Eyelids. Brightness. Eyelids. Light. Eyelids. Ceiling. Eyelids. Sigh. Ceiling. The light is on the ceiling. I blink again then I sit up. Katherine is awake. I don’t want to be awake. She woke me up way too early. Again. “Katherine. Do you have to wake up so terribly early?”
“I don’t have to. I want to, and anyway it’s not so terrible.” She snickered when she looked over at me, after she finished her sentence.
“What?” She giggles at almost nothing.
“Oh nothing. You just look funny.”
“Oh thank you. Good morning to you too.” She has never been too good at waking me up but today she is doing worse than normal. I look over at the clock then get up and walk over to the vanity we share.
“No that’s not what I meant.” She stopped for a moment, probably to stick her tongue out at me, and then continued, “You just have something weird on your forehead.”
Apparently she has never had pimples and didn’t notice the big red one on my forehead last night. I ignored her and reached down for my wooden hair brush decorated with carved horses. Half asleep, with slits for eyes and wishing Katherine drank coffee, I started to brush my hair. Something fell across my face. My eyes got a little bigger as I looked down at the table in front of me. I picked it up. It was a stupid sticky note. I must have had an angry look on my face when I spun around because Katherine sputtered like an engine in the middle of winter.
“I didn’t do it. I’m not the prankster in this house.” She raised her hands in a position of surrender then pointed at the wall. I knew what she meant. She was pointing across the room, across the hall in the direction of the guys’ room. All of them would have one reason or another to trick me like this. I looked at the note hoping that whatever it said, or even the hand writing, would give one of them away. The note read:
Go downstairs and take a left,
take another left and then a right.
Having lived here since I was little I knew that those directions would take me down to the cellar. Why would they send me down there? Thinking through reasons they right have for why, they would have no reason for sending me down there. Then I looked at the hand writing. Had it not been on my forehead earlier, I would have been a suspect. The hand writing could be termed boyish, and all my suspects were currently guys. It was helpful that it was legible, but it was barely readable. Alex had the best handwriting amongst the guys. He’s off the suspect list. The other guys were a different story. Turner has pulled pranks on me, every now and then, since the two of us were adopted by Ms. Tracie. Peter was the one that tried to pull most of the pranks around here, but the fact that he is so easily amused wasn’t helpful for him. It actually gave him away. Austen was quiet, attentive, and thoughtful, but that didn’t help him much because he wasn’t that smart. The only reason why he has been getting smarter, slowly, was because he was surrounded by smart roommates like Katherine, Turner, Alex, and myself. All of us, excluding Katherine and Alex, had pretty bad handwriting. Most of the letters were wispy, almost delicate, barely legible, but seemingly forced. This guy was really trying hard, if only they did that the rest of the time. Now only three people in this house are out of the suspect pool, counting myself.
Before I went over and tried to get the truth out of any of the guys I would have to change into real clothes. Sweat pants with monkeys on them and a purple tank top would not really help me in figuring out who is trying to prank me. It is hard to seem angry when cheerful looking cartoon monkeys are skating around your purple sweat pants. While getting dressed I thought out loud, “It makes no sense. None of the guys went down there often enough to be comfortable. Scratch that, none of us went down there on a regular basis, but we all took turns for cleaning jobs and most of the cleaning supplies were down there. The only thing that wasn’t was a broom, dustpan, and a tiny hand vacuum for daily messes, most of us are clumsy. The only one that actually went down there a lot was Ms. Tracie but that’s because she was kind enough to do our laundry.”
Once I was dressed I went into the guys’ room. The door was open and I walked in. My angry face disturbed them like it did Katherine, but they didn’t react like she did. They had a surprised look on their face for a moment before they let it pass. I had interrupted their thoughts on what we might do today. It was our game day. Typically, by the end of the day our XBOX Kinect, Wii, cards, and board games are warm and our brains relaxed. Today would not flow the same way as our game day typically plays out.
I held up the note and angrily said, “What is this?”
Alex replied smartly, “A sticky note.” Peter snickered annoyingly.
Turner walked in with a tray weighted down by five full cups of coffee. “You forgot to get coffee before you decided to blow up on us this morning.” He grabbed the cup covered with delicately painted horses in midstride and slipped it into my hand.
I muttered thank you as he went around passing out the coffee cups before taking his cup that had the words ‘Choose Your Weapon’ underneath five different symbols; the XBOX controller, Play Station controller, Wii controller, a computer mouse, and a light saber. After he sat down on the couch next to Austen, I took a sip of my coffee and started again.
“Did any of you put a sticky note on my forehead last night?” No one responded.
After sitting there with an innocent yet worried face Turner stood up, setting his coffee cup on the coffee table and walked over to me. He put his hand on my shoulders, looked me straight in my eyes then asked, “When did you wake up?” My eyes must have been blood-shot because I barely slept last night. Turner has always been like a big brother to me but now that he is studying for his medical degree he can interrogate me differently than before.
“Guess” I said turning to glare at Katherine who had walked in behind me. She was my new roommate and I was still getting used to the new sleep pattern.
I looked back to catch Turner smiling but before I could say anything he made a straight face than said, “What does the note say?” I had nearly forgotten about the note in my hand but when he asked that I looked at him and gave him the note. He read it to himself then passed it around and said, “That’s the cellar.” He thought for a second then said, “Since I didn’t see you in the kitchen earlier so you haven’t been down stairs to see what’s there, yet.”
