Chapter Four

Alivia bolted through the opening and ran down the trail, gripping the crystal stone.

Harsh flames burned through her lungs. An itchy rawness dried out her throat. Muscles in her calves tightened and cramped, making it harder to run.

Once she was back on the road, she came to a stop and clutched at her belly. Pain crept through her abdomen. She placed a hand up to her warm and sweaty forehead; she became lightheaded and dropped to her knees. Her pulse hammered.

 Oh, god, no.

A burning, sour liquid sprinted up her throat and into her mouth. She tried to keep the bitter taste down, but it came too fast. She doubled over and vomited a greenish yellow fluid in the grass. Her mouth still dry and acrid from the putrid taste.

She couldn’t go home like this. Her mom will be concerned and worried.

A nice cool breeze brushed across her face.

She eased her rapid breaths and looked down at the crystal stone in her hand placed it in her pocket and continued down the gravel road.

As she walked, her stomach felt somewhat better, though she still felt a little unsteady. She wanted to stop and rest, but she was almost home now. She could see the two-story house in the distance past the large trees.

The front porch had rock siding below the white windows and a porch with a swing in the front.

To the upper left of the house was Alivia’s deck attached below her double glass sliding doors with a small steeple-shaped roof hovering above where a little table and chairs were set for her and the cousins to sit at.

She walked up the driveway and opened the front door. A sad feeling, she couldn’t ignore spread out in the air like a heavy cloud.

She set her purse down on the oak wood table that sat to the side by the front door then took her shoes off and placed them on the shoe rack Grandpa had made a week ago. She slid her hand along the wood, and then squeezed her eyes so the tears wouldn’t flow.

She looked into the kitchen. Her mom wasn’t in there. The double French doors led to the deck that could fit up to thirty people. That’s where Fern’s graduation party was. Alivia was seven and Fern was seventeen.

Nope her mom wasn’t in there either. She slowly peeked around the corner and found her mom sitting at a table on the deck porch, sobbing and wiping her tears away.

She wanted her dad home, so she could talk to him. A father and daughter talk would be nice right now, like the times they used to talk if things were bothering her. He always knew what to say.

Having divorced parents was no fun at all. Some kids in the world didn’t get to see their parents like they wanted to. Sometimes it didn’t work out that way. It was even worse when one of them lived in another country, like her dad, Griffen.

He lived in Winnipeg, Canada, where he drew blueprints of buildings for the company he worked at. He’d been an architect since he was a young man.

He left when she was just five years old, back in 1999. She wanted to go with him, but her mother wouldn’t allow it. Alivia’s older sister, Fern, now twenty-seven, graduated when the divorce was settled. She had gone to Canada with Dad to go to college like Alivia also planned to.

Soon, it would be Alivia’s turn before long to head off to college. Four more weeks, then she’d be on her way to the college Fern had gone to.

Homeschooling ran in the McGala family. All the kids were home schooled, even Grandpa Quinn. That made her even more proud to be homeschooled just like Grandpa.

She didn’t know much about her past relatives. All she knew was most of the kids had passed away from some unknown cause. The weirdest part was that they were from around five to their teenage years when they had died. It never really bothered Alivia because she never thought about it too much.

Alivia sat down on the leather couch and let a breath out. She looked over at the clock on the wall by the wide stairs. Six twenty p.m. It wasn’t even dark yet.

After her mom, had finished folding the laundry, she took the clothes hamper upstairs with her.

Alivia sat there on the couch and thought of the woman and why she was there in the woods.

Where did she come from? How did she get there? How long has she been there?

Her mom came back downstairs, stopped at the bottom of the steps and smiled.

Alivia smiled back and watched her mom take the clothes hamper back into the laundry room.

She then looked at the TV screen and grabbed the remote. She turned the TV on and flipped through the channels until a modeling show came on. She knew that if Fern and Lauretta were there with her, they would watch it until it was over.

She turned the TV to the nature channel that she used to watch with Grandpa all the time whenever he came over.

A few seconds ticked by and then she looked down at the empty spot next to her and frowned.

Grandpa wasn’t there like he used to be. He should be here with her. She decided to watch it anyway, to give it a try.

Within seconds of watching it, a familiar feeling came over her. A feeling of being loved and cared for, just the way Grandpa used to make her feel. Her body stiffened and she waited for something to happen.

For a brief second, she peeked over her shoulder. Her mom washed the inside of the sink out. She turned back to the TV and saw an image of a man on the TV screen. Her stomach sank, and she looked behind her. Of course, nothing was there. She gazed around the room a few times. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, so she brushed it off.

Alivia thought about the upcoming days. She didn’t know what she was going to do; she couldn’t go fishing anymore, or go get ice cream. Well, she could with her mom, but it still wouldn’t be the same, not without Grandpa. It would be embarrassing to go and have people staring at her because everywhere she went, Grandpa had always been with her.

She laid back on the couch and placed an arm over her face, letting her legs hang over the arm. A memory flashed through her mind of when she was at grandpa’s practicing her spelling. She always let her legs hang over the edge.

Her mom walked past her. “Alivia.”


“Did you clean your room like I had asked you to? And you have clothes to put away. If you do it now, it’ll be done.” Her mom walked over to the desk by the staircase and sat down. She put her cheetah print reading classes on and sorted through the mail and finished the bills.

Alivia stared at the ceiling and saw the fans. The rock walls inside the living room spread up to the ceiling. She loved it. When she built her house, it would be similar to her mom and dad’s. It will be a two-story house, a big deck in the back, and a swimming pool. Too bad her Mom didn’t have a swimming pool. It would be nice for the summer hot days, but they did have central air in the house.


