The student news site of Freehold High School

The Colonial

The student news site of Freehold High School

The Colonial

The student news site of Freehold High School

The Colonial

Peacemaker; Part 2

Photo Courtesy of Maahum Alvi

“Uncle Darryl and Aunt Tina- you guys grew up here, so you know the property best. What could my mom have meant by ‘where the letters live’?” Before his cousin, Robert, could say anything, Will turned to glare at him. “And I am pretty sure that it doesn’t have anything to do with bookshelves.”

Libby, Robert’s sister, huffed. “Well, Robert and I live here too, you know. We know the property like the backs of our hands.”

“Better than the backs of our hands,” Robert added, agreeing with his sister for once.

Will took a calming breath, knowing very well that Libby and Robert never touched grass except for the over-fertilized one that covered their sports fields. “Okay. That’s fair. So can you guys think of any place where the letters live?”

“Letters are written on paper and paper comes from trees,” Aunt Tina said thoughtfully.

Darryl snapped his fingers. “The area surrounding the pond is full of trees. There are a lot of nooks and crannies back there, perfect for hiding something.”

Robert and Libby scowled while Tina smiled at her older brother. “Not bad for a procrastinating manager.”

“Well, it’ll take a while to search for whatever it is Lily left behind,” Aunt Bella, Darryl’s wife, said. “I’ll prepare dinner while the rest of you look for it.”

“Actually, I have to finish that project I was working on-” Darryl began.

“Darryl, your father can take care of it. You need to help your family,”Aunt Bella said firmly. Will looked at her in surprise. His busy aunt, who hadn’t paid much attention to Will’s existence in the six years he’d been living with them, was the last person he’d expected to back him up.

“Wonderful,” Flora said with a slight smile. She began to lead them out the back door. Flora had apparently been Will’s mother’s best friend. He wondered why he’d never met her before, but he was beginning to like her more and more. She, unlike most people who came to visit the Sharps, talked to him normally. It made him feel human. Plus, as he got to know her more, she reminded Will of his mother.

Will followed his family into the yard, zipping up his hoodie. A cold breeze brushed his face, ruffling his hair. The trees in Darryl’s yard were barren and frosted, gleaming in the golden light of the setting sun. The snow crunched under his boots and the wind whistled something of a song as it blew through the icicles and windchimes that resided permanently next to the back door.

Darryl and Tina led the way down to the pond. For once, it seemed like they were actually having an enjoyable conversation together. Bradley and Ben, Tina’s sons, were chasing each other to the pond with snowballs. Robert and Libby were, as usual, arguing about something. As Will trudged through the snow, he fell in line with Flora.

“I bet you didn’t expect to be doing something like this today, did you?” Flora asked.

“Nope. I was expecting someone to show up, tell me I’m a wizard, and whisk me away,” Will responded with a grin. Flora laughed. When the woman had first arrived earlier that evening, she had seemed formal and serious. However, as time went on, she seemed to be becoming more relaxed.

“Well, I’m sorry that I didn’t deliver on that,” she responded with a smile. “How often does that happen? That you expect that and it doesn’t happen?”

Will focused his eyes on his feet as they continued to walk to the pond. Why did the backyard have to be so big? “Every day. Every day for the past six years I’ve waited for that to happen, but it never did. This is the closest I’ve gotten.”

Before Flora could respond, they’d reached the pond. Bradley, Ben, Robert, and Libby scrambled to be the first to find whatever it was that Will’s mother had left behind. Tina rolled her eyes and went to supervise the chaos. Flora smiled at Will one more time, but stepped back.

“‘Things have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect’,” Flora said.

“Luna Lovegood. Order of the Phoenix,” Will responded with a grin before turning to search through whatever mess his cousins had made.

“Will,” Darryl said suddenly. “Can we talk?”

“Um, sure?” Will said, sitting down next to him on a log next to the pond. “What’s up?”

“I realize that you went through a lot when your mother died and that some of the things that I’ve said or done over the last six years have been… hurtful,” Darryl said slowly. “I just want you to know that I’m sorry and that from now on, I’m going to do better. Now that you finally got Tina and I to have a civil conversation, she’s helped me figure out what I’ve been doing wrong and I’ve acknowledged that I was doing stuff wrong. So thank you.”

“Oh. Um, you’re welcome?” Will said, not knowing what to say. For one thing, this was the most Darryl had ever said to him. Ever. For another, Will was pretty sure the only thing Darryl could do to fix his main issue of not spending enough time with his family was to quit his current job and get a less strenuous job. That wouldn’t be an issue, since Will’s grandfather wasn’t just Darryl’s boss, but his father. He would understand. “What was so special about this pond to my mom?”

Darryl laughed a bit. “She used to come out here and read every day, under that big tree over there,” Darryl said, pointing at a tall, curved oak tree.

“And then she’d force Darryl and I to act like silhouettes when the sun was setting so she could take a picture to make a painting of later,” Aunt Tina said, walking over to them. “And she would paint flowers with that stray orange kitten by her side.”

Darryl nodded. “And she would talk to the cat about each flower as if the cat was another human. One time, she was so focused on teaching the cat about some type of flower, she fell in a hole behind the tree and couldn’t get out. Well, your aunt and I may have startled her.”

“We didn’t want your grandparents finding out that we’d scared her, so Darryl and I spent half an hour trying to pull her out of that hole. Once we got her out, she didn’t even get mad at us for scaring her in the first place. Pretty sure Dad still saw us pulling her out though and figured out that we’d pranked her.”

Darryl sighed and stretched his legs. “Those were the good days. That, and Lily’s wedding, when that stray kitten of hers showed up, all grown up, hiding in that hole.”

Will looked up at the mention of his parents’ wedding. “Did you guys know my dad that well?”

Darryl and Tina looked at each other for a moment before responding. In that moment, Will heard Robert yell at Bradley to “shove off” and that this was “his property”. Tina sighed.

“I’m sorry, Will,” Darryl said. “All I know about him is that he was a good guy, he left to go serve in the army, and he never came back. I’m sorry.”

Will nodded. Suddenly, his mood, which had started to lift once he’d stood up to his family, started to go down again. He felt ready to fall back into his protective shell of books and stories, the way his mother had the curved tree. Though not quite as literally. A thought struck him, almost as sharply as the Sorting Hat’s voice in Harry Potter’s head.

“I know where my mom hid it!” Will exclaimed, jumping off the log and falling feet first on the frozen pond. He nearly slipped, but regained his balance and pushed himself across to the curved tree. When he reached the tree, he slipped his gloves on, noticing Flora standing near the tree. Flora looked at the tree with the gaze of someone lost in a thousand memories, ones that could never be re-lived.

Will paused and stood back up, giving her a slight hug. “Thank you for coming all the way out here. You may not have told me that I’m a wizard, but you’ve helped me feel like one.”

“You’re welcome,” Flora said, hugging him back. “I know she hasn’t been around for a while, but your mom raised a good kid. You remind me of mine before…” Will looked at her, waiting for her to finish. “Cancer happened. I guess you could say, I understand your pain.”

Will nodded quietly, tears welling up in his eyes. He went back over to the side of the curved tree. With one final sigh, he forced his hand into the snow.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Maahum Alvi
Maahum Alvi, Staff Writer
Maahum is a freshman at Freehold High School. This is her first year on The Colonial. She is passionate about writing, especially creative writing. Maahum loves reading, robotics, and spending time with her siblings. 

Comments (0)

All The Colonial Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *