March 22, 1969

“Diana, sweetie, I haven’t seen your friend Trixie in a long time.  You two haven’t had a fight or anything, have you?”  Mrs. Lynch glanced from behind the steering wheel at her daughter.

“No, nothing like that, Mummy.”  Diana closed the door of the big car with a slam and tossed her dance case into the back seat.  “But it’s hard to get together with all of my after-school stuff, and then dance class on Saturdays.”

“I miss having your friends run in and out.  Our apartment was always so lively.”  Mrs. Lynch backed out of the parking space she occupied behind the White Plains dance studio and prepared to pull out into traffic.

“No one can just drop by since we live so far out in the country now,” Diana reminded her.   She stared out the window instead of looking at her mother.

“How about inviting one of your friends over for lunch next Saturday?  Class is over at ten-thirty and we can pick her up by eleven.  That will give you a few hours to spend time together; we can plan a nice lunch and you can show her around and then watch American Bandstand, if you want to.” 

Diana squirmed a little, but tried to make it look like she was just trying to get comfortable.  “Mummy, I don’t know.  It’ll be so uncomfortable to have Harrison hovering around.”

“We can have a simple little luncheon at the house, and Harrison doesn’t have to stay in the room while we’re eating,” Mrs. Lynch offered.  “Who would you like to invite?”

“Well... I’d really like to have Trixie over.  I’ve been to the Beldens’ house a couple of times since we’ve lived here, but she’s never been to our house.  She might have a lot of chores to do on a Saturday, though.”

“Why don’t you call her when we get home?  I’m sure her parents wouldn’t mind if she came over for a few hours.” 

Diana meditated on the idea for a little distance.  She couldn’t think of any more reasons not to invite Trixie, and she really did want to have a friend over.  She’d been wanting that for a long time.  But she wondered how her school friends would react to the splendid Lynch home, decorated to the teeth in royal blue and gold.  She felt uncomfortable herself in the house, like she couldn’t even walk on the floors without a maid scurrying behind her to straighten the furniture, vacuum footprints out of a carpet, or run a dust mop over the shining hardwood floors.  The house was bad enough, but the uniformed maids, Harrison, and the twins’ nurses acted as if she was interfering with their routine by just living there.  Most of her old friends thought she was snooty now since she wore nice new clothes nearly every day.  She cringed inside as she imagined what they would say about her after a visit to the Lynch estate.  Trixie might not be intimidated by all the fancy new surroundings and servants—staff, she corrected herself.  Trixie was so down-to-earth and outgoing that she might be able to overcome the environment that intimidated Diana.

She hoped so, anyway.  “Sure, Mummy.  I’ll call her today.”

Trixie was running the dustmop a little haphazardly over the baseboards in the living room at Crabapple Farm when the phone in the hallway rang.  Knowing her mother was busy cutting up a chicken, she dropped the dust mop with a bang.  “I’ll get it!” she yelled, sprinting out to the hallway. 

“Thank you, dear!”  Her mother’s voice floated out from the kitchen.

“Hello, Beldens’ residence, this is Trixie,” she said breathlessly.

“Trixie!  It’s Diana Lynch.” 

“Oh!  Hi, Di.  What’s going on?”   She was surprised to hear from her oldest friend.  Diana had so many activities going on that she was rarely available, even though the Lynches’ new house was closer to Crabapple Farm than their old apartment in town had been. 

“Trix, I’ve been wanting to ask you over forever!  But between moving, and my mom’s operation, and the work Mother’s been having done in the house, and all of my afterschool art and music lessons, and dance classes, it just seems like the weeks fly by and I never see anyone.”  Diana paused after this rush of words and Trixie felt like her old friend might be hesitating over what to say next.

“So are you going to have a party or something?” she asked.

“Um… no.  Not right now, anyway.  What I wanted was to see if you could come over for lunch next Saturday.  My mom can pick you up when we get home from dance class, about eleven o’clock in the morning.”

“Sure, I mean probably so.  Let me check with Moms to make sure she doesn’t already have something planned.  Hold on for a minute.”  She laid the receiver down on the telephone shelf and ran back to the kitchen.

