Julie looked eagerly out of the window as she and her mother drove towards the big house.
It had been a long trip into the mountains, and Julie was keen to see her new home and
her long-lost, distant cousin Mary.
Jane Saunders swung the SUV across the broad gravel drive and stopped near the
impressive front door. She was looking forward to her new life as well.
It had been over three months since Peter had died so tragically, and Jane was feeling
truly relaxed for the first time since the accident and the subsequent discovery that Peter's
insurance had lapsed.
The prospect of coping financially and emotionally without Peter, and with controlling a
rebellious sixteen year old daughter, had looked insurmountable to Jane until Peter's
lawyer had contacted Peter's cousin Greta. One thing had led to another, and Greta, a
wealthy young widow, had suggested that Jane and Julie move in with her and her own
daughter. Greta's daughter Mary was a little older than Julie, and had been quite a handful
over the years. In fact, she had run away from home at thirteen, spent a year or tow doing
drugs and whatever else in the company of much older, and quite unsavoury, male and
female companions. The errant girl had at last been returned to her mother, where Greta
was home schooling her in an attempt to bring her back under control.
Julie knew by now that she and Mary had a lot in common. They were both a little on the
short side, but were equally slim and pretty, according to Greta who had spoken to Julie on
the phone and who had seen her photograph. Julie also got the idea that Mary had had her
episodes of 'naughtiness', as Greta quaintly called it, and that the pair of them both
enjoyed music and swimming. It didn't look to bad, Julie thought. Home schooling sounded
cool, although she was surprised to see how far away from the nearest town Greta's
sprawling homestead was.
As the car stopped, Julie looked across to see the front door of the house opening.
The one on the left must be Greta, Julie thought, looking at the tall woman in jeans and a
sweater who stood in the doorway next to an older woman in a dark dress and apron.
Suddenly, a young girl appeared. She was dressed in yellow corduroy overalls and bright
red sneakers, and couldn't have been more than about nine, if that, thought Julie, and she
rushed over to the SUV as Julie and her mother got out.
'Hi Julie, I'm Mattie, do you want to go for a swim?' the youngster cried excitedly.
Julie smiled as the child tugged at her hand.
'Mary, don't rush!' said the woman in the maid's uniform, stepping forward to restrain the girl.
Julie was confused, and looked at her mother. Jane gave her a quick smile in return, and
began unloading the luggage.
'Julie, this is Mary,' said Greta, taking the child's hand from the maid and standing her in
front of Julie. 'Or Mattie,' she added with a laugh as Mary pouted.
'With a nice name like Mary she wants to be called Mattie, this week anyway,' Greta said to
Julie and Jane with a smile. 'Let's go inside,' she added. 'Hilda will take your things.'
The maid picked up the luggage Jane had just unloaded from the back of the car, and
Greta showed the pair inside as Mattie scampered away in front of them.
'That's Mary??' Julie whispered to her mother as they entered the spacious hallway.
'Don't make a fuss, darling, I know you'll just get on so well,' her mother replied. 'Won't
they Greta?' she continued, looking at her husband's cousin with a broad smile.
'I dare say they will,' replied Greta as she opened the double doors into a bright room that
gave onto the garden through french doors, and Julie and Jane followed her in. Mary, or
Mattie, seemed to have disappeared. Julie was still confused.
'But she's…' she whispered again to her mother.
Julie didn't know what Mary was. She was sure Greta had said she was seventeen.
'Please sit down, there'll be some tea in a minute,' Greta said cheerfully as mother and
daughter stood looking around the sunny room.
There was a squeal and a splash from the garden outside.
'No jumping please Mary, and where are your wings?' called Greta, leaning towards one of
the open doors.
Julie sat and fiddled with the ring in her well-exposed navel, wondering if there were two
Marys, or what.