Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chasse Secrets Chapter 12

                                 In loving memory of my Nana

  The following days came and went, bringing no more news than the days before. Indian summer left Windsor Falls along with the belief that Olivia would return home. The search parties continued. And so did regular classes. Mrs.Nora told everyone simply that "there's really not a lot you all can help with at the moment, and I know that Olivia would want us to continue with Sleeping Beauty". Just about every night of practice Mrs.Nora broke down and started crying. After about the third night that happened Mrs.Emma told her to take some time off and that she could come back when she was ready. Sophie never asked Dean about that night at church. Part of her figured he would just make up some excuse. The other part of her was kinda scared of him. But other than that he was a great partner for the ballet, even though she wasn't one hundred percent comfortable around him.
  It was Friday. Two weeks had passed since Sophie had seen Olivia last. Sophie had dinner with her parents, her mom had made her famous mac 'n' cheese like every Friday. Then her parents went to church for various committee meetings.
  As soon as they left Sophie grabbed her jacket and keys and got in her car, headed toward the dance studio. She needed to pick up her costume for Aurora. She had been so numb and dismal for the past two weeks that this didn't even put a smile on her face. When she found out that she got the part that was the first thing that popped into her mind. Now she could care less.
  When she got there Mrs.Hamilton was sitting in the office. She didn't notice Sophie was there for a while. Then Sophie knocked on the door frame. Mrs.Hamilton quickly looked up from what she was writing. She adjusted her glasses and smiled brightly. "Well hello there" she exclaimed. "Hello. How are you today?" Sophie asked as she walked closer to her. "Oh I'm fair to mindling" said she with a raise of her eyebrows. Sophie reached down and hugged Mrs.Hamilton. "How are you honey? You alright?" she inquired with deep concern. "I'm okay, I guess. I just wish I could go back" she expressed, holding her tightly. Mrs.Hamilton gently pulled back and sprung up from her seat. "Trust me, we've all wished for the same thing at one point or another, but God has his own plans in mind. So why don't I get you your beautiful costume to take your mind off of things?" she said, rubbing Sophie's hands. "Thanks" she replied as Mrs.Hamilton went to get the costume from the costume room.
  Sophie let her eyes search the room. The pink walls, the clock, the trophy cases with the multitude of awards they had won. Finally her eyes fell upon what Mrs.Hamilton had been writing. It was pastel green stationary with soft gold trim and neat hand-writing covering the page. Across the top of the page was gold letters in a graceful font. VDH, it read.
  "Voila! Isn't it something?" Mrs.Hamilton announced as she entered the room, bringing with her the costume. Sophie turned rapidly to look at her costume. It was stunning. Its rhinestones and embellishments caught the light with such electricity that it appeared to be dancing by itself. The pink tulle fabric looked like an ocean of rose kissed water. She could hardly wait to dance around in it and watch the fluffy tutu glide with her.
  "What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?" Mrs.Hamilton teased her. "Oh no, no, it's just. Breathtaking" Sophie said, absentmindedly touching her neck with her hand. "Well it was made for a princess after all" replied Mrs.Hamilton. Sophie edged to her and the outfit. Mrs.Hamilton placed it in her hands and Sophie gingerly ran her hand over the bodice. "You really did a beautiful job Mrs.Hamilton" she complimented her, smiling gratefully. "Thank you, I enjoy it" Mrs.Hamilton told her. "Mrs.Hamilton?" she said, with a purse of the lips. "Yes?" she said, waiting. "I don't meant to be intrusive but what does VDH stand for?" inquired she.
