It all started on an overcast August afternoon in Salem, Pennsylvania as a minivan pulled up to an old house. Out of the minivan came a pair of girls in pastel sundresses, matching hair bands and white sandles. That was all they had in common looks wise. The girl on the left had short stylish white blond hair, big brown eyes and a natural permanent tan. The girl on the left had brown hair to her waist in a pair of simple braids, wore oval shaped gold framed glasses in front of her light blue eyes and her skin was a pale color. She wore around her neck a key on a light purple ribbon that matched her dress and hair band. Out of the van fallowing the two girls came a woman with the looks of the blond girl right down to the skin tone. With the woman was a man who looked like a living Ken doll. His hair was a perfect ash blond that fell into his hazel eyes. He had the tan skin and muscle tone of a body builder.
Salem, Pennsylvania was a small town tucked into a wooded area. The people who lived there were mostly people who wanted the small town life for them and their children.
“Hey you folks lost?” called a neighbor from his porch. “You don’t want to talk to that old woman. She is a witch. She will cause you nothing but trouble.”
“Sir I would appreciate it if you didn’t call my mother a witch” said the man from the van. “She is just a lonely old woman who lives in an old house with her cats.” The door opened to show a small woman wearing a black track suit and white tennis shoes. At her feet were two cats. One was a large brown and white Main Coon Cat mix male with a torn ear. The other was a tiny gray Siamese and bobtail mix female. They both wore collars identifying them as Ashes and Bruiser.
“I was wondering if you were here finally. Oh I see that old goat Mr. Jackson tried to scare you off. He has it in his head that I am a witch.” this made the group chuckle. “Now look at you two girls last time I saw you was ten years ago.” she embraced her granddaughters. The two girls hugged back but the one who gave it more was the paler girl with the key.
“We would have visited mother but you live the farthest away from us in California.” Said the man.
“Oh Richard Hill don’t you try that with me. I know I live far away from your old town but I wouldn’t have minded a visit once in a while. Now lets get the girls things upstairs and then have tea before you two go. Girls mind telling me who is who?”
“I’m Rosemary and that is my weird sister Hazel.” said the blond pointing at her quieter sister.
“Rosemary what have I told you about calling Hazel weird?” said their father.
“Oh please. She looks like a vampire even in that outfit. She never does anything but read those stupid useless fantasy novels. And lets not forget she had no friends back in California.”
“Rosemary Jane you better lose the attitude now. So what if you sister is pale skinned and likes to read books. She at least doesn’t spend money on overly expensive hair products just because some teen star says it works to attract boys.” said their father sternly. “You will be carrying your bags into the house yourself. Amber do not help her. She needs to learn to do things on her own and to not pack so much. Hazel has three suitcases and a book-bag. To Rosemary’s seven suitcases, make up case, purse and book-bag.” The girls mother sighed and gave in. Though it was clear she didn’t agree with the tough love he was now giving Rosemary.
“Hazel had nothing to bring other then dumb books.” whined Rosemary as she pulled out her make up case.
“Books aren’t dumb Rosie. You just don’t like that I have more fun reading a book then you do dressing up like a teen star.” said Hazel quietly as she took two of her suitcases and her book-bag. “Where do I put my stuff Nana?” she asked politely
“Top of the stairs there’s a door right in front of them it leads to your room in the attic. Rosemary is in your father’s old room. I had them repainted and carpeted. I wanted to give you girls each your own space.” Hazel nodded taking her bags inside with Bruiser at her heels.
Nana’s house was a tidy place with cream colored walls and dark blue carpeting. The furniture was older with faded fabrics. Hazel thought it was cozy feeling. This was a nice lived in home. She went up the stairs and found her door. She smiled going up to the attic. Nana had the stairs carpeted in the same blue carpeting as the normal house. “Well here we go.” she said to the orange cat at her heels.
