Melco Family: The Missing Diorama Mystery | Teen Ink

Melco Family: The Missing Diorama Mystery

April 8, 2022
By bycaileytarriane BRONZE, Pasay, Other
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bycaileytarriane BRONZE, Pasay, Other
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Author's note:

About The Melco Family: 

The Missing Diorama Mystery is the first book of the Melco Family series. It is loved by all ages around the world. 

About the author: Cailey Tarriane is a teen author who enjoys reading, hanging out with her pets, and playing the piano. Learn more about her work and follow her Youtube channel, Cailey's Corner. 

   Loud noises came from the Melco home. Excited chatter filled the humble brownstone in 14 Ellerby street, Little Capitals, occupied by a Chinese family of 8. On this special Sunday, the family had many guests over- both friends and relatives, for today was Patty Melco’s 9th birthday. Mom had allowed her other kids to bring a friend each, and their simple living room was soon occupied by family, friends, and classmates whom Patty chose to invite(she was allowed more than one friend.) Among them were her close friends Naomi Nasfield and Heather Chan. Naomi brought along her fraternal twin sister, Nadia, who was also a friend of the girls. 

Mr. and Mrs. Melco decided it would be a better idea if they let some of their guests go to the front yard, where a long table with food and cake were at. ‘’I don’t think my 9 year old birthday party had this many people,’’Olivia laughed. She was Patty’s 2nd older sister and was rather tall. She had shaggy hair and dark eyes and she had invited along her best friend, Seidi. ‘’I’m glad that Patty invited the Nasfields!’’Seidi replied. ‘’They’re lots of fun!’’

 She was neighbors with Patty’s close friend Naomi and her sister Nadia.

 ‘’Speaking off the Nasfields, there they are!’’ Olivia said, gesturing to Patty and a bunch of her classmates, who were goofing off on the side of the yard.

Dad was introducing the kids to a game he invented. Mom was busy taking pictures of the party. 

‘’Mommy, when is it time for me to blow the cake?’’Patty asked. 

Patricia Melco, also known as Patty, was the third and middle daughter of the family, slightly shorter for her age,and she enjoyed painting and working on Science projects. 

‘’Soon, sweetie,’’answered Mom,’’why don’t you go play with your friends while I snap a few pictures for our summer scrapbook?’’

 Overhearing this, Britney, who walked past her mother and sister, rolled her eyes. Britney Melco, who recently just turned 15, was the oldest and in her opinion, most ‘’mature’’ among her siblings. She was three years older than Olivia and enjoyed wearing makeup and high heels.  Mom had seen a scrapbooking idea to ‘’relieve memories’’ from a parenting magazine, so she bought all the supplies and began working on pictures with the camera Dad bought for her on their anniversary.  

‘’Sure mommy,’’Patty replied, and before hurrying off to her friends, she gave Britney a dark look and said,’’you should really go fix that ugly hat of yours.’’ 

Britney and Patty had an ongoing ‘’game’’ of stealing each other’s things to piss the other off. Patty was now upset with her oldest sister for not bringing along a friend like their mom had suggested, but Britney said that her best friend, Melissa, was out of town. This was actually true, and because of the lack of company, Britney had been engrossed in looking for ways to get back at Patty for painting her lip gloss on the twins’ nails, knowing it would agitate her. ‘It looks really nice on us,’’ Mandy had protested. 

‘’And it really brings out the color in our eyes, don’t you think Britney?’’ Sarah added teasingly. Mandy and Sarah Melco were twins, and the youngest girls of the family, followed by their youngest and only boy, Jad. Presently, Jad came skipping to the front yard. He had finished his nap and once again begged Patty to show him her ‘’secret project’’. Patty chuckled. Recently, she had entered a Science fair competition, where they had to make dioramas with real life representation. She had been really mysterious about it, but,as a joke, she told Jad that her project was something that could lead to the destruction of the world. She had said this to keep Jad from bothering her everytime she worked, and it succeeded like a charm! However, she was already done with her project and she decided to show it to everyone at her party, since her relatives were here as well and having lots of siblings and double the cousins, it was hard to have anything she was good at that someone else in their family wasn’t great at already.

 ‘’Come,’’she presented dramatically, as everyone(except Britney, who was gossiping on the phone with Melissa) followed her to her room, also what she called her ‘’workplace’’. 

Enjoying the temporary luxury of having her own room, Patty had made it exactly her way. When Jad grew too big to sleep with their parents, he would have to share a room with Patty, her biggest nightmare. Her room was covered in pink(something that would not happen once Jad moved in with her) and her pink curtains were drawn in a way to show sunlight in the funny room. On her desk was the diorama Patty had been working on for ages, a large safari exhibit with model animals carefully carved from a special kind of clay that Patty asked Dad to buy. A waterfall with live running water that cycled around was decorated with grass and painted dead leaves that Patty found in the park. ‘’Wow, this is amazing!’’Olivia exclaimed. ‘’Sweetie this is awesome! I know you spent so much time on this, it seriously paid off!’’ Mom said, pulling out her camera. Even Noodle barked in agreement. Noodle was a one year old rescue poodle that the Melco family had adopted, and it wasn’t before long that she became a part of their family. However, she got too excited with guests, so they decided to crate her while they were here in the cage in Patty’s room. 

Shortly after everyone stopped gazing admiringly at the diorama, Dad suggested they go let Patty blow her cake. 

It was a joyous event (except for Britney, who was texting Melissa and glaring at Patty), and after that was the gift giving. All the gifts were on a bench in the front yard. A few relatives and classmates left, saying they had fun but had to go already. Most of the others who stayed were in the living room, talking or playing with balloons, including one of Patty’s cousins, Mario. He was the same age as Patty, and he wanted to play with a water balloon.

Nadia Nasfield was watching him and she too wanted to play with a water balloon. Mario blushed but was told no by his mom. 

Among those who were watching Patty open her gifts in the front yard were Mom, Dad, Mr. and Mrs. Nasfield, Guama, Britney(who didn’t want to be there but was in a deep conversation with Guama on gossip), Olivia, Seidi,Heather Chan, and Naomi Nasfield. 

Over the time there, Olivia learned a lot more from Patty's closest friends. She learned that Heather was more reserved with strangers but very talkative with friends, and she also found out that Naomi was really smart, she won loads of Math awards and she joined the Science fair competition, too. Olivia asked Patty if it made her awkward with Naomi since they were both entering the same competition, but Patty merely said that Naomi was really nice and not at all competitive. Olivia also learned that Naomi and Nadia were twin sisters, and both were entering the Science fair competition.  

During their hearty chatter, they heard a loud pop from inside the house! A moment later they heard crying.

Everyone in the front yard instantly rushed into the house to adress what happened.

 ‘’Did anyone get hurt? Oh, please do tell us whatever happened!’’Mom exclaimed worriedly. The group found out that the crying was from Patty and her siblings’ little cousin, Hailee. Four year old Hailee explained through her tears that she went in the bathroom and found a balloon. Afterwards, she played with the balloon and it blew up on her face!

 Auntie Joan, Hailee’s mom, was ushering her and luckily a few minutes later Hailee calmed down. In half an hour everyone had said goodbye and the siblings went to their respective bedrooms and went about with the rest of their afternoon. As Olivia, a huge mystery fan, was engrossed in a book about a thrilling mystery, she suddenly heard a scream. ‘’Oh no!’’’she thought,hurrying to Patty’s room where she thought the sound came from. ‘’Whatever happened, Patty?’’she cried. 

