Monthly Chapter: July 2021 – Chapter 18

On the first of the month a new chapter is posted from an as yet to be released book. The current book is Tansy Moves In. This is the first book of the upcoming Oak Hill Series. This month was a little late as June sort of slipped passed me. Thanks for waiting a little while longer for me to get this chapter out.

Chapter 18

It was with some trepidation that Tansy gathered her things in preparation to head off back to her apartment.  Would the bill boards remain motionless?

‘It is a sunny day,’ she thought as she tried to decide what she wanted to take back with her and what she planned to leave. ‘So that might help.’

She wasn’t sure why she thought the sun would help.  ‘Perhaps it’s because bad things happen on dark and stormy nights.’

Tansy packed the few things she wanted to take with her into her weekend bag.  She looked at the suitcases and duffle bags she filled the weekend before.  At the moment they were sitting deflated and empty in a pile. Tansy sat down on the bed next to her packed case.  She still wanted to know what it was that Eunice was looking for.

“Well I know it was the rings, but not why,” She corrected herself. Even though the house was supposed to be protected space, and Tansy had ample proof that this was the case, Eunice hid her search away.

Tansy frowned.  Any kind of plot or plan that Tansy knew Eunice created involved her friend Petra.  They had been partners in crime since their kindergarten years.  As Petra had been in the house more times than Tansy could count, she knew that the  protections allowed Eunice’s oldest friend into the house.

‘But I’ve never seen Petra upstairs,’ Tansy thought.  If Eunice was keeping her search upstairs and hidden behind a closed door, then chances were she didn’t want even her close friends to know about it.  Looking at the pictures of the rings, they just looked like old and somewhat ugly pieces of antique jewelry.

“But they have to be more if they are that hidden.”

After the weekend she was having, Tansy was willing to admit that more was a definite possibility.  “And the Weathersby Family members are definitely not friends,” Tansy said. 

Knowing that once she left the house she would be beyond protection and that she still had a Weathersby as a neighbor at her apartment complex, Tansy decided not to take any of Eunice’s papers with her for the week. 

“I can take the empty bags with me and start ferrying my things from the apartment to the house so that when my lease runs out at the end of the month it is an easier move.”

Decision made, Tansy stood up and gathered all of the empty bags.  She placed all of the smaller bags inside of the one larger suitcase and then took the suitcase and her smaller case downstairs and out to the car. There was very little else that needed to be seen to.  She hadn’t produced enough trash to fill a garbage bag so she didn’t need to take anything down to the bins.  She had the file from the bank in her case and could spend the week familiarizing herself with Eunice’s wacky world of finance if she wanted while leaving all of Eunice’s secrets hidden behind the house’s protections.  All that was left was to take herself back to the city. 

Inside the house Tansy checked all of the locks.  She moved through the house double checking the windows, even though she knew she hadn’t actually opened any of them.  She then checked the door locks again and realized she was stalling.  “Just remember the sheep,” Tansy told herself.

Her mind replayed the sheep strolling out of the frame. “No,” she reminded herself.  “Remember how it dissolved to paint in the sun. That’s the part I need to remember.” She remembered stopping other sheep from leaving the frame.  “And I need to focus on stopping them.”

She let out a shaky breath, stepped into the back yard and pulled the back door shut behind her.  She locked the door and moved to her already packed car.

There was some relief that the living art dissolved back to paint in the sunlight.  It meant that she wouldn’t accidentally release anything from a billboard to run amuck throughout the world. “So driving home in the sun is the best course of action.  Tansy slid into the driver’s seat, Fastened her seatbelt and clasped her bumblebee necklace for luck.  She tucked the pendant into the neck of her shirt and turned the key in the ignition. 

As Tansy drove back towards town she felt hyper vigilant of her surroundings.  At first there were only trees and houses set back from the road.  As her drive took her into town, more signs appeared. She let them fade into the background, paying them no attention.  She saw no signs of movement from them.  She made it through town with no issues and took the on ramp to the interstate leading back to the city. 