She gasped seeing her new room. It was huge. The attic was the size of a single normal floor of the house. The floor was carpeted in a grassy green colored shag carpet. The walls were painted midnight blue and someone had painted the ceiling the same color as the walls before putting a lot of those glow in the dark star stickers on it. Under the larger of the two windows was a double size white sleigh bed covered with a white and lilac checkerboard quilt. One pillow was white and the other was lilac. The windows had lilac curtains and white sheers. In a corner were some old dressers painted white and lilac stripe. There was an old pipe by the dresser with hangers on it. Beside the sleigh bed were two small end table dressers also done in white and lilac stripes. One had a small heart lamp set on it. In another corner was an old role top desk painted white and a lilac wooden chair. There was a standing lamp that was ugly but worked. The next corner had a big old brown arm chair with a matching footstool and a floor lamp behind it. The last corner had a pair of large wooden white book cases with the inner shelves had been painted lilac.
The room was perfect for her. She had room to move about, good furniture and lamps. There was a night sky style to the walls and ceiling. The carpet reminded her of summer grass. “This is all for me?”
“Yes dearie” came a voice at the bottom of the stairs. There stood Nana with a smile on her old face. She had her white hair done in a braid like Hazel’s “I hoped you were more like my side of the family then your mother’s family. The neighbors other then that old grouch across the street like me and helped out setting up yours and Rosie’s rooms.” Hazel smiled at this.
“Thank you for this room Nana its perfect. I love it.” Bruiser rubbed against her leg then as though saying hey don’t forget me. “Sorry big fella didn’t mean to leave you out.” said Hazel picking up the large cat. Bruiser was mostly white with brown patches on his front paws and a spot over his one eye hence his name.
“Oh Bruiser you jealous boy.” laughed Nana rubbing his ears. “Come on downstairs and I will start making us all a cup of mint tea to settle nerves.” Hazel fallowed her downstairs carrying the large purring cat.
Rosie was throwing a fit as her father had stood firm in the fact that she had to bring all of her own bags into the house by her self. Hazel hid her smile by going to get her last bag from the minivan.
Standing at the curb was a girl with fire red hair done in a side ponytail held in place by a ribbon wearing a dark blue tank top and a denim skirt to her knees. With the girl was a boy with shaggy black hair wearing a red shirt and khaki shorts. “Umm hello” she said shyly.
“Hi there. I’m Elvira Rivers and this is Jack Lasky we live in the neighborhood.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Hazel Hill.” Said Hazel as Rosie came outside looking annoyed still. Hazel sighed once Jack and Elvira met Rosie she would be forgotten. “That is my sister Rosie. We are moving in with our grandmother.”
“Cool Mrs. Hill is pretty nice. She always lets us play with Ashes and Bruiser after school.” Said Elvira. “Nice to meet you Rosie. We live down the street.”
“What ever” said Rosie yanking out her bags a little to hard and went flying onto her butt.
“Rosie are you alright?” asked Hazel helping her twin up.
“Get away from me weirdo. Its because of you that I have to do this all on my own.” growled Rosie grabbing her bags and storming into the house.
“Man what crawled up her skirt and died?” asked Jack.
“Please forgive Rosie. She normally is a lot nicer. Daddy is making her take all of her bags inside without help hoping to teach her a lesson for being rude earlier and about packing too many bags.” said Hazel. She hated saying that Rosie was nicer. Truth be told Rosie wasn’t nice once you were out of her sight line.
“Well I guess we can give her another chance to make a better impression.” said Elvira.
“Please do.” said Hazel “I would love to keep talking but I got a bag to put away and Nana is making tea. So see you around I guess.”
“It was nice meeting you Hazel hope to see you around.” said Elvira smiling as Hazel went to the door with her bag. Hazel waved to them and went inside.
Hazel found her sister whining in the kitchen about the lame mint tea and how small her new room was. “Oh shut up Rosie.” she sighed taking her cup “Thanks Nana. Rosie shut up. You nearly ruined a chance for you and I to make friends with the neighborhood kids out there.”
“Like they really would be your friend you loser. Look at you. You’re pale, read dumb books, drink lame tea and lets also not forget you have ugly hair.” snapped Rosie before she got slapped for the first time in her life. Her father glared at her.
“You are seriously over the line Rosemary Jane. I should have been firmer in not spoiling you. Now you go to your room unpack and stay there for the night.” He said glaring at the shocked girl. Rosie ran out of the room sobbing and calling him every name in her book.
“Where did she learn to swear like that?” asked Nana in surprise.
“I told you not to let her watch those shows Amber.” said Richard glaring at his wife. “I knew I should have been sterner with you and her about that spoiling. While I know we nearly lost her at birth spoiling her rotten hasn’t done her any good.”
