“When the driver announced that Laura had arrived, she was ecstatic. Then the driver took out her folder of records, and her grin turned into a sour frown. That record held all the things she wanted to keep secret.”
Laura Wilder Ingalis stared out of the car window. New York City was so busy and packed, while London was much quieter. Laura decided that she liked her old home much better than this one. She adjusted the strap of her seatbelt and squeezed her suitcase with her legs. Laura’s suitcase was turquoise with lightning bolts embroidered with her initials. She took it wherever destiny took her (or, erm, wherever her foster parents lived), and it was caked with memories. She glanced at the driver, but he kept his eyes on the road.
“How much longer?” she pondered out loud. The driver didn’t answer right away.
“About ten minutes,” he slowly responded.
Her shoulders sagged. The driver was about 50 years old, judging by his beard, which was covered in gray. He wore an old brown romper with a red and black checkered shirt underneath the dirt colored overalls. The Jeep he owned was the same age as him and was groaning with every right turn.
When the driver announced that Laura had arrived, she was ecstatic. Then the driver took out her folder of records, and her grin turned into a sour frown. That record held all the things she wanted to keep secret. All the things that had happened to her and by her. All of that important information slipping through her fingers, and into theirs. Yes, she did not like that manilla folder. Not a bit. The chauffeur of some kind opened the door, and Laura stepped out. Outside was a little restaurant called Delilah’s Diner. It was a small brick house with a door that jingled when it opened. On top was a red brick house with two little windows perched in the wall. Her gaze shifted to the narrow hallway in between the restaurant and the cheery bright green house next to Delilah’s Diner.
“Well?” the driver asked. “Come on!”
Laura grabbed her suitcase and ran after him into the restaurant. Her brown hair flowed behind her as she ran across the street. A strong gust of wind sent chills down her back. Then she jumped onto the curb and rolled her suitcase into the restaurant with her. The door opened with a creak. Laura jumped. The inside of the restaurant was not that different from the outside. There was a long drapery of white fabric above the doorway. She pushed through the drapery and entered the restaurant. It was a small shabby one, with wood planks as the floor. The walls were covered in peeling crimson wallpaper. There were tables crammed into every corner. They each had napkins and utensils and water glasses, but they were all empty. Laura turned around to face the door and saw that it was closed. She peered around, then suddenly noticed that the driver was missing.
“Hello?” she said, her heart beating. She heard stairs creaking.
“Laura? Is that you? I thought you wouldn’t be arriving until noon!” said a female voice.
Laura moved forward, avoiding tables and dodging boxes until she came across a staircase with a woman standing on top. She smiled warmly. Her hair was pulled up into a messy bun, and she had on a neat black dress with a white apron tied at her waist. Her eyes were a deep blue and were weirdly familiar. The driver followed her down the stairs as she stepped down the stairs. She pulled her into a tight hug, and Laura dropped her suitcase to her side. She smelled faintly of cinnamon.
She pulled away and said, “I’m Murial. You can call me Miri. I heard your parents were umm… ” Miri hesitated. “Anyway, I have your room all ready for you, and you must be starving, so I will make pasta or something for lunch. Is that okay? Here I’ll take your bags… ”
Laura found it easier to nod to all Miri’s questions and say as little as possible as she followed her up the squeaky stairs. When she entered the next floor, she was surprised. It was much neater than the down stairs. Miri recognized the look of shock on Laura’s face and explained.
“We own the second floor. Mr. MaCaya owns the restaurant. I work here, and every morning I come downstairs and wait on all the people, which isn’t a lot. If you can’t tell, we aren’t getting that much mon — ” She stopped speaking for a moment, and Laura’s head shot up like a rocket and looked Miri right in her sad eyes.
She shook her head and walked down the hallway, Laura at her heels. She gazed around. The walls were a robin’s egg blue and basically, you entered the stairs and there was a room a few feet before you had a room, which Miri told Laura was her room, and then on the other side of the room was another room which was the bathroom. She took her to the last room in the hallway, and here Miri informed Laura that this was her room. She opened the wooden door and pulled along her suitcase. Caplunk, kerplunk, went the suitcase as she slid it over the cracks in the entrance. She looked around. The walls were a beautiful yellow, and a large window was opposite to where she was standing. She gasped. There was an old fashioned bed with blue sheets and a blinding white pillow. There was a fancy patterned rug on the floor and a large desk with a blue spinning chair. There was a lime green beanbag chair right next to the bed. This room was much fancier than Mr. Joseph T. Pennyworth’s “room” as he called it. Laura thought it was a retired broom closet. The curtains were covered in little hedgehogs, and Miri parted them and switched on the light.
“Why don’t you put that suitcase on your bed? We will unpack your things later,” Miri said cheerfully.
“Okay,” she said and obliged to heaving her almost bursting suitcase on her bed.
When she plopped it down, a cloud of dust flew into her face. Laura coughed. She heard the stairs creaking and knew that Miri was going downstairs. She turned around and walked down the stairs toward the dining room. On the way there she crashed into a large man squished into a tiny tuxedo. He turned around. His face looked so much like a pig that Laura snorted and then tried to cover it up with a cough but failed miserably.
