Chapter 5: Parsley

Next day, Etta thought about what happened. It seemed unreal and much less scary now the sun was shining through the windows and the house was full of busy noises.

She heard the shower. Spoons clinking against cereal bowls. Mom reminding Amon to pack rulers and drawing compass for his geometry class. It was about time for Etta to get up and get ready for school, too.

“It was just a weird dream, right, Louis?”

She decided not to worry about last night happenings anymore. And even if she hadn’t decided that way, she’d probably forget very soon, because she had much more exciting things on her mind.

“It’s Monday! I bet you’re excited!”

Like fractions. Or the Solar system. Or the concept of temperature with positive and even more fascinating negative numbers. Etta’s little, curious head just couldn’t stop thinking about these things, so it was easy for her to forget about everything else.

“J-e-l-l-y-f-i-s-h. Jellyfish!”

She would never admit it in front of other kids, but she loved going to school. The lessons were really interesting. She liked homework, too, even unpopular mathematical exercises. Doing homework after school with Seth was kind of like a hobby for her. She sometimes peeked into Seth’s assignments and got all excited to see polygons, poems and pictures of ancient civilizations. She just couldn’t wait to learn about that stuff.

E: ‘2831 x 4? Can Seth really solve that? Wow!’

Seth was her companion most of the time. He didn’t talk much and was always so focused on his work that it was almost scary. He also disliked other kids, especially noisy ones. But all those qualities made him a great homework buddy. Even Tori sometimes joined them to work on her homework, and she often stayed around to have a friendly dance-off with Etta.

Dancing Queens

But she was not as studious as her twin sister and most of the time, she prefered playing outside with Amon and the ever-growing group of their friends.

“Brylee! So if you could be a dog, what breed would you be?”

Etta didn’t mind it, though. She rather went outside with Aunt Devi. Devi was patient and wise, she taught her where to catch frogs and how to distinguish between valuable medical herbs and useless forest weed.

“So where are we going today, Auntie?”

Together, they walked around Willow Creek and looked for fossils and sparkly stones and treasure maps. Etta always pretended Aunt Devi was a famous archaelogist and she was her scholarly, trusty sidekick. (Although in reality, Devi was the one to do all the explaining, of course.)

“This limestone is a sedimentary rock, Etta – that means it consists of layers of sediment, like sand, mud, tiny pieces of others rocks, minerals or even plants, that are compressed over long periods of time until they form solid rocks…”

And so, days were passing by very quickly for her, simply because time flies when one’s having fun.

“Ooh, fireworks!”

Two or three weeks after the incident, Etta was walking around the house. It was Saturday. Tori and Amon were in the park, Aunt Devi was working and Seth had one of his weird moods again and didn’t let her play with the chemistry table. Etta was wondering what to do next, when she heard strange noises from the kitchen.

“Hello?”

It was her father. He was making dinner.

“Why are you cooking, Dad? Is mama sick?”

“No, cupcake, not at all,” Chris laughed as he stirred the pasta, “she’s taking a bath. I’m cooking because I want to surprise her.”

“How is dinner a surprise, Dad? We have dinner every day!”

“Exactly! And every day, mom is the one who prepares it. So today I’ll surprise her by doing it myself!”

“Oh. That’s very nice! Can I help?”

“Sure! I’ll need parsley and fresh tomatoes to decorate it. Can you bring me some from the garden?

Etta was losing no time and ran out to the garden. She found the tomatoes really quickly, but parsley got her worried.

“If only I knew which one of these is parsley!”

She looked at the plants carefully, but she couldn’t recognise them all. Some of them appeared to be crosses of many different types. Little Etta was clueless.

Luckily, she was smart, so she quickly came up with the solution – she’d look it up in the book! Aunt Devi always adviced: “When in doubt, read!” So she ran back inside, straight into boys’ room and took out Aunt Devi’s old book about plants.

“Hmm, let’s see: la-ven-de…no, mag-nol…no, nas-tur-ti-um…Nasturtium? What on earth is that? Ah, parsley! There you are!)

She started reading the description, when suddenly something seemed to be moving between the beds.

She instictivelly flinched and looked that way, but she saw nothing.

“Strange, indeed.”

Still, she decided to finish the article about parsley in the kitchen, with her father nearby.

Not that she was a coward, but something peculiar was happening and she wanted to have a witness, just in case more strange events occured.

She also spent that night in her parents’ bed with her mama (for the same reasons, of course.)

‘I wonder if you’re brave enough to face my mama,  you ghost!’

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