“The cellar.” I said, and then continued over Peter snickers, “Same as it has been since we were little.” Ms. Tracie adopted us when her husband died because he had always wanted a little boy and a little girl and the big house was empty since his death. Turner and I had been there since then, as the only constant to her beside the house itself. While we were growing up, she let college students come in and stay in a bed if they needed it but couldn’t afford the expensive dorms nearby. They weren’t ever allowed to throw college parties but most of them would let us hang out with them while they were in the house. Now that both Turner and I are in college ourselves, she lets us do a sort of outreach to look for new roommates. These people are mainly people who take some of the same classes we do, largely so that we can carpool and study together.
After thinking some more Turner said, “And that to the right bit. What if there is something new on the bookshelf? What if there is another sticky note? This could be a treasure hunt like when were little.” Both of us had a flash of memories of Ms. Tracie’s hunts that would start anywhere, from the kitchen, our bedroom doors, or in this case our foreheads. The treasure hunts would take us all over the house. We got so familiar with the house because of the hunts, that we now can spot almost anything out-of-place.
Smart Alec Alex interrupted our memories by saying, “Well, why don’t we go look?” We did. Our group of six sprinted down the stairs like a bunch of six-year olds, Turner and I leading the way. Turner was right. There was another sticky note and he grabbed it. The only thing on it was a very long math problem. I liked math, a lot, and he hated it. The note read:
“What is on it?” said an eager Peter.
“One point seven seven two, something.” said a confused Turner
“Very intelligent, Turner. It’s the square root of Pi out to the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6… 35th place squared.” I said then I looked up to a group of confused faces barely lit by the light bulb swinging above our heads. “It equals out to Pi.”
“Pie tastes good.”
“No not Pie, Pi, the numerical number.” I thought then I took the pencil out of my hair and drew the symbol on the back of the sticky note.
“Oh darn.” A sad Peter looked down and snapped his fingers. Then looked up and hopefully said, “What if it really means the yummy kind of pie?” He rubbed his stomach and licked his lips when I looked at Turner. I asked him, “Where does Ms. Tracie keep the pies?” As good as she was at making pie, she was even better at hiding them. I never found her hiding spot for her delicious pies. Turner, however, was an amazing pie thief. Because Ms. Tracie made pies on our game day, we all couldn’t go with him. Turner had to sneak to the hiding place to get the next clue. Sadly, that meant I didn’t learn where the hiding place was. On the sticky note was a drawing:
“At over tick dash t. That makes no sense,” said Turner. He gave the clue to me, again. “The tick dash t might be a minus sign, but I don’t know what at over ick means.” I said.
“It means attic.” Said Alex. He was finally making himself useful. “At and ick put together sounds like attic and attics are on top of the house over the ticks.”
“To the attic.” I grinned at Turner but inside I was a bit worried. We had a big attic and could play a very long game of hide and seek inside just the attic when we were little if we wanted to. How would we find a post it note in the middle of that enormous room? The attic was full of things we weren’t using then, like old Halloween and Christmas decorations. There were also old bed frames and mattresses. We used the mattresses when we played games, like wrestling or practicing cart wheeling, when we were little, and now we’ll sometimes use them for the fun of it.
“Where is it?” said Katherine who saw the expanse of the room and saw the amount of stuff it held. Alex had a very confused look on his face then had a eureka moment.
“Tick,” he said then he started walking towards the pile of mattresses.
“Tick? Tick what?” asked a confused Austen.
“Ticks, or bed bugs. Tick is under the line. Could the next clue be under the bed?” He looked, bent down, and then came back up flashing a yellow square. He handed it to me. I read it aloud carefully,
Verto eam ius
“I have no idea what this means. Can you read this Katherine?” Katherine loved traveling and history. In her travels she needed to talk to the locals to learn about their history. After learning that, she tried to learn the history of the language in whatever region she was visiting.
“It says turn her right. How would the writer know where we’re standing?” said Katherine.
“She doesn’t,” Turner said, starting down the stairs.
“She who?” asked the silent Austen.
“Ms. Tracie.” I said and looked at Turner. He told our group about the familiar statement.
“Ms. Tracie used to always to tell me to turn her right. Her being Agnes.” Turner pointed to me. “She used to always get in trouble and Ms. Tracie would tell me to ‘turn her right’ and help her do the right thing.” Once we were all down the attic stairs we walked down the stairs straight into the kitchen where Ms. Tracie was making pies.
“Why did you put a sticky note on my forehead this morning?” She looked over at me and smiled. The pudgy, little old lady with streaks of silver running through her jet black hair walked over to a bar stool and sat down. As she thought, the smell of freshly baked pie wafted over to us.
“I heard you all reminiscing about when you were younger so I decided to resurrect an old game.”
Turner thought then smiled and said, “Even the reward?” eyeing the pies.
“Yes, even the pies.” she responded holding out our reward.
“One question.” I said. Everyone was angry I stopped the reward from entering our possession.
“Yes.” said the sweet Ms. Tracie.
“Why were the notes written in such terrible hand writing?” I asked completely confused. Ever since I was little I had admired her hand writing and strived for mine to be like her’s.
She smiled and said, “It would have been no fun for anyone,” Peter snickered at her rhyme, “if you automatically knew it was me.” Then she carefully gave each of us a pie. We spent the rest of the day savoring our sweet surprise and playing games.
Writing Prompt # 549 from:
1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories, and More
By, Bryan Cohen