“So, this is supposed to be the big, mysterious house?” Jeremy asks skeptically. “I don’t see what’s so special about it.”
Jane says nothing but stands looking up at the house from the front yard as the evening shadows arrive and creep around the house.
“Well, it is unusual, you have to admit,” Jane finally says.
“Well, look at it,” Jane says. “It’s a Victorian house built out of wood, in the middle of South America where everything is built out of concrete.”
“Yeah,” Jeremy says slowly. “So what?”
“Well, it’s strange for one thing,” Jane says. “And for another, Victorian houses often had secret rooms and passageways.”
That gets Jeremy interested. He starts to look at the house differently but it is already getting dark.
“The size of the house is strange too,” Jane says. “It feels like it’s bigger outside than it is inside. And it has different parts sticking out all over the place.” She is puzzled. “Why didn’t they just make it square?”
“Maybe it was easier to hide the secret rooms,” Jeremy suggests.
“That’s good thinking, kiddo…” Jane hits Jeremy on his shoulder with a solid punch.
“Hey, quit that…” Jeremy yells, but before he can retaliate, Jane runs up on the porch and goes in the house. Jeremy follows her quickly. “Wait up, sis.”
Jane goes straight upstairs to Jeremy’s room.
“You can’t just barge into my room like that,” Jeremy yells.
“Shut up, you idiot,” Jane says. “We’re exploring.”
She stands in the middle of the room, ignoring the mess of clothes and toys that Jeremy has not put away yet.
“This used to be Dad’s old room,” Jane says. “And it is at the back of the house.”
“So what?” Jeremy says.
“So, there’s something wrong with this room,” Jane says. “Look at it. It isn’t square, for one thing and it seems too small. Something’s off.”
“No windows, for one thing,” Jeremy says.
“Yeah, I noticed that too,” Jane says. “But there’s something else.” She starts tapping her finger against her chin like she always does when she is thinking.
Jeremy starts knocking on the wood paneling that is all over the walls like a library or something. He listens but he can’t really tell the difference between a hollow knock and a solid one. After a minute he gives up.
Jane isn’t watching him. She is looking at the floor. It has old carpeting on it. It is rather ugly but she sees a piece of carpet sticking up in a corner. She grabs it and pulls it up. The carpet comes away to reveal a beautiful oak floor below.
“Why would they cover up such a beautiful wood floor?” Jane asks out loud. “It’s the only room in the house with carpet on the floor.”
“I dunno,” says Jeremy. Then he takes the edge of the carpet from Jane’s hands and pulls even harder.
“Wait,” Jane says. “Mom and Dad might get mad.”
“I don’t care. It’s my room.”
Jane looks at him for a moment and then grabs the carpet too and they both start pulling on it. After a few minutes they have pulled up most of the carpet. They move Jeremy’s bed to the wood floor part of the room and then keep on pulling the carpet up, throwing all the clothes and toys on to his bed.
“Well, that’s one way to clean up your room,” Jane says smiling.
“What’s this,” Jeremy says. He crouches by the wall where his bed used to be and pries up a piece of wood. “Look, this was loose.” He sticks his hand into the hole. “There’s something in here,” he says. “It’s a box of some sort.”
“Let me see,” says Jane trying to get Jeremy out of the way.
“Just a sec,” Jeremy says. “I got it.” He pulls a small wooden box out of the floor and sets it on the night table beside him.
Jane opens the box and pulls out a small book and a key. She puts the key on the night table and opens the book.
“It looks like a diary of some sort,” Jane says. “Just a minute…” She starts to read to herself.
“Come on,” says Jeremy. “What’s it all about?”
“It seems to be written by a girl named Luján,” Jane says as she continues to read.
“Who cares about a stupid diary,” Jeremy says. “Give me the key.” He grabs the key off the night table and looks at it closely. “I wonder what this fits into?”
Jane isn’t listening. She stands up and slowly walks out the door and into her room as she continues reading. She closes the door behind her with a bang. Jeremy doesn’t care. He has his own mystery to solve.
Besides, he has to go downstairs and convince his parents that he found his room this way. After all, the house doesn’t belong to them but rather to the Simon Bertoni Foundation.
Perhaps it isn’t a good time to bring up the diary and the key.
Although she is tired from the overnight flight from Chicago and a full day of unpacking, Jane is fascinated by the diary she found. It is the diary of a young girl named Luján who used to live in their house. At least, that’s how it seemed. But Jane isn’t sure. It is her Dad’s old room after all and there is no relative named, Luján, that Jane has ever heard of.
She has an idea that maybe her father had a girlfriend when he was in Paraguay as a kid. She keeps on reading, looking for some way to confirm her thoughts.
But still, why would her Dad have the diary? Was he keeping it safe for her? And who was she?
There is a story here, Jane knows it.