‘’M-My Science fair project,’’Patty said softly,’’its gone!’’ Then she started noisily crying. 

‘’Oh Patty, I’m sure it will be fine!’’Olivia ushered her, but her eyes twinkled with excitement. This was a great mystery for her to solve! 

‘’Why are you smiling?’’Patty wailed. 

‘’Because,’’Olivia said slowly,’’we can catch whoever stole your project!’’

 ‘Patty looked hesitant. ‘’Y-You really think someone has stolen it?’’she asked,’’but why?’’ 

‘’I don’t know, Patty,’’’Olivia replied,’’but we will get to the bottom of this!’’ 

Then she declared,’’I’ve gone far too long without a mystery!’’ 

Patty couldn’t help but smile. The Science fair was in 3 days and that wasn’t enough time for her to make another diorama that would win her the competition, so it left her no choice but to follow Olivia’s sleuthing and trust in her detective skills. 

‘’Alright, I’m in.’’Patty said. 

‘’You don’t really have a choice,’’Olivia joked. 

‘’So, what happens next?’’

 Olivia thought for a moment and said,’’We look for clues. And I suggest that we start searching this area where the crime scene happened.’’ 

Patty tried not to smirk sarcastically when Olivia said ‘’crime scene’’, but she was glad for her sister’s help and together they searched the area where the project was last found. ‘’’Does this mean that whoever stole my diorama was one of the people who were here in my party earlier?’’ Patty queried. 

Olivia nodded. ‘’There are more possibilities, however, so it’s not a very helpful clue. There were about 30 people here earlier!’’ After a long search, Patty was exasperated. ‘’We’re never gonna find this person! This is becoming the worst birthday ever!’’she complained.’’We hardly have any clues!’’

 Olivia chuckled. ‘’Are you sure about that?’’she asked, gesturing to the floor. 

There was water tracked on the fuchsia carpet that led to outside Patty’s room. ‘’’The water from my waterfall remake in the diorama!’’Patty exclaimed. 

‘’’This is definitely how the theft went out with it,’’Olivia said excitedly,’’let’s follow it!’’ The two young girls followed the trail of water, which led them to the bathroom! 

‘’Funny, why would anyone place your diorama in the bathroom?’’Olivia wondered out loud.‘Íf anyone would have used it, they would have caught the theft! Unless maybe the theft was in here?’’ 

Patty said,’’ You don’t think Hailee did it, do you? She was in here earlier when she found the balloon and it popped.’’ 

Olivia disagreed. ‘’We would have found your diorama here when everyone rushed in to find out what happend. Besides, why would Hailee want to steal your diorama anyway?’’ Patty admitted the chance was very slim. 

‘’Whoever stole it was here before Hailee was,’’Olivia decided, then she went very quiet. Patty asked what she was thinking. 

‘’I was wondering,’’Olivia said slowly,’’how the water would have spilled from your diorama? Whoever carried it out of your room held it upward, obviously, but then how would the water spill?’’

Patty admitted that that was a very good question. 

‘’Maybe it wasn’t from the diorama. Were you making water balloons earlier?’’Olivia inquired. 

She knew the younger kids had been playing with balloons, and she explained how it was possible that the water tracks were from the balloon if it was a water balloon, not from the diorama. 

‘’We weren’t making water balloons,’’replied Patty,’’so I guess that takes it out of the list.’’ She sighed.’’This just makes everything more complicated, don’t you think, Olivia?’’

 Olivia had gone quiet again. Patty decided to not interrupt her train of thought. 

Finally, Olivia revealed her thoughts. ‘’I’m puzzled over how the crook could have gotten away with so many people here, that is, unless they have a bag or a box or something to put your project in.’’ 

Patty had an idea. ‘’What if the diorama was somewhere here?’’ She began looking around the bathroom but she failed to find anything. Defeated, she asked Olivia what she thought this meant. 

‘’I think the thief's motive is to take the diorama with them, so they wouldn’t have hidden it at our place for a prank,’’she said. 

The last word she said caught Patty’s attention.

‘’I bet Britney did it! She would’ve thought pranking me would be very funny, that sneak!’’ 

Olivia disagreed. ‘’Don’t forget that Britney was in the front yard with us while you opened your gifts, gossiping with guama.’’ 

Patty was not ready to give up investigating Britney. ‘’What if she asked someone to steal it from me? What if she stole it before she went to the front yard? What if-’’ 

Olivia stopped Patty. ‘’We need more evidence,’’she merely said, but unbeknownst to Patty, she had a few more suspects in mind. 

However, she did not voice this. Patty said that there may be a possibility that the diorama was in the bathroom for a while before the thief took it. 

‘’I suppose it's possible,’’Olivia said. 

She secretly didn’t think so at that moment, but she needed to do more detective work first. 

Later that night, after the whole family heard about Patty’s missing diorama(and Patty shooting Britney scathing glances), Olivia quickly retired to her and Britney’s shared bedroom to think. 

This mystery had so many loose ends, and Olivia felt as though the only way to answer them was if she found the culprit. Earlier she had been confident enough to offer to solve this case, but now she admitted to herself that there were lots of different angles that would complicate this mystery. 

As she mulled over it at bed, a thought suddenly struck the young detective: what if the thief wasn’t at the party? It wasn’t very likely at first but now Olivia felt like there might be a possibility. Perhaps an accomplice of the theft was at the party, saw Patty’s diorama, and took it! 

What would their motive be? Were they planning to hide Patty’s project for some time until the Science fair was over so she wouldn’t win, or pass it off as their own? Was the theft helping someone or doing it for their own benefits? 

Olivia thought that if the theft was helping someone, it could be anyone. Whether accomplice or not, however, Olivia knew the person who took the diorama had to be at the party. 

They might have done it for someone else, but they were at the party. Olivia decided she would phase her plan into action the following morning.

The next day, Olivia woke up energized for school. She thought restlessly of the new mystery she had to solve. 

By breakfast time, she saw Patty at the dining table, talking about her many suspects in mind. The day before she was doubtful anyone would have stolen her work, but now she was over paranoid. ‘’That Amelia must be jealous of me! I pushed Burt by accident in the hallway, maybe he-’’ 

Before Patty could finish her sentence, Britney interrupted. ‘’Wasn’t the Burt incident like years ago? Is he still holding a grudge against you or are you just some wannabe who likes him?’’she said frivolously. 

Patty was about to snap back when Olivia joined the table. Britney always woke up at this time since her high school started earlier, but Patty and Olivia had woken up particularly early today to discuss the case. ‘’I have thought about this mystery a lot last night, and I do have a plan.’’Olivia said, with a twinkle in her eye.

‘’What’s your plan?’’Patty asked.

‘’In catching someone guilty, we must ask how and why they would do something,’’Olivia began. ‘’But first, please write down here who you think would want to ruin you for the Science fair.’’ 

She gave Patty a small green notebook with a decorated cover that was opened on a blank page. She called the notebook ‘’Jotty’’(which Britney made fun of) and here she wrote suspect lists and investigation clues. 

Finally, Patty showed Olivia her full list. Mom glanced at it and told Patty that she really had to improve her penmanship. The two girls chuckled and Olivia scanned the list and saw that there were about twenty people.