As it was only about mid-morning on a Sunday, traffic was light.  “Less chance of an accident,” she told herself.  Tansy turned on the radio and hummed along with the songs playing as she tried not to pay too much attention to the billboards and other signs along the roadside.

To her intense relief she made it back to the city without incident.  Nothing moved that shouldn’t have moved.  As Tansy exited the highway she passed a bill board advertising the Eyeglass Emporium.  The information was listed out on one edge of the billboard but the bulk of the billboard was taken up by an attractive looking couple, both wearing eyeglasses. Only their heads and shoulders were visible in the image as they stared out at the passing cars.  As she looked at them she couldn’t help wondering if just the disembodied heads would come out of the frame or if two huge people would climb down off of the bill board. 

As there were no other cars taking the exit with her, Tansy dared to look directly at the billboard.  Nothing happened.  Neither of the figures even twitched an eyelash. Tansy looked away and kept driving towards her apartment.  She wasn’t sure if her lessons in control were taking effect or if billboards didn’t move the way oil paintings did.  Since she was certain the graduation tassel moved in the printed bank poster, she knew that the movement wasn’t limited to just paint on canvas.

‘But hopefully something in the printing of a bill board is different,’ she thought as she pulled into her apartment building’s parking lot.  She wasn’t exactly certain how bill boards were printed or installed but thought it might be a factor. Tansy turned off the engine.  While she still wanted to know why as she wanted some sort of logical system of explanation, at the moment she was just happy that nothing that wasn’t supposed to move hadn’t.

Tansy took her overnight bag and her empty bags up to the apartment, seeing no one on the way.  She wondered if the Weathersbys were still watching her or if they gave up.  She knew they wanted to get inside Eunice’s house for some reason and now that they couldn’t Tansy wondered if they’d try something sneakier. 

She was just as delighted with not seeing her new neighbor lurking as she was with the billboards remaining printed images.  Once inside, Tansy began her weekend chores hoping to keep moving while she let her mind sort through things.  Most of the things she needed to think about, weren’t anything she could actually deal with. The books on magic wouldn’t open until she made a decision and she wasn’t making any decisions until she learned to control what was already going on. 

She strongly suspected that any information regarding why Eunice was looking for the rings would be in the books she couldn’t open.  All of the information in Eunice’s bedroom seemed to be about her actual search, not why she was searching.

“So that is a no go,” Tansy said as she gathered her laundry and began sorting it into piles for washing.  As most of her work clothes were dark in the hopes of concealing coffee spills and ink stains, the dark pile was larger than the rest.

She didn’t know why Margaret and Roderick wanted in the house.  She didn’t know why the ladies walking the trail behind the house wanted in the house. “Although at least I know why they used the term witch,” Tansy told herself as she took the first load of laundry to the machine.

“I know a commute to and from the office is doable as long as I don’t get fired,” she continued with her list of things to consider.  “I don’t know if I am still allowed to work at the law office now that I know about Eunice’s accounts.” Tansy chewed on her lip.  Surely if there was a problem with her working in the office, Mr. Hampton would have mentioned it when he met with her.

“But he didn’t,” She said.  As the washing machine chugged away, Tansy went to the kitchen and put together the basics of the salad she would be taking to work for lunch the next day.  She put all of the greens in one bowl, the crunchy walnuts in another small plastic container and the dressing in a third.  She then put all three sealed containers into a reusable lunch bag and put the bag in the fridge for the morning. 

“If he didn’t say anything then it should still be fine,” she decided.  “I’m sure he’ll let me know if there is a conflict.”  As the washing machine was still chugging along, Tansy decided to start packing a few things she knew she wouldn’t need in the next few weeks so that they would be ready to go over to the house when the weekend arrived.

While the air was still a little chilly, it was now too warm for most of her winter things so Tansy began by loading her winter clothes into the bags.  As the bags filled, she ferried them to the living room, piling them in the corner so they were out of the way.  As she dropped off one of the bags and turned back towards the bedroom, she heard a voice in the hall.

Recognizing Chris’ voice, Tansy stopped and tiptoed towards her front door to hear better.  She stood on her tiptoes to peek out into the hallway.  She could just make out Chris in the hallway.

