Using today’s Write Alm Prompt to play with a scene from a middle grade novel i’m working on.
Prairie pulled Felix by the hand, as they ran up the steps of the back deck and flew into the cottage panting.
“Oh my! What’s this?” Gran asked, taking lunch out of the oven. Grandpa chuckled as he looked up from his worn paperback.
“A race to lunch eh?” he asked.
“No, we saw a…” Felix began, but stalled when Prairie shot her hand down and grabbed his wrist. He turned toward his big sister and saw her staring, her face suddenly pale and sickly, at the wall behind their Grandfather. It was covered in picture frames; a jumbled collection of the family’s past. Grandpa’s face wrinkled with concern, and Gran put the casserole down on the counter.
“What dears?” Gran said. “What did you see?” She was rushing over now, oven mitts and all. Prairie raised her hand, and with a trembling finger, pointed toward the photographs on the wall. Her knees buckled, and she breathed a barley audible “her” as she fell into Gran’s waiting arms.
Felix didn’t know what to do. After Prairie fainted, Grandma and Grandpa had laid her down on the couch and fussed over her with a cool cloth, shushing her attempts to speak when she roused, insisting she close her eyes and rest. Which she did, quite easily too, annoying Felix to no end. What was he supposed to say now? What had Prairie pointed at? Grandma and Grandpa had excused themselves to the porch with that fake reassuring smile grown ups always give when they are really freaked out. They shut the door behind them and Felix tried to make himself invisible in Grandpa’s big arm chair. He knew that they’d be asking him some questions real soon.
The pendant had slipped from Prairie’s hand when she’d fallen. Felix had at least had the presence of mind to snap that up right away while his grandparents were busy getting Prairie to the couch. He’d done it automatically, without thinking, like a little kid trying to hide the cookie he’d snuck. Had he imagined his grandfather turning his head sharply away when Felix stood back up? Yes, there would be questions. He heard murmurs behind the door, a word here and there; doctor, home.
He ought to be telling them about the girl in the woods, Felix thought. Prairie herself had been frantic over her safety-why had she stopped him? He had to figure it out before they came back in. He rose up slowly, hissing a desperate plea at Prairie to wake up, but she was out cold, leaving Felix to sort out this mess alone. And fast. He scanned the pictures on the wall, his eyes darting quickly over everything. It was an overwhelming amount to take in and scrutinize for an answer. Over and over his gaze flicked-there was his dad, the one he’d never known, sitting at the table over a puzzle. Here were his Grandma and Grandpa on their wedding day. A photo of his mom cradling a baby-him or Prairie, he wasn’t sure. In between them all were old black and whites of people he didn’t know. A group by the lake, a boy holding up his catch-Grandpa maybe, and another of the same boy outside the very screen door that separated him from his grandparents now, and peeking shyly out from behind him, a younger girl, in a pale blue dress, bare feet, and long tangled hair. He was moving on to the next picture when it clicked, and his head snapped back to the girl. He looked closer, his heart gaining momentum in his chest, his face draining like his sister’s, as he zoomed in on the photo. It was her. It was the girl in the woods. And just as he heard the screen door creak open, he saw a long string wrapped around her wrist, and dangling at the end of it was Prairie’s pendant.