“Moms!  Diana Lynch wants me to come over for lunch next week,” she told her mother.  “Can I go?  Puh-lease?”

Mrs. Belden looked up from her chicken as Trixie entered the kitchen.  She glanced at the wall calendar, squinting to read notes she’d written on it for appointments.  “What time are we talking about?” she asked.  “Mart has a dental appointment, but it’s early.”

“The Lynches will pick me up about eleven.  Di didn’t say what we’d do after lunch, but I guess they’ll bring me home before supper,” Trixie replied.  

“I don’t see why not.  Brian can watch Bobby if I don’t get back from the dentist before Mrs. Lynch gets here.”  She smiled warmly.   “It’ll be nice for you and Diana to get together.”   

“Okay!  Gleeps, I hope Mrs. Lynch makes some of her famous fried chicken,” Trixie exclaimed.  “Not that your fried chicken isn’t the best,” she added hastily before galloping back out to the hall phone.  “Moms said yes!” she said into the receiver, bouncing up and down on her toes.

“Good!  I can’t wait,” Diana replied.  “What are you doing the rest of this weekend?” she continued.

“Nothing exciting,” Trixie said.  “Moms and Dad are going to dinner and a movie at the Cameo tonight and Brian and Mart are going to build a fire in the grill on the terrace.  I’m making baked beans and we’re going to cook hotdogs over the fire.  After we eat, we’re going to roast some marshmallows over the embers.  Bobby is excited because he thinks it’ll be just like camping.”

“It sounds like fun,” Diana sounded a little envious.

“It’ll probably be freezing!”  Trixie shivered.  “But it’s not supposed to be windy and no rain or snow is predicted.  It’ll be fun as long as we can keep Bobby and Reddy from damaging anything or getting hurt.”

“I can’t believe your parents are letting you have a fire when they’re not home!”  Trixie could just imagine Diana’s violet eyes widening in surprise.

“If Brian wasn’t so responsible, I’m sure they wouldn’t.”  She snickered a little.  “But Brian’s definitely the fair-haired boy around here.”

Diana giggled.  “Even though his hair is dark!  Well, after all he is almost an Eagle Scout, isn’t he?  And Mart’s a real outdoors guy too, isn’t he?”

“He thinks!”  Trixie sniffed.  “I take it back, he and Brian are both really good when it comes to setting up a campsite, fishing and hunting.  They’ve spent a lot of time with Tom Delanoy and his little brother in the past few years.  But if it wasn’t for Brian, I’m sure Moms and Dad wouldn’t let Mart and me have a fire on the grill.”

“That’s only because the two of you would argue the whole time, and Bobby would drop all of the hotdogs into the fire while you were disagreeing over the right amount of burn they needed.”  Diana laughed again.

“Hey, Di, I’d better let you go so I can get back to the dusting.”  Trixie heaved a sigh.  “Oh, how I hate dusting!  If only we had a maid to do all of that, like you do.”

“Having a maid to dust isn’t as wonderful as you might think.”  Diana’s voice was a little strained, and it was a few seconds before she continued.  “Okay then, I’ll see you next Saturday at about eleven.  Bye!”

“Good bye!”  Replacing the receiver on the telephone, Trixie picked up the dustmop and sighed again.  “I wouldn’t mind finding out how it would feel to have a maid,” she thought. 

The following Saturday...

“Moms!  They’re here!”  Trixie shouted from the living room, where she had been vigorously making the dust fly with her feather duster.  She dashed out to the front hallway and stood before the rather spotty antique mirror, trying to fluff her hair into a more finished look.  In the mirror, she could see Diana running up the sidewalk to the front porch of Crabapple Farm, and she flung the door open just as her friend was poised to knock.

“Hi, Di!  Can you come in for a sec?  I was just getting ready to change clothes.”  She glanced down at her worn dungarees and scuffed moccasins.  Diana wasn’t exactly dressed up, she noticed with relief.  Although she wore a lightweight spring coat, Trixie could see that she was still had on her dance leotard with a short wrap skirt over it, and some plain flats.

