I yawned. It was a beautiful sunny morning in the Keys
 and I was headed to Moonbay. Julia, as she had asked us to
call her, had asked me and Lindsay to come over and try to
 befriend Emery. But Lindsay had slept in late, and couldn't come.

Cheerful sunlight filtered through the mangroves and palms
 surrounding the path, and hibiscus and flowering moss sprang
up around it in a welcoming sort of way. The day before, I had
recruited Roselle and Carrie to help me line the path with stones and
 shells to make it more defined. It was indeed an improvement.

When I reached Moonbay, I knocked on the door, humming
 and not expecting much of a welcome. Julia answered. A wan
smile graced her lips. “Ah, Carmody.” she said. She let me in
 and I sat down in the living room. Julia asked me to wait while
 she attempted to fetch Emery.

A few minutes later, Emery appeared in the living room
 looking rather frumpy in wrinkled pajamas. Her hair
 stood on end as though struck by lightning.

“Why,” she said, in a condescending way,
 “Are you sitting in my living room?”

So Julia hadn't told Emery I was coming. Shocker.

“I-I. .” I stumbled about verbally. “Jul--”

“Julia asked you to come, didn't she.” Emery said,
 narrowing her eyes. “Some rat she is.”

With a sharp intake of breath, I shook my head slightly.

“You shouldn't say that about her.”

Emery looked surprised that I should counter her.

“Why's that, you little urchin?”

Ignoring the insult, I went on. “She took you in. She feeds you.
 She sends you to school. She loves you, she provides clothing
 for you. Yet you scorn her. You should be ashamed.”

Emery's face twisted into an expression of anger, fire, rage.

“You-” she jabbed a finger at me- “Can leave.”

“B-” I started


Just then, Julia walked into the room. She smiled brightly.
 “Everything going okay, girls?” She set down a tray on the

coffee table, and me and Emery sat on couches on either side.

The tray was loaded with good things.

 There were miniature cucumber-and-parsley sandwiches,
 more hot tea, and strawberries chopped with basil.
She also set down a plate of freshly baked toffee.

Emery glowered at me from across the table. “Do eat up, girls.”

 Julia said in her faded but still notable British accent.

Then Julia sprung out of the room to go sweep the porch
 as she said, and me and Emery were left alone.

I timidly took a sandwich and some strawberries.
Emery went for the toffee and tea.

We said nothing. As I quietly chewed my sandwich,
(which, by the way, was delicious) I looked down at

 hardwood beneath me. Emery looked towards the ceiling.
Finally, I stole a peek up at her, and thought I might
have seen a stray tear sliding down Emery's cheek.

Emery saw me looking at her, so she quickly

 straightened and brushed the tear aside.

“Are you okay?” I asked, a bit shyly. I felt like a mouse approaching a cat.

“Yes, of course I'm all right.” she snapped at me.
 But a moment later, she gave a hard swallow, and more
 tears spilled down her cheeks like a waterfall.

“Aunt Bree-” Emery sniffed- “Aunt Bree used to m-make toffee.”

​​​​​​She made no effort to hold them back now. Another moment, and
 she was sobbing. Her chest heaved she put her face in her hands.
 Her plate of toffee and cup of tea fell to the floor. The cup
 broke and spilled steaming tea across the floor. Emery
made no acknowledgment.

My own eyes filled at the sight of a girl so stricken with sorrow,
 but I managed to hold my sadness back. I leaned across
 the table and took Emery's hand. “It'll be alright.” I whispered.
 Emery looked up at me, her face red and tear-streaked, and a little surprised.

I stood up to go, but changed my mind. Instead,
 I stepped over and sat down on the other couch next to Emery.

“You know-” I looked at the ground. Emery still sobbed.
 “You know, when I was nine, my father left.”

Emery looked up again. Her eyes were dark and soft, like that of a fawn.
 Her earrings trembled.

“He told my mother that he didn't love life with her—with us—any more.”

“And so he took his leave. The very next day, he was gone.”

“As if that wasn't enough, he took our money, too. Mom looked in the
 bank account later that week, and the majority of what they had saved
 in the bank was missing. Was gone.”

“It was as if he had disappeared off the face of the earth. Mom tried

 to find him, to find the money, but-” I choked up a bit- “He was gone.”

“It was so hard for Mom to care for all of us. She had a new baby,
a five-year old, a nine-year old and a preteen. It makes me so upset

 when I think of how he left us penniless. He left her alone.” I gritted my
 teeth and sighed.

“So,” I finished, “I've had a share of pain, too. But I want to help you,
 Emery. I do, truly.”

And then something extraordinary happened. Emery Wysten smiled.

The next day, I was walking down the beach with Roselle and Carrie.
We had been sent by my mother to go to the nearest town, Captiva.
 We could have driven, but Mom said she was too busy to take us,
 and besides, she added, the walk would be good for us. It was only
 about a twelve-minute walk there. Most of the walk was through the
woods on a large, well-defined path.

Mom needed a box of rice, some carrots and onions, and a few fillets of tuna.
She didn't know of any grocery stores in Captiva, but she said there must
have been some, because as small as Captiva was, (the population was only five hundred)
there must be one. So we were to scout one out for her.

When we reached the town, we walked up and down a few streets,
 but didn't see any grocery stores. Finally, we saw an old lady,
and asked her. She directed us toward the nearest Winn-Dixie,
 which we had only missed previously by a street.

I bought the carrots and onions from a street vendor,
 got the fish from another, and got the box of rice from the Winn-Dixie.

“Come, girls.” I said to Roselle and Carrie. “We've got to go, or the fish will spoil.”

“But it's packed in ice.” protested Roselle.

“But the ice will melt.” I said firmly.

So we turned to go. But before we did, I spotted a group of girls
 just coming out of the store nearest us, Brittley's Dresses. One of the girls
approached me. She was deeply tanned, had hair the color of the caramel in a
Twix bar, (Except it had purple streaks. Probably extensions.) was very tiny,
 and had green eyes. And her eyes were a wonder.
Large, wet eyes, like deep pools of emeralds.

She walked right up to me. “Who are you?” she said, kind of abruptly.
 “Um, . . .I'm Carmody.” I said. “Who are you?”
The girl looked me right in the eyes. “Charlie. Charlie Myrtilla Vanier.”

I stood for a moment. “Do you live here?” she asked. “No.” I said.
 “We're just renting a beach house for the summer.”
“Which one?” she asked. “Serenity.” I answered.

And then Charlie Myrtilla Vanier nodded. “I know that one.”

“What about you?” I asked. “Do you live here?” Charlie nodded.
“We live in a cottage
 just barely outside of Captiva,
 on Sunset Rock. The house is called Wavesong.”

She asked for the phone number for Serenity.
 I gave it to her, and then she left just as abruptly as she had come.

7/27/2011 05:32:54 am

Yay! My character! She's so weird, it delights me. Again, I'm simply amazed by how good this is. I saw the chapter on my sidebar, and was so happy it was there, I almost started squealing. :D

7/28/2011 12:41:12 am

Thank you so much, that's so sweet! I had a lovely time writing it and your character was really quite an added improvement. It adds a touch of mystery, almost, because Charlie is just kind of abrupt and factual. She's an interesting character to wonder about, which is exactly what I wanted to happen. :) Thanks for the sweet comments, Lily, I really appreciate them!


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