So this is where they've shipped me off to this time. I think to myself as the cab drives off down the long, dirt road, stranding me.
It's not a bad place to be stranded, actually. Two floors, white-washed, flower beds, a big back yard, and a garden on the roof.
Usually, it's some random apartment in the middle of the city.
There's only one more house in sight, the one at the end of the road. It's the same make as my new (temporary) house but changed up enough to look completely different.
I walk up the steps, onto the porch, and into my new house. I leave my suitcase in the mudroom and go to familiarize myself with the layout.
It's fairly simple, you walk in through the mudroom, all the rooms make an L-shape, so on the right wall is the dining room and a bedroom. Besides the mudroom is a pantry and besides that a kitchen. The rest is the living room, and the left wall is a staircase, with a bathroom underneath.
In the kitchen, I find a note, typed out on cardstock.
This is your last chance. -V.H.
It reads. A note from my father. I guess this house is a little less temporary than I thought.
I venture up the steep and rickety staircase, to the top floor. This turns out to be an attic, filled with old, dusty boxes from the previous owner. There are a bathroom and a ladder up here, too.
I climb the ladder, up the roof. Turns out I was right, there is a garden up here. Though, the plants I saw turn out to be nothing but overgrown grass and weeds. There isn't a flower left.
I sigh and climb back down, all the way to the first floor, where I grab my suitcase and go to unpack into the bedroom. It's mostly done for me, the entire house is furnished, the only things missing are my few personal items. How long have we had this house? I ask myself as I unpack. I certainly don't remember it.
The doorbell rings. Which is weird because I don't remember there being a doorbell when I came in.
I walk to the door and find a girl, around my height, just standing there.
"Hiya!" She chirps, bouncing on the balls of her feet. "I'm Flanna! I'm here to welcome you to the neighborhood!" Her wild mane of bright red curls bounces around her animatedly, doing it's best to match her energy.
"Then I suppose you're my neighbor," I reply, reminding myself that ut's best to be cordial. This is my last chance after all.
"Oh! No! I'm not you're neighbor!" Flanna laughs as if it were obvious like I had told her a funny joke. "I live closer to the center of town! I just like to welcome people to town! It's not often we get newcomers, y' know! Besides-" She stops abruptly, and looks around skeptically, as if someone were listening in on our conversation, then stands on her tip-toes. She leans in, way too close, and whispers in my ear. "Some people 'round here aren't terribly good neighbors." She recoils quickly and looks around some more as if she had just told me the most horrible secret. All the time, the smile never leaves her face.
"I'm sure you're busy moving in," Flanna continues, "but... I brought a gift basket!" She cheers, picking a wicker basket off the porch, it's contents hidden from view by a picnic blanket. "You can even keep the basket!"
I step aside, opening the doorway enough for her to walk by. "Care to come in? We can talk more in the kitchen." I say, realizing that it's rude not to invite her in.
"Are you sure? I don't want to impose!"
"It's no trouble. Besides, I'd like to ask you a few questions about the town."
"Oh, sure!" Flanna replies, walking right past me. I close the door behind her and lead her to the kitchen. We sit down at the island, across from each other. "This is a nice place ya got here! I was expecting more boxes! That's how most places look when people first move in! It looks like you've been here for a while! Didya move your stuff in before moving in yourself?" She rattles off, looking around excitedly.
She doesn't seem to know who I am. She is asking an awful lot of questions, though... Could she be a spy? Nah, she seems so innocent. But so are all the other spies... How would a spy find me so quickly? It usually takes them a couple of months. Okay, okay. Be nice, but defensive. I think, deciding on the best possible thing to do in this situation.
"You're awful pretty, y' know!" Flanna blurts. "And quiet, too!" Did she mean that as a compliment? I feel like it was a compliment, but it sure didn't sound like one... This girl is strange. "How old are you? I'm 13! Wait- is it rude to ask someone how old they are? Ma says not to ask a lady her age! I didn't mean to be rude! I'm sorry! Oh, but here I am, blabbering to myself... I'm sorry. Oh, I'm being weird again! I really should stop talking... I know you just invited me in, but I should probably go! But you invited me in! Would it be rude to leave?! I feel like it would be rude... Oh, what would Ma do?! I dunno! I should ask her... That's a valid excuse to leave! Right? But I was just invited in! Oh, dear! I've gone in a circle! I'm sorry! I'm just rambling at this point! I should just go..." She hops down from her seat, and walks to the mudroom, while I quickly try to figure out what just happened, and how to deal with it.
Do I really want her to stay, though?
I hear the door open, and she hesitates.
"I'm 13, too," I speak up. The door closes.
Footsteps come closer.
Flanna takes her seat across from me, smiling serenely.
"Sorry 'bout that." She chuckles nervously, mussing up her already wild hair.
"It's no problem. I get it. Meeting new people can be intimidating. Me especially."
"Are you actually 13, though? You're really pretty!"
"Yes. I am."
"Then you'll be going to Sirri High, right?"
"I suppose I will."
"Then we'll probably have classes together! Unless you're put in the Gifted Program! You seem really smart, so you probably will! And then we won't have any classes together! Oh, god! I just made myself sad!" Flanna rambles, talking animatedly with her hands and exaggerated facial expressions.
"Gifted Program?" I ask, and she seems to snap out of a trance.
"Oh! That's where they put all the really smart and talented kids! They have the entire top floor of the high school to themselves, and have no classes with anyone else! Or so I've heard. I've never been in the highschool before! Well, besides the gymnasium- but that's different! Oh! I just realized! I never asked your name!"
"Nice to meetcha, Edlynne!" Flanna exclaims, standing up and leaning across the island to shake my hand.
"It's nice to meet you, too, Flanna. Thank you for welcoming me to town."
"Oh, it's no problem! But I should get going! Oh! Before I do, here's my phone number, in case you need a guide around town!" She chirps, pulling a pen out of her pants pocket, and writing it down on the corner of the picnic cloth on the gift basket.
Flanna skips off, leaving for real this time, and waving all the way down the road. I watch her from the kitchen window, opening up her gift basket, and putting her number in my phone.
She brought me two pie, one apple, one strawberry rhubarb, five apples, two pears, and a note welcoming me to town.
How did I ever suspect that girl of being a spy?
My phone dings. A text from my Father.
Register for school at Sirri High tomorrow. I expect perfect grades.
I sigh and stand up, going to put my gift basket away, and to put the blanket in the wash. If tomorrow is anything like today, it's going to be a long day.
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