Picture on the Shelf

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PICTURE ON THE SHELF

Davis never talked to the policemen, not once. After they stop talking and leave, Mr. and Mrs. Parker go up stairs to get ready for bed. Once they are out of sight I count to ten and then knock on the French doors. Davis sees that it’s me and comes walking. He unlocks the door then opens them carefully.

“I saw you come up to the house,” he says when I walk inside.

“Yeah, I saw the police car I front of your house.”

“Oh.”

“Did your parents say anything about me?”

“Yeah—“

“What?” Davis doesn’t answer, “What did they say Davis?”

“They said that you went on a whole bunch of little secret trips to ‘who knows where.’”

I can’t help it; I start balling. I’ve always known that the Parkers never liked me; that they thought I was too nice, which is really strange considering the fact that someone cannot be overly nice. But I never imagined they would say anything like that

By the time I’m done crying, Davis is sitting on the floor and I’m on his lap leaning on his chest. I lift my head and look into his eyes. I can tell he feels horrible about the whole thing and just wants to make it better, but right now I just feel like I need to be alone. So I stand up and walk out of the door without saying anything. I run all the way to the horse barn down the road.

I went straight to Montoya’s stall and climbed on her back. I rode right out of the barn and down in to the meadows. I stopped on the top of the hill, hop off and sit down next to Montoya’s leg. I start thinking about what I could do. If I could to anything at all about what is going on. I start to make a list in my head, I could try to tell them the truth, but they wouldn’t believe me. Or I could run away and try to find out who really killed my parents or at least, who they are. I would have to go alone, but where would I start, my birth certificate? Would Harper tell me about my parents or would she even know anything about them?

I remount Montoya and head back toward the barn. I put her away and run to the house. I go up to my room and start listing all the places in the house that could hold my birth certificate: the basement, Mr. and Mrs. Summers’ closet, Mrs. Summers’ little box on her dresser. The safe…I decide to look there first, but right now I just need some sleep. I decide to carry on with my mission tomorrow.

+ + +

I know every code in the house; they are all the same. 1022.  The house is empty; Mr. and Mrs. Summers are out at work. I make my way down to the basement. I glance at the picture on the wall. I have never seen this one before. It’s old and dusty. I pick it up off the wall shelf and wipe the dust off with my sleeve. I see a man and two women. One is blonde, like me, and the other has red hair, like John. I brush back my hair with my fingers. And notice there is another man in the background. He is looking straight at the blonde. His hair is black and his eyes are hazel. I recognize him immediately. That is John. I flip it to look at the back, “1994.”

I hear the doorbell, fold the picture and shove it in my pocket. Walking back up the stairs I’m so nervous I nearly trip. I cautiously open the door to see Davis.

“I just came to check on you.” Should I tell him about the picture? No.

“Oh, well…I’m fine.”

“Good, because I thought you could use a break from, you know, everything,” he pauses, “I have something I think you’d like to see.” I follow him until we reach the barn. I see that Montoya and Jasper are all tacked up.

“What are we doing here, Davis?” I ask a little too sharply.

“We are going for a ride.” He waits for me to reply and when I don’t he says, “I brought lunch.”  He takes out a brown sack and waves it in from of my face. I grab at it and he swipes it back.

“Ugg, fine, but it better be quick.”

A few minutes later I’m on top of Montoya’s back and waiting for Davis. We ride out of the barn. Davis leads us to an unfamiliar road. I consider asking him where we are going, but I decide not to. I start to think about the picture that is still in my pocket. It could mean something or it’s nothing and I’m just overreacting. Who was that blonde? She looks way too much like me. And what about 1994? That was just about two years before I was born.

Davis stops right in front of a barb wired fence. I look at him with an unimpressed look on my face. He just looks back at me and smiles. Jasper backs up enough for him to start to gallop. He jumps the fence and waits for me on the other side. Once I’m over, Davis whistles and three huge gelding horses start galloping over. I glance back at Davis gaping; he’s still smiling. I hop off Montoya and slowly approach the largest horse.

“How did you find them?” I ask Davis, as he jumps off Jasper.

“I was just riding one day and found them all alone in this pasture. I tried to find their owner, but the meadow just goes forever.”

“Let’s try again. I need a little mission once in a while. Especially now,” I say looking at the stripe on the horse’s face.

“Ok, sure, but I get the black horse!” He says. I laugh, because I think he’s kidding, but when he ties up Montoya and Jasper’s reins and stirrups so they won’t fling around when they run, I realize he wasn’t.

I laugh again. “Fine, then I want the mustang!”  I only have to jump a few inches to reach his back, so I can swing my leg around. He doesn’t budge when I do. I kick at his sides and we’re off, riding down the hill and jumping over the scattered logs on the ground.

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