The spring before around this time there had been a fire in one of the houses nearby. Matt remembered because it was the day he had lost two teeth, but Chelsea and Izzy and Charles all said that that had been the year before. They all said that they watched the fire from the tree house, but Matt remembered his mom putting gauze in his mouth while the news was on and the lady on TV was talking about it.
This March was colder than that one had been, so they couldn’t play investigator as late without mom calling them home. Izzy got to stay out later than him or his brother and sister because Izzy’s grandpa was just visiting for the summer. Once or twice Chelsea got to stay out late with her, but mostly they came home by 8:00 or 8:30 before it got too cold.
It was 6:30 now, and Chelsea hadn’t even shown up yet, and Charles and Izzy were getting tired of waiting, so they went on a top secret mission together to find where she had gone.
So down they went, up and down Orchid, hiding in bushes and spying on the neighbors. Izzy got to be Spymaster because Chelsea wasn’t there and she was oldest, and Charles let Matt be the weapons expert and even helped him pick out a good Nerf gun from his collection. Charles said that he would be mission control and went to get walkie-talkies.
Right away they ruled out their parents because they were out to dinner together, and it couldn’t be Luke because Luke was sick. Matt said that maybe he was faking it, but Charles said that he had seen him in the nurse’s office at lunch, so they all agreed he had to be innocent.
Around then Charles asked if maybe Jake had done it, and Izzy got real quiet and told him to shut up because he didn’t know what he was talking about.
This confused Matt a little bit, because normally Izzy was very nice to Charles, who Matt usually figured didn’t deserve it because he wouldn’t share at all even when mom told him to. Today he said that Matt could be the weapons expert though, so it wasn’t very fair that Izzy told him to shut up. Friends should be nice to each other. Everyone said so.
Usually Matt would try his best to be cool like Izzy and Charles and Chelsea and he would always make sure that he wouldn’t annoy them and that he wouldn’t get in the way or anything. His mom said that every once in a while he should thank the big kids for letting him play with them. Chelsea and Izzy were always very nice to him, so he liked them. Charles could be mean, but today Matt got to be the weapons expert.
“All I was saying is that she might be over there, you know?” Charles said.
“I’m serious,” Izzy said. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Then Izzy called Jake a bad word, and she didn’t even apologize afterward. She sounded very angry to Matt, and Izzy was usually nice to everybody, especially when they were playing investigator. She must not like Jake very much to say such mean things about him. Jake was Matt and Charles and Chelsea’s neighbor, and he always gave Matt a high five when he saw him. He was really cool. He even had his own car that he was fixing up. He let Matt see it once. And he had a guitar that he would play songs on. One time he had showed everybody an album that he said was Let it Bleed. It sounded pretty cool. They would hear those songs a lot from Jake’s garage.
“She’s been spending a lot of time over there,” Charles said. He looked over at Izzy.
Izzy didn’t say anything at all, and Matt couldn’t tell what she was thinking about.
She said another bad word and started to talk, but this time she glanced over at Matt and didn’t say anything else.
Sometimes they did that. Sometimes the big kids would say things that Matt didn’t understand like he wasn’t there, and then they would notice him and start whispering to one another.
“I’ve seen her over there,” Matt said. “They were –”
He stopped talking when he saw Izzy looking at him. He looked down at his Nerf gun. They had been naked, but he wasn’t allowed to say it.
“Come on, let’s go and find her,” Izzy said. She took off walking fast, and didn’t wait for the boys to catch up. They didn’t find her that night, and after a little while of playing investigator Charles said that it was time to go home. Izzy stayed out a little while longer.
When Matt and Charles got home mom told them that Chelsea had already gone to bed, and that she wasn’t feeling very well. But a few hours later, Matt woke to the noise of the door opening. It must have been Chelsea.
That night, Matt had a dream about monsters. It was a very good dream – he rushed to get back to sleep.