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The Missing Locket
Mary Cunningham

The Missing Locket Excerpt

Behind a dense curtain of cobwebs...behind an antique table and lamp...behind a stack of faded suitcases...appeared the top of a huge, dust-covered old trunk. After carefully moving a hand-blown glass lamp without breaking it, and dragging the antique table to one side, we pushed the suitcases away and there it was-the biggest trunk I'd ever seen! Bigger than my grandma's old steamer trunk.

"You don't suppose it's really a coffin with a body in it, do you?" I whispered, wide-eyed.

"Are you nuts?" She laughed. "That's crazy, even for you, Gus. Besides, don't you think a dead body would smell in this heat?"

"Yeah," I laughed sheepishly. "Guess I just got caught up in the moment...you know, with the spiders and cobwebs and all."

"Well...do you wanna see what's really in it?" she asked expectantly.

"Yeah...okay," I said, determined to run like heck if a zombie jumped out!

Cynthia and I knelt down in front of the trunk and tried to lift the lid.

"Man! This is heavy," I groaned, struggling to lift one side while Cynthia pulled with all her might on the other. Finally the rusty hinges gave way and the lid slowly creaked open.

Peeking inside, we saw that it was filled with all kinds of old clothes, hats, and...

"Eeeeeekkk! " I leaped to my feet. "It's alive!"

I was halfway down the stairs when I heard, "You mean this old fur? " Cynthia snickered, dangling it in the air. "I don't think it's been alive for several years, Gus."

Feeling silly, I walked slowly up the steps and across the attic floor to the trunk, only to have Cynthia shove the old thing right in my face. "Here, Gus! Be careful! It might bite and give you rabies!"

"Ah... choo! Ah...ah...choo!" I sneezed over and over and over from the dust flying off the fur.

"Stop it, Gus," Cynthia said disgustedly. "You're blowing boogers all over everything!"

"Well, excu-u-u-use me, but this stuff smells moldy! I'll bet no one's been in this trunk for a hundred years!" As my sneezing fit started winding down, I noticed Cynthia peering into the trunk at a dress that was neatly folded on top. She pulled out a faded ballerina costume and shook dust everywhere.

Oh, oh, here I go again! "Ah...ah...ah...CHOO! " Fortunately, she was too busy admiring the dress to yell at me again. After dabbing tears from the corners of my eyes with the tail of my rumpled shirt, I noticed the costume was a light pink with tarnished gold braiding around the neck. Next, Cynthia pulled out a pair of ballet shoes that appeared to have tiny pieces of dull glass glued on them. "This outfit is too big to be mine," she said, holding up the dress, "and I'm sure it doesn't belong to Danielle because no one would dare drag her away from her precious piano long enough to take dancing lessons."

"Well, one thing's sure," I said, "even as dirty as this dress is, it still looks like nothing a mere mortal would wear, but more like something belonging to a fairy princess."

I guess the image of looking like a princess was far too much for Cynthia to resist, because she quickly put on the costume and slipped into the ballet shoes.

"Where's a mirror when you need one?" she said, stomping her foot in frustration.

I didn't need a mirror to see how silly she looked in the dress. It was hanging nearly to the floor, especially since Cynthia was a couple of inches shorter than most girls our age. But in spite of that-like magic-she began dancing! Not like the Cynthia I'd seen stumble more than once during the ballet lessons our mothers had insisted we take for over three years, and not the Cynthia who'd fallen awkwardly off the stage during our last recital. This Cynthia danced across the floor, leaping high into the air with the grace of a prima ballerina.

"Wow," I said with a little envy in my voice, "I've never seen you dance like that at our ballet lessons!"

"Well, you weren't the most elegant dancer in class either," she said, still twirling around the room.

She had me there, but I still couldn't believe she managed to stay on her feet.

The envy and the questions soon disappeared when she finally stopped leaping about the room, took off the dress, and tripped while slipping out of the ballet shoes. We both laughed, probably more from relief, because everything seemed to be back to normal with Cynthia's return to her old clumsy self.


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