Chapter 13: How I Spent My Summer Vacation
By: Rae Rose Torres
I’m sure at my birth age, reports like these should be normal; however, I am anything but normal. I died ten years ago, the day after my 6th birthday. I never got the chance to go to school and so I’ve never had to write a report like this. So I asked my sister, Adeya, for some help. She said to just write what happened in a way that would make people want to read it. She’s very smart, my sister. I wonder if I will be that smart when I am her age.
You see, even though I was born before her, she’s lived longer than I have. Dr. Gates says that if I go by my death date, then we’re practically twins, with me older by a day. I like that and so when she gets uppity, I always remind her of that! And if I add both my birth age and my death age together, I’m older than Ade by six years and a day. But I only do that when I get angry at her. I like being her twin.
I’m really lucky, because this year, my parents decided to travel around the world for the summer. This means I have a lot to write about; like the pyramids in Egypt, the museum in France, the aquarium in Riverview and the gardens in China. I also got to meet a lot of my dad’s family for the first time (that’s a whole other story!).
So, let’s start, okay?
Our first stop was Egypt. Even though we were there in June, it was really hot! (Or at least that’s what Ade says. I can’t feel the weather unless I concentrate.) Everything was sand, sand and more sand with some sandy rocks thrown around. I loved it! We took many trips to the market place and I learned how to charm a snake. Ade was too scared of being bitten to try.
“Red and yellow snakes are dangerous, Ade. Red and black snakes are safe. And besides, this snake is brown!”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. They smell Rae. And they’re gross and they kill people. And they eat mice.” Ade said the last part in a whisper.
I just rolled my eyes at her. She just didn’t understand.
“I don’t think you should play with them. Mom will be mad.”
“I’ll be fine. I’m a ghost. No skin, remember?”
Ade just shook her head at me and walked away.
We explored some of the old pyramids. It was easier for me, since I can walk through walls when I want to and I found this hidden room and this cool chest. There was a dusty lamp inside. Mom got permission from the government and they said since it wasn’t a very old lamp and didn’t seem to have any historic value that I could keep it. Dad bought a treasure chest that looks like the one it was in and said I could put all my treasures in there.
We found some other cool stuff in the pyramid too. Mom found some old papers that she handed over and Ade found a rainbow gem. I still think my lamp was the coolest though! I mean, it was in a hidden room, why put a lamp in a hidden room if it’s not important? There is some writing on it, so once I get that cleaned up, maybe it will say.
On our way out of the pyramid, I saw this huge black horse and it let me pet it. It was so beautiful and it ate right out of my hands. Mom said most wild horses won’t let you come near them at all and that I must have a special touch with animals. I wanted to keep it but my dad said I couldn’t. It followed me home though and came to visit every day for the rest of the time we were in Egypt!
Dad’s family had a huge party for him and there were so many people there! Aunt Cecelia flew in and decided to travel with us for the rest of the summer. She’s cool and doesn’t stare at me like some people do. Especially Dad’s family in Sunset Valley, but I’ll get to that later. I asked mom if we were Egyptian and she said no, but that some of dad’s family was. I think it would be cool to be Egyptian, then I could live there and visit the pyramids every day and find some more treasure. Mom laughed and said that we would visit again. I guess that’s cool too. There were so many people, I had to concentrate really hard to stay solid and I was exhausted by the end of the night. Dad had to carry me home. But it was a great party.
After Egypt, we went to China. I can’t say I like China too much, but the Zen gardens were nice and we got to see the Terracotta Army, you know – the statues of those stone soldiers. Ade and I had a race to see who could get there first and she won, but not by much and only because everything is so high up on these huge mountains and the winds there drag me down.
But the one thing I did love were these really nice hidden springs at one of the resorts. Dad and I stayed there all afternoon while mom and Ade went to say hi to my grandpa’s family. It was the best!
Mom came back to the resort with Aunt Kandy. She is really beautiful and is a famous singer. She was visiting family too and decided to go to Riverview with us. She said she would leave us in France and I got really excited. I didn’t know we were going there and that is my favorite place in the whole world! Mom didn’t look too happy that the surprise was spoiled – it was supposed to be my birthday present. But she eventually got over it.