Hazel sat there sipping her tea quietly as she had never seen her father being a parent to her sister. “Daddy the real reason Momma spoiled Rosie so much is she looks so much like her and I don’t let her other then today to dress me up like a doll.” she said quietly.
“That is not true Hazel Joy.” said Amber in shock that Hazel had even said that. “You just don’t like shopping in clothing stores and I have to fight with you to even get you to come with me for a hair appointment.”
“I don’t like people touching my hair. At least braids are an easy style and it keeps it off my face better then this hairband.” she removed the hair band her bangs falling freely. “And I hate shopping for designer clothes. They are expensive, ugly and often uncomfortable. I would rather go to a thrift store and buy my school clothes.”
“How are you my daughter?” Snapped Amber. “Your sister at least has a sense of style. You look like a hobo in used clothes and put that hair band back right this second.”
“No. I am not going to do that. I didn’t want to wear this outfit or hairband. These sandles rub my feet and the dress is a horrible shade on me. Lavender is hideous as a color and the flowers themselves stink. Nana where do I put my tea cup? I am going to go unpack my bags.”
“Rinse it in the sink and set it on the drying board.” Hazel nodded washing out her tea cup before kissing her father and Nana. She went passed her mother and headed upstairs.
She nearly screamed finding her sister trying to claim her dressers for her stuff. “Get your junk out of my room this second Rosie.” she growled
“No I need more room for my stuff. Can’t believe you got the bigger room.”
Hazel having been angry before became a real witch. She grabbed the drawers of clothes and took them to the window dumping them out it while Rosie watched in shock. “I will not let you steal my dresser space.” she said “Now get out of my room and stay out.” She made her sister leave by marching her down the stairs. “Stay out of my space. I have had it with you bullying me into letting you get what ever you want.” She slammed her door and went back to her room. Hazel yanked off her sandles and smiled as she felt instantly calmer.
She soon had her clothes unpacked and a shelf full of her favorite books. Her last and smallest bag held her treasures. Among the treasures were a toy bunny without an eye, a jewelery box shaped like a crescent moon with a cloud and a beat up old pencil case full of fun pens and pencils. The bunny went to the top of the book case and her jewelery box went on top a dresser. Hazel moved to put the pencil case in her new desk. She pushed up the top and gasped sitting there was a locking diary with butterflies on the cover and a beautiful set of pens. “Wow.” she sat down and opened the diary. On the inside cover was written in Nana’s neat cursive
When I was your age my grandmother gave me a journal and a lovely fountain pen. It has been a family tradition for a grandmother to give her granddaughters journals I had your journal made specially for you You always loved butterflies as a toddler I hope that hasn’t changed. Rosemary’s journal is a normal one bought at a stationary store with cheep pens. Your desk has a lock on it the key is in the top left side drawer so you can lock your sister out. Keep the keys to your diary and the desk with you.
Love Always and Forever,
Hazel smiled at her new diary. It was thicker then most she had seen in stores before. The cover was designed to look like an old barn door with an ornate gold colored butterfly and lock. “This is perfect.” she put her new diary pens in her pencil box and put them in the top right drawer along with her diary. “I’ll start writing in it later.” she undid her necklace adding two keys to it. One was the diary key that was the shape of a butterfly wing and the other was a simpler one for her desk. “There now I have the keys with me at all times.” The first key was just a cheep one she found at a sale in a craft store.
She was putting her necklace back on when a knock came at the door fallowed by Nana’s voice. “Hazel can I come up?”
“Come on in Nana. Thank you for the wonderful surprise.”
“Oh it was no trouble dear. Like I wrote it is a family tradition. Listen I didn’t say this downstairs but I enrolled you and Rosie in different schools. I thought you could use a separate environment to grow in. You are enrolled in a private school that will pick you up in front of the house. Rosemary will be in a public school and have to walk to the end of the block to be picked up. I think Jack and Elvira attend your school dear. Tomorrow you, Rosie and I will be heading to the animal shelter I think you two could do with your own cats.”
“Really?” said Hazel smiling hugely at this.
“Really dear. A cat is a wonderful friend to have. Now you get a nap in its been a stressful morning for us all.”
