(note: I'm not really 13 or 14 years old. I'm the new moderator of this site. But I thought you might like to read one of my children's stories. Enjoy!)
THE CASE OF THE FLASHING LIGHTS
“I think the neighbors are being held captive inside that house!” Michelle’s brother hissed.
Michelle put her hands on her hips. “You’ve been reading too many mystery books, James Donnel. I’ve seen them outside several times since they moved in.”
“Yes, but have you ever heard them talk? When I call ‘hello’ they don’t even look at me.” James folded his arms.
“And how exactly does that prove they were kidnapped? Maybe they just aren’t very friendly.”
“I’ll bet there’s someone inside watching, making sure they don’t talk to anyone or try to get help. They probably threatened to hurt that girl I saw in the window once.” James narrowed his eyes. “All I know is something weird is going on. Have you seen the flashing lights? I wonder if their captors are sending secret messages. Or maybe the family is trying to alert someone that they need help. We need to plan a stake-out.”
“Oh we do, do we?” Michelle rolled her eyes. “I don’t think anything crazy is going on except your imagination.”
“Oh, come on.”
Michelle hesitated. Stake-outs were fun. Especially if you didn’t think there was real danger. “Oh, fine. Let’s go.”
Within a few minutes, the two children were in the backyard. They stood wrinkling their freckled noses as they surveyed the situation.
“There aren’t any bushes or anything to hide behind, James.” Michelle chewed on the tip of her red braid.
“There’s a bush in our yard. We could stick leaves all over ourselves and pretend to be bushes!”
Michelle laughed. “Right. And they wouldn’t notice two new trees suddenly popping up in the middle of their backyard? Trees that move? Their captors would really get mad at them then.”
“I thought you didn’t believe they were being held captive,” James countered.
“I don’t. Let’s go home.”
Michelle spun back around and gaped at the house that still seemed to shudder from the noise. For a moment all was quiet. Her heart banged against her throat.
Then the sound came again, this time joined by low thumps and high clangs and a long shuddering crash.
James’ freckles stood dark against his white face. “It sounds like they’re fighting. And…look!” His quivering hand pointed toward the nearest window.
A man stood inside, silhouetted against the kitchen lights, his arms waving in strange gyrating patterns.
The hair stood on the back of Michelle’s neck and she wished desperately she was inside her own house, yet somehow her legs refused to move. “Maybe we should call the police.”
James’s scream made Michelle screech, too. She pivoted and found herself nose to nose with an inhabitant of the house.
It was the girl. She stood quite calmly, her bright eyes flicking back and forth between the siblings. Then she spoke. Or something.
James muttered, “maybe the bad guys cut their tongues so they can’t talk.”
Michelle jabbed him with her elbow. “I think she said ‘hello.’”
The girl held up a finger in the classic symbol of “just a minute.” Then she was gone, running right into the house where the thumping had only just stopped.
The back door of the house flew open and the girl rushed back out, waving something white in her hands. It was a piece of paper.
James grabbed it. “A secret message!”
They held their breaths and peered at the words scrawled across the page.
Hi, my name is Alicia. My family is Deaf. We use sign language to talk.
Michelle gave James a shove. “Hostages, huh?” She looked up at Alicia, who smiled and offered her a notebook and pencil. Michelle scribbled their names and smiled back.
James nodded. “So that’s why they didn’t respond when I called, but what about…” He took the notebook and wrote, Why do lights flash and what bangs in the kitchen?
“James, don’t be rude.” Michelle flushed.
Alicia just grinned and motioned for them to follow her. She led them around to the front door and pushed the doorbell. Instead of the expected ding dong, the lights inside the house flashed.
“Wow!” James exclaimed. “That’s awesome.”
The door opened and the man they had seen in the window looked at them curiously. For a minute Alicia and her father waved their hands around, apparently talking in sign language. Then the man smiled at the children, opening the door wider to invite them in.
They walked through the hall and stepped into a family room that connected to the kitchen. Alicia’s mom was rummaging in the cupboards. She pulled out a pan with a great clattering bang and stood up.
Michelle waved shyly and the woman smiled back, then motioned toward Alicia. The girl nodded enthusiastically and pulled a card game out of a cupboard.
That evening at their own dinner table, Michelle and James couldn’t stop talking about their new friend.
“We played games and ate cookies and then they showed us a TV thing that they use to talk to friends in sign language!” James paused for a breath.
Michelle took over the explanation. “It’s like a phone except it uses video instead of voice. It was so cool.”
“Let’s learn signs!” James hollered. “We can use it for a silent secret language next time we have to do a stake-out.”
Michelle snickered. “American Sign Language is the third most common language in the U.S. I don’t think it’s very secret.”
“How do you know that?”
“I looked it up on the internet.”
James shrugged. “Oh well, let’s learn it anyway.”
“I’ll bet Alicia will teach us.” Michelle grinned. “Let’s ask her tomorrow.”
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