   Mrs.Hamilton walked to her desk and picked up her letter, caressing it nostalgically. "I assume you've seen my letter to my sister, it's my initials, Virginia Dare Hamilton" she explained. "Oh okay. Is Dare your maiden name?" she asked, hoping not to sound overly curious. "No, actually I dropped my maiden name, Major. Dare is my middle name. I was name Virginia Dare after the first baby born in America" she told her proudly. "Really? I've heard of Virginia Dare, I just never knew anyone named after her" she said with genuine interest. "Now you do" she said, reaching out and giving her arm a squeeze. "Make sure you hang that up with plenty of room around it, so it isn't crushed" Mrs.Hamilton reminded her. "I will, I don't want anything to mess this up" replied Sophie. "You know when I was growing up all of our costumes were handmade" she informed her. "Is that why you learned to sew?" asked she. "Yes, and the fact that that was what girls my age had to learn, it was a necessary, skill for housewives of that day" she continued. "When did you get married?" Sophie questioned, leaning on the door frame. "I was about seventeen, George was eighteen" she answered. "Were you scared?" Sophie asked. Mrs.Hamilton giggled a bit, covering her mouth in a lady-like fashion. "Of course! Marriage is always scary, but I loved him and I knew he loved me, and that was all I needed to know" she explained, a twinkle in her eye. "I wish I was that sure" spoke Sophie, distantly. "Of what?" Mrs.Hamilton questioned, eyebrow cocked. "Of anything" she simply stated. "It comes with time" Mrs.Hamilton assured her. Sophie nodded slowly. "I better take this home and put it away" she announced abruptly. "I enjoyed talking to you" she replied. Sophie held the costume by the hanger, careful not to let it slip off the hanger. "Yeah, I did too. Maybe I could come over to your house sometime. That is if you don't mind" she suggested. "I would love that" Mrs.Hamilton said in the way only a grandmother can say. "See you soon" Sophie said, waving as she walked out of the office door. "Bye Sophie" Mrs.Hamilton replied as she sat down and continued to write her letter. 

 When Sophie got home her parents were still out. Even though she usually like the quite ever since Olivia disappeared she felt jumpy. She even had a dream one night that she had been kidnapped. The strange part was she never saw the kidnapper's face. Which she was partially thankful for, because if it had been someone she knew in the dream she wouldn't be able to speak to him, or her, without screaming "kidnapper".
  She had just changed into her pajamas when she heard a knock at the door. "I can't believe dad forgot his keys again" she thought as she jostled down the stairs. "Who is it?" she asked, cautiously. "It's me, Ian" she heard him say. Sophie unlocked the door. Sure enough there was Ian, standing on her porch. His hair was a bit more tousled than usual and she could see where his summer tan had begun to fade.
  She hadn't seen him since that night at the studio. His parents sent him to stay with his aunt Delia in Vermont after that night. Part of her thought it was better for him to get away from it all, and part of her knew it couldn't be helping Mrs.Nora.
  "Oh, I'm sorry! Did I come at a bad time?" he asked, pointing to her pajamas. Sophie looked down at herself, wishing she has waited just five minutes to change. "No, not at all. I'm glad to see you" she told him. They stood there for a minute, not sure what to say or do next. "Come in, sit" she finally said. She closed the door, locking it securely. "Do you want anything? Soda, water, coffee?" she asked anxiously.
  Ian took a seat in the corner of the sectional couch. "No, I'm fine. Thank you though" he said, nodding out of habit. Sophie took a seat next to him. "So how was Vermont?" she inquired, turning to face him. "Cold. Boring. Lonely" he replied. "I'm sorry" she said, glancing down at her hands. "Don't be, it was better than being here" he told her. "Oh" she mumbled, not sure what to think of that. "No, that's not what I meant. People just tend to be so in your face about this here, in Vermont no one really knew who I even was"  he explained. "It's okay, I understand" she said with a knowing expression.
  Ian cleared his throat. "I missed you" he almost whispered, looking her straight in the eyes. "I missed you too" she echoed, reaching out to tenderly grip his hand. At first she started to retract her hand when he didn't say anything, then he squeezed her's back and laced his fingers through her's. "So how has the search for Olivia been going? Any good news?" he questioned, somewhat hopeful. "No, but no news is good news, right?" she quoted. "I really hope you're right, Soph" he added. Sophie leaned her head down on the back of the sofa, still facing Ian. "Thanks for being here for me" he acknowledged. "It's no big deal" she modestly stated. "But it is to me" he affirmed, sincerely. He extended his left arm toward her, brushing a stray hair away from her heart-shaped face. He let his hand linger there on her face for a short while, cupping her warm cheek softly. Sophie smiled sheepishly, slightly tickled by the touch of his strong yet kind hand.
