What Grace told me that day under the willow tree at the stables, is going to stay in my mind for quite a long time.
She said that Raven was her twin. There was a triplet, but he had died. They just tell people now that they are twins. No triplet. Their own mother killed the poor boy. His name was Gavin.
And the mother? She flat out hates Carter and her husband. When she and her husband had that fight that had led to their divorce, Carter took his father’s side. So, she made them leave her house and now Carter and Mr Riding are here in Quebec.
Also, her name is Brittney Dove.
I sighed when Grace had finished her entire story.
“Wait, so what about Raven? Why is she hunting Carter and me down? I was never in this divorce.” I plucked a flower from the ground and took off its petals one by one whileGrace started talking.
“You and Carter are two separate stories,” she started, “It makes Raven’s life easier now that you two are in the same town. Basically, same street, but whatever. She hates you. Not that you’ve done anything, but just that she’s jealous.”
I snorted, “Jealous? And that too, of me?” I pointed at myself, throwing the flower to the ground. Grace nodded.
“And mother has sent us both to get Carter.” she sighed, “She wants to get revenge.”
I stared at her, “Well, I better get going.” I said, “Here comes Izzy.”
Izzy was skipping to us and halted mid-skip and stared at Grace sitting beside me. She ran back and we both laughed.
“Sometimes it’s kinda useful to be Raven’s twin.” Grace smiled, then got up, “I best get going. I need to untack Dorothy too.”
I nodded, shaking her hand, “It was nice to meet you.”
Grace left, leaving me with the horses in the paddock. I sighed and shook my head. I am so tired.
I went back into the stables to look for Izzy. She had calmed down and was chatting with Oak – the horse she had ridden.
“Izzy!” I exclaimed, “Why’d you run away?”
She paused mid-sentence and looked at me, “You were talking to Grace. I hate her.”
Wait, how does she know about Grace?
“Because she comes over once in a while with Carter to help out Mum. Duh.” she said. Oops, might have said that out loud. I laughed nervously and nodded, tucking my hands in my pockets.
“Where are the rest?” I asked. She pointed behind her and I saw the rest of them untacking their horses. “Oh.”
She hummed and continued stroking her horse. She perked up, “Just remembered! Mum said that we leave as soon as we’re done grooming and untacking.”
I nodded and left to go see the rest of them, “What did you guys do?” I asked Grams.
“We jumped a few logs and streams.” she said quickly. She’s probably still uncomfortable about when she broke the news to me.
“Um, sorry.” I said. I felt tears brimming my eyes. Nope nope nope. Julia, stop! You’re a brave girl. You don’t cry. Not in front of Grams. Shh… It’s all good. Hush up, girl.
“It’s fine.” she said, waving her hand around. “About the necklace too. It’s all good, honey.”
I looked around. Why am I suddenly getting so darn nervous? “Aunt Martha!” I said, looking down the lane, “I’ll go start the car.”
“I’ll come too.” Izzy said, popping up from behind her mother.
Aunt Martha passed us the keys and the two of us left to the van.
“You look sad.” I said, “You’re not yourself.” I looked at Izzy. We were sitting in the car. I had turned on the engine and had sat down beside Izzy in the back seats.
“One of th-the h –” she broke into tears. Why is life so sad? I shouted in my head.
“What is it?” I asked, rubbing her back.
“Rockette is being put down!” she cried, wiping her tears, “I promised her that I’d stay strong just for her, but look at me now!”
I looked down at her hands. She was fiddling with something. It was a necklace of a sort. More like bracelet, but it looked long enough for it to pass as a necklace. It was one half of a heart. I pointed to it.
“Rockette has the other half.” Izzy said quietly, “We’re best buds. It’s on her halter.”
“Are you allowed to take her halter?” I asked calmly. She shrugged. I had a feeling that she wasn’t going to talk much today. Maybe she was going to talk tomorrow. I’m no future-teller. And I wasn’t much help either.
I looked out the door. Tim was pointing to the lock. Izzy was looking out the other window, at the stables. I unlocked the door and let him in. He sat in the drivers seat and a little while later, everyone else had come in and we were driving back home.
It was quiet. Everyone had found out about Rockette.
We went home and had lunch. The rest of the day was normal until Uncle Sim came back home and we had dinner. Not that different from other days. Ave and Tim played ping pong. The adults – not including Tim were talking in the living on the top floor. Izzy had fallen asleep early and I was flicking through the channels on the TV in the first floor living room.
“Julia?” Uncle Sim said, scratching his head, “We need you upstairs for a bit.”
“’Kay. I’ll be there.” I got up and followed him up the stairs and to the top floor. I definitely lost weight from these stairs.
“Yes?” I entered the room. Everyone looked worried, Izzy was there too, and tears were streaming down her face, her head on Aunt Martha’s lap. She kept on mumbling Rockette and when she saw me, she went quiet. I looked at Grams questioningly. She didn’t meet my gaze. I looked at everyone else. Ave and Tim were there too. They were looking down at the ground.
The tension was thick in the room that it could have been sliced. You don’t want to do suicide, do you, Tension? I chuckled at my thought and everyone looked at me like I had three heads.
I sat down on the white leather couch and put an embroidered pillow on my lap and played with the stitches. I waited for someone to break the silence. I just sat and the only thing I could here was a bird trying to fly in through the window. It kept on bonking its head, though.
What is wrong with these birds?
“Um…” Realizing my voice wasn’t clear, I coughed. “Anyone mind filling me in?”
“Rockette was just put down.” Izzy whispered, sobbing.
“There’s another thing.” Grams said. “And we don’t think you’re going to like it much.”
“We have to tell you no matter what, though.” Uncle Sim started.
“She was going to find out sooner or later.” Tim said.
“But can’t she just stay there?” Ave asked, looking pleadingly at Aunt Martha.
“Who’s she? And where is she going to stay?” I asked looking around at everyone. Izzy had fallen asleep from crying so much. Are they talking about me? Where am I going to stay?
Aunt Martha shrugged. “It’s your father and grandmother’s decision.” she said.
“What decision?” I asked and the bird bonked its head on the window again. I swear that window is going to break. Panic filled the tensioned air.
“Um… Julia?” Uncle Sim started. “Mother, you tell her.”
Pause. No one spoke. Another bonk from the bird. Idiot bird.
“So…” I urged, sitting at the edge of the couch. I was basically about to fall off.
“Julia…” Grams started. “You might not like this. And you know we love you and we wouldn’t want anything to interfere with your happiness. She doesn’t have enough money, and she’s doing this just for you. She’s on loan. This is the reason we came here. I know it was sudden. But hopefully it will be worth it at the end.” she paused then gulped.
Ave looked at me. Our eyes met. He nodded and stood up, “May I say it?” he asked. Everyone nodded except for Izzy.
Another bonk from the bird.
“Your mother comes tomorrow morning.” he said, looking down at me.
I wish I could bonk my head on that. I’d do it until my head and the window broke. I didn’t have any emotion. My mother is coming. Tomorrow. In the morning. I’ll wake up and I’ll see her. I could hear everyone’s hearts thumping in their chests.
And then, realization hit me square in the face. It was like a slap. Or a punch. And all my teeth had fallen out. It hurt so bad.
“For how long?” I managed to croak these three words out.
“Forever.” Grams whispered, putting her head in her wrinkled hands.