‘’’Choose only about three of them that have the most motive and has friends who were in your party or maybe was even in the party themself,’’Olivia said,then, reading Patty’s mind, she added,’’ Don’t worry, if they all have alibis we’ll investigate the others on this list.’’

 Patty took a while to make up her mind, but she finally selected three people. They were Hunter Jeffords, Cagney Lee, and Mario Melco. The latter surprised Olivia because Mario was their cousin and she didn’t think he stole Patty’s diorama, but she promised to investigate all three of them, starting with Hunter. 

‘’Tell me more about him,’’Olivia said. She learned that he was the twin brother of Heidi Jeffords. Apparently Heidi wasn’t too fond of Patty and she was at the party. Hunter won several previous science fairs and he was quite well known for his legendary projects, so Patty thought that he and Heidi had a motive. 

‘’Last term’s science fair, Hunter brought a project as tall as Jad with real hamsters! It had batteries and all!’’Patty said, and Olivia agreed that perhaps Hunter had seen her as a threat. 

On the bus on their way to school, Olivia filled Seidi in on the mystery, and she was more than happy to help. During their short break after 2nd period, the two friends split up to search for both Hunter and Heidi. 

Olivia found a boy with sandy hair and green eyes that fit the description Patty gave her. She watched the boy exit the music classroom for his break. He looked really happy and pleased with himself, and Olivia observed that he had a pair of drumsticks on the side of his backpack. 

As rehearsed, Olivia approached the boy. ‘’Hi, are you Hunter Jeffords?’’she asked. ‘’Oh yes. I am, who are you?’’Hunter said, curiously looking the Asian girl up and down.

‘’I doubt you know me, but my younger sister Patty sent me here. She told me how you looked and she said she wanted me to pass the word to you to ask your twin sister Heidi if she could come over.’’Olivia said, as planned. ‘’Alright, but why don’t you ask her yourself?’’said Hunter, but not unkindly.

 ‘’I thought she was home sick,’’Olivia fibbed innocently, watching the boy closely. Heidi wasn’t really sick, Olivia was just seeing how Hunter would react when being told a lie. It might prove useful in the future. 

‘’Actually, she’s not at home! She’s healthy and she came to school today,’’Hunter uttered.

‘’Oh! Well, I must be mistaken then.’’Olivia said,then she spent the rest of their little conversation asking Hunter whether he knew Patty. 

‘’I suppose I have seen her, but we were never classmates so I don’t know her too well.’’Hunter said talkatively. Now that he had warmed up to Olivia, he found her interesting to talk to and said before Olivia could answer,’’I think Heidi went to her birthday party yesterday,but I can’t be too sure since I was stuck in my room. My grandma grounded me since I told her I didn’t want to join that stupid Science fair and I sort of talked back a lot.’’he chatted.

 Olivia watched Hunter’s facial expressions closely but could not detect that he was lying. If he didn’t care about the Science fair, perhaps he wasn’t the one who stole Patty’s project! 

‘’I must still be sure though,’’Olivia said to herself and then she thought,’’if Hunter cared so little about this Science fair, why were his works always the most attractive and time consuming?’’ 

She decided that this was indeed fishy and further investigation with Hunter had to be continued. As she said goodbye to Hunter,the bell rang and they parted ways. During lunch, she got a chance to privately ask Seidi how things went with Heidi. 

‘It was fine I guess. I told her about Patty’s project and she seemed genuinely clueless about what happened. Of course, before that I told her my alibi by asking her about the paper I was ‘looking for’,’’Seidi said. 

By the time their conversation was over neither thought that the Jeffords siblings were the culprit but they both agreed, though, that Hunter was still up to something. He had seemed so sincere with not caring for the Science fair that it puzzled Olivia more. 

When Olivia met up with Patty in the cafeteria later on, they both had completely different ideas. 

Olivia said,’’I don’t think it was Hunter’’ the same time as Patty rushed up to her and said,’’Something is going on with Hunter!”’

Patty filled Olivia in and she was shocked to find out that in their Social studies class, they were to make clay dioramas on how the past people lived, and Hunter had been caught stealing someone’s project! 

‘’Did you find out why?’’Olivia asked. 

‘’Nope, our teacher will talk to Hunter’s parents next week because they are in a business meeting in Canada right now.’’informed Patty. 

‘’Wow! Well this seriously complicates matters,’’Olivia said. Her mind was racing. Two mysteries in less than 2 days! Or could they both be connected?

 She and Patty agreed that she ought to do more sleuthing on Hunter. Meanwhile, Seidi had an agenda of her own. She was excited to help Olivia out on a mystery, so she didn’t mind taking the later bus home. 

She went to the 3rd grade classrooms and asked for Willy Tiong. She learned through her conversation with Heidi that he was Hunter’s best friend, so perhaps she could pick up a clue. 

One of Willy’s classmates told her that Willy was in the cafeteria getting a snack, so Seidi went up to him and asked whether he knew where Hunter was. She simply said that she was assigned by a teacher to look for him, and Willy told her that he was not sure about his current whereabouts. 

This would have discouraged a less determined person, but Seidi decided not to give up just yet, she wasn’t expecting to disappoint Olivia. So she asked Willy where his friend usually was at that time. ‘’I dunno,’’said WIlly and when he decided that he could trust the eager Seidi,he said,’’well, I suppose he’s been kinda mysterious recently.’’ 

‘’Since when was recently?’’Seidi quiered. Hunter said it was 3 weeks ago. 

‘’I remember because we were hanging out with a bunch of our other friends at an amusement park where we went for our field trip. Since then Hunter’s been going to weird places and trying to talk to his parents and contact them in between classes.’’ Seidi’s heart skipped a beat!  The announcement of the Science fair was 3 weeks ago! Could this be related? 

‘’Have you got any idea where he is?’’ Seidi implored, trying not to show her enthusiasm. This would be a perfect clue! 

Unfortunately, Willy said he didn’t know and their small talk ended when Willy’s brother came to pick him up. 

So Seidi left the cafeteria and went looking for Olivia. However, she could not find her. She looked in the other cafeteria, the dismissal room, the playground, and the library. Worried, Seidi asked the school guard if a description of Olivia had gone home. The guard said no. 

At the same time, Olivia herself was stuck.

   Olivia was trapped in a small closet room, no larger than Mandy and Sarah’s toy closet back at home. The way she got into this predicament was fairly amusing: she and Patty had seen Hunter and wanted to ask him a few questions. 

  So the two sisters split up in the big school after he seemed to have vanished. Olivia had remembered how she saw Hunter in the music room, perhaps he would be there again! Nevertheless, he was not. Beside the music room was the art room.  

   When Olivia entered, she noticed a jar of glittery teal paint that was knocked down, and among the sticky substance were small bits of..leaves? Olivia suddenly remembered: Patty’s diorama had leaves in it! Perhaps the thief had stolen it, then brought it to school! The culprit could have painted the leaves of the diorama to disguise it, and rushed off, not knowing the jar of paint had tipped over and small bits of the leaf was left there! Olivia pulled out her cell phone and took a picture. 

  But how would she know who did it? This art room was for 3rd graders, so Olivia was sure of one thing: the thief was indeed the same age as Patty. Olivia suddenly remembered something: back when she was in third grade, the teachers made a folder where everyone who entered had to sign it! That was to prevent people stealing art supplies. If there was still the same process now, it may give Olivia a clue!

Olivia excitedly looked around for the folder, it had to be somewhere around here! Finally, Olivia had one place left to look: a small closet that wasn’t welcoming to students. 