“…Look suspicious,” he said.  Tansy could see he was talking on the phone.  His face held none of the bland cheerfulness he directed her way each time they ran into each other.  He looked annoyed and sour faced as he listened to the response on the other end of the line.

“I searched already,” he said.  His tone was exasperated.  “Nothing was there.  If she has it, then it has to be at the house.” Again he paused.  “Well that is hardly my fault is it.”

He pulled his phone away tapped the end button as though he was trying to put his finger through the screen and jammed his phone into his back pocket. Tansy saw him run a hand through his hair and take a second to compose himself.  As his face took on the generic polite look, she realized he was going to knock on her door.  Tansy backed away from the door and scampered into the bedroom.  She doubted he would be able to tell that she was eavesdropping, but she thought it best not to be too near the door when he knocked.  Sure enough as she reentered the bedroom, a knock sounded on her front door.

“I wish I had the house protections here.” She mumbled to herself.  She picked up one of the empty bags and walked towards the front door.  She looked through the peep hole as she would for any unexpected visitor and seeing her neighbor, Tansy opened the door.

“Hello,” she said.

“Hi,” Chris said.  “I hate to be a pest but I seemed to have locked myself out of my apartment and the office is closed.”

“Oh,” Tansy said.  “They have a number to call after hours.  It is posted on the office door.”

“Right,” Chris said.  “And I called them.  And I am waiting.  I just wanted to know if it would be possible to use your restroom?”

“I suppose so,” Tansy said. “For a bathroom emergency.”  She stepped aside and let Chris enter.  He took a deep breath and looked relieved when he was able to cross the threshold with no problem.  She wondered if he expected to be propelled out of the door the way the concrete steps at the house repelled his parents.

He walked past her and went straight to her one bathroom.  Tansy closed the door and waited in the living room.  She set her empty bag down on the sofa. Chris wasn’t long.  From the living room Tansy heard the sound of the commode flushing and then the water running in the sink. A moment later, Chris emerged from the bathroom.

“I suppose all of the apartments are laid out the same way,” Tansy said.

“Excuse me?” Chris replied looking puzzled. 

“You knew exactly where the bathroom was,” Tansy clarified.  The tips of Chris’ ears went red.

“Right, my apartment is laid out the same only in a mirror image,” He said.  “Thank you for allowing me permission to enter your home.”

At his words, Eunice’s warning about granting permission to enter the house floated across her mind.

“Well, not so much permission to enter the apartment, as a one-time bathroom emergency between neighbors,” Tansy added. The words felt rude coming out of her mouth, but they also felt right.  Some of the bland cheerfulness slipped from his face and the shadow of suspicion flitted across his features. 

Tansy smiled brightly.  “Luckily they are usually pretty quick about getting someone here when you call the emergency number.  I’ve only called a couple of times but each time it took less than ten minutes for them to arrive.” She walked to the door and opened it.  Chris looked like he was thinking hard, but his steps took him towards the open door.  Thinking of Eunice’s words, Tansy wondered if he was trying to come up with a different way to ask for permission to enter her home.  She also wondered if her granting permission here would allow him to bypass the house’s protections.

Chris reached the doorway and stepped over the threshold into the hall. He turned back to her.  “Well at least I know I have permission to enter your home in an emergency.”

“You’ll have to discuss emergency rights to this apartment with whoever takes over the lease next, as I’ll be moving at the end of the month,” Tansy said.  “No permission from me, I’m afraid.”

He stopped and Tansy saw the good humor fade. “Of course. Have a good night.”

“You too,” Tansy replied. She stepped back and closed the door, sliding the deadbolt home as she did so.  Tansy then looked through the peephole.  For a moment Chris stared at her door.  He then took out his phone and dialed a number from his contacts.  He lifted the phone to his ear as he stepped away. 

“Yeah, it’s me.  I tried.  It didn’t work.  She knows… something at least.” 

Tansy saw him pull his keys out of his pocket and move down the hall towards his apartment and out of her sight.

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