“Hello,” the man said with a forced smile. Laura immediately recognized this person. It was Mr. MaCaya.
That night, after a helping of bread and potatoes, Laura couldn’t sleep. She tossed and turned and tried the trick someone at her old school taught her, but it was totally useless. So she went downstairs to ask Miri for a cup of warm milk or tea, but came across someone speaking. Laura could barely make out the noise, and so the young girl crept quietly down the stairs, bent over the railing and strained her ears to hear the conversation. It was definitely Miri’s voice.
“I know, I’m living off my savings now. It’s a shame really. He won’t let us tell anyone. Barely pays us a dime a day.”
Laura suddenly felt a pang of guiltiness for eavesdropping. She ran up the stairs as quickly as she could and jumped under the covers. The next morning, she woke up tired. She suddenly remembered everything that happened that night. It all rushed back to her. She sat up in bed for about ten minutes, thinking and going over everything she heard in her mind. One thought came across her and stayed in her mind for the entire day. The young girl couldn’t stop thinking about Miri and that she was not getting paid. She knew that it was illegal of course. But because he was technically paying them, there was nothing Laura or Miri could do. Unless Laura made up a new law that he couldn’t pay his employees less than ten cents a day. It was just wrong. It wasn’t the way this was supposed to go. Miri should have been paid fairly. All the other people probably quit. Why didn’t Miri? It was a puzzling question.
I’ll start with what I know, she thought. Laura checked for her suitcase and saw that it had been unpacked. The curious girl zipped it open and found her secret pocket on the back. Unzipping it, she dug around for her notebook, and finally felt the familiar grip of her journal. She sighed in relief. Quietly, Laura tiptoed over to the window and opened the curtains, but it was still dark out, so Laura turned on the light switch which was conveniently located right next to the window. She slunk noiselessly back to her bed and jumped into the bed. She fished for a pen under the bed. Then she opened up to a blank space (which were scarce) and started writing:
What I Know About House 365 on 318th Street
Laura stopped writing. Then, the answer hit her like a sack of potatoes. That was it. They had no customers, no money. They couldn’t afford to pay the workers, let alone the rent. Laura suddenly remembered a book she read about this. It was really funny, but this wasn’t because it was actually happening.
It was real.
Laura had terrible sleep last night. It wasn’t just because of last night. It was the feeling in her gut that she was missing something. Mr. MaCaya was a liar and a thief. Why was she feeling differently about that? And, to push those thoughts out of her mind, she got dressed and thumped down the stairs, only to remember that the kitchen was on the one floor Miri could afford. She ran back upstairs, got momentarily lost in the hallways, and finally found the kitchen quiet. The table was covered in a tattered tablecloth, and the chairs were pointed in all directions. There was a bread basket that was left over from last night with a few pieces of half eaten slices of them lying alone on the table. Suddenly, a shadow rose from the darkness of the kitchen. It was large. It was tall. And it picked her up and put her in a sack. Everything went black.
When Laura woke up, she found herself lying on the floor of a strange house. Her head was beaded with sweat. Her eyesight was fogged and cloudy. She rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. The puzzled girl looked around her. She was in a small cottage with wet walls that were caving in like a sand castle, but made of straw. There was a small chair and table in the middle of the only room in the house. The one window opened the dark sky into the cottage. Laura stood up from the floor. On the table, there was a small white scrap of paper. As she walked over to the table, she looked around, but there was nothing else to see. It was scary. The paper lay flat on the table. She snatched it up in her hands. It said:
This is the place that you will be staying in for the rest of your life. You have witnessed a crime, and you are willing to tell others. Your precious Miri will be nothing against me when I get ALL the money of the world. I will be in control. I WILL RULE THE WORLD whether you like it or not. The door is locked. You will never stop me, for I am the amazing BOSTON MACAYA.
Laura was shocked. She thought Mr. MaCaya was doing it for a reasonable reason. But he wanted to rule the world. Laura was the only one who knew the truth. But she would never get to anyone in time before Mr. MaCaya finished his plan. She would have to save everyone. The world was depending on her.
Laura knew how to get out. The window, of course. But the thing she was worried about was actually getting back to her home in Wisconsin. This was Colorado. Toot toot.
“I got it!” Laura said. She would ride a train to Wisconsin. The problem now was how to catch a train. But, that was easily solved because there was one right outside the “House.” Laura ran outside, the note clenched firmly in her hand, and ran outside. She barely made it. Now, she was in a crowded train with no idea where she was going. Hopefully it was Wisconsin. Tweet tweet!
“Police coming through. Make way! Make way!” a gruff voice said. She looked up and saw a police officer glaring at her.
“Where is your parent, young lady?” he said. And Laura began. By the time she finished, the police officer said, “You are on the wrong train, princess!” Laura cursed under her breath. “I’ll take you home, and we’ll sort this MaCaya thing out.” Laura grinned.
“Thank you, sir!” she beamed. And she was almost home.
YOUNG GIRL GAVE PROOF! BOSTON MACAYA ARRESTED! GIRL ADOPTED.
A young girl named Laura Wilder Ingalis saved the city! She was adopted by Murial Smith! See more on page 16!
The End. For now.