Would she get in trouble if she went in? Looking around and deciding no one was watching her, Olivia cautiously entered the small room. 

   ‘’It sure smells in here!’’Olivia thought. She suddenly heard what sounded like footsteps. Olivia stopped in her tracks. Then, she noticed the gardener from outside the art room window. Olivia laughed to herself. ‘’It wasn’t footsteps, it was the gardener outside! I mustn't be so paranoid!’’ 

   Just then, Olivia heard actual footsteps. ‘’Oh no! It’s the janitor! He’s coming in!’’ Olivia decided she wouldn’t be able to explain herself if she just waltzed out of the closet: she was a 6th grader, she wasn’t welcomed.

 So Olivia stood still and hid behind a smelly mop, just as the half opened closet slammed shut! ‘’Uh oh!’’Olivia thought. She waited until she could no longer hear footsteps before attempting to open the door. 

   When she failed to and her phone had no signal, Olivia was alarmed. ‘’I have to calm down,’’she thought to herself,’’Patty or Seidi would find me, or at least try to.’’ 

   At that moment, Olivia heard muffled noises. It sounded like it came from right beside the closet door! ‘’It’s like this closet is connected to another one!’’Olivia realized,’’Perhaps it's in the music room since its right beside the art room!’’ Olivia leaned closer to the wall and tried to hear more. It took her a second to realize it was Hunter Jeffords! And he started being on a phone call with someone! Olivia leaned closer to the wall to hear. 

‘’No mom. I told you. It’s dishonest and I don’t like it.’’ Olivia heard Hunter say. A bell rang in her mind! Was Hunter talking about the project he stole from Patty? Did he even steal it, or was he talking about something else? 

   There was silence for a moment then Hunter said,’’But mom, I really want to join the music fair! I don’t want you to keep making these projects for me, and now I have no idea what to do with it! You gave me this problem that I didn’t want to be involved in!’’ Olivia was astounded.

    So Hunter wanted to join the music fair, not the Science one? One student could only join one of the three fairs: Science, Art, and Music. And what did Hunter mean by his mom ‘’making projects’’ for him? Olivia suddenly noticed something behind a jar of paint! It was the folder with names of the students who entered!

‘’So this is where they put it after class,’’thought Olivia. She excitedly opened it on the date ‘’today’’ and she pulled out her phone. It still had no signal, but it was not needed for her to be able to take a picture of the students who signed the folder that day! As she scanned the list, she couldn’t find Hunter’s name and she was sure about one thing: he was not their suspect. 

   At least not in this case. There was definitely something suspicious that he was hiding, though. 

  As Olivia looked for a way out of the room she was stucked in, she suddenly realized one thing: it was a connecting closet! There was a keyhole beneath the smelly mop and Olivia felt foolish not to have noticed it. 

  ‘’Now I must look for the key,’’Olivia said. She could still hear Hunter, but only faintly as he calmed down and started talking softer. Olivia rummaged around a box with small jars of paint palettes. There it was, the key! Olivia poked the key around the hole, and to her relief,it worked! 

  The connecting wall opened, revealing Hunter who looked taken aback! He quickly hung up and his eyes widened. ‘’H-How long have you been there?’’he said slowly, motioning to the art room’s closet, which was wide open. 

‘’Well, I kind of heard most of your conversation.’’Olivia admitted, then she told the boy that she didn’t intend to snoop, she just got stuck in the art room’s closet. She did not reveal why she was in there and Hunter was too surprised to ask. 

‘’I’m sorry!’’he burst out.’’I promise this wasn't my idea, my mom is just really competitive because she lost a rigged Science fair unfairly when she was about my age, and she just really wanted me to win for her! But I don’t want to be in the Science fair and let her do everything for me, it was never really my thing!”’ Hunter said, all in one breath. 

He admitted that he really wanted to join the music fair. ‘’I just want to play the drums there, and I’m sorry for getting my parents’ help on my Science fair projects.’’

Olivia decided that he was being honest. But before she left, she decided to ask Hunter why he would steal someone’s clay diorama project in Social studies earlier. Like she suspected, Hunter stole it because he didn’t have his own work with him since his parents were out of town and couldn’t make it for him. 

‘’Stealing Alex’s work was really foolish of me!’’exclaimed Hunter earnestly,’’I don’t know what came to me! I know I should’ve done it myself, but my parents said they would hook me up then their business meeting came and they bailed on me. I know that doesn’t give me any excuse, though. Oh, I’m in so much trouble and I do deserve it!’’

Olivia decided Hunter was in enough trouble and decided not to tell on him and the boy promised not to let his parents do his work ever again. 

‘'I'll force them out of it the best I can!”’he vowed. 

He and Olivia departed from the music room closet, where Hunter was always sneaking phone calls to his parents to avoid being heard. Olivia called Seidi and Patty, who were searching everywhere for her. 

   They exchanged what they had learned and Seidi was shocked that Hunter’s parents did his work, while Patty was fuming over everyone who signed the art room folder(Olivia showed her the picture). 

‘’The good news is that we cleared up a mystery and we can move on to our next suspect,’’Olivia said later on the bus. She, Seidi, and Patty were joined by Heather Chan and Naomi Nasfield, who were very interested in the mystery. 

’’I sure hope we find the culprit in time! Who else is on your suspect list, Patty?’’ Patty said that up next was Cagney Lee. 

Olivia learned that she was the most popular student in Patty’s grade. She wasn’t invited to Patty’s party because then she would invite all her friends, and Mom wasn’t allowing that many people. 

  Cagney was also in the Science fair competition and before Patty’s party, rumors said that her diorama wasn’t even half good, and her best friend Maudie Merriam was at Patty’s party, so she could have stolen the project for her. 

‘’Why did you even invite Maudie to your party if she could’ve told Cagney about it?’’Heather asked. 

‘’I didn’t want to, but Mommy insisted. She’s friends with Maudie’s mom.’’explained Patty. 

Naomi said that she didn’t think it was Maudie. ‘’My mom’s friends with Maudie’s mom, too, and she’s too nice to hurt a fly.’’she said. 

Olivia had been silent for some time, and when asked what she was thinking, she told the girls about the clue on the spilled paint she found in the art room. She turned on her phone and double checked the list of people on the art room folder, but she couldn’t find Cagney’s name. 

  ‘’She has loads of friends who would do anything for her, they may have done it for her so she’d be out of the suspect list!’’Patty remarked. 

  ‘’Sure,’’Olivia said,uncertain. She agreed to investigate Cagney the following day. 

14 Ellerby Street came into view and Patty and Olivia said goodbye to their friends. The two Chinese sisters stepped out of the bus, Mandy and Sarah excitedly waited for them at home. Noodle barked and welcomed the girls home as they went in.

  ‘’Guess what,’’Mandy said with a twinkle in her eye,’’we found a clue! Mommy said.’’ 

Sarah grinned. ‘’We’re actually gonna become real detectives, just like you Olivia!’’ 

‘’What’s the clue?’’Olivia said enthusiastically. She was in a bit of a stump and would need as many clues and leads as she could possibly get.

‘’It's on the table! Mommy put it there so Noodle won’t get it!’’said Sarah.

Thrilled, Olivia and Patty went to check the dining table, where they found a part of a note. 

‘’Hello girls! How was school?’’said Mom, then, noticing the note, she said,’’the twins found that behind the roll of tissues in the bathroom!’’

