A Heart for Keeps Missing Scene

“WE’RE going to get in trouble,” seven-year-old Shawnie said, although the excitement of being in the inn’s forbidden attic was exciting.

“Don’t be such a worry wart,” Risa said. “Nobody’s going to catch us. Oh look.” Risa went over to look at an old antique mirror. Her reflection warped sideways in the old glass like a funhouse mirror.

Shawnie joined her and the girls giggled, watching their reflections take on odd shapes as they wiggled around.

“What do you think is in there?” Risa pointed to one of the dusty old trunks. But Shawnie’s gaze had struck on a smaller trunk back in the corner shoved up under the triangular space where the sloped ceiling and floor met. It had the rounded type of lid like a pirate’s treasure chest. She squeezed between two larger trunks to get to it.

Shawnie hesitated to touch the chest. It was so dusty. “Cash is going to be finished with his homework in a few minutes. He won’t know where we are.”

Risa scowled. “We’ll meet him in the sunroom in a minute. I want to see what’s in here.” Risa lifted the lid to her trunk, which gave Shawnie all the motivation she needed to do the same. If her big sister did something, she was determined to do it too.

Careful not to dislodge too much dust, Shawnie lifted the lid, finding blue tissue paper wrapped around something. Curious, she pulled the ends of the tissue paper away to reveal a bundle of shimmery white fabric. It seemed like once it was unrolled it was be almost see-through like a dress for a fairy princess.

“What’d you find?” Risa leaned over one of the boxes. “Oh cool. Give it here.” She reached out for Shawnie to hand it to her.

Shawnie frowned. For some reason, she didn’t want to just hand it over to Risa. It had been shoved out of reach of most grown-ups, or at least out of sight and it was in a pirate’s chest, buried like hidden treasure.

“Shawnie, come on,” Risa demanded in that tone that meant she was the boss of her, which according to their mom. Risa was in charge when they were outside playing and Shawnie didn’t want to do anything to upset the fragile balance of being allowed to tagalong with Risa and Cash or be left at home with Mom while she sewed all day if Risa didn’t feel like including her.

Even though it felt like a betrayal to the fairy who had left the material behind, Shawnie took it out of the chest and handed it up to Risa.

Risa backed away and exclaimed, “Whoa, this is perfect.”

Shawnie squeezed back out between the chests to see. Risa had unrolled the fabric, letting it drag on the attic floor. It was see-through. Shawnie could see all of Risa behind the pretty length of material. She wasn’t sure what it was. Just a long piece of fabric like one of those fancy lacy tablecloths she’d seen the McCagans use for Thanksgiving before. It seemed way too pretty for a tablecloth though, even with the wavy lace on the edges.

“What is it?” she asked. “A princess dress?”

“Only if princesses go around naked, dummy.” Risa wrapped the fabric around her body and went over to the mirror, inspecting herself. Her shirt and shorts looked silly beneath. Then Risa placed it on her head, letting the fabric fall around her, the wavy lace flowed on either side. Risa smiled at her reflection. “It’s a veil.” When Shawnie didn’t say anything, she rolled her eyes. “The thing a lady getting married wears on her head.”

“Oh.” Shawnie saw it now. She hadn’t been to any weddings herself, but she had seen characters get married on television shows so she got the concept. “Why do ladies have to wear things on their heads?”

Risa’s lips twisted, a mark that she didn’t really know but was going to make something up anyway. “So that everyone will know who is the one that is supposed to be looked at.”

It made as good a sense as anything Shawnie could think of for herself. It could even be true.

“I have a great idea.” Grinning, Risa started gathering the material back up, squashing it into a manageable ball. “I’m going to be the lady getting married. Come on, let’s go find Cash. He’ll get to be the man who’s marrying me.”

Shawnie frowned at Risa’s back as her sister ran off before slowly following after her. Unhappiness made her belly hurt even though she wasn’t sure why she was all of a sudden unhappy. Maybe it was because Risa took the fairy princess material or that it was always Risa to got to have the good parts when they pretended. She was the one who found the treasure chest. She should be the one who got to wear it and be the lady who marries Cash.