“Sure, I’ll tell Mummy we’ll be ready to go in just a minute,” Diana agreed with a smile.  She ran back to the Lynch car and then dashed back into the farmhouse, following Trixie upstairs.

“What should I wear?” Trixie asked with a frown as she stared into her closet.  “I don’t have to wear a dress, do I?”

“Wear something comfortable,” Diana suggested.  “I’m going to change when I get home, but not into a dress.”

Trixie turned to her dresser and pulled out a pair of dungarees that was less worn than the ones she was wearing.  Next, she slid a light blue sweater over her T-shirt, toed off her scuffed moccasins and slipped her feet into a new-ish pair of penny loafers.  She finger-combed her hair again.  “I guess I’m ready.”

“Okay, let’s go.” Diana turned and followed Trixie as she clattered down the stairs. 

Mrs. Belden stood in the hallway, wiping her hands on a dishtowel.  “It’s so nice to see you, Diana!  I hope you’ll be back to spend the night soon.  We’ve missed seeing you.”

“Oh, that would be wonderful, Mrs. Belden,” Diana replied.  Trixie noticed her friend’s eyes sparkled and her smile was bright as she spoke.  She felt a little guilty for not really pressing Diana to come to Crabapple Farm in the past year or so.  Still, Diana was awfully busy and always seemed to have something she needed to do.  After a few tries, Trixie had started feeling that her old friend didn’t really have time for her any more, and stopped inviting her.

“Bye, Moms!  See you later,” she said, giving her mother a hug and kiss.

“Good-bye, sweetheart.  Have a wonderful time.”  Mrs. Belden held the door for the two girls and waved to Mrs. Lynch, still sitting in her car.  Trixie glanced back as the car turned around to leave.  Her mom was still standing in the doorway, smiling and waving.  She smiled and waved back.  The afternoon stretched before her, and it was bound to be more fun having lunch at Di’s house and being free to do whatever they wanted to afterward, instead of keeping an eye on Bobby and finishing her chores at the farm.

After a drive of about five minutes, Mrs. Lynch turned into a very long driveway that wound its way up a hill that seemed to keep going on forever.  At the top, Trixie could look out beyond the back of the house to see the bluffs overlooking the Hudson. 

She and Diana jumped out as soon as Di’s mother parked the car and turned off the ignition. 

“Gleeps, Di!  It’s gorgeous up here!”  She waved her arms to indicate the sweeping grounds.

“It’s pretty, but I miss being in town where everything was convenient,” Diana replied with a slight grimace.

“I guess I kind of know what you mean,” Trixie said slowly.  “Usually I love our place, but being so far out in the country, I can hardly ever see my friends when school’s out.”

They ran to catch up with Mrs. Lynch, who had reached the front entrance.  Just as she reached for the doorknob, the door was opened from inside.  Trixie could see a distinguished-looking, balding man in a dark gray suit.

“Harrison!” Diana groaned in a low voice.  “I thought he was going to stay out of the way.”

“Who is Harrison?” Trixie asked, keeping her voice low as well.

“Our butler.”  Diana grimaced again, but Trixie paid little attention.  She was too busy studying the first butler she’d ever seen.  Why would anyone wear a suit around the house on a Saturday?  He was saying something to Di’s mother.

“May I have a word, Mrs. Lynch?”  Even his voice was exotic, with a British accent.  Trixie had heard British accents before on television, but never from a real person.  She remembered it was rude to stare and quickly dropped her gaze.  She kept listening, though.

Harrison took Mrs. Lynch’s light coat and hung it in the foyer closet as he continued speaking. Trixie strained her ears to hear, while Diana took her jacket and hung it in the closet as well. 

“There’s been a slight hiccup, ma’am,” he said.  “A plumbing leak has taken the kitchen out of service.  I know you had planned to cook for Miss Diana and her guest.”

“Oh, no!  How disappointing,” Mrs. Lynch cried.  “I had so looked forward to frying up some chicken for the girls.  Why did my husband have to be out of town today? Whatever will we do? I suppose we can eat sandwiches... ” 

“I have taken the liberty of calling in a plumber.  He is here now, but it will be perhaps two hours before he will finish the work and then the kitchen must be cleaned before cooking can commence.”  Harrison coughed.  “I have taken the liberty of preparing a light luncheon, and it can be served from the butler’s pantry into the breakfast room.  Will that be satisfactory, ma’am?”

Mrs. Lynch threw up her hands.  “Oh, my goodness!  What a thing to happen on the day we have a guest and I planned to cook.  Yes, that will do.  I’m going to freshen up and then I’ll be back down to go over the new menu with you,” she said, shaking her head.

“Come on, Trix, let’s go up to my room.”  Diana was right behind her.  Trixie nodded and followed her friend up the wide staircase to the second floor.

Diana’s room was the most elaborate bedroom Trixie had ever seen:  two double beds with large fluffy pillows and royal blue and gold bedspreads.  Matching floor-length curtains—or were these what her grandmother had called draperies?—dressed the double window that overlooked the back yard, and a plush royal blue carpet covered the floor.  She was actually shocked into speechlessness for a moment, and looked around for someplace to sit.  The elaborately dressed beds didn’t look like places where Diana and her friends could lounge and relax.

“Have a seat in that chair if you like, Trix.”  Diana waved at a plush armchair covered in gold crushed velvet, with a throw pillow in a fancy blue and gold design.  The chair was one of a pair that sat in front of the window.  Trixie walked over and slouched into the chair, beginning to feel uncomfortable and underdressed for the visit.

Diana pulled open double doors that led into an expansive walk-in closet and flipped through fancy padded hangers until she found a pair of bell-bottom jeans embellished with embroidered pansies in purple, gold, and black that followed the outside seams on both legs.  She scooped a pair of short suede ankle boots from the floor, and emerged to drop the garments on one of the beds.  Next she moved to a large mirrored dresser and yanked open several drawers, digging through what seemed to Trixie like dozens of sweaters and tops.  How could anyone even wear all of those clothes, she wondered.  Finally, Diana pulled out a purple tunic with a stand-up collar, and shoved the drawer closed.

Trixie couldn’t help it.  “Gleeps, Di, how do you even wear all those clothes?”

Diana’s eyes filled and Trixie thought for a few seconds she was going to cry.  Her face heated, but just as she opened her mouth to apologize, her friend drew a deep breath and answered.  “I do have some clothes I’ve never worn.  Mummy loves to shop, and she never could spend much on my clothes before.  It’s fun, but sometimes it’s embarrassing to have so many clothes.”  After retrieving a pair of striped purple kneesocks from another drawer, she excused herself and slipped into the connecting bathroom to change clothes. 

While Diana was changing, Trixie prowled around the large, elegantly decorated room.  It didn’t seem like a room designed for a young girl, she thought.  But Di must like it or surely Mrs. Lynch wouldn’t have had it done up like a hotel room.  It was neat as a pin, though, and she didn’t see a speck of dust.  That reminded her of her most-hated chore, and she thought about how nice it would be to have a maid to clean her room.  Plopping back down in the gold chair, she peeked through the heavy drapes at the back yard.  Maybe Di’s dad had built a treehouse for his children.  Although she was almost thirteen, Trixie still enjoyed climbing trees, and she still liked to spend Sunday afternoons sitting up in the treehouse her dad had built in the back yard of Crabapple Farm when Brian was about six.

“How do I look?”  Diana had emerged from the bathroom.  She looked like a fashion model in her embroidered jeans and tunic, Trixie thought.

“You look gorgeous,” she said honestly.  “I didn’t know it was going to be a fancy dress-up lunch.  I look like a goon… like I just came in from the barn.”  She grimaced. 

“Trixie, you look fine,” Diana hastened to say.  But the feeling of being out of place grew a little stronger.  Just then a crackling buzz of static came from the wall next to Diana’s door.  Trixie’s eyebrows went up as she stared at a small box on the wall that she hadn’t noticed before.  It looked like a transistor radio.

“Diana and Trixie, lunch will be ready in a few minutes,” Mrs. Lynch’s voice said through the box’s speaker.   