   It was not everyday their mother got to help them with a mystery, so Mom was excited to share what she had learned. ‘“There were small bits of leaves near it! Just like the one on Patty’s diorama!’’she said, then she and the girls went to the bathroom where she showed them the leaves. 

Olivia got really excited. ‘’I saw small bits of leaves near the tipped over paint at school too!’’then she and Patty took turns explaining what happened. Mom raised her eyebrow at the part where Olivia got stucked inside a closet room, and she warned her to be more careful and not poke around in prohibited places. 

‘’Although, it was a good thing that I did, so we could realized that Hunter was not the person we’re after!’’Olivia exclaimed, then, growing serious, she said,’’that just means that whoever has Patty’s diorama is bringing it to school and definitely planning to pass it off as their own!’’ 

Then, Mandy said,’’How would you know that the leaves were from Patty’s work?’’

Olivia thought about this for a while and said,’’Good question. I think I may know a way to prove this.’’ She had installed an app on her phone called ‘’Plant Me!’’, courtesy of Dad. 

   It could identify whether several different plants or bits of plants were the same kind. Olivia scanned a picture of the leaves found in their bathroom, along with the picture of the jar of paint she took in the art room. The app declared that it was a match! 

Then suddenly Olivia said,’’I guess that it means my original hunch was wrong. I thought the diorama was taken out of the toilet by the thief before our cousin Hailee went in, but this just means our suspect hid it there and stole it after the Hailee balloon incident.’’ 

The others agreed. ‘It doesn’t seem like a very good clue,though,’’Patty sighed. 

Mom said,’’speaking of clues, how about you girls check out the note I found here!’’ 

Olivia lightened up. With everything going on in her mind, she had forgotten all about the note! The girls headed to read it. 

  Several parts of it were torn, and the words they could make out were,’’invited, birthday, teenth,loved fruits, farm’’ in order, but there were several words that were either too faded to read or torn up. 

  ‘’This is a marvelous clue!’’Olivia said. Her mind had been racing, and she was thinking fast. 

  ‘’What do you think this means?’’Patty questioned. 

  Her sister explained her analysis. ‘’I believe this note was an invitation to a birthday party! And there are faded words on the left and right of ‘’teenth’’, so I think it must be the ‘’teenth’’ birthday of someone, meaning the celebrator would be between turning thirteen to nineteen.’’ 

‘’Wow!’’Patty said,’’and what do you think the words ’loved fruits, farm’ mean?’’

‘’Hmm..’’Olivia thought out loud,’’it must be connected in the same sentence, because it makes sense together. It could mean one loves the fruits from a certain farm, oh, it would be a better clue if it could say which farm but I can’t make out any of the other words!’’ 

Patty asked,’’Do you think the culprit who dropped this was the writer of the note, or the receiver?’’ 

This time Mom had the answer. ‘’I think it was the writer!’’she exclaimed,’’you can see there are big smudges of pen, and things that were crossed out. I doubt anyone would have sent an invitation that looked like this! Maybe it was a rough draft and they wrote the note on fancier paper!’’

The twins have been quiet for some time.’’Maybe the writer of the note was a princess who was kidnapped and stucked in a farm all her life,trying to ask for help, and she wants us to find the farm to rescue her!’’Mandy blurted out.

‘’Oh, we must try to save her! Poor girl!’’added Sarah.

Everyone laughed at this and Patty declared this made no sense at all. ‘’How would the Princess steal my diorama if she was stucked in a tower? And how do we know it wasn’t a boy?’’ 

Olivia chuckled and said that the nonsense the twins said had given her an idea. ‘’We should try to contact farms and ask if they have been invited to a birthday party! 

Mom did not approve. She said the farm owners would think they were prank callers and she sternly told the girls not to proceed with this idea.

’’Well, I suppose we could solve this without calling anyone,’’Olivia shrugged. Patty once again reminded them that they had to solve this mystery before the Science fair which was drawing near.

 ‘’No pressure though!”’Patty joked.  

‘’In the meantime, Patty and I could decide what to do tomorrow!”’Olivia decided. 

   That night, they did some brainstorming. They planned that the following day, Patty would be spying on Cagney and asking her some questions unrelated to her project that may give them a clue. 

  She was to innocently ask questions on how Cagney’s diorama went.  The two sisters agreed to investigate Mario, too. Although Olivia thought it was highly unlikely to be their happy-go-lucky cousin, time was not by their side and the Science fair was in less than two days! Patty was sure that she saw something fishy going on with him. ‘’Plus, I think he and Nadia have a crush on each other!’’she giggled.

The following day, Olivia had double Math that would cover up her break time and she had longer piano practice in order to prepare for her recital just before lunch that would lessen her lunch time, so the investigating was all up to Patty. 

During breakfast, while Britney and Patty were bickering at each other, the household had received a phone call from Naomi and Nadia’s mom, Nancy Nasfield. 

   She said that Patty, her girls, and a bunch of their classmates had an English school project to work on and she was confirming if Patty would come over. Mom said yes, but Dad had a problem. 

  It was Tuesday and that was the day the school bus was unavailable. That meant Dad wouldn't be able to drive Olivia home and bring Patty to the Nasfields’ at the same time. However, Olivia saw this as a great opportunity. 

‘’Cagney Lee would be there and I could do some sleuthing!’’she exclaimed.’’May I tag along?’’  

‘’Ugh, Olivia, you're the only person I know who would actually want to hang out with the lower classes!’’Britney cried, disgusted. Olivia assured her it was only for investigating purposes. 

No one else had a problem with the idea, so it was settled. 

  ‘’I sure hope we get to the bottom of this mystery soon, the Science fair is tomorrow afternoon and if we don’t find my diorama I might have to quit the competition!’’whined Patty.

‘’We get to the bottom of this?’’Olivia joked. 

As Dad drove his daughters to school,(Jad wasn’t in school yet!) he asked the girls if they smelled something really bad. They said yes and Britney declared that she might faint, and it took them a minute to realize it was a small piece of rotten apple! 

  And even more surprising, it was found inside a roll of tissue! Dad had brought the tissue in the car in case they had any ‘’accidents’’, which Jad and the twins were prone to. As they fumed over how it got there, Olivia suddenly cried,’’I think that might be a clue!’’ 

‘’Dad, where did you get the roll of tissue from?’’she inquired.  Like she suspected, Dad said it came from the rack in the bathroom! 

  ‘’That’s where the note and the bits of leaves were found!’’Patty exclaimed.  

Olivia said she thought that this meant the thief had dropped the apple too! ‘’I wonder if it was already rotten when it was dropped, or if it was a fresh apple that just rotted now!’ 

  Holding up her nose, Britney, said that the apple(which Dad stowed in a plastic bag before they all passed out from the smell) was really black and mushed up, too mushed up for it possibly to have been rotten for only a few days.

  Everyone agreed.

‘’Why would anyone keep a rotten apple?’’Olivia thought aloud, then she remembered the note! ‘’It says ‘’loves fruits’’ presumably from the farm, so what if this apple was from the farm?’’

‘’I suppose, this won’t be a good clue,’’Patty mused. 

‘’Why would anyone bring a small piece of apple with them, instead of just eat it themself?’’Sarah asked.  

What she said had given Olivia a new idea. ‘’What if the apple was used as a treat, like for a pet? Otherwise, why would anyone keep an apple around?’’she said. 