“Alright Nana I love you.”
“Love you to Hazel. Sleep well” Nana kissed her forehead and went downstairs. When she opened the door she chuckled into the room raced Bruiser. “Someone seems to have gotten a crush on you dear.” Hazel smiled “I will ask the neighbor if he would mind adding a cat door to your room so he and your new pal can come and go.”
“That would be nice.” said Hazel climbing onto her bed smiling as Bruiser jumped up with her. “You are so sweet how you get that ripped ear huh?” she laughed “Bet you’re the type only to fight for your girl.” she rubbed his ear until she fell asleep.
Hazel woke up about an hour later and went down stairs Bruiser at her heels still. Nana was at the table reading a novel smiling. “Hello Hazel sleep well?”
“Yes I did. Sorry you saw my nasty side earlier.”
“Don’t worry about it dear. I have seen worse. Your great Aunt Alice what a temper that woman had behind that sweet outer shell. I love my twin sister I do but when she showed her nasty side nobody could handle it. You at least let it out in small doses. She bottled it up until it could no longer be held in. Don’t ever hold it in if it feels so strong. Anger is just another emotion that needs to be expressed.”
“I know Nana. Today was just to much. Normally I can handle my mother and sister but today I was just unable to hold it back. All my life I have been shoved to the side so Rosie could be the star. I am just tired of it.”
“As you should be. Your growing up into who you really are dear. Rosemary has yet to even get to half your level of maturity.” said Nana “But she will soon enough. The real world is finally coming for her.”
“Man is she in for a wake up call” said Hazel with a quiet giggle. “That was mean” she said
“But felt good didn’t it dear? Sometimes its alright. The stars should be out soon and the back yard has no lights unless you turn the porch light on. So you can go lay out there and enjoy them for a while. Rosemary is still in her room. I couldn’t believe it when her clothes were all on the yard. Your father nearly skinned her.”
“Umm that was my doing. Caught her trying to take over my dressers and dumped her stuff out the window when she refused to remove them.” Nana started laughing hard now.
“Hazel you defiantly are a joy. Now go on enjoy the summer sky.” Hazel smiled going outside to find out the back yard was neatly kept and had a big hammock in the center of it. After a few minutes of careful movement she found a comfortable position to look at the sky. Bruiser came out and laid on her stomach.
“What am I going to do with you tough guy?” she laughed rubbing his ears.
“Hazel that you” came a boy’s voice on the other side of the fence. Hazel looked up to see Jack looking at her from the other side.
“Hey Jack right? Whats up?”
“Nothing just outside watching the stars. Looks like we both had the same plans.” he grinned at her showing braces on his teeth.
“Ya Nana suggested it.” she said “I love the night sky. Something so peaceful about it.”
“Ya I love looking up at it myself. So who dumped the overpriced junk on the yard.”
“That would be me. Long story short my sister ticked me off and I dumped her junk out the window.”
“Man you are amazing.” said Jack. “Well talk to you later I got to get comfortable on my hammock.”
“See you around Jack.” she then returned her gaze to the sky. She drifted off in the hammock petting Bruiser.
Hazel woke up the next morning itching from a ton of mosquito bites. She had fallen asleep in the hammock with Bruiser and now was paying the price. Nana was on the back porch with a grin on her face.
“Go take a cool shower and rub this on your skin when you get out. It will take that itch right off your skin.” she handed Hazel a bottle of calamine lotion. Hazel hurried up to her room to grab her shower gear and a clean outfit. She after a cool shower slathered on the lotion. She then brushed her hair before braiding it while it was still wet into twin braids like always. She then pulled on a more comfortable faded purple denim dress and socks. Hazel smiled coming down the stairs to find Rosie making herself a bowl of cold cereal her hair in a nest.
“Whats wrong Rosie not used to brushing your own hair?” she asked as she made herself a bowl of oatmeal with berries, milk and honey. She also filled the cats water bowls and food dishes.
“Look who it is the little weirdo.” snapped Rosie trying to get a rise out of Hazel. Hazel rolled her eyes and went to the table with her breakfast.
“Mom really spoiled you to the point you can barely survive.” she muttered as she started to eat her oatmeal. “Look at your breakfast compared to mine. My breakfast has basic food groups. Grains, fruit and dairy for a power breakfast. That cereal your eating is ninety percent sugar. A small sugar rush and then a burn out is all you get from that and cavities.”