“We’ll be down in about five minutes,” Diana said into the speaker.  “It’s a home intercom system,” she explained to Trixie.  “Mummy likes it because she doesn’t have to shout through the house, but it’s kind of creepy sometimes.”

“I haven’t seen your little brothers and sisters since we’ve been here,” Trixie said.  “Or heard them.”

“We can go see their suite, if you want. They have two bedrooms with a playroom between.  There are two nurses who take care of them, so I don’t really see them too much.”  Diana looked sad again.  “Mummy sees them a lot, but the nurses have such a strict schedule for them that they’re always sleeping or eating when I want to play with them.”

“Sure, if you think we have time before lunch,” Trixie agreed.  “Wow, it would be a dream come true if Bobby had a full-time nurse to take care of him.  Any time I’m out of school, it seems like I have to keep an eye on him, and the things he thinks of...!”

The two girls left Diana’s room and walked to the twins’ suite.  Sure enough, the little boys and girls were seated around a low table eating lunch.  Seeing Diana, one of the boys jumped up and the other children followed him.  They nearly knocked her down with hugs around her knees. 

Trixie had to smile as Diana knelt down and gave each of her siblings a hug.  “Twinnies, you remember my friend Trixie, don’t you?  She’s eating lunch with Mummy and me today.”

The small children ones looked at Trixie, a little shyly, and waved.  One of the boys said “Hi.”

“All right, kiddies, we have to go downstairs now.  Mummy is waiting for us,” Diana said firmly.

“Bye-bye, Di-Di,” they chorused before the two older girls headed for the stairs and galloped downstairs.

“They’re cute,” Trixie offered when they reached the front hallway again.

“Yes, I wish I could spend more time with them,” her friend agreed.  “I think Harrison said we would have to eat in the breakfast room.  Let’s go before Mummy panics because we’re late.”  She led the way back to a bright, sunny room with a round table in front of a bay window that looked out on the back yard.  Trixie stopped short as she caught a glimpse of it from behind Diana’s back

The table was set with delicate-looking china in white and blue, fancy stemmed glasses filled with a pale amber fizzy liquid, lace-trimmed cloth napkins and flatware that Trixie realized must be real silver.  A lacy tablecloth and a fancy floral centerpiece were the finishing touches.  She glanced down again at her plain sweater and slightly worn loafers.  She was definitely not dressed for this fancy luncheon. 

Mrs. Lynch had changed into a dress of deep blue and put on some lipstick.  She smiled at Trixie and Diana.  “Please sit down, girls.  I’m so sorry about the plumbing problem, but luckily, Harrison was able to arrange an alternative lunch for us.  Here he comes now.”

Trixie unfolded her napkin and wondered how she could ever use such a delicate, immaculate piece of cloth to wipe her mouth.  She carefully spread it across her knees and glanced up to see the distinguished-looking butler approaching the table with a large silver tray.  He bowed to her and placed a dainty cut-glass (or maybe it was crystal?) bowl of fruit in front of her, and then served Diana and her mother the same thing.  She wondered which of the three forks to eat it with.  While she was hesitating, Mrs. Lynch picked up the outermost fork at her place.  Trixie copied her, but then her napkin slid off her lap onto the floor.  Her face went hot and she knew she was blushing furiously.  She reached down to pick it up, but Harrison was there somehow, with a fresh napkin.  He whisked away the one that fell before vanishing back into what she assumed must be the butler’s pantry.

Although the fruit tasted sweet and juicy, Trixie’s mouth felt dry and she felt clumsy and stupid.

She wanted to take a drink and glanced at the goblet of fizzy amber liquid.  Could it possibly be champagne?  She wasn’t even thirteen yet; surely Mrs. Lynch wouldn’t have served champagne at this luncheon… would she?  Her puzzlement must have been obvious. 

Diana spoke up.  “Trixie, the glasses have ginger ale in them.  Don’t worry about drinking all you want.”  She took a sip from her own glass.

“What are you girls planning for the afternoon?” Mrs. Lynch asked.

“I don’t know yet, Mummy,” Diana said.  “We haven’t decided.”