After China, we came back to the states and because Riverview is such a small town with so many waterways, we had to land in Lucky Palms, which is a few kilometers further south. I’m not sure why the place is still called Lucky Palms, there’s nothing lucky about it. I guess once you get a name though, it’s just too much trouble to change it, but there is nothing but sand and old, dried up lakebeds. Mom said that she grew up a few miles east in Appaloosa and that she would take us there to see the old castle grandpa rebuilt. I hope that place is in better shape!
We did make a pit stop into the Lucky Simoleon Casino. It was a great place, except for the fact that some woman almost died! It happened while we were swimming in the pool. Aunt Cecelia was keeping an eye on us and then this woman started complaining of chest pains and my aunt knew exactly what to do. Aunt Cecelia saved that woman’s life. Seriously, she saved the woman’s life right in front of me. She’s so cool!
As I watched her, Ade swam up to me and asked, “Where exactly has she been keeping that x-ray machine?”
“I don’t know…and I don’t want to find out. Ever,” I responded and then splashed her.
I really wanted to see the aquarium in Riverview that we learned about in the Science course, so we left Lucky Palms the next day. On our way out of town, I saw this really cool wishing well and Ade and I both made a wish. I don’t know what she wished for, but I wished to be human, with real skin and bones. I don’t let my family know but I miss feeling things and I would like, just once, to be able to change my clothes. Sometimes, if I concentrate real hard I can change my outfit, but then I’m so tired and hot after, I don’t do it a lot.
Riverview isn’t any more exciting than Lucky Palms and the aquarium is really all they have going for them, but man, what an aquarium! They have sharks and clown fish and sea turtles and sting rays and blue fins. I think I even saw a piranha. I got so excited I accidentally walked into one of the tanks. It was the shark tank and mom almost had a nervous breakdown before she remembered I couldn’t get hurt like that anymore.
“I know that you are not in that tank again. Did I not tell you not to go in there again?”
“Mom, I’m fine, see? Nothing can hurt me. Plus, the water feels good.”
“Oh Rae, you really need to stop doing these things. First it’s the snake, now sharks. Are you trying to give me a heart attack? Get out of the tank. Now!”
Mom was so angry with me, I was more afraid of her than I was of the sharks.
Dad tried to help me. He should have known better. “She can’t get hurt, babe. Calm –”
Mom turned to him. “Are you seriously going to tell me to calm down? My daughter – who I spent years mourning – is swimming in a TANK FULL OF SHARKS! I will not CALM DOWN!”
“I think you should get out of the tank, Rae.” Dad and Ade said at the same time.
That happened two months ago. I don’t think she’s over that yet though. But, I realized that water might be the only physical thing I can feel. When I was in that tank, I could sense it flowing through my body, pushing and pulling at me. It was the most incredible feeling ever. I think I want to be a scuba diver when I grow up.
If I ever grow up.
After Riverview, we went to Sunset Valley to visit the last of Dad’s family. They were not nice people. They made fun of me for being a ghost and they yelled at Dad for bringing me back. I didn’t cry though, because Dad yelled right back and Ade almost hit Liza, our cousin, for yelling at me, but mom stopped her just in time. We didn’t stay very long in Sunset Valley.
And then finally, finally, finally, we were in France; back to the castle that I love more than anything in the world (besides my family of course). It was so different than the last time I was there, but it smelled the same and the Louvre was exactly how I remembered it and Dad also had some family there. It was amazing!
The first night there, we stayed at a hotel in Paris. Dad said there was someone we were meeting in the morning. So we all woke up super early and sat in the lobby waiting. I was talking to Ade about Liza when dad got up and walked towards a woman who was standing at the door.
When he reached her they just looked at each other for a while saying nothing. Then the woman started crying and gave dad this really big hug. Mom walked over with Sarah and they all talked for a while before dad called Ade and me over.
“Rae, Ade, come here and meet your great-grandmother, Adrianna,” Dad said with a huge grin on his face.
“My, what beautiful children you have.” Adrianna has the softest, most beautiful voice I have ever heard.
“Thank you ma’am,” Ade said, smiling and reaching over to give her a hug. Ade has always been braver than I have.
“You must be Adeya. I’ve heard so much about you from Cecelia. Nice to meet you sweetie.” She turned to me next. “And you must be Rae Rose. Come and give your Gran a hug, Neta.”
She wanted to hug me!
“Hello, Ma’am,” I said, giving her a hug.
“None of this Ma’am stuff. Gran will be just fine.”
Ade and I both smiled at her and said, “Yes, Gran.”