She sighed, set the papers down on the table, and looked at her mom. “Yes, I’m going Mother.”

“Thank you. You don’t have to pack right now. I just want your room clean.”

“Mom, don’t say that. You should motivate me to get packed; not at the last minute.”

“I want things to go slow before you leave.”

Alivia walked midway to the staircase before she heard a knock at the door.

Who would be here at a time like this?

She stopped and looked over her shoulder at the clock. It was 7:00 p.m. She held both hands to her chest and touched her pocket where the crystal stone was.

 Did the strange woman follow me home?

Alivia looked at the door for a second, but it seemed like hours.

 Oh, no, what do I do? I can’t just walk away. My mom will wonder why I didn’t answer the door. That will send a red flag up in the air.

Blood rushed to her face and her chest ached. Her legs grew stiff. Alivia crept over to the door and grabbed the handle, then opened it.

A smile spread across her lips.

It was Lauretta and Skeeter. Thank god, it wasn’t the woman. “Hi cuzys.”

“Are we late?” Lauretta asked.

Alivia shook her head as she walked back over to the couch and sat down.

Lauretta and Skeeter had always come over when they were younger. Alivia’s mom had made chicken and noodles all the time. All the kids loved it, but their parents had to move away to their new jobs in the big city.

Even though the cousins lived in the big city, it didn’t bother Alivia one bit. She wouldn’t want to live in the big city anyway. She loved the country way better. It was quieter and more peaceful. The city, not so much. It wasn’t much fun to be in it. Too much traffic, with a lot of people out and about. Out in the country it wasn’t like that.

Lauretta and Skeeter sat with Alivia in the living room.

Alivia looked out the window behind her.

Streaks of vanishing daylight spread throughout the sky. A little fresh air wouldn’t hurt them. “You want to go for a walk?”

Lauretta and Skeeter looked at each other then back at Alivia. “Sure,” they both said at once.

The three of them put their shoes on and headed out the front door.

The door opened back up.

“Hey, you kids,” Alivia’s mom said.

Alivia and her cousins turned around.

“I want you back here before it gets dark, don’t be too long okay.”

“Okay, Mom. We’re going for a walk.”

Lauretta clutched onto Alivia’s arm.

As the three of them walked down the driveway and down the road, Alivia touched her pocket.

 How am I going to tell them about the Inga and the crystal stone?

She bit her bottom lip and kept her head down.

 Would Lauretta and Skeeter even believe me? They never thought I was a liar. She had always trusted them and they trusted her. It wouldn’t hurt to say anything, nor would it? “I have to tell you two something and I want you to really listen.”

“What is it, cuzy?” Lauretta asked while checking her nails. “I need a new color. The polish is chipping off.”

“Well, I know this is going to sound weird.” Alivia paused and took a breath in. “I, um… ahh.” Now she wasn’t so sure if she wanted to say anything.

“You, ah, what?” Skeeter asked.

“I saw a woman.”

Skeeter looked at Alivia. “What are you talking about? There are women everywhere.”

Lauretta rolled her eyes. “Do you ever hear yourself when you speak?”

“No, I mean. I saw a woman in the woods not too far from here.” Alivia gestured down the road.

Lauretta gasped as her eyes bugged out.

 Oh, great. Here we go. Maybe telling wasn’t such a good idea.

“You know you’re not supposed to be in the woods,” she said.

“Yeah Alivia, why did you do it?” Skeeter asked.

Alivia shrugged. “I was just letting you know.”

“What did the woman look like?”

“She had on an ancient-looking dress, one that doesn’t fit this day and age.” Alivia stopped and turned toward them. “And the weirdest part of it all, she had a diamond the size of my fist,” she held up her fist to show the size of it. “It was hanging around her neck.”

Lauretta and Skeeter looked at each other.

“Let’s go look,” Skeeter said.

Alivia’s eyes widened and her heart skipped a beat. Her face grew warm and her heart thudded a few times in a row.

Lauretta smacked Skeeter on the arm.

He cringed and held his arm. “Ouch,” he groaned. “That hurt.”

“Lauretta, stop smacking him.”

She looked back at Alivia.

“I think you’re stressing out over Grandpa passing.”

Alivia glared at her. “I’m not stressing out! I know what I saw. She’s there…” She pointed. “I know it!”

Her cousins just stared at her.

Alivia took a breath in and let it out. “I’m sorry.” It took her by surprise to see herself acting differently. She never raised her voice at them like that, only if she was really mad.

“It’s okay,” Lauretta said.

“Let’s go check it out.”

Alivia shook her head.

“No way, Skeeter.”

“Yes, way.”

“Don’t listen to him, Alivia. You don’t have to go.”

“Come on. What would it hurt?” Skeeter asked.

Both girls stared at him.

“I don’t know,” Alivia said. “The sun is almost down.”

“We’ll be back before dark. It doesn’t get dark until eight o’clock. It’s only seven forty p.m.,” Skeeter said. “Please. Let’s just go.”

Alivia looked at Lauretta.

She shook her head and mouthed back, “No.”

Alivia looked at Skeeter.

He smiled big.

“Alright, fine.”

Lauretta slapped her arms to her side.

“We look, we leave, understand?” Alivia commanded.

“Yes, yes, alright.” He gave the girls a small push. “Let’s go.”

Skeeter might be excited, but Alivia wasn’t. Maybe she shouldn’t go and turn around and head back the other way?

What is her mom washing the sink with? We can had with a rag or with a smudge. When I clean the sink out I use a smudge.

I think this should say reflection

Use a different word or leave it? We’re saying gaze to many times.

Sentence was fragment, till I adjusted the tense


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