“Well, if you don’t have anything planned, maybe Trixie would like to take a tour of the house after we eat.”  Mrs. Lynch looked oddly shy as she offered the tour.  Trixie glanced at Diana, who was pushing a bite of chicken salad around on her plate with a look of fierce concentration.  She thought for a few seconds, but decided it wouldn’t be polite to decline the tour.

“Sure, I’d like to see the house,” she managed.  “It’s a beautiful place.”

“It took us awhile to feel like it was home, but we have so much space here, I’m really starting to feel like it fits us,” her friend’s mother said.  Trixie looked across the table at Diana, who still had not said anything.  She wondered what her old friend was thinking.

The rest of the meal continued the pattern.  Trixie only sloshed her ginger ale once, but it seemed every time she started to feel comfortable, Harrison appeared with his tray and whisked away some dishes or placed a new and unfamiliar item in front of her.  He moved so silently that she was on edge after the first couple of times, when he had startled her.  Mrs. Lynch tried to get a conversation going, but Trixie noticed that Diana, normally outgoing and giggly, was glum and silent.  She wondered why.  Maybe Di was disappointed that she—Trixie—was so unsophisticated.  This thought made her even more uncomfortable.  She was glad when the meal ended.

Mrs. Lynch stood and said in a bright voice, “Girls, Harrison will clear the table if you’d like to start the tour now.  That will give you more time to ‘do your own thing’ afterward.”

“Yes, Mummy.  Let’s do the tour first.”  Diana indicated Trixie should go first, so she trailed after her hostess and Diana followed her.

Very soon, Trixie found herself wondering what it would be like to dust all of the elegant rooms, but she tried to appear interested. 

“One of our favorite rooms is the indoor terrace,” Mrs. Lynch said.  “We renovated the fireplace and had some bookshelves built in, with a space for the television.”  She waved in the direction of the unit.  “We’ve never had color TV before, and I love it.  Don’t you, Diana?”

“Sure.”  Diana agreed but Trixie noticed she didn’t act excited about color TV.

“It’s so comfortable and we can all fit on the couches or we can play games at the table on the other end.”

Trixie thought about the twins upstairs and how Diana had said she hardly saw them.  She wondered if they came downstairs to watch TV or play games.  “It’s nice,” she agreed.

“And my favorite spot of all is the art gallery,” Mrs. Lynch continued.  She opened a door Trixie hadn’t noticed before and the three of them entered a long room that was windowless, but had a skylight.  White walls set off several colorful paintings, and sculpture pieces were displayed on short columns or in recessed niches.  Mrs. Lynch walked to the far wall, where paintings of a man and a woman hung.  She flipped a switch and frame-mounted lights illuminated the images.

“These were my parents,” she said proudly.  “They were painted by James Cantor.”

Trixie admired the paintings, but she was becoming uncomfortably aware that Diana was bored with the tour.  “They’re lovely, Mrs. Lynch,” she said, to be polite.

Just then, the intercom crackled and Harrison’s voice announced, “Mrs. Lynch, you have a telephone call.  Shall I tell the caller you are not at home?”

“Oh, goodness!” Mrs. Lynch exclaimed.  “I suppose I’d better take the call.  Please say I’ll be there in a minute.  Girls, can you excuse me for a few minutes?”

“Mummy, I can show Trixie the Robin.  She doesn’t want to traipse all over the house.”  Diana turned to face her, and Trixie was surprised to see her eyes watering.  “Do you, Trix?” she appealed.

“Whatever you want to do, Di.”  Trixie shrugged.  “What robin are you talking about, though?  I’ve seen plenty of robins.  We have a pair in the tree behind our house that have just come back from the south and are building a nest.”

Diana laughed then, although tears ran down her face even as her eyes crinkled with laughter.  “Trixie, the Robin is a travel trailer Daddy bought for us to take on vacation this summer.  Come on, let’s go look at it.”

“All right, then.  Have a good time, girls.”  Mrs. Lynch hurried off.

“Are you all right, Di?”  Trixie touched her friend’s arm. 

“I’m fine,” Diana replied.  “I just had a speck of something in my eye.  Come on, I think you’ll like the Robin.”  She turned and headed out of the gallery. 

