Family Tree | Teen Ink

Family Tree

February 9, 2011
By Marilyn Harris BRONZE, Lapeer, Michigan
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Marilyn Harris BRONZE, Lapeer, Michigan
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Chapter 1

“Mom, I don’t want to move.” I told her for the thousandth time.

“Maggie that’s enough. I know you don’t want to move, but I can’t pass this

up.” My mother looked like she was close to tears so I decided to back off.

“I know.” I said and began helping her load boxes into the worn out chevy.

“Whose house is this again?” I asked as we drove away from our home for

the last time.

“It’s our house now,” she said emphatically “but it belonged to my great

aunt Rebecca if that’s what you mean.” She said.

“I’m sorry if I’m a little skeptical about a letter in the mail from some relative

I’ve never even met giving you a house.” I said trying not to cry.

“She died Maggie, she didn’t just give me a house, and I never met her

either. She was my dad’s aunt, he died when I was six after that I was

never very close with any of his family. I am her last remaining relative.”

I didn’t have anything else to say so I turned up the radio and tried to think

about anything especially what I was leaving, my home my friends, Mike.

It only took one day to get to New Salem Massachusetts from New York,

but it felt like the other side of the world. It didn’t take long to get all of our

boxes out of the car and into the dusty old house. We hadn’t had very

much in out little apartment. It didn’t matter much though the house was

already full.

“Well it looks like she was a bit of a pack-rat.” My mother said picking up

one of the many newspapers and magazines piled throughout the room.”

“Well Megs I guess you should probably go pick yourself out a room. I still

can’t believe we’re going to have four bedrooms.” I wanted to say

something sarcastic about us not needing four bedrooms for two people,

but my mom looked too happy for me to ruin it. So, I picked up a box and

walked upstairs, the staircase led to a long hallway with seven heavy

wooden doors leading off of it, one of the four bedrooms was on the first

floor so I had absolutely no idea what we were supposed to do with all of

these other rooms. The first room was gigantic, we could have fit our entire

apartment inside of it. I assumed this must be the master bedroom and left

it for my mom to find later. Two of the doors led only to closets, and one

was to my new bathroom. My mother’s room had its own bathroom leading

off from inside of it. After that was a home office that looked like its

occupant had just up and left out of nowhere. An empty coffee cup sat next

to an open newspaper dated August 25, 1941 a pair of glasses sat on top

of the paper. The next room was a nursery, a mural of Noah’s ark was

painted across one wall. An old wooden rocking chair sat in the corner next

to a crib. This room, like all the rest, was dusty but not nearly as dusty as

the rest. I didn’t know why but this was obviously the only room my great

great aunt had felt the need to take care of. There was only one room left

now and I really hoped it had a bed I could use, we had already given the

downstairs room over to my mothers jewelry making, and I did not want to

be the one moving boxes and boxes of beads up the stairs. The door didn’t

want to open when I pushed on it, as if it hadn’t been touched in a long

time. When the door finally gave I was immediately relieved to see a good

sized bed in the middle of the room. This was the dustiest room I had seen,

it was obvious that no one had come into this room in decades. The

blankets were twisted off of the bed as if someone had just been pulled out

of it. The walls were covered with black and white pictures of the same dark

haired girl at varying ages, I wondered if this was Rebecca. I surveyed the

mess that was my new room, everything was on the floor. I realized it

wasn’t terrible, it desperately needed to be cleaned and it could use a new

coat of paint. But I had hardwood floors, a canopy bed, a walk in closet,

and a room three times the size of my old room. Smiling I plopped down

onto my new bed, and raised a cloud of dust around me. Sighing, my brief

moment of happiness extinguished, I went to get my sheets and blanket out

of my bags. It wasn’t hard to strip the stained old sheets off of the bed,

most of them were on the floor anyway. I was glad to see the mattress was

in good condition despite its age. That was when I noticed the odd little

object sticking out from between the mattress and the bed frame, it was a

leather bound book. The cover didn’t have anything on it except for a year


“Maggie,” I could hear my mom walking down the hallway.

“In here mom.” I shouted back instinctually hiding the book.

“Hey, Maggie. Forget something?” My mom asked putting my last box on

the floor by the door.

“Thanks mom.” I said stepping in front of the area where the book was

hidden as if I needed to conceal it further.

“You’re welcome hon,” she said. “You should probably get ready for bed,

first day at your new school tomorrow.” With that terrible bit of news she left

me alone to freak out about starting at a brand new school the next day.

Chapter 2

School was awful. No one was outwardly mean but no one was nice either.

Everyone just stared at me like I was some kind of museum exhibit. I

walked down to lunch alone and went to sit at the only empty table.

“Can I sit with you?” I looked up to see a preppy girl from my math class

staring at me. She wasn’t the type of person I usually hung out with but I

was in no position to turn down any kind of company. Not with all of my

friends, and Mike back in New York, and especially not when I planned on

never speaking to any of them again. They couldn’t know.

“Sure.” I told her, she sat down but didn’t touch her food, she just stared at

me excitedly.

“I’m Kayla.” She said after awhile.

“Maggie,” I answered back.

“I know,” she said almost immediately. “You just moved into Rebecca

Keenan’s house right on main street the old victorian right?” She said very


“Ye-,” I started to answer but she cut over me.

“That’s so cool. Do you guys still have all of her things in there? Have you

gone through it? Did you find any bodies?.” She looked at me expectantly

so I figured it was safe to open my mouth.

