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!


  1. Holy guacamole!!! That IS a lot to take in! It's true, this probably wasn't the best way for you guys to find out, but you were bound to figure it out soon! I feel so bad for Zoe, though--having a teacher not believe you like that would be awful! If I were Zoe, I would try to go see her and tell her ;)

    Best of luck to you guys starting out sixth grade! I know you'll love it!

    1. Hi, Dani!

      I know what you mean - I hate it when you tell teachers something and they don't believe you! I read a book once where the main character wrote some really beautiful story, and the teacher gave her a C because he thought she had plagiarized! I hate it when things like that happen! I'll tell Zoe what you said - I'm sure that since now Zoe has a legitimate reason for not doing that homework, she's going to like the idea of giving Mrs. Ratigan a piece of her mind!

      Thanks for the encouragement! I really hope we will like sixth grade, I'm awfully nervous!
      Hope to see you soon!
      - Charlotte & Zoe :)

  2. Dia duit, Charlotte and Zoe!

    I'm so sorry you had to find out like that! Even though you and Zoe aren't related, you were still born on the same day, and treat each other as sisters, so you could still definitely consider yourselves twins! I hope Zoe feels better about this soon!


    1. Hi, Saoirse!

      Being the person that she is, Zoe has already bounced back from this incident like it never even happened! It's taken me a little longer, but pretending that we're still twins like we always have definitely helps!

      Thanks for commenting! Hope to see you soon! <3

      -Charlotte & Zoe :)