Chapter 19

It took a day of waiting and watching and lighting the extra dragon before Alisana came through the arches from Viridis and laughed and hugged her and said she couldn’t come quicker because she had to sneak back through a hole. Sneak

It took a day of waiting and watching and lighting the extra dragon before Alisana came through the arches from Viridis and laughed and hugged her and said she couldn’t come quicker because she had to sneak back through a hole. Sneaking through a hole sounded horrible and Hailie hugged her tight and was glad she had been able to open the door and not just stay there in the dark by a hole.

Alisana’s crow hopped in behind her. One of these days Hailie thought it might speak to her. Not yet, not today, but it made a little squawk as if to say it was all right.

Today her parents were gone. Her babysitter Hugs was inside sending fast mad texts to someone and wasn’t watching her. It was a perfect time to see Alisana, if she could reach her. Hailie could usually see through the doors but Alisana was the only one who could always see her back. Alisana could come through and see her; she didn’t know if the others could too and she couldn’t find out. Her brother would be mad if she tried it with him.

“I tried to find you,” Hailie told her. “Mostly it wouldn’t open at all but a Pirene person looked in. I got it out but I think it died. Still nobody but you can come in and go back when I call you even if it doesn’t work all the time. Is Jay all right?”

Alisana looked at the red and yellow flowers Hailie’s mother grew on the wall and the planters and touched one red blossom and Hailie’s turtle with her bare toes. The turtle knew her the way all her toys did.

“He came with Fiona and they are safe. Hailie, they are looking for a way to stop Pirene by fixing the doors but they can’t find what they need. Your brother is looking too.”

If her brother wanted something Hailie would find it. “What are they looking for?”

“They want to find a man named Gabe,” Alisana told her, “and a place called Twelve Street. They say he can fix the doors. No one knows where he is or where that place might be. Do you know?”

That was weird.  She knew who Gabe was but she thought he had died.  “Gabe was my Mom’s best friend except I thought he was dead.  If there’s a street and you know it’s name why can’t you go there and find him?”

“Nobody knows where it is.  I heard your brother and Fiona say he was here, at your house.”

Jay probably hadn’t said that. From what Hailie had heard about Gabe, he was in trouble a lot and probably wouldn’t tell people where to find him. “He didn’t live here. I don’t know where he lived or if it was on that street.”

Behind them the patio door opened and Hugs yelled, “Hailie, what’s going on? Is someone out here? Who are you talking to?”

Alisana calmly looked at Hugs who couldn’t see her or hear her. Alisana had been here before when Hugs was babysitting so they knew she couldn’t. “Do you think she knows?” Alisana asked in a normal voice.

Hailie didn’t think Hugs would know anything about Gabe or the mysterious street but she could try. “I don’t think so but I’ll find out,” Hailie whispered because Hugs could definitely hear her.

Hailie watched Hugs walk toward them, trying to come up with a good way to ask her. Nobody asked things about Gabe so she wouldn’t talk about him if she just asked. Hugs was sorta stomping around. She’d been in a bad mood. She had been calling her friend Autumn and talking about Fiona and Jay and sounding annoyed about them. Hailie smiled to herself. That was it. She’d seen her mother do this. She could do it too.

She gave Hugs a very big smile.  Hugs didn’t see Alisana, or the crow, or the stone arches or the pine trees behind them.  “I’m just playing with my toys.”  

Hugs had never seemed to worry much about Hailie. She always watched over her when she was here and played with her sometimes but she didn’t hang over her or bother her much. “Oh okay,” she said.

“Hugs,” Hailie said to her in the sweetest voice she could, “do you know a special place called Twelfth Street? Is it a secret place?”

“Twelfth Street?” Hugs said, crossing her arms, and she seemed surprised and kind of careful. “Who said anything to you about Twelfth Street?”

This was the hard part. She had to sound stupid and like a baby and pick at Hugs about something she though would make her mad and then help.

“Thalia from school told me. Thalia said that Fiona and Viv were helping with a project and there was a funny story about that place, and Fiona told her there wasn’t any special place called Twelfth Street. It was made up and not real.” Hailie paused and added in a low voice, “Thalia said Fiona knows everything. Fiona is really smart.”

“Well,” Hugs said very firmly, “Fiona’s wrong. It was a long time ago and it’s gone now, and the name was a little different, but it’s not made up. Fiona definitely doesn’t know everything. If she knew anything about Sandy Point’s history she should know Twelfth Street was near where they live now. She’s not all that smart.”

Alisana’s crow hopped up on the table and looked right at Hugs. It was always the strangest thing to see – Hugs couldn’t tell it was there, not at all. He fluttered his wings.

Hugs put one hand on her hip and kept explaining in a slow voice as if she was talking to Hailie when she was still a baby. Sometimes it was good to let her think she still was.

“In case you want to tell Thalia about it, there were a lot of old roads on Sandy Point before they set up the tourist shops. People drank and did stuff, people my dad knew when he was playing in the band all the time, that’s what my brother said and I even heard your mother say something about it…but you don’t need to know about that. Anyway, all those roads are all grown over. If Fiona would read a book instead of thinking she knows everything she would know that old Road Twelve stopped right at the water. You can’t go any further. That’s where the Gate Rock is.”

She stopped suddenly and looked down with a frozen face, then said uneasily, “The Gate Rock is just a silly story you know. That’s what’s made up, not the street. A boat ran into the rock which is why it has that hole. Birds live there, that’s why it makes that funny noise sometimes.”

Turning around in one quick flip of her hair, Hugs went back toward the house calling over her shoulder, “I’m making some lunch Hailie. We’ll have chocolate cake and a lot of ice cream.”

They waited until the door closed behind her. Hailie walked back to Alisana who wouldn’t be able to stay much longer. “Tell them about both the road and the rock. When people are scared, that means it’s important and you can see that Hugs was scared.”

Alisana looked out at the channel and the train that ran across the high track toward the trees and the smoke and the city. She could never go there.

“Hailie, they say that Gabe can fix the doors better than Jay.  Why is that?  I thought it was the family that was important. You’re the same family.”

They were out of time. Alisana reached out and touched her hand. “Hailie, who is his mother?”

She didn’t know her name. His mother died when he was a baby. She’d heard a story about Gabe’s mother, that she might have been the sister of the one who was killed, the one people said her mother killed. People didn’t talk about that. Her father said something very very quiet and her toy rabbit told her.

“I don’t know. We could find out. I wish you could stay.”

“So do I.”

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