“She has a point Rosemary.” said Nana coming into the kitchen “Eat some fruit at least to give your body a real boost. You will be needing it as we have errands to run today and then a stop at the cat shelter.”
“So your ditching the worthless flea bags huh.” sneered Rosemary.
“No I am getting your sister her own feline companion as she seems to need a true friend. You were going to be looking for one to but I can see you don’t understand the unlimited love that they give us.” said Nana. “Finish breakfast then brush your hair and get dressed. Pick something comfortable it will be a long day. I suggest you wear sneakers.” Hazel smiled as she finished eating she washed her and the cats dishes.
“You are such a goody goody.” said Rosemary leaving her bowl were it was. She went upstairs and twenty minutes later came back down in designer shorts and a tank top she wore sneakers. Brand new pink and white ones. Hazel had put on her favorite old sneakers and added a pair of faded purple ribbons the base of her braids. Nana was in another running suit “Lets go. We have school things to buy and then the cat shelter. Oh don’t be expecting to buy designer school supplies this year, Rosie. You and Hazel will be getting everything at the dollar store. They work just as well as those fancy pants designer things.” the three of them got into Nana’s beat up old station wagon and headed into town. Rosie pouting the whole time.
The dollar store was located next to a Salvation Army Thrift Store. Hazel smiled brightly two of her favorite stores beside each other. “We can look in the thrift store after we get all your school things.” chuckled Nana.
Two hours later the twins had all their school things in the back of the station wagon. “I hate to admit it but I like the stuff we got.” muttered Rosie. Hazel smiled having shown her sister the cute notebooks and colorful ink pens even some gel pens. They had also gotten all the other stuff for the school year. Hazel had been allowed to get a dollar store book picking out a fantasy novel. Rosie gotten some body spray that smelled like cranberry juice.
The thrift store yielded some skirts and sweaters for the twins. “You two need warmer clothes as winter coming soon enough. Though Hazel we will have to get you the basics for your school uniform.”
“Hazel has to wear a uniform?” asked Rosie in shock.
“I enrolled her in the local private school and you in the public school. It is a way for the two of you to grow into your own people. Thrift stores are good for all kinds of clothes. Sometimes you have to step outside your comfort zone Rosie. I know that those magazines and TV shows show you seems like an amazing world to live in but you don’t have to be popular to be happy.” said Nana. “Now lets get to the cat shelter for Hazel’s cat”
“Hopefully she won’t pick the most hideous cat in the shelter.” said Rosie. “Sorry about earlier with yours Nana. I guess I just can’t see things the way you two do.”
“You just need to try harder.” said Hazel from the front seat “All your life mom has told you to fallow the cool crowd. How much you wanna bet that some cool celebs have cats to? Pets are a friend who doesn’t judge you for how you look or how bad a day you’ve had. They just want your love and attention.”
“Well we will see soon enough” muttered Rosie. The cat shelter was small building on the edge of the small town with a cat shaped sign by the parking lot entrance that said ‘Magic is a purring cat’ under the name of the shelter.
They parked and went inside. Inside the shelter entrance was a small office. The door was open showing a pretty young woman. “Hello welcome to Second Chances Cat Shelter. I’m Lois Churchman an office volunteer. So who is looking for a feline friend?”
“Both of my grand daughters. Could you show Rosie here to the pure breeds you sometimes get. I think I know an area for Hazel to look.”
“Of course. Fallow me Rosie. We get purebred kittens that are deemed useless for sale with private breeders or are rescued from kitten mills.” Said Lois leading Rosie to a small room to the left of the main area.
“You are nice letting her have a cat even after what she said this morning.” said Hazel fallowing Nana to another room. There were all kinds of cats in here.
“She needs a true friend herself. Now go look into the cages but don’t open any of them till you are sure you feel something while looking at the cat.” said Nana smiling.
Hazel looked in each cage but didn’t seem to like any of the cats. She stopped at the last cage on the lower row. Hazel smiled as she knelt down. Nana came to see what cat had caught her granddaughter’s eye. Inside the cage were a pair of small black cats with vibrant green eyes.
“So which one is speaking to you dear?” Asked Nana smiling at this.
“Umm actually both seem to be speaking to me” admired Hazel. Nana smiled brightly at these words.
“So much like me at your age. I had two kittens come into my life.” she rang the bell that signaled a worker that they had found their cats.
A man came into the room wearing coveralls and a brown buzz cut. “So you have made a connection?” he asked with a clear Texas accent.
“It seems Hazel has connected to the two in this cage.” said Nana. “Seems she fallows my footsteps a little bit.”
“Ah we were hoping someone would connect to both of them. These two came in from a hoarder’s house and have been inseparable. Well come with me and we will fill out the forms and then get the care kits and the cats set up,” he tied a pair of white ribbons on the cage. “We do this so someone won’t mistake them for still being adoptable.”
“While we what for your sister to make her pick in the purebred area why don’t you think of names for your new companions. Their card says the smaller one with the longer hair and no tail is a girl. While the slightly bigger black one with a tail and shorter is a boy. He is a cross between a Siamese and a black domestic short hair. She is a Japanese Bobtail and black domestic long hair cross” said Nana.
Hazel sat down in the office thinking about the names for her new friends. The door opened and in came Lois and Rosie with smiles. “Found a cat you like sis?” asked Hazel
“A white Persian with the most beautiful amber eyes.” said Rosie smiling. “What about you sis?”
“I found two cats a pair of beautiful black cats. I was trying think of names for them. I think Shadow for my little black Japanese Bobtail mix girl and Grimm for my little Siamese mix black kitty.” said Hazel smiling.
“I like that both of them have something to do with creepiness.” said Nana filling in the names on the cat adoption forms. “Got a name for your friend Rosie?”
“I was thinking Snow but it doesn’t feel right now. I like the name Caspar. It was my favorite movie when we were little.”
“Perfect and it fits with your sister’s cats names.” said Lois as she stamped the form. “With each cat we adopt out we give a cat collar in your color choice, bowls for food, a cat toy and a litter box with litter. Hank has already loaded the cats into their temporary carriers and is waiting for the girls to pick out their collar colors.”
Hazel got a purple collar with a bow on the back for Shadow and an orange color collar with a small silver skull charm for Grimm. Their bowls were color matched to their collars. Caspar got a like yellow collar with a bell on it and matching bowls.
The girls picked up their cats and Hank put their kits in the back of the car. “Glad to see those three getting homes. They are good cats and I would have adopted them but my apartment is no pets allowed.”
“Well now they will have a home.” said Hazel taking the back seat “You can ride up front home sis.”
“Thanks Hazel and thanks Nana for letting me adopt Caspar.” said Rosie taking the front seat with the carrier with Caspar in in. They headed home. On the way home they stopped at a craft shop and pet store. Nana bought ceder shavings and cat food at the pet shop. At the craft shop she bought fiber fill and fabrics for home made cat beds.
“I will make the cats their own beds before bedtime tonight.” she said smiling as they got home. Hazel had picked out plaid fabrics for her two cats beds while Rosie picked out a cute pink and white daisy patterned fabric for Caspar’s bed.
They pulled in and Hazel smiled seeing Elvira and Jack in their yards reading books. “See told you reading wasn’t weird Rosie.”
“Oh shut up Hazel.” muttered Rosie getting out of the station wagon.
“Nope its to much fun being right.” said Hazel going inside behind her while Nana rolled her eyes chuckling.
Hazel took the cat carriers inside and left them upstairs in her room before hurrying down to get her school stuff, new clothes and their care kits. Bruiser tried to fallow her up the stairs “Bruiser behave yourself.” said Nana catching him. “You can investigate the new cats later when they have had a chance to settle in. Come on you can help me make their beds.” She took him to what used to be a guest room but had been turned into a sewing area.
Hazel making sure her door was shut tightly before opening the carriers freeing Grim and Shadow. “Welcome home you two.” she said smiling as Grim came out. He looked up at her for a minute before moving to explore his home. Shadow was shyer coming out of her carrier. She dove under the bed. “That’s all right sweetie. You can come out when your ready.” said Hazel smiling.
Hazel went to her desk unlocking it and taking out her pencil case. She opened her new diary with its new pages clean and neatly lined. Hazel picked out a purple ink pen and began writing.