“Um, I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I said and her face fell.

“Oh.” She said apparently looking for some way to recover.

“So no one even told you about them?” She looked confused.

“Who?” Suddenly at the prospect of getting to tell me her story she was

much more excited.

“The Keenans, the people that lived in the house before you. I still can’t

believe how quickly they sold that house. After what happened you wouldn’t

think anyone would want it.” She was starting to ramble and I really needed

to know what she was talking about.

“Keenan is my last name to, we didn’t buy the house my mom inherited it.” I

told her.

“It’s your own family and you don’t even know?” She sounded disbelieving.

“Look Mrs. Rebecca Keenan, the woman whose house you’re now living in,

she died in your house.” She looked at me for a reaction.

“I figured that much, she didn’t have any close family and it doesn’t look like

she left the house much.” I told her, trying to play off how much what she

said freaked me out.

“She didn’t have any close family left you mean.”

“What do you mean?” I asked leaning forward despite myself.

“Rebecca was married you know,” she said. “Her husbands name was

Matthew and they had one daughter, Sarah. Well, they were kind of

important around here back in the 20’s they owned half the town.” She

paused to take a bite of her food.

“Well what happened to them,” I prompted, “ why doesn’t this Sarah chick

have the house right now instead of us?”

“So then the great depression happened and your family lost all of its

money, pity to my family worked for yours they lost their jobs.” She

continued on as if I hadn’t said anything. “The only thing you managed to

hold onto was that house. Well, it looked like they were going to recover at

first. The Keenans got really involved in the church, trying to pump up their

good reputations and Sarah got engaged to some rich guy from out of town

who wanted to join forces with a nice respectable family. Everyone figured

it would be no time before they were back on top again. Then,. . .” But I

didn’t get to find out what happened because just then the bell rang.

“Look, I want to hear the rest. So you can come to my house after school if

you want you already know where it is.” I thought she was going to fall off

her chair.

“You’re going to let me come over? I get to see the inside of Rebecca’s


“If you want.” I said.

“I’ll be there.” She said determinedly. “Don’t worry about that at all.”

Chapter 3

“So do you want to see my room?” I asked Kayla, she had met me at my

locker right after school and then walked with me all the way home.

“Upstairs?” She asked suddenly unsure.

“Yeah, why are you afraid to go upstairs in Rebecca’s house?” I asked.

“No,” she said resentfully. “Let’s go.” So we went up to my new room.

“Sorry it’s such a mess. We just got here last night, I haven’t had a chance

to clean anything up.” I turned to look at Kayla and saw how wide her eyes


“Oh my God.” She said.

“What?” I asked, wondering if she was really going to make a big deal

about my room being a mess.

“This must have been her room.” She said in awe.

“Whose room?”

“Sarah’s room.” She said.

“Oh.” I couldn’t think of anything else to say I didn’t understand why this

was such a big deal.

“You know they never even let the police in to investigate.” She said.

“Something about the family was so important, blah blah blah, it would

never fly now. Not with my dad in charge of the police force. That’s why I

know so much, he let me read the file. Which isn’t as bad as it seems, I

mean the whole town knows about it already, I’ve just always been really

interested in it. I can’t believe all of her stuff is still in here, it doesn’t look

like it’s even been touched, other than your stuff of course. Oh,” she looked

at me as she took a breath. “I forgot I’m supposed to finish the story.” She

looked at me apologetically.

“I don’t really understand anything you just said but okay.” I sat down on the


“Well everyone thought your family was going to be okay when Sarah got

married. But then out of nowhere Sarah disappeared she was only 16 like

us. This is her room it has to be all of these pictures are of her, there was

one in her file so I recognized her when we walked in here.” She paused for

a second to look around at all of the pictures on the wall she had been


“You look just like her you know.” She said looking at me.

“I don’t know about that, she’s like my third cousin or something. What

happened to her?” I asked.

“Well, you still look like her. As for what happened to her no one knows.

The investigation was really more of a joke everyone just assumed she had

run away and the family lost everything. Then one month after she

disappeared her father died.”

“How?” I asked.

“He was walking home from the church one night when someone shot him

in the back of the head.” She said excitedly.

“Who did it?” I was entranced by the story.

“No one knows that either.” We were quiet for a little while. I was absorbing

the story while she investigated the room. Occasionally she would hold

something up and ask me if I had tampered with it. She was very glad that I

had touched almost nothing in the room.

“Can I ask you a favor?” She asked after a little while.

“What?” I asked.

“Could I investigate your house a little? No one has ever been able to and I

really want to be a detective, it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

“Okay, I don’t see why not.” I told her.

“Sweet, thank you so much. Now, have you found anything since you’ve

been here that was odd.

“I completely forgot. I found a diary.” I pulled the book back out from its

hiding place.

“Can I look at that?” I gave the book over to Kayla, she was more excited

about this than I was.

“A half hour later she looked up. Oh my God.” She said. “Sarah was


Chapter 4

“What?” I couldn’t believe it.

“And it wasn’t her fiances.” She said. “His name was Mark Evans, he was a

servant here in the house, Maggie, that was my great great grandpa.” She

was in shock.

“So it was okay then. Did they run away together or something?” I was

hopeful, but I knew it couldn’t be that simple.

“No, she never told him. So when her parents found out her father locked

her in the house, he couldn’t afford to have her ruin their reputation

anymore.” She said.

“So what happened to her, