In the most recent post of my juvenilia series, I promised to share a story from fifth grade that is maybe supposed to be a mystery, though it leaves the reader with rather more questions than it answers:
"But I can't, I just can't take a room numbered nine!" cried Ms. Raven.
"Mother," said Kitty, "please be reasonable. It's the only room the hotel has. It's eleven thirty, and you can't drive with all this rain."
"You're right, Kitty," sighed Ms. Raven. To the desk clerk she said, "We'll take it."
When they were settled in their room, Kitty wrote in her diary.
August 9, 1983
Poor Mother. Ever since Father's death on September ninth (that's 9/9), she has been so scared of the number nine. And now, on the ninth of the month, we have room nine. I wish she would get over her fear.
Kitty put away her diary and went to bed.
Though she was only fourteen, it sometimes seemed that Kitty was taking care of her forty year old mother. True, Ms. Raven earned the money to support herself and her daughter, but it seemed that she needed Kitty to survive.
In the middle of the night, Kitty awoke with a start. She had heard a huge crack over her head, and it wasn't lightning.
"Kitty, did you hear that crack?" called Ms. Raven out of the darkness.
Kitty got up and turned on the light. When her eyes grew accustomed to it, she realized that there was a big branch coming out of the ceiling!
There was a knock at the door. Kitty opened it and found the manager standing there.
"I see that old tree finally came down," he said. "If that branch is bothering you, you can sleep in my room."
"No, thank you," said Ms. Raven. "We're fine."
When the manager had left, Ms. Raven showed Kitty an old piece of paper. On it was written: "This room was built by P.Q. Raven."
"Why that's Father," exclaimed Kitty.
"Yes," said Ms. Raven. "He must have built this note into the ceiling, and the branch knocked it out. Now I remember that nine was his favorite number. Now it's mine, too."
I mean, what?