‘’ I have a few dog treats in my bag whenever we go with Noodle to the dog park,’’Mandy chimed in. 

   As their discussion continued and the girls were dropped off, Patty’s investigation had started. She rarely did any sleuthing of her own, and she was excited to begin with Cagney, the girl who had been so mean to her recently!  

  ‘’I wonder if her recent rudeness has to do with my missing diorama!’’she wondered. At second period, Patty got excited. It was time for her to have classes with Cagney! She couldn’t get a proper glance at her, though, because the girl was surrounded by so many people,some of which weren’t even her friends! 

   They were all talking and laughing with her until the teacher began his class. To Patty’s surprise, when it came time for group work she was in the same group as Cagney! 

Since Patty and Cagney were the only girls in their group, Patty was able to chat more with Cagney. She tried starting a conversation with the popular girl, but she found Cagney surprisingly cold towards her. 

  She rolled her eyes a lot and didn’t reply to what Patty said unless it was math related. As they were working, Patty’s eyes wandered around the classroom. 

She caught her cousin Mario’s eyes and he waved. She waved back and noticed him staring at Nadia.

   ‘’Someone’s got a crush,’’Patty thought with a chuckle. Her eyes diverted to Nadia. She was in the same group as her twin Naomi, Heidi, and a boy named Austin. Patty admiringly noticed Naomi smartly giving a long (but inaudible) explanation, presumably about the fractions they were working on. She intelligently demonstrated something on a sheet of paper. Nadia, on the other hand, was quietly playing with her pencil box. 

   Patty knew the feeling of being overlooked, she had so many siblings and cousins that most of her achievements weren’t new to anyone. But her thoughts went back to the rude Cagney. They would have a talk later. 

  The next few periods rolled around and finally, it was dismissal. Naomi and Nadia went to their home earlier than the others because they had a dentist appointment, but everyone in their English group project were meeting at their house at 4pm. Britney’s friend wanted to hang out with her and since she lived in the same street as the Nasfields’, so she joined Olivia and Patty on Dad’s car ride that afternoon. 

   As Dad asked them how their day was, Patty admitted that she hadn’t done much sleuthing. ‘’It’s kinda more of Olivia’s thing,’’she confessed. 

Suddenly, Dad’s phone rang. ‘’One of you girls please take that,’’said Dad, who was driving. Olivia was nearest to his phone. ‘’Hello?’’she answered.’’Oh! Hi mom! Oh?’’

Mom had ringed to ask where the girls were, and also, that she had a possible clue!

As Olivia put the phone on speaker mode, Mom excitedly told the girls that as she was packing away the balloons from Patty’s party, the balloon that popped on Hailee’s face caught her eye. 

‘’As I took a closer look, I realized something!’’she said,’’it was different from the other balloons! For one thing, it didn’t have the same design as the other balloons. It wasn’t from the same shop,either, meaning that I didn’t buy that balloon!’’ 

  Dad and the girls were immediately intrigued. Did anyone mean for it to blow up on Hailee's face, or was it a mere accident?

‘’Can you tell me the brand of the balloon?’’Olivia queried. Mom said she was not sure but it had a symbol of a hare on it. 

  ‘’Oh, I know!”’said Britney, ’’that balloon was from the gift shop called Ginerva’s Goodies!”

   Ginerva Gunter was a friend of the Melcos’ and they were very welcomed to her cute little gift shop, where Britney was more than delighted to receive her free coupons on lipgloss. ‘’Oh,and I have another clue!”’erupted Mom. ‘’The balloon was wet too!’’ 

‘’Omygosh!’’exclaimed Olivia. ‘’That’s a brilliant clue mom! I’ve been trying to figure out how there was water that lead us to the bathroom and I didn’t think it came from the diorama, but it's very possible that perhaps it didn’t afterall, but it came from the balloon!’’  

  As they continued discussing this clue, Mom had to hang up and pick up the twins from preschool, so they said their goodbyes. It wasn’t long before the four Melcos parked on the Nasfields’. They owned a humble red house with a beautiful yet simple lawn.

   Britney took off to her friend’s house, which was a few houses down. Dad said hello and left shortly after Olivia and Patty were welcomed in by the Nasfields.

   Nancy Nasfield was very friendly towards the guests. All of Patty’s group mates from school were already there, but luckily none of them seemed bothered by Olivia’s presence. Everyone was busy patting a large, adorable, tortoise! 

‘’Wow! It’s so cute!’ Patty exclaimed. Naomi explained how this tortoise, who’s name was Rocky, was an Aldabra Giant tortoise. 

‘He has a huge lifespan,’’added her twin, Nadia. 

‘’What does he eat?’’asked one of their classmates. 

‘’Veggies, fruits, one time I saw him eat a worm!’’said Naomi. 

She said the guests were allowed to pet him as long as they were gentle. Olivia, Patty, and the others pet him fondly. 

Cagney Lee was there as well, and she seemed to be in a much better mood that Patty decided to approach her when she went to the kitchen to get a drink so they could have some privacy. 

The two exchanged their awkward ,’’Hi’s’’ and Patty finally spoke up, ‘’Look Cagney, I don’t want to be rude or anything, but you’ve been acting a bit cold towards me. I don’t want us to have any bad feelings and I just want to be your friend, so do you mind telling me if I did something that’s bothering you?’’ she said, all in one breath. 

Cagney looked a bit surprised but she smiled. ‘’Oh Patty, I didn’t mean to be mean to you, I’m just a bit offended that you didn’t invite me to your party. I thought there was something between us and I guess I got a bit frustrated wondering what it was.’’ 

Patty was glad to hear Cagney open up and she was more than eager to explain that the only reason she didn’t invite her to her party was because of the guest list she might bring if she went, and no other reason.  

   Everything between them was all good by the time they left the kitchen. Patty learned that even though Cagney had loads of friends and was really popular, it didn’t mean that she didn’t have any normal feelings towards other people, too. 

And much more than that, she learned one major discovery for the case: their suspect wasn’t Cagney. She had admitted that she was no good at Science and decided at the last minute to quit the Science fair and join the art one instead. 

‘’Í do have a few paintings I want to show,’’Cagney chuckled.

   As Patty filled Olivia in on what had happened a moment later, they both noticed Naomi’s diorama in their living room. It was a simple solar system project, and despite Naomi’s top grades, her diorama really wasn’t any special. 

Just then, Naomi came in and said that they needed a few materials for their project that they didn’t have at home. 

‘’We have to buy some modeling clay, glitter glue, and a hot glue gun!”’she declared. Mr. Nick Nasfield, Naomi and Nadia’s father, agreed to go to Ginerva’s Goodies to buy the materials. Upon hearing this, Olivia nudged Patty. ‘’Er- um, Mr. Nasfield, do you mind if I go along with you for, um, a joyride-’’said Patty then quickly added,’’actually, not a joyride, I do need a few things there.’’

‘’Sure, like what? Maybe I can find what you need myself,’’offered Mr, Nasfield. Olivia did some quick thinking. This was their chance to ask kindly Ginerva some questions about who bought the balloon!

‘’Actually,’’Olivia said,’’ See the uh- Patty’s looking for a type of marker and she’s not sure if we already have it at home, so she’ll have to check.’’ Mr. Nasfield shrugged and he and Patty entered the car. “‘Thank you so much!’’ 

