As soon as she had hidden the conch in the wardrobe, Deborah hastened back to the living room. What had come over her, she wondered, hiding something from her own sister. She guessed she just did not want Jenny to think she had lost her mind, especially after their dad had talked to Jenny about her. What exactly would her dad have told her? Deborah knew her dad would never disclose the details of their conversation that night, but then again, she was not feeling her usual self yet. She was still startled by the goings-on since she had arrived at the family beach house.
Meanwhile, Jenny had just finished disposing of the decapitated magpie carcass on the compost heap at the back of the yard, and was now busy scrubbing and hosing down the verandah floorboards. She did not notice Norm from next-door peering at her through a crack in the fence. They make a strange pair, those two sisters, he said to himself. To him they just did not look like sisters. Now he and Jean were on to the newcomer, Jenny, he did not trust her one bit and decided to keep an eye on her.
“Jen, can I get you a glass of white?” Deborah asked, sticking her head around the screen door with a glass of white wine in her hand.
“Don’t mind if I do,” Jenny answered smiling. “Feeling a bit tense, are you?”
Deborah smiled, nodding as she went back into the kitchen. While she poured her sister a glass of wine, she realized it was strange how the people who knew you best could also be the ones whom you saw the least.
“How long since we saw each other last?” she shouted from the living room to Jenny when she came inside and began washing her hands in the kitchen.
“Good question. Wasn’t it just after I broke up with Shane?”
“Oh, you mean Shane Thompson? That bloke who Dad couldn’t stand the sight of?” Deborah asked as Jenny walked in carrying a cricket ball.
“Yeah, that’s the one.”
“That was ages ago.”
“No it wasn’t,” Jenny retorted and broke into laughter.
“Well, at least five years,” Deborah said laughing.
She loved the way she and her sister ‘argued’ meaninglessly over such trivia.
“A long time, anyway. Too long, Debbie.”
“Yeah, I agree,” Deborah replied and held her glass up in a toast. “Here’s to us.”
“To family!” Jenny added and they both took a sip.
They were silent for a while and it was only then that Deborah noticed the ball, which now lay in Jenny’s lap.
“Is that what I think it is?” she asked moving forward to the edge of the sofa, with her eyes wide open in surprise.
“It sure is, and in near mint condition, by the look of it.”
“How about that, the family cricket ball. Where did you find that?”
“Well, you’re not going to believe this,” Jenny began explaining, “but it was lying on the middle of the patio as if we’d finished playing backyard cricket with it just minutes ago.”
Deborah shuddered and hoped Jenny would not notice.
“That’s very odd,” she agreed, “I’ve been here all week and didn’t see it until now. Are you sure it’s our ball?”
“Perfectly sure,” Jenny replied. “Look,” she said pointing at the three letters that spelled ‘MAC’ notched in the shiny red leather.
Deborah got up to get a closer look.
“Yeah, that’s it, alright. We had never gotten round to using it. I remember now.”
“Yeah,” Jenny nodded. “And do you know what’s really odd, sis?”
“What?” Deborah asked in return as she felt her hair stand on end.
“I found the spare key as well, but not in the usual spot.”
“Where did you find it?”
“Sticking in the lock on the back door.”
Deborah gasped for air and clutched Jenny by her arms.
“AAARGH...!” she screeched.
TO BE CONTINUED...
‘Cricket’ by Matthew Bowden on Freeimages.com
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