Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Trip to the Cove!

 Yesterday, Mom was having some friends over for dinner, so she was going crazy cleaning the house and cooking enough food to feed 20 people, even though she only had to feed 10. She was totally frazzled and very on edge, so Zoe and I decided it would probably be best for us to get out of her hair. It was a hot day, so we decided to bike down to the cove and go swimming.

Well, the moment that we got there, we realized that swimming wouldn't be an option, unless we wanted to walk out across the mudflats for a few hundred feet, and then go swimming in the few inches of mucky water that was left behind when the tide went out. We didn't want to do that (well, Zoe did, but I didn't let her), so instead we decided to go exploring on the rocks.
Here are just some pictures I took of the cove as we were coming down the path.

We left our bikes in the bushes at the end of the path, and climbed down the hill to the water.

At the bottom of the hill, I had already started down the grassy path towards the rocks when I heard Zoe cry from behind me, "Charlotte! You have to come see this!"
"What?" I asked. I found her standing next to the shell of a massive horseshoe crab.

"Whoa! That is HUGE!" I cried, staring wide-eyed at the shell. "It's kinda creepy, though."
"Are you kidding? It's awesome!" Zoe said. "I dare you to touch it!"
"Ew! No way!" I told her, backing away from the crab on the spot. Zoe laughed, but followed me away from the shell.

We walked off down the grassy path towards the big rocks in the distance.

  We had to climb over a bunch of loose rocks - all covered in bird poop - to get to the end of the path.

After we had climbed over the rocks, we came to a muddy little path surrounded by marsh grasses and dotted with flat stones. I hopped from rock to rock to make my way along the path, not wanting to get any of the greenish mud on my converse sneakers. Zoe, of course, had no trouble with getting mud on her footwear, and charged right through the mud without a pause.
When we emerged from the muddy path, we were faced with a very tall boulder.

I found a place to put my foot, and started climbing.

Hooray! I made it to the top!

On another side of the rock, Zoe was climbing up too.

Zoe wobbled as she neared the top, and I reached down to grab her arm before she could fall back to the ground.

"Let's take a break," I said, out of breath from the climb. "I think there's a place where we can sit over there." I pointed to a bench-like indent in the rock a few feet away.

I suddenly had an idea. "Let's pretend we're ship captains!" I said excitedly to Zoe. "We could pretend that we were being attacked by pirates or something!"
"Count me out," Zoe said, climbing down from the bench and to a small tide pool a few feet below.
"Aw, come on, it'll be fun!" Zoe just rolled her eyes.
I peered down over the rock at the tide pool, which Zoe had just reached. There was some seaweed, a few periwinkles, barnacles, and some clam shells sitting around in the water.

It didn't look all that exciting, so why she'd rather look at that than play pirates, I had no idea. Oh, well. I could play by myself.
The wind kicked up as I sat on the rock, which made it all the easier to imagine that I was on a big merchant's ship, leaning into the railing at the bow with my hair and my skirts whipping around me, just like Kate Winslet in the Titanic. I could almost hear the waves lapping at the prow of the boat, could almost smell the salty ocean breeze.
I turned to look behind me, where, to my horror, was a pirate ship, gaining fast on our little vessel.
"Pirate ship to starboard!" I yelled, pointing a finger in the direction of the right side of the boat. The crew sprang into action. The pirates were now almost side-by-side to our boat, and were beginning to board us, swinging from boat to boat on ropes like monkeys. Swords clashed, people yelled, cannons fired -
"Charlotte!" My eyes snapped open, and I saw Zoe standing in front of me, waving her hands in my face.
"What?" I groaned, disappointed as I always was at being awoken from my world of pretend.
"Where's the food? I'm hungry," she said.
"You're always hungry," I sighed. I picked myself up from the rock and Zoe and I made our way back to where we had left our bikes and my backpack. We sat down under a tree a little ways away to eat.

I had barely taken a single bite out of my apple when I heard a clap of thunder. I looked up.
A big black storm cloud was hovering above us. Just as I heard another rumble of thunder, I felt a drop of rain on my head, followed by another, and another.
Zoe and I looked at each other just as a flash of lightning lit up the sky.
"Let's go!" I cried.
We raced up the incline to where our bikes were, and pedaled furiously for home.

We reached home just as the downpour started, so we got to finish our picnic inside as we watched the thunderstorm outside the window.

It makes me sad to think that summer's coming to an end. As excited as I am for school to start, I'd rather summer stretched on for another month or so! :) Did you have a good summer? What did you do? 

That's all for now! Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Box in the Attic: A Tate Mystery (Part Two)


With trembling hands, I slit open the envelope and pulled out the papers from inside. Most of them were written in a pretty incomprehensible fashion, with a lot of big words and legal terms. I did spot both my name and Zoe's name a lot. I couldn't tell which one came up more often.
"This is so frustrating!" I cried after a while, when I had taken all the papers out from the envelope and sifted through them. "Why can't we just get a straight answer? Like a paper with the words 'Charlotte is adopted!' or 'Zoe is adopted!' or-or something! This not knowing is killing me!"
"Uh, Charlotte?"
"I think I just found what you were looking for," Zoe said quietly, handing me a slip of paper.
"A-an adoption certificate?" I asked. Zoe nodded. I sat there for a moment, biting my lip. I couldn't seem to bring myself to look at the name.
"I-I can't do it," I said. "Here, Zoe, you read it."
"I, uh, couldn't do it either," she said.
I took a deep breath. "Let's do it together, then, ok? On three. One. . . ." 
"Two. . . ."
"Two and a half?" I said tentatively. Maybe I wasn't ready. Maybe I didn't really want to know! The words "Wait, Zoe!" were forming on my lips just as she said:

Ok, this is the first time I've ever written on this blog, so don't expect me to be all professional at it. Charlotte's the one who likes to write, not me. The only reason she's having me write this part at all is because she kept turning it all sappy when she wrote it, and when I protested, she asked me if I thought I could do a better job. Well, I don't know if I can, but I'm going to try.
Before I start, I just want to say one thing. Charlotte is expecting me to "share my feelings" about everything that's happened. I'm not about to do that, so don't expect me to. I'm just going to tell you how it happened, nothing more, nothing less.
Ok. Now that that's settled, I'll begin.

To be honest, I'm beginning to wish that I had never found that newspaper clipping in the first place. It just started a whole chain of events that, frankly, I'd rather not have to deal with or think about.
Despite that, I actually got excited when Charlotte found that folder with the words "The Winchesters" on the front. I actually don't mind mysteries that much. Well, except for mysteries that involve Alexandria Beauregard.