   While Patty was out, Olivia decided to do some sleuthing of her own. She was told their suspect wasn’t Cagney, and now she was eager to find a new lead. The other kids were still gushing over Rocky the tortoise, and Olivia herself couldn’t help but rave about him, too. 

‘’How old is he?’’she questioned, knowing this enormous tortoise had an enormous lifespan as well. 

‘’He just turned nineteen last month!’’Naomi answered, patting her pet fondly.’’And he could live for about 80-120 years!’’ 

‘’Wow!’’

Naomi pulled out a piece of banana and gave it to Rocky as a treat. 

‘’Can I try?’’asked one of her group mates and she was told yes. 

  Meanwhile, Olivia noticed Nadia being scolded by Mrs. Nasfield. When the duo saw her watch, Mrs Nasfield explained,’’Nadia here is quite a clutterhead, you see. She hasn’t cleaned her backpack in exactly a month! Keeps losing things.’’ Nadia turned red. ‘’Mom!’’

Just then, the mail for the Nasfields came. ‘’Oh, that must be the pictures I asked Nina to deliver!’’said Mrs. Nasfield, explaining that Nina was her sister. 

She was delighted to hear from Olivia that her mom, too, was into scrapbooking. 

‘’I just want these memories to last forever!”’Mrs. Nasfield said, gesturing to the pictures that had arrived in her mailbox. She showed Olivia the different sized photos and knowing Olivia was on the photograph team in school, she asked her opinion on layouts for her scrapbook.

Just then, two pictures struck Olivia’s eyes! Olivia blinked. 

   Her mind was sprinting. It was racing as fast as a cheetah, if that was a valid comparison. To be a good detective, one must learn how to look for the right pieces of the puzzle to solve. If you didn’t choose the right piece, it could lead to false information and wrong redirection. Olivia could see that now. Even as an amateur detective, Olivia knew she still had loads to learn when it came to being one. But that’s what it's all about, learning what you did wrong, right?

Olivia could barely keep up with all the information she was trying to put together, and at the same time she was trying to explain to Mrs. Nasfield the art of making her scrapbook colorful. She quickly but not rudely excused herself and she rushed in the house. 

  If Patty knew what she was thinking at that very moment, she would be done for. Oh, how embarrassing it would be if Olivia’s gut was telling her wrong! Yet Olivia erased that thought of her mind. 

  This was the harder part of solving a mystery, for her, at least. It was not where she interrogated, investigated, searched for clues. It was where the truth had to come out and it left her with nothing but guilty thoughts. 

   At that precise moment, Patty and Mr. Nasfield came home and entered the living room where everyone was. Ginerva’s Goodies wasn’t far away and Patty had a triumphed look on her face. It was the look that told Olivia Patty was wrong. She wouldn’t look so pleased if she was right. 

 ‘’I know who stole my diorama!’’she exclaimed. ’’It was Mario! I asked good ol’ Ms. Ginerva and she said he bought one of her balloons! I also remember that he said he wanted to make water balloons, he bought one of them from Ginerva’s Goodies, that’s how we saw water traces! Right, Olivia?’’

Olivia chose her words carefully. ‘’Yes, and no,’’she replied slowly,’’your right about the tracks of water we saw being from Mario’s water balloon, and your right about him buying it from Ms. Ginerva. But your wrong, however, on Mario being the thief.’’

 Everyone at the Nasfields’ were quiet. 

  Patty looked frustrated. ‘’How would you know that?’’

‘’It wasn’t Mario,’’Olivia answered, then, looking hesitant, she said, ‘’because it was Nadia.’’

‘’What do you mean?’’Patty burst out. ‘’It couldn’t have been!”’ 

Everyone including her group mates turned to look at Nadia, who was lowering her eyes with shame. ‘“I’m sorry Patty, b-but she’s right.’’ 

Mr. and Mrs. Nasfield were disbelieving. 

‘’This has to be a mistake!’’said Naomi, ‘’why would Nadia steal Patty’s diorama? Olivia, please explain.’’

Though she was uncertain, Nadia gave her a nod and Olivia began talking. 

‘’There were a few clues we’ve picked up in our house. Most of them were found in the rack of tissues in our bathroom, which I’m assuming was where the diorama was hidden for some time before it was taken away. My twin sisters noticed a torn up note there, and later on my dad, my sisters, and I found a small piece of rotten apple. 

‘’The only words we could make out from the note were ‘invited, birthday, teenth, loved fruits, and farm’. I presumed it was an invitation to a birthday party, and now I’ve found out it was the birthday of Rocky the tortoise. Naomi said he turned nineteen last month, the note we found was an invitation to his party! Along with that, I heard from Mrs. Nasfield that Nadia hasn’t cleaned her bag in exactly a month. She was gesturing to the bag Nadia brought to the party, so I’m guessing that the note and the rotten apple fell out while she was panicking and trying to see if the diorama would fit in her bag. That’s where Mario comes in,’’Olivia paused.

Then she continued,’’Patty noticed that Mario and Nadia had a crush on each other(she couldn’t help but laugh), and I’ve also noticed that they kept following each other around. I suppose Mario came into the bathroom where Nadia was to impress her with the water balloon he got from Ginerva’s Goodies ,I’m guessing possibly from earlier that day. 

‘’He followed her from Patty’s room to the bathroom, leaving the water balloon tracks, which I now found out had nothing to do with the missing science project. But I’m glad he left those tracks, otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to find the other clues.’’ 

  Everyone listened intently. Her parents gave Nadia dark looks and the poor girl hung her head in guilt and embarrassment. 

  ‘’Please do go on,’’Patty said desperately.’’How did you find out it was Nadia?’’

‘’That was from the two photos that struck me,’’Olivia explained,’’it was the pictures Mrs. Nasfield showed me. One of them was their family at Rocky’s birthday party, (she chuckled) and don’t worry, I absolutely don’t judge you for giving a tortoise a party, back then, we used to give Noodle a mini party every time she was a month older! Anyway, I guess the note we found in our bathroom tissue rack was a draft of the invitation, it had a few smudges so I will say that Nadia or whoever wrote it had to rewrite. The next picture Mrs. Nasfield showed me that caught my attention was the one of their family at a farm. It was with a woman who looked very much like Mrs. Nasfield, so I assumed it was her sister.’’

‘’That’s aunt Nina alright!’’Naomi said, looking at the picture her mother was holding up. 

‘’That was where I knew the ‘loved fruits, farm’ words in the note made sense. Your aunt Nina’s farm had loads of fruits, one of which I assume is the small piece of rotten apple my Dad, me, and my sisters found.’’

Mrs. Nasfield was furious. ‘’Nadia, what have I told you about keeping fruits in your backpack! Not even a minute and they go bad! Oh, Olivia dear, please continue.’’

‘’The other clue I’ve found was the jar of spilled paint I saw in the art room when I went there to investigate Hunter! It had the bits of leaves found near the note invitation for Rocky’s birthday, and I knew the culprit who was in the art room would have signed the attendance folder there. That’s what confused me. I didn’t see Nadia’s name. I saw Mario’s, and it made me believe he was the thief for a while, but the other clues just didn’t seem to fit him.’’ 

‘’I-I asked Mario to go into the art room and paint Patty’s diorama for me since I thought I might get caught. ’’Nadia admitted.  

Mrs. Nasfield gasped. ‘’Your telling me this child I raised would be willing to get someone else into trouble for what she did!’’