Mom introduced Gran to Aunt Kandy and then we were on our way home. FINALLY! It was nothing how I remembered it. Mom has a habit of redecorating, over and over again. But Ade said that dad did it this time.
I should have known…we now have a small park in front of our house! Dad put some cool lights that are like, glowing green rocks, all around. They don’t need electricity to run and they just stop glowing during the day. I asked dad where they came from, since I’ve never seen anything like that before.
“From Lunar Lakes,” Dad said. “A few years ago – on your first birthday, actually – some scientists sent a droid into outer space. It came back with some soil samples and some rocks. The rocks glow and produce light at night and they gave your grandma a few since she funded the program. She asked me to find a way to use them and I thought, why not here.”
“That is so cool. We have alien lights in our front yard!” I ran to go tell Ade.
My dad rocks!
Once we settled in, we spent the day going to the Eiffel Tower and the Museum. It was just how I remembered them. By the time I was ready to go home, it was way pass our bedtime and Ade was less then pleased with me. Yes, I dragged her everywhere, but I had so much fun! And secretly, so did she.
And we got to see the Abandoned Nectary that my dad was working on the last time we were here. It was absolutely beautiful! Mom says that before, the place had no trees and the house was falling apart. I wish he’d taken a picture of it so I could show you all the work he did! Dad said that once the town finished with the show and tell that the house would be put on the market. We might buy it! That would be so cool, maybe its haunted and I could make some friends or something.
Everything was fabulous!
I finally got around to cleaning the old lamp that I found in Egypt, maybe two weeks after we went to the Nectary. My birthday was the day before and dad got me a cleaning kit that is just as good as an archeologist’s toolkit. Maybe I’ll be an archeologist too, but I’ll work in the ocean and look for sunken treasure! Maybe.
As I rubbed a piece of dirt off the side of the lamp, it started to vibrate and glow.
From nowhere a blue woman appeared and said, “You have freed me from my prison, as a reward, I shall grant you three wishes. What is your first wish?”
Of course I just stood there, I mean, it’s not every day you meet a real live genie!
“Little one, I cannot stay out of the lamp for too long. As the sun sets, the portal closes. I will have your first wish now.”
“Ummm, I have three, you said?” I still couldn’t believe I was talking to a real genie. I felt like Aladdin. I wondered if maybe she would give me a magic carpet? When she nodded, I opened my mouth to ask for one, but then thought about what she said. She was stuck in that lamp all the time?
“Ok…so, umm, I wish that you were free.”
The genie just stared at me. After a while when nothing happened, I stared worrying that maybe I did something wrong. When Aladdin freed the genie in the movie there were lights and fireworks and stuff. Nothing seemed to change when I did it, though.
Finally, the genie spoke, “You do not know me little one, and you have three wishes, yet with your first one, you free me. Why?”
I shrugged. “I know what it’s like to be trapped. I hope your freedom is better than mine.”
The genie looked down at me, a weird look in her eyes. “We will just have to change that. Won’t we?” She tilted her head as if she was listening to something and smiled. “Three wishes have already been made.” Her body started to glow and she continued, “When it is needed the most, at the time of death and rebirth, the daughter shall be as she was, the sister shall be happy, and the body restored.”
And with that she disappeared.
I stood there for like, a minute, and then I ran downstairs to tell my mom about what the genie told me. “Momyouwillnotbelievewhatjusthappened!”
“Whoa there, sweetie, stop. Relax. Now start over, slowly.” Mom smiled down at me.
Taking a death breath, I started over. “Do you remember the lamp I found in Egypt?”
“That old dusty one?”
“Yes! I was cleaning it and –” Mom’s phone started ringing and she told me to wait while she looked at the caller ID.
“Hold on Rosie, it’s grandpa.”
“Mooooom!” This was more important than anything grandpa had to say!
“Hello…hey dad…no, I can talk…what…what’s wrong…wait, give me a sec.” Mom hugged me and walked to a quiet corner so she could hear grandpa better.
“What is it daddy? What’s wrong with mom? She’s what!” Mom’s face seemed to crumple and she looked like she was about to faint, but Dad was suddenly right there to hold her up.
“What is it, Lia? What happened?” Dad walked mom over to the couch and I went and sat next to her and took the hand that wasn’t still holding the phone.
“It’s mom. She’s – she died this morning.”