Ok, let me just pause here for a second. It's not like I've hated Alexandria forever; actually, I didn't mind her all that much originally, when she first appeared. But then she got the brilliant idea of making me her assistant detective, called Winnie Jorgle - don't ask me where she came up with that name. That was annoying enough to begin with, but then she tried to persuade me to wear a dress. That was the last straw. Nothing and no one will ever get me into a dress. Ever since then, whenever she comes out of hiding, she's tried to convince me dress up. Hence, my disapproval of her.
Anyway, my excitement grew as Charlotte pulled out the birthday card, and the postcard, and the necklace. Lame as it may sound, I was actually starting to feel like an assistant detective, finding all these clues like we were.
Then, Charlotte pulled out the envelope labeled "Adoption Papers". I knew that one way or another, the answer to the whole mystery was inside that envelope, and I wasn't at all sure I wanted to see it. Despite that, when she dumped out all the papers within and started leafing through them, I bent down next to her and did the same.
 When I found the certificate, I told myself that if it was my name written on the paper, I would let Charlotte see it. If Charlotte's name was the one written, however, I would rip it up into tiny pieces and toss it into the fireplace. She would never need to know what was on that paper.
Ok, pause again. Before you make me out to be some really kind, caring person, that's not it, ok? I just know how upset Charlotte would get, and when she's upset, she usually cries a lot. And I hate it when people cry. I just don't have any idea what to do. Really, that's the only reason.
Anyway, I snuck a look at the paper. Upon seeing those words written there in black ink, I felt as if the equivalent of a lightning bolt had just struck me, and I stumbled backwards with the force of it. My ears started ringing and I felt dizzy. I thought I had prepared myself for seeing those words, but I had been wrong.
In another section of my mind, I was vaguely registering that Charlotte was saying something. She sounded frustrated, and was saying something about a straight answer and a paper with the words "Zoe is adopted" or "Charlotte is adopted". Mechanically, without even thinking about what I was doing, I heard myself saying, "Charlotte? I think I found what you were looking for." I saw myself hand her the adoption certificate, and before I could register what I was doing, before I could snatch the certificate out of her sight, she had already taken it from my hand and glanced at the words on the page.
I held my breath, waiting for her reaction.
To my surprise, she turned her head away from the paper and announced that she couldn't look. I lied quickly, telling her I couldn't either.
"Let's look together, ok?" she said. I nodded dully.
"One," she said. It took me a second to remember what came after one.
"Two," I said.
"Two and a half?" she said anxiously. I could tell she was having second thoughts. Well, I was too. Now was my last chance to grab it before she saw the name. If only the room would stop spinning so sickeningly, I could think. . . .
"Three," I heard myself say. The ringing in my ears increased, and the room spun in tighter and tighter circles, but in the back corner of my mind, I registered that Charlotte had gone still beside me.
I tried to stand up, intending to run, get away, be anywhere but there. But my legs gave out underneath me and I fell back to the ground.
"Zoe! Zoe, are you ok?" Charlotte cried.
"No. I'm dizzy. Go get Mom." I heard her go running down the attic stairs.
I leaned back against one of the boxes in the attic. What was happening? Why was I so dizzy? Maybe I was going into shock. If so, that wasn't any big surprise. After all, I had simultaneously found out that I didn't have a twin - or a sister at all, for that matter - and the woman I had known as Mom most of my life wasn't my real mom. Because, as you may have already guessed, the name on that adoption certificate was mine.
You need to be brave, Charlotte Tate, I told myself. It's not that big of a deal. Just be brave. I took a deep breath, bracing myself for whatever I would see on that paper. Timidly, I opened one eye after another and peered at the words written there in black ink.
I saw the words "This is to certify that Z-" and didn't need to read any more. There's no Z in the name Charlotte! It isn't me - it isn't me! I thought, wanting to tell that to the whole world.
But -
It wasn't me.
That meant -
It was Zoe.
The relief I felt was shattered by sadness, then guilt. I turned to her, to see how she was reacting. She was shaking all over, and her eyes were wide and scared. I reached out to grab her arm, words of comfort forming on my lips, but she jerked away from me. She stood, but her legs shook so badly that she fell back to the ground again.
"Zoe! Are you ok?" I yelled. She shook her head.
"I'm really dizzy. Can you go get Mom?"
I found Mom downstairs, putting a three-layer chocolate cake into the oven. I didn't spare it a second glance, though at a normal time I would have practically been drooling at the sight of it.
"Mom, come quick! Zoe's upstairs and says she's really dizzy and she wants you!"
"What?!" Mom cried, shutting the door to the oven. She wiped her hands on her apron and followed me upstairs.
Once there, we found Zoe leaning against a big cardboard box, clutching her head in her hands.
"Zoe, are you all right?" Mom asked anxiously.
"Yeah, just a little dizzy," she responded.
"What happened?" Mom said. Zoe and I looked at each other.
"Should I tell her?" I asked Zoe. She shrugged. I took that to mean yes, so I took Mom over to where we had found the folder, and told her the whole story.

After I was done, the first thing Mom did was go over and give Zoe a hug. Maybe it was because she was still so dizzy that she couldn't move very quickly, or maybe it was just because she actually really wanted that hug, but Zoe allowed it, instead of pulling away as she usually did.
"I'm so sorry that you girls had to find out about it this way," Mom said after a while. "But Zoe, you do realize that being adopted doesn't change anything, right? See on this certificate, where it says 'Zoe Winchester has been formally adopted into the Tate family, and is entitled to all the rights and privileges there to as one of her children'? That means that you are equal to my biological children. I chose to have Charlotte, just as I chose to adopt you." Zoe sighed.
"I know," she said. "I'm just going to need some time to get used to it, that's all." Mom nodded in understanding.
"How did you meet the Winchesters?" I asked.
"I met Kate in the delivery room," she told us. "I had you, Charlotte, three minutes after she had Zoe, in the same room, in the same hospital. We were really good friends for those two years, until. . . ." she fell silent. I could see she was starting to get emotional, and Mom hates crying in front of people. So it was no surprise when she picked herself up and said, "Well, if you ladies will excuse me, I have a cake that's about to burn unless I go take it out of the oven. You can come downstairs if you want and help me frost it." She climbed down the ladder, leaving Zoe and I alone in the attic again.
"You sure you're ok?" I asked.
"Yes, Charlotte. And please don't ask that again."
"I know, it's just a lot to digest." I said, moving over to lean against the box next to her.
"Look," she said after a while. "I sort of knew it was going to be my name written on that paper."
"How come?" I asked.
"Well, you remember in fifth grade, when we were studying genetics? And Mrs. Ratigan gave us a checklist of traits, and we had to go home and figure out which ones we had in common with our parents?"
"There wasn't a single thing that I had in common with Mom. Not one thing. When I brought the paper in the next day, I tried to tell Mrs. Ratigan that, but she didn't believe me and sent me to the time-out for not doing my homework."
"I remember that," I said, laughing at the memory.
"So at least now, there's an explanation for me being so different from you and Mom."
"I guess," I sighed. "It's going to be hard to get used to this. It's too bad, too - I liked having a twin!"
"Well, we can still pretend to be twins. No one else ever has to know that we're not."
"You're right," I said slowly, considering it. "After all, we are the same age."
"I'm older, though," Zoe said smugly.
"Right, by three minutes," I laughed, rolling my eyes. "Come on, let's go help Mom frost that cake." She grinned and followed me down the ladder to the kitchen.

It's too bad that I don't really have a twin, but just because she's adopted doesn't mean that Zoe's any less of a sister to me. It's going to be hard for both of us to adjust to this, but it'll be ok, especially since publicly we'll still pretend to be twins.

I'll try to post a few more times before school starts, but once it does I won't be able to write quite as much! Sixth grade means more homework, which also means less free time (ugh!). Maybe I'll get Zoe to post a few more times, if she's not busy with all the sports she does!

That's all for now! Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Box in the Attic: A Tate Mystery (Part One)

The dawning of yet another hot, sticky day found my sister and me once again cleaning out the attic, since last time we had been distracted by finding a pair of roller skates and never finished. We were each in our designated corners, going through the piles of boxes that Mom had stuck up there over the years.
"I'm going down to get some lemonade," I told Zoe, wiping sweat from my forehead.
"Bring me some!" she called after me as I disappeared down the ladder.

I was back soon enough, carrying the two glasses in one hand while I used the other to clumsily climb the ladder. I was mostly concentrating on not spilling any of it on myself, so I didn't look at Zoe when I set the glass down next to her. If I had, I would have seen that she was standing very still, staring curiously at a slip of paper that she held in her hand.
"Charlotte?" she said a second later.
"Come here."
I sighed and put down my lemonade. "What is it?"
"Look at this." She handed me the piece of paper she had been holding. It was a clip from a newspaper.
 " 'Local couple killed in car crash?' " I read, looking at the headline. Zoe nodded. "So?"
"Keep reading," she told me.
" 'Late last Tuesday night, Samuel and Katelyn Winchester were turning onto their street when Joe Saxton - a student at the local college and drunk at the time -  appeared around the corner behind them in his pickup truck. He rear-ended their car and sent them spinning off the road and into a nearby telephone pole. Samuel and his wife were both dead when the ambulance arrived on the scene. Saxton, however, survived with minor injuries. The Winchesters' daughter was at home with a sitter at the time of the accident. She was orphaned the day before her fourth birthday'," I read. "Aw, that's so sad! What does it have to do with us, though?" Zoe sighed as if I was the stupidest person on earth.
"Look at the date of the paper." I looked. April 29th, 2005.
"So?" I asked again, beginning to feel rather like I was the stupidest person on earth.
She sighed again and snatched the paper from my hands. Pointing at a line on the page, she read: "They left their daughter the day before her fourth birthday. Our fourth birthday would be April 30th, 2005. Don't you think that's weird?"
"Ohhhh," I finally said. "Cool! She's the exact same age as we are! But what does that have to do with us?"
"Nothing, I guess. I just thought it was kind of weird that Mom would have this up here," Zoe said, shrugging. "And it's a pretty big coincidence, if you ask me."
It was pretty mysterious, I had to agree. But, normal old Charlotte Tate couldn't solve this mystery by herself. I'd have to call in outside help.
"Zoe, I think it's time for Alexandria Beauregard to come out of hiding," I said. Zoe groaned.
"Why don't we just go ask Mom? I hate Alexandria. She's always trying to get me to wear some stupid costume."
"Aw, come on, Zoe. Please?"
"Whatever. Just tell her to leave me alone. I'll be in the corner going through boxes," she said, stomping off to another corner of the attic. I disappeared down the ladder and a few minutes later, Alexandria came climbing back up. Zoe groaned again.