Trixie followed her out to the garage, where a shiny red travel trailer was parked next to the Lynches’ big black Cadillac.  “It’s just like a little house on wheels.”  She opened the door, popped down a step and hopped up into the cabin.  “Come on, Trixie,” she urged, stepping back to make room for her friend.

Trixie didn’t need urging.  She stepped up and joined Diana inside.  “It’s kind of dark,” she complained. 

“Ta-da!”  Diana flipped a switch and the trailer’s interior sprang to light.  “Look at the kitchen!”  She showed Trixie a three-burner stove and a tiny refrigerator tucked under the counter.  A small sink with a faucet completed the kitchen.  “Of course, the water isn’t hooked up right now,” Diana explained.  “But trailer parks are equipped for running water and electricity hookups.”

“How did you turn the lights on just now?”  Trixie hadn’t even thought of power sources for the trailer until then.

“It’s hooked into the house’s electricity, silly!  It was just delivered yesterday and Daddy   was showing Mummy and me how everything worked last night.”  She scrunched her face up and laughed.  “I’m not sure if he meant to leave it turned on or not, but at least now we can see in here.  “Look at the table.”  She waved at a booth-table with banquettes on either side, and then said, “Watch this.” 

Trixie watched as Diana pressed something and pushed the tabletop down to the level of the seats.  “There’s a foam mattress rolled up underneath each seat.  You take them out before you lower the table and it makes a bed.  The couch folds down into another bed.”

Trixie was impressed, but she wondered how the large Lynch family would fit into the tiny space.  “Wouldn’t it be kind of crowded for all seven of you to sleep in here?” she asked.

“I think it would be fine,” Diana asserted.  “My sisters could sleep with me, and the boys could sleep on the couch when it’s folded down.  There’s another bed and a bathroom behind that door.”  She took two steps and slid open a slatted folding door.  Trixie peeked into the room.  Just inside was a tiny bathroom with a folding door, and beyond was a double bed that almost filled the remaining space.

Diana stood with her arms crossed, face like a thundercloud but her chin quivering and her eyes somehow looking too shiny.  “See?  Plenty of room.”  

“Okay, sure,” Trixie agreed hastily.  “I didn’t realize it had that bedroom before.”  She still thought the Lynches might be crowded in the tiny trailer, but decided not to argue the point.  “It’s really nifty, Di.  I think it would be a lot of fun to travel around and live in a trailer for a couple of weeks.  Kind of like camping, but with a bathroom.”

Diana’s face cleared.  “Yes, I can’t wait!  We’ll be off by ourselves, without Harrison and the other serv—I mean, staff—to bother us.  Just like we were before.”

She closed the bathroom and bedroom doors carefully, and raised the table to its full height.  “Well, that’s everything.  We can go out to the back yard if you want.”

“Sure.”  Trixie jumped down from the trailer and waited for Diana to fold up the step and close the door of the Robin

A back door led from the garage to the back yard.  An expansive flagstone terrace, partially covered, led out to a smooth lawn with a couple of large shade trees, not yet leafed out from the winter.  There was no sign of a tree house, Trixie was disappointed to notice.

“That would be a great place for a tree house,” she said, pointing to the tree farthest from the garage.  “Is your dad going to build one?”

“I don’t know,” Diana admitted.  “He’s awfully busy.  I know the boys would like a tree house.”

“The boys?”  Trixie chuckled.  “I’m sure they would, but I like to get up in Bobby’s tree house more than he does.  You’ve got to work on him, Di!”

“Well, maybe.  But I never was so crazy about climbing trees,” Diana replied.  “It makes me feel sick to get up off the ground.”

“Diana!”  The two girls turned around.  Mrs. Lynch stood just outside the enclosed terrace, waving at them.  “Come here, I’ve got the most wonderful news!”

Diana and Trixie turned around and walked back to the house.  Mrs. Lynch kept talking, as if her news was too exciting to wait.  “Oh, darling, you’ll never guess!  My long-lost brother was on the phone.  I didn’t even know about him until today, but he’s planning to come and visit us from his ranch in Arizona.  Can you believe it?” 