  Click! Ian and Sophie jumped away from each other like two magnets being pulled apart when they heard someone unlock the door. It was Sophie's parents. When they stepped in the house they appeared to be a little stunned to see Ian sitting in their living room. "Hello Mr.and Mrs.Duvall " he greeted them, standing up to shake their hands. "Hello" Mr.Duvall said firmly. Mrs.Duvall nodded cordially. "I just stopped by to say hello, I better get home now" he informed them, pointing to the open door. "I'll see you around" he assured Sophie right before he went out the door. "Bye" she called after him.
  Once he was gone Sophie and her parents looked at each other, still as statues. "Well I'm going to bed now, goodnight, love y'all" she said. And then she kissed both her father and her mother goodnight on the cheek. Sophie rushed up the stairs, flinging herself on her bed. If she wasn't sure of anything before she was now.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Chasse Secrets Chapter 11

  It didn't take very long for the police to get there. The park was filled with red flashing lights and search dogs. Officers were asking questions and jotting down notes. There was an anxious feeling in the air, mostly from the students. It seemed like everyone was looking to escape, especially Sophie.
   They finally sent everyone home once the questioning was over. Mr.Webb said it was because it was getting late but they all knew he was just afraid of what they might find next.

   The following day they cancelled classes again, and decided to go forward with the search party for that day. Sophie was one of the first students there. She peered in the office as she walked toward the student lounge. No Mrs.Nora.
  When she opened the door to the student lounge she was surprised to see Ian. He was sitting, his head cradled in his hands. He appeared to be as startled as she was. As soon as she saw him she remembered what he had been trying to tell her before, and the questions she had came flooding back. "Hey" she said, putting her purse down on one of the chairs. "Hey" he said, with a tiny salute. She walked over to where he sat and took a seat on the bench in front of him. "How are you holding up?" she asked. "Depends on what you call holding up" he replied. "And your mom?" she inquired, even though she could guess. "Didn't get out of bed this morning" he sort of mumbled. "I'm really sorry" she said. "I know" he replied. "Just because we found her shirt doesn't mean she's dead" she continued. "Yeah, that's what I told my mom all day" he added. He hadn't been back to school since Olivia went missing. "They're gonna find her, I know they will" she consoled him. "How can you be so sure?" he asked, looking down at his hands in his lap. "It's all I can do, it's as simple as that" she explained. Sophie could tell he was beginning to lose hope. She knew how hard this must be for him. Having to be strong not only for himself but for his parents as well.
  She didn't want to ask him about last night right then, but something was telling her she had to. "Ian, I know this isn't the right time but I need to know what you found out when you followed Olivia?" she said, almost desperately. Ian hesitated before he spoke, glancing at the ceiling, the door, the floor, and finally Sophie. "You're right, this isn't a good time". He started to stand up and leave, but she grabbed his arm before he was even a foot away. "You don't have to tell me, I'll understand. But I want you to know that I'm not asking for curiosity's sake, I just want to help" she explained. He turned back toward her, slightly clenching his jaw. "What makes you think you can help?" he questioned, crossing his arms. "What makes you so sure I can't?" she shot back, but not sharply. "You promise not to tell anyone?" he asked. "Of course, whatever you say stays between us" she assured him.
   He hastily went to lock the door, then he sat down in front of Sophie. "She was pretty mad when I confronted her, furious that I didn't trust her. I told her if she didn't fill me in on what was going on I'd tell mom and dad, and seeing as she didn't have any dirt on me at the moment she agreed. She was there for a cult" he told her. " A cult? Are you serious? She actually referred to it as a cult?" she asked, even more confused than before he had started. "Well she didn't use the word cult, I kinda gathered that by the things she told me about it, she referred to it as a nature apprecation group. They researched different wild flowers, and animals. mediated for hours on end, promoted giving up all worldly possessions, which I know Olivia didn't agree with that part by the way she loved to shop" he replied. "What's the harm in that?" she inquired. "Some of the members weren't as harmless. Olivia mentioned to me one time that a few of them had become obsessed with the willow tree, some of them even mediated under the big willow tree in the park. So I looked it up online and I discovered that the willow tree was commonly associated with witchcraft" he said, in hushed tones. "Oh my gosh! Did Liv know?" she replied. "No, I didn't want to worry her. I did tell her to get out fast though" he explained. "Did she?" asked she. "She said she did, but I was never sure, Olivia always thought she was invincible" he answered.