I thought I'd start looking for clues in the box where Zoe had found the newspaper clipping. I dumped all of its contents out on the floor and started to search through them.

Most of the stuff inside consisted of letters from old friends and paper envelopes from Walmart full of photos. Nowhere was the name Winchester.
After about an hour or so of searching, I had still found nothing. I put my head in my hands and sighed.
"Ready to admit defeat yet, Alexandria?" Zoe sneered.
"Never!" I cried. But, I had to admit that there was nothing more in that box that was of interest. I'd have to look elsewhere. I scooped up the big pile of papers in my arms and was about to dump them back in the box when I spotted the corner of a yellow manilla folder sticking out of the overlapped cardboard at the bottom of the box.

I dropped the papers that were in my arms. A feeling of excitement crept over me as I read the words on the front: 

"Zoe!" I cried.
"What?" she sighed, coming over to where I was standing. I showed her the folder.
"Cool," she said nonchalantly, but I could tell she was more excited than she was letting on.
"Should we open it?" She shrugged. I took that as a yes.
I took a deep breath and opened the folder.
Inside was a postcard, a necklace, and a birthday card.

I turned over the postcard to see what it said. 
" 'Dear Tates: New Zealand is gorgeous! Thank you so much for taking care of Charlotte and Zoe while Sammy and I are gone! Wish you guys were here! Looking forward to seeing you when we get back! Love, Kate and Sammy'," I read.
"Great, now we're a part of this too! I am so confused," Zoe cried. I nodded - this was confusing even for a brilliant detective like Alexandria.

I picked up the birthday card next, hoping it might help clear up the confusion.
Inside, the words "Happy Birthday Susie!" were written in big letters. Beneath that was a message.
" 'We've all been missing you Tates back here in the big city! Keep your eyes out for a clunky old station wagon coming your way sometime soon, though - we're planning to come to Maine for the holidays! Here's hoping we see each other soon - I know the girls must be missing each other just as much as you and I are! Love, Kate and Sammy'," I read.
"Is that it?" Zoe asked. "Come on! I'm more confused now than I was a second ago!"
"No, wait, there's a PS," I said. " 'By the way, Zoe and Charlotte picked out the beads for this necklace and helped me string them on. It's amazing how much the two of them have grown! It's hard to believe that they'll be four in just a few weeks!'," I read.
"I'm getting a headache," Zoe groaned. "Come on, let's just go ask Mom."
"No! Alexandria can solve this!" I cried. "Just give me a second."

I sat down on the floor with my head in my hands. What do we know? I asked myself.
Well, we knew that:
a. Kate and Sammy Winchester were Mom's friends.
b. They died the day before Zoe's and my fourth birthday in a car accident.
c. Zoe and I were the daughters of either Mom or the Winchesters.
As I sat there thinking it all over, I discovered with a jolt that Zoe and I might not be related at all! That line on the birthday card, it had said: I know the girls must be missing each other as much as you and I are. That meant that when the Tates moved to Maine, either Zoe or I had come with them, while the other one of us had stayed back in New York with the Winchesters. So how come we both lived with the Tates now? Were Zoe and I even related? Was the person we knew of as our mom actually our mother?
I sighed. This mystery was too much for Alexandria to solve. It was time to go ask Mom.
"Let's go," I told Zoe. I picked up the folder, intending to put it back in the box, when I noticed that there was something inside that we hadn't noticed previously. My fingers shaking, I took it out and read the words on the front: 

That's all for now! I'll post Part Two soon!
Have you solved the mystery yet? What do you think will happen?