“That’s nice, Mummy,” Diana replied politely.  “I never knew you had a brother!  You mean you didn’t know it either?”

“Yes, I was a foster child, you know, after my parents died when I was a baby.  Monty—that’s his name—was already eighteen and had left home, moved out west.  Oh, isn’t it wonderful!”  She wiped away a tear.

Trixie felt more out of place than ever.  “That’s really wonderful, Mrs. Lynch.  Maybe I’d better go home now so you can make plans for your brother’s visit.”

“Yes, I suppose I have a lot of things to plan,” Diana’s mother agreed with a distracted flick of her black hair.  “Let me just get Jack—our chauffeur—to drive you home.  I don’t think I’d be a very safe driver right now.”  She hurried back into the house.

Trixie glanced at Diana.  “Thanks for inviting me out, Di.  I had a very nice time.  See you at school, I guess.”

Diana looked as if she’d been slapped, and it was a minute before she answered.  “I’m glad you came, Trixie.  We’ll have to get together again soon.”   Not for the first time that day, she looked almost as if she was going to cry, but then she blinked several times and smiled a rather shaky smile.

“Trixie!  Jack is ready for you,” Mrs. Lynch called.

“Well!  Wasn’t that nice?” Mrs. Lynch asked.

Diana nodded glumly.  “I guess so.”

“You don’t sound very convinced, darling. Did something happen?”  Her mother stroked her hair and tilted her head to try to look into Diana’s eyes, but she turned away.

“Everything was awful, Mummy!  Trixie was so uncomfortable with Harrison hovering over us, and so was I!  And then, just about the time we started really talking, you came and... oh, never mind.  It’s wonderful that you found out about your brother.”  She shrugged and asked, “Can I watch American Bandstand now?”

“Certainly, dear.”  Mrs. Lynch was already jotting down notes on a steno pad.  “I’ve got to make some plans for my brother’s visit.”

Diana walked out to the enclosed terrace and threw herself on the sofa.  She reached for the TV remote control and clicked it on, flipping through channels until she found the familiar dance show.  Glumly, she stared at the television and the gyrating teens dancing to songs with a good beat.

Friends—who needs them? she asked herself.

Author’s Notes

5895 words

Wow!  I can’t believe it’s been eight years since I was initiated as a Jix Author!  It is a joy and a privilege to be a part of that group, and I have received much more than I have given over these past 8 years. 

This story details my ideas about the fateful lunch “last Spring” when Trixie visited the Lynch Estate and toured the art gallery and the Robin.  Twelve is an age when being just like your friends is pretty important to most girls.  Diana and Trixie were losing that and didn’t know how to bridge the gap.

Thank you today, dear readers, for continuing to read my Trixie fanfiction offerings.  Thank you to my wonderful editors, Ronda, Ryl, and Trish, for faithfully helping me to “get it right.”  My stories are always better for your input.  Thank you to all of my WWW girls for just being such good friends.

Thank you to CathyP for being the inspiration and the reason for Jixemitri; and to the team who made Jix possible and kept it going during the early years.

Thank you to the current Admin team, who continue to make Jix our home on the ’net.  You all are the greatest.

In July 2014, our good friend and former Jix author, Amy Kalinski, lost her battle with cancer. To honor her memory and give an extra knockout punch to cancer, we’re raising money for cancer research by offering a special compilation of stories from dozens of amazing authors in one place. To gain access to this exclusive compilation, we are asking the community to make donations to The American Cancer Society or the Erie County SPCA in memory of Amy.

On March 1, 2015, just before the 15th anniversary of Jix, a PDF compilation of Jix stories/chapters will be released. You know you want to be included, especially since some of the stories may never be posted online!

Read more about our CWE #9 project, Down With Cancer! Long Live Amy! here and find out how you can get this collection delivered right to your email inbox! Just a few more days left to get your donation in!

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 2015 by MaryN/Dianafan. Background tile from; header image from Pinterest; manipulated by Mary N in Photoshop. They are used without permission but I'm not making any profit from them.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional