Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Two: Aunt Aloysia (continued)
Previously: Zack and Gina had begun to fight just as the mysterious Objects in the Dore toy chest were desperately trying to escape.
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The big red-headed woman walked up to the cheerful green-trimmed entrance. She clutched the carpet close to her and looked nervously about, then peered through the sidelight window next to the door. “Hah!” She reached down and tried the knob. It was unlocked. “Hah!” she said again, and started to enter, but just as she did, the door jumped off its hinges, folded in the middle, and began to flap about like a second grader’s drawing of a bird that had come to life. It dove menacingly toward her, trying to snatch the carpet.
“No! You can’t have it!” She took off one of her gigantic shoes and hurled it at the door-bird. It swallowed the shoe.
Then, as quickly as it had begun, the incident was over. The door fell to the ground and twisted like a wash cloth ringing itself out. The woman gave the door a sharp kick. It spat out her shoe, then slithered toward the entrance, shimmied up the doorposts, and wiggled back into place.
“Get off, Zack!” Gina grunted, but it didn’t sound sincere because she was giggling when she said it. It was her angry giggle, not her having-fun giggle, but Zack couldn’t tell the difference. He had a wiry strength that belied his travel-kit size, and was now using that strength to keep Gina pinned.
She was mad at Zack for everything he’d ever done—“I’m sick of your hair cooties, and I’m sick of your stupid spazzbot routine!”—and mad at him for things that had nothing to do with him—“I hate cedar trees, and I hate furry animals, and I hate exams…”
None of this was true. She’d always loved Middleton’s famous Fisker cedars, and she’d ached to have a puppy or a kitten for as long as she could remember, even if they did make her eyes puff up like golf balls (unconsciously, she felt that all the furry animals had gotten together and rejected her en masse). And, well, exams she could live without.
Zack did his killer cyborg impression: “Arrggghh! Eeeep-eeep-eeep! Gnar, gnar!”
Gina managed to throw him to one side, and roll away. “Get off!” she screamed.
“Yah! He vas on, but now he’s off,” a voice boomed in a thick Norwegian accent. The red-headed woman’s voice was, like everything else about her, big. She was well over six feet tall, and nearly as wide. She looked, smelled, and sounded like everywhere she’d ever been—which was everywhere.
Her clothing and scent, though not unpleasant, were indescribable, homey and exotic, foreign and familiar all at the same time. Her hair was the color of a forest fire, her skin the color of clotted cream, her mouth as wide as a mime’s, everything writ large. Most startling of all were her eyes, which were deep-set, dark as chocolate, and surprisingly beautiful. Belying her jovial demeanor, they betrayed a recess of sorrow deep within.
“Aunt Aloysia!” Zack squealed as he leaped into her arms. She squeezed him until he bulged, and then put him back down, allowing him a moment to regain his normal shape.
“Hi, Aunt Aloysia,” said Gina, no less pleased, but fourteen. Aloysia opened her arms, and Gina disappeared into them.
“Hargarererurmmph,” she mumbled into the big woman’s pillowy uni-front.
“Yes, I know, dear, I know.”
Warm greetings aside, this was not a normal visit. Which became clear when Aloysia took both of the children’s hands in hers and said in crisp Queen’s English, “No time for ceremonial shilly-shallying. We’ve business to attend to.” Then waxing mystical, she added with a Hindi dialect, “Is most important to not be seen. Where, then, say, can we go that we may not be seen by that which would keep us from attaining a most precious purpose?”
Gina and Zack took a moment to decipher, then replied in harmony, “Ohhh,” and took her free hand.
Aloysia kept the shabby carpet close to her side as they led her down the stairs and toward the basement door.
Mom came home fifteen minutes later, gunning to clean something. Her devotion to cleanliness was legendary. She’d have washed soap if it was possible. She was a part-time dental hygienist who loved her work because it gave her a chance to clean people. This would have been annoying in anyone else, but somehow Mom pulled it off. She was petite, twice as blonde as Zack, and adorable, even when you were in trouble with her.
She knew at once from the exotic scent that Aunt Aloysia was here, and rushed inside, expecting to find Aloysia in the den unveiling each of the mysterious gifts she’d brought, but Aloysia wasn’t there. Neither were the children. She hurried up the stairs, calling,
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Thoughts: Has anyone ever appeared at just the right moment to spin your life in an entirely new direction?
To read The Wishing Map 8, click here!