  They sat silent for a while, both feeling leery. "Did you tell the police?" she asked abruptly. "Yes, but not all of it" he told her. "Well what did you leave out?" she questioned, leaning slightly closer to him. Knock! Knock! They jumped at the noise nearly knocking the benches over. Sophie hurried to unlock the door. It was June Hamilton. "Hi Sophie!" she greeted her. "Hey! It's good to see you" Sophie responded friendly. June then noticed Ian on the bench in the back of the room. She waved at him warmly, and he smiled in return. "Are you gonna be in choir tomorrow night?" inquired June. "Uh, yeah, as long as it's after tomorrow's search party" Sophie replied with a nod of her head. "That's good" June encouraged. "I kinda have to use the bathroom" she explained. "Oh, sorry" Sophie said, as she backed up in the room. "It's okay" June said as she opened the door to the bathroom.
  Once he heard the door lock Ian stood up to approach Sophie. "I guess we'll talk later" he said, motioning toward the bathroom. "Good idea". She started to leave, but before she did she turned back. "I'll be praying for you. And your family" she reassured him. "Thanks Soph" he said with a melancholy smile. She lingered for only a moment, and then she glided down the hall.

   The search had proved to be fruitless. It seemed as if they knew less than when they started. No one dared to bring up the shirt. Not so much because they were worried it might upset someone. They just weren't ready for anymore bad news. Mr.Webb canceled the search for the next day, he thought everyone needed a little break. More emotionally than physically.
  It was the next day and Sophie had just arrived at church. She had turned off her car and was reaching over in the passenger seat for her purse and choir book when she heard a loud rap on her window. Startled at first she turned around and was relieved to see June, again. She smiled and got out of the car. "Hey, sorry if I scared you" June apologized while Sophie locked the car. "Don't worry about it! I'm just glad it was you" Sophie responded as they made their way to the church doors. "Yeah, with everything that's happened I've definitely learned to be more cautious" agreed June.
  "If you don't mind me asking why were you and Ian in the student lounge with the door locked?" June questioned. Sophie could feel her cheeks starting to burn scarlet, the way they always did when someone confronted her about something suspiciously. "Well, you know, he was upset about his sister and he didn't want anyone to just walk in and see him like that" Sophie fibbed. June seemed to roll the idea over a little bit in her mind. "Oh" she finally said. "Don't tell him I told you" Sophie said with urgency. "Oh I won't, I promise" June assured her with her understanding smile.
  Soon enough they were inside. Once inside they started to walk to the choir room. Then something quite peculiar caught Sophie's eye. It was Dean talking to Rev.Grant. Sophie didn't notice but she stood there for a long time just staring at the two. Dean didn't look like himself, he looked, pale, almost ghost like. Rev.Grant put his hand on Dean's shoulder, as if comforting him.
  Was he really taking Olivia's disappearance this hard. It's not like they hated each other, but they were in no way close. "Sophie?" June interrupted Sophie's thoughts. "Yeah?" Sophie exclaimed. "Everything okay?" June asked, clearly worried. "Of course! It's just um, have you ever seen Dean here before?" Sophie inquired, as she pointed in Dean's direction. June studied Dean's image for a second, taking it all in. "No. I don't think I have. I didn't even know he was interested in church" June replied with a confused expression.
   Finally Rev.Grant and Dean said their goodbyes and Dean scampered out the door. "I'm gonna go see if he's okay, I'll see you in choir" Sophie said to June before darting out the door after him. When she spotted him he was in his car. She waved to him to get his attention. But once she did he took one look at her, turn his car on, and sped off.