The author's comments:

Acknowledgements:

Thank you so much to you, dear reader, for staying with Olivia and Patty’s journey throughout this mystery. Sharing the same thought process I did while writing this is baffling. How could I ever thank you? 


To Seidi, for letting me use your name in my books. Shoutout to Hailee, Cagney, and Willy for letting me use your names, too. You guys are the best friends ever. Thank you for allowing me to talk with the friends in my head without you guys getting jealous. And thank you for being my therapists as well. 


To my family, especially my parents and my Guama, for simply being there. The most insane characters in this story aren't totally inspired by you guys. NOT!


To my dog, Noodle, for curling in my lap as I wrote this. And for earning my character her name as well. She couldn’t care less about this recognition. 


And last but not the least, to the Melco family, for living in my head with their everyday shenanigans. Promise to write more books about you guys. I think about you more than you could ever imagine. 


-C. A. T.

‘’And that must mean that Mario knows that Nadia stole my diorama! That little sneak! I was right to be suspicious of him, he’s a double crosser!’’Patty exclaimed. 

‘’And so am I,’’Nadia lowered her head,’’I’m sorry Patty, I was planning to secretly turn in your work as mine and no one would know, I’m so sorry, it was wrong and it's inexcusable, please forgive me.’’ 

It was up to Patty now. ‘’Um, I do, I just don’t know why my best friend’s sister would do that to me.’’she said.

‘’It’s just like you said,’’Nadia explained,’’I'm always known to everyone as Naomi’s sister. I barely have any achievements that could top hers. When I saw your science project, I knew it would definitely stand out to Naomi’s work. But it wasn’t mine, and I’m really sorry. And,I know this is shallow of me, but I’ll admit it. I was a bit jealous of you Nome.’’she told her twin.  There was a bit of silence after this. 

To break the tension, Olivia spoke up. ‘’There’s just one thing that I’m still puzzled about. How did you leave with the diorama, Nadia? Even though a few guests left there were still loads of people who could’ve seen you.’’ 

Nadia explained that she rushed into Patty's room and took the diorama to the bathroom, not knowing where to put it. Mario saw her enter and thought it was a great time to hang out with her privately,bringing the water balloon along with him to impress her. 

Panicked, Nadia hid her diorama behind the rack of tissues, right when Mario went into the bathroom. From there, Hailee was in need of a bathroom break, so she went in and Mario and Nadia left. In a hurry, Mario dropped the water balloon, and with the hustle on Hailee, Nadia resolved how she was able to sneak Patty’s diorama in the trunk of the Nasfield’s family car. When they went home, she waited for everyone to leave before taking the diorama to her bedroom.

‘’I’ll give it back, I promise.  Again, I’m really sorry Patty. I don’t know what I was thinking,’’Nadia said, abashed,’’its upstairs in my closet.’’ 

The two went upstairs to retrieve Patty’s diorama while their group mates and the others watched awkwardly. 

  Mrs. Nasfield shook her head. ‘’I can’t believe our Nadia would do something like that,’’she told her husband,’’how long should we ground her? I’m talking months.’’

 ‘’You know, maybe we should’ve given her equal attention as Naomi. I think we’re half to blame for all this,’’Mr. Nasfield answered. 

  Mrs. Nasfield agreed and they decided they would only ground her for a week. Just then, Nadia and Patty went down. Patty was carrying her rightfully claimed Science fair project! Thanks to Mario’s painting it in an attempt to disguise it, the leaves of her waterfall diorama were painted glittery teal, even prettier!


 The following day was the third grade Science, Art, and Music fair! It was held in the school’s auditorium and noisy, animated chatter filled the place just like it had on Patty’s birthday party three days ago. 

  It was divided into three groups: Science, Art, and Music! In a glass cabinet in the Science area were the many submissions of various,colorful dioramas and on the highest shelf was the one that won first place: Patty’s work. The art side of the auditorium was jam packed too, where many people gathered to look at the many creative creations. 

  First place was Cagney Lee’s beautiful painting of an ocean landscape with authentic waves and colorful fish, and tied with her was none other than Nadia Nasfield, who drew a realistic Rocky the tortoise! 

She had learned that even though her talents were different from her sister Naomi’s, it didn’t mean neither of them were less special. It is essential to learn that we mustn't compare our weaknesses to someone else’s strengths, and vice versa. 

Olivia, who had just congratulated Patty, waved to Cagney and Nadia, then she went to the music section. She was very glad to see Hunter Jeffords, and even more pleased to see his parents supporting him! He was playing a complicated song on his drum set with his eyes closed and his hands tossing the drumstick on beat.

‘’Woah, he’s on fire!’’exclaimed Patty, who had come to Olivia’s side. 

‘’I know right! It was probably for the best that we met again in that locked closet!’’she chuckled. 

‘’Oh, and Olivia, I just really wanted to thank you for helping me with solving this mystery. I wouldn’t have gotten first place without you.’’Patty said shyly.  

Olivia grinned from ear to ear. 

‘’Also, I know everyone has a specialty, whether it's drawing, writing, playing an instrument, or something else, but for you, it’s probably your detective work.’’added Patty.

‘’Wow, thanks! That means a lot, but for your information, when I was your age, well,’’Olivia giggled and pulled out a photo she had kept in her bag so Patty could see for herself. It was a printed photo of Olivia being Patty’s age and beaming excitedly. Younger Olivia was at the same school Music fair three years ago, playing the piano!  

Later that night, a strange pang came to her. Olivia was gonna miss solving this mystery, the way it clogged her mind, the way she looked forward to putting all the puzzle pieces together, the way getting to the bottom of a case was all she could think about, that would be all gone now. ‘’Not forever, though,’’Olivia reassured herself. With a big family like hers, she was sure this wouldn’t be her last mystery!


~~THE END~~



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This book has 11 comments.


on Apr. 23 at 5:48 am
bycaileytarriane BRONZE, Pasay, Other
3 articles 0 photos 4 comments
thank u!!

on Apr. 23 at 1:50 am
bycaileytarriane BRONZE, Pasay, Other
3 articles 0 photos 4 comments
so glad @chefwritesbooks !

on Apr. 23 at 1:49 am
bycaileytarriane BRONZE, Pasay, Other
3 articles 0 photos 4 comments
thank u @maemcharless !

maemcharless said...
on Apr. 23 at 1:47 am
maemcharless, Mishibon, Quebec
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments
congrats on getting editors choice!

maemcharless said...
on Apr. 23 at 1:47 am
maemcharless, Mishibon, Quebec
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments
hope to see more of ur works soon! my fav character here was britney lol

maemcharless said...
on Apr. 23 at 1:46 am
maemcharless, Mishibon, Quebec
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments
this story was so stimulating

on Apr. 23 at 1:41 am
chefwriterbooks, Hender, Ontario
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
chapter 6 was my fav my heart was pounding lol

on Apr. 23 at 1:40 am
chefwriterbooks, Hender, Ontario
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
loved this story! It reminds me of what I read in middle school

on Apr. 23 at 1:32 am
mysteryreader89, Pasig City, Other
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
i only guessed who it was at the last chapter, good job!!

on Apr. 23 at 1:31 am
mysteryreader89, Pasig City, Other
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
Absolutely loved this! The mystery was light and cozy, exactly my type lol

on Apr. 22 at 10:57 pm
bycaileytarriane BRONZE, Pasay, Other
3 articles 0 photos 4 comments
:))))))