Part 1

Brrrrriiiinnnnngggg!  Brrrrriiinnnnnggg!

Diana Lynch sat up in bed, disoriented for a moment before she realized the source of the irritating sound.  Throwing off the warm covers, she jumped out of bed and hurried over to her dresser, squinting a little against the gloomy, predawn light of a late November morning.  In a moment she had pressed the button on her alarm clock to stop its jangling.  Only then did she open her eyes fully, sighing as she looked around her luxurious bedroom.

“I was having such a good dream, too!” she grumbled aloud.  “We were back in the old apartment and I was dressing the twins and keeping them entertained while Daddy chopped up bread for stuffing and Mummy got the turkey ready to cook.  Then … Daddy was playing with the kids while I helped make the sweet potato casserole and jello salad.  They needed me, and I was important.  Not like now.  If I go to see my brothers and sisters in the nursery, Miss Kelley acts like I’m interfering and in the way.”

Diana pulled the sheet, blanket, and bedspread neat and smooth, and fluffed her pillows before propping them against the headboard.

“Muriel will just come in here and redo my bed – I don’t know why I bother to straighten it.  I can keep my own room neat, but they treat me like a baby.  At least if I was a baby, I wouldn’t care how my room was decorated.”  She scowled.  The gold silk drapes and matching bedspreads were elegant but not to the taste of a twelve-year-old girl.  It feels like a hotel, she thought.  Mummy said the decorator made a mistake.  She offered to let me redo it.  But I think she really likes it and I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. 

If only we could go back to the old apartment and everything could be just like it was before … before Daddy made all of that money.  We were just like everyone else then.  We were all together.  I hate being different!  Even after we moved here – if it wasn’t for the servants – I mean staff – we could be happy.  When we fixed our New Year’s dinner together and the … staff … was gone, it was just like old times.   Mummy and Daddy laughed a lot and we watched a movie together.  But ever since Mummy went to the hospital for her surgery … everything has been different.  I hate to think of Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow – Harrison hanging over me with his stupid tray to serve the dinner.  I wonder if we’ll even have our usual Thanksgiving food?

A sputter of static from the wall intercom preceded the voice of Mrs. Carmichael, the Lynches’ housekeeper.

“Miss Diana, it’s time to get up.  Breakfast will be served in five minutes.”

Sighing, Diana crossed the room to speak into the intercom.  “Yes, Mrs. Carmichael.  I’ll be down in a few minutes.”   Stepping over to the walk-in closet, she pulled a violet corduroy jumper and a lilac turtleneck and tights out to wear to school.  Despite her resentment of some consequences of the family’s newfound wealth, she couldn’t help being happy to have pretty clothing in her choice of colors to wear.  Until the past year, most of her clothing had come from a local thrift shop or as hand-me-downs from a distant and much older cousin.  As a result, when Diana received the garments, they were no longer fashionable, and sometimes were in colors she disliked, or felt were unflattering.

After running a brush through her shiny, coal-black hair, she gave a final look around her room, making sure there were no dirty clothes on the floor, nor a wrinkled bathmat in the adjoining bath. 

In the family dining room, Diana ate pancakes alone.  She was becoming used to solitude after eleven months but still felt resentful.  Her much-younger twin brothers and twin sisters ate in their large nursery quarters with the two nurses who cared for them.  Diana’s parents had spent the night in the city after attending a benefit dinner with their friends, the Wheelers.  They would return later today.  I wonder what the Wheelers’ daughter is doing for Thanksgiving, Diana thought idly.  Does she go all the way home from her boarding school in Connecticut for the weekend?  Or does she stay at school?

“Miss Diana, hurry and finish your breakfast.  Jack has to go to the station as soon as he takes you to school.  Your parents’ train is scheduled to arrive at eight-thirty.”  It was Mrs. Carmichael again.  Diana drained her glass of orange juice and left the last two pancakes on her plate. 

“I’ll just run up and brush my teeth.”  She hurried through the task, shrugged herself into her new camel-hair coat and grabbed her lavender scarf, gloves and hat, as well as an armload of books and a binder.  After clattering down the steps, she dashed out through the veranda to the semicircular drive where Jack, the chauffeur, awaited her in the warm car.

It was the last day of school before the Thanksgiving holiday.  No one at Sleepyside Junior-Senior High could concentrate on class work, especially when snow began to fall during second period.  Diana doodled in the margins of her notebook, barely listening to the teacher.  She glanced across the room at Trixie Belden, her closest friend.  At least, we used to be close.  I have so many things to do after school that she hasn’t even been to our new house.  I haven’t been to her house once since school started. 

The students were restless, and their teachers seemed more concerned about attendance than attention.  Finally the bell rang for lunch and with a noisy clatter and scrape of desks and chairs, the students headed for the cafeteria.

“Trixie!  Trixie Belden!”  Diana raised her voice to catch her friend’s attention.  Trixie was saying something to Lester Mundy and not paying attention to Diana.  “Trixie!”  She tried again, only to be shoved from behind.  Diana bumped into Ruthie Kettner, who was in front of her.  “Oh, Ruthie!  I’m so sorry!”  She crouched down to help gather up the books Ruthie had dropped on the floor, and felt another push as a knee connected with her shoulder.

“Watch it!”  Diana’s Irish temper was not aroused easily, but now she was angry.  She looked up to see who had pushed her.  “Jane Morgan!  Why did you push me?”

Jane tossed her head and retorted, “You think you are some kind of princess now that your family has money – you’re nothing but a spoiled, rich, brat!  Don’t blame me because you pushed Ruthie.”

“I didn’t push Ruthie!  You pushed me into her!”  Diana’s face was flushed with the unfairness of Jane’s accusation.  Other people were staring at them.  She tried to ignore the stares and look for Trixie, ahead of her in the line, but couldn’t find her.

“Girls!  Move along to the cafeteria.  And Jane, I don’t know if you pushed Diana on purpose, but you did push her.”  Miss Williams, their homeroom teacher, brooked no nonsense, and both girls resumed walking in silence.

Jane stuck her tongue out at Diana as soon as the teacher turned her back.  It was all Diana could do to keep from doing the same thing to her.  She craned her neck to look for Trixie again, but her outgoing friend was out of sight.  Probably already sitting down in the cafeteria with a tableful of girls, thought Diana.   Slowly, she made her way to the cafeteria, and discovered that she had been right about Trixie.  But Trixie was standing up, waving frantically toward her.

“Di!  Diana!  I saved you a place,” she called.  A teacher glared at Trixie and she sat down again.  Students were not supposed to raise their voices at lunch.  Shouting was for outside only.  Diana hurried as fast as she could through the line, and slid onto the bench next to her friend.

“I was so afraid you would be finished and outside already,” she confided.  “I wanted to ask you to come over sometime this weekend.  Mummy said I could have a friend spend the night, and we haven’t had a chance to see each other outside school in ages!”

Trixie frowned.  “I’d love to come over, Di.  But you know Moms has this huge Thanksgiving buffet every year on Thanksgiving Day, and all of us kids have to help with the cooking – and with the cleanup.  I’m afraid Moms and Dad won’t let me do anything this weekend.”

“I forgot about the open house, Trix.  I didn’t know it took up the whole weekend.”   Diana sighed.  She took a bite of her food, but the turkey and dressing that was her favorite school lunch might as well have been wallpaper paste for all she could taste. 

Giving up on eating, she put down her fork and tried again. “Well, do you think you could ask?  Even if you could spend the night Sunday…” her voice trailed off.  She didn’t think she could hide her disappointment if the answer was no.

“Okay, I’ll ask, but Di, I don’t think they’ll let me do it.”  Trixie drank the last bit of her milk with a noisy slurp of her straw.  “Hurry and eat as fast as you can, Di.  I’m playing basketball today, and I’ll put you on my team if you’re out there in time.  We could use your shooting.”

“Trixie!  I’m not that good at basketball, and I’ll probably get dirt on my new jumper.  You go on, and I’ll watch the game.  You’ll do better without me, anyway.” 

Trixie looked, as if for the first time, at Diana’s clothes.  “I guess you’re right.  I’m glad I wore an old skirt today, and that I’ve got my shorts on underneath.”  With a friendly wave, she stood to take her dishes to the tray return.

When she left, Diana felt lonelier than ever.  She imagined spending her Thanksgiving weekend watching television, reading, and eating strange food served on silver trays from the dignified butler who always seemed to catch her in unladylike behavior.  She sighed, and took her scarcely-touched lunch to the tray return, scraping out the uneaten food.

She shivered outside in her new coat, watching Trixie and a group of boys play basketball.  All of them had doffed their coats, but they were sweating in spite of the chilly air as they dribbled, passed, and shot the ball.  Tad Webster, an eighth-grader, was struck in the face with an elbow and came up with a bloody nose.  Diana was very glad she wasn’t playing. 

When the bell rang for the students to return to class, Trixie’s team was the winner.  She and her teammates gave each other high-fives, and the boys trotted back to the building.  Trixie ran over to Diana, pulling a knit toboggan over her sweaty curls and jamming her arms into her coat, after retrieving it from the ground.  “It was a great game, Di.  You should have joined in.”

Diana couldn’t help laughing.  “I’m glad you had fun.  But ugh – getting hot and sweaty isn’t my thing.  Your hair is going to be a mess when we get inside.”

“Oh, well!  I’ll just fluff it up with my fingers.  It won’t look so bad after it dries again.”  Trixie shrugged.  Obviously, the state of her hair didn’t deserve attention.

Diana spent the afternoon much as she had the morning, sketching in the margins of her notebooks and paying minimal attention to the teacher.  When her name was called, she straightened up with a jerk.

“Diana Lynch, will you read, please?”  Mrs. Turner was staring at her, with a line between her eyes that told Diana it wasn’t the first time her name had been called.  She flushed scarlet, and opened her social studies book, but had no idea which page she was supposed to read from.  Frantically, she looked around at the other students near her.  Trixie sat two rows away, but she was holding up a piece of notebook paper which had “123, para 2” in large characters on it.  Directing a quick smile toward her friend, Diana began to read. 

When the last bell rang, Diana struggled once more to move to Trixie’s side.  The bus students lined up before those who were car-riders, and she’d have to hurry in order to catch Trixie before she was gone.

“Trix – don’t forget to ask if you can come over!”  The bus-rider’s line was already moving.

“Okay – but don’t count on it.  I’ll call you tonight.”  Trixie waved and headed down the steps with the other bus-riders.

Diana kept her flagging hopes up until after the twins went to bed.  She was sprawled across one of the gold silk bedspreads, reading a magazine, when Harrison’s voice came over the intercom.

“Miss Diana, there is a telephone call for you,” his clipped voice reported.  Scrambling across the bed to the white princess phone on her nightstand, she picked up the receiver.

“Trixie!  I thought you’d never call.” 

“Ugh, is your butler always so … um, formal?” Trixie blurted out.  “How do you stand it?”

“He drives me crazy!”  Diana heaved a gusty sigh.  “He always seems to be trying to catch me doing something I’m not supposed to do.  Even if I’m doing something like we’ve always done, he watches me with that look on his face, like I’m some kind of cave-girl.  Anyway, what did your mom and dad say?”

“Sorry, Di, but they said I couldn’t do anything this weekend.  It’ll take all day Friday and Saturday to get everything back to normal, and then Moms and Dad want to have family time on Sunday.  Moms did say maybe we can do something next weekend.”

Diana struggled not to let her disappointment show in her voice.  “That’s okay, Trixie.  We’ll get together sometime soon.  Have a good time at the Open House.”  She hung up the phone after saying good night to her friend, and then buried her face in her pillow.  Her sobs were inaudible from the hallway.

After what seemed like forever, she got up, washed her face, and went downstairs to bid her parents goodnight.

“What’s wrong, Diana darling?”  her mother exclaimed.  “You’ve been crying!”

“Nothing, Mummy,” Diana insisted.  I got something in my eye awhile ago, and you know how if one eye is watering, the other one does, too?”  

Mrs. Lynch did not look convinced.  “Sweetie, I hope you’ll let me know if anything is bothering you.  By the way, what did Trixie’s mother say about her spending the night?”

Diana had thought she was done with crying, but her mother’s question started the tears flowing again. “She can’t come.  This is the weekend the Beldens do their big Thanksgiving Open House, and Trixie said she couldn’t go anywhere the whole weekend.  I won’t have anyone to do things with, and … and …”  A sob broke from her throat.

Mrs. Lynch stood and hugged her.  “Oh, darling,” she murmured.  “I’m so sorry!”   Tears stood in her own delphinium-blue eyes.

Mr. Lynch bounded up from his chair and strode over to his eldest daughter.  “Don’t cry, Princess,” he urged, patting her awkwardly on the shoulder.  “We’ll do something; maybe we’ll go to the Cameo and see a movie Friday or Saturday.  They’re having matinees all weekend.”

Diana began to feel ashamed of her outburst.  She sniffled a few times and wiped her eyes.  “Thank you, Daddy and Mummy!  You’re the best mom and dad in the world and I love you.  But, oh!  I was so looking forward to Trixie spending the night.”

“Good night, sweetheart, and God bless you.”  Mrs. Lynch blinked back her tears and stroked Diana’s hair.  With a quivering but encouraging smile, she kissed her daughter goodnight.  Diana returned the hug and then stood on tiptoe to give her father a goodnight kiss, too.

“Sweet dreams, Princess.  I love you,” he said.  “Mummy and I will be up to hear your prayers in a few minutes.  It’ll be a good weekend.”   

“All right,” Diana agreed, giving both of her parents a real, if tremulous, smile.  She made her way back to her bedroom and fixed her mind on the possibility of seeing a movie over the weekend.

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Author’s Notes

2724 words

Many, many thanks to my patient editors, Ryl, Trish, and Ronda, as well as to my writing group. Each of them challenged me to improve my story. Any mistakes are mine and not theirs!

A great big thank-you to my wonderful readers. Your encouragement means so much to me!

Thank you also to my lovely html guru and website partner, Vivian. Without her, none of this would have been possible.

Graphics note: Images from istockphoto, and manipulated by me in Photoshop. This is one of my oldest stories, being part of my Lynch family saga that started with When Dreams Come True, went backward to Snapshots and forward to The Life of Our Dreams. I found perfectly perfect images for the header graphic long before I learned about the ethics of using images found online and copyright restrictions. It was a real struggle to find suitable images that were proper to use. The final graphics pleased me and I don't regret giving up on the original set that has been ready for at least four years!

This story is a CWP #7 Holiday. CWP Elements will be listed at the end of the story.

Disclaimer: Characters from the Trixie Belden series are the property of Random House. They are used without permission, although with a great deal of affection and respect. All other material on these pages copyright 2010-2011 by Mary N.

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