. Can you focus on what I’m trying to ask you?” Taking a deep breath, she asked the question again. “Don’t you think it’s odd that Grandma Ameara and Great-grandma Nanna died on the same day?”

“Why? People die all the time. Maybe after Grandma died, Great-Grandma was so upset, she died of a broken heart or something.”

“People don’t die from broken hearts, they die of heart attacks.”

“You know what I mean. And if you want to know what happened so badly, why don’t you just ask your mom how they died?”

“I thought of asking her during lunch, but then I thought maybe it’s a little too soon. You know, we just buried Grandpa Innis and all. It’s just I can’t help but wonder why no one ever mentioned it before. Why do you think your mom never said anything about it?”

“I don’t know. It’s not something you just go around telling anyone in normal conversation.” Coming to his feet, Zen pretended to greet a new acquaintance. “Hello, how do you do. My name is Alexzender Arborden Fairland-Kita. I live in Hawaii and I love to surf. And oh, by the way, my grandmother and great-grandmother died on the same day.”

“Now that’s just ridiculous. Of course you wouldn’t just say something like that to anyone. But, we’re not just anyone. We’re family. Why didn’t our parents ever mention it to us?”

Narrowing her eyes, Samantha leaned forward as she made her case to her cousin. “During lunch, I sorted in my head all the things that could’ve happened to them from things we already know. For instance, we know Grandma Ameara died young, because Grandpa Innis raised our moms from little girls with the help of, Aunt Mayra. Now, I always assumed she died of an unexpected illness, because she did die so young. But, now that I’ve discovered that Great-Grandma Nanna died on the same day, Grandma Ameara couldn’t have died from illness. I now think they must have died in a car accident together, or something worse,” Samantha concluded, by pointing a single finger into the air.

“You think too much,” Zen said. Kneeling in front of her open suitcase, he removed a book. “See what reading too many of these stories have done to your head? And, where’s the rest of your stuff?”

Groaning, Samantha plopped herself backwards onto her bed before answering him. “All the rest of our boxes are coming by mail from Australia. I had to prioritize, so I grabbed what I thought was most important.”

“Oh… I can see where your priorities lie.” One by one, he pulled more books from her luggage. Nancy Drew, The Secret of the Old Clock, Nancy Drew, The Hidden Staircase, Nancy Drew, The Clue in the Diary, and Nancy Drew, The Greek Symbol Mystery. “I’m surprised you had any room to pack your clothes. You should’ve mailed the books with the rest of your stuff.”

“Are you kidding? I had to bring this set. They’re all first editions. I simply couldn’t chance sending them by mail.” Getting off her bed, she hovered over him with her hand held out, “Books, please.”

“Ooh kaay.” Rolling his eyes, he handed them over to her. “Well, Nancy Drew, if you were looking for a mystery, you should’ve been investigating that guy at the funeral.”

“Are you still going on about him? Why would I investigate someone who was just paying their respects, just like everyone else?”

“If he was just paying his respects, then why did he leave before talking to anyone?”

“How do you know he didn’t talk to anyone?” Samantha asked, while arranging her books inside her new bookshelves. “You said yourself, when you turned around he was leaving, so you don’t know what he did before he left.”

“Because I asked my mom, and she said she doesn’t remember talking to him.”

“That doesn’t prove he didn’t speak to her or anyone else. It only proves she doesn’t remember him. Did you ask my mom or Aunt Mayra if they spoke to him? They could’ve.”

“Well, I still think something was up with that guy. I felt it in my gut, and my gut is never wrong.”

I’d better wait until the rest of my books arrive before deciding where to put these. “Why doesn’t your gut ever tell you when it’s full?”

“Ha, ha, because I’m never full for long, I burn it off in no time.”

She had to agree with Zen on that point, because he was as lean as a racehorse.

Before placing her hardback copy of The Hidden Staircase on her nightstand, she ran her hands along the book’s spine. “I love old books,” Samantha said, talking more to herself than to her cousin. “You know if you’re interested, the same creator of Nancy Drew, Edward Stratemeyer, also created another mystery series called The Hardy Boys. You may really like—”

“No thanks,” Zen said, holding up his hand before she could go on. “I’ll stick to my surfing and leave reading about mysteries to you. I have plenty of adventure in real life.”

Thumbing through the pages of her book Samantha started to think Zen may be right. May be because she reads so many mysteries her mind automatically looks for hidden secrets and clues even where none was hiding. People from the same family have died on the same day before, for perfectly normal reasons. Sighing, she held the book to her chest. Not having any close friends, she’d come to depend on her friendship with the fictional, Nancy Drew. She thoroughly enjoyed going on the wonderful mystery adventures she found between the pages of her favorite series. Putting the book aside she made herself a promise. Now that I’m putting down permanent roots, I will seek more adventures outside of written literature, just as Zen does. As she came to this decision, Zen yelled out in excitement from across the room.

“Now, this is so cool!” He was looking in the mirror mounted on her bedroom wall.

“Yeah, I thought that mirror was pretty interesting too,” she said coming to stand behind him.

“I don’t think it’s really a mirror,” Zen said. “The glass is black like a T.V. screen and it reacts like a computer monitor. Watch, I’ll show you.” He pressed the surface with his finger and it shimmered, just as it did when Samantha touched it. “See that, see how it moves when I touch it? It reminds me of an app on my dad’s iPad of a pond with fish, where when I touch the screen, the water and the fish move, just like this surface.”

“You know, when I was looking at it yesterday, I thought I saw light shooting across the surface.”

“I saw that too. It looks more like a shooting star to me.”

“Yeah, like a star.”

Zen pressed his finger to the surface again, “See there’s the star,” he said as the silvery, blue light streaked across the screen. “But then it fades to black again, like it’s powering down. Maybe it has a short.”

“Huh, so this is some sort of computer?”

“I think so. Did your dad see it? He’s the computer engineer.”

“He thought it was just light reflecting off the surface making it appear to move.”

Samantha touched the wooden frame surrounding the glass. “Hey Zen, see these carved symbols? I saw them on the headstones of our relatives today at the cemetery.”

“Really? This frame does seem pretty old, doesn’t it? And it’s attached to the wall. I wonder if it was carved during the same time the house was built, but this glass inside the frame is new technology. I mean computer monitors came out in the late 1940′s, 50′s, I think, and touch screens were invented much later.”

“Why would someone put a computer monitor into a wall frame?”

“No clue,” Zen said, shoving his hands into his pockets. “But it is cool. Hey, I’m going down to see what’s cooking for dinner. Coming?”

“No, I better unpack.” With her cousin gone, Samantha started placing her clothes in her dresser, but it wasn’t too long after he had left that Zen was back, standing in her doorway.

“What happened, couldn’t find anything to eat?”

“Mom said I have to wait,” he said, looking disappointed. “They sent me back up to get you. Apparently Aunt Mayra wants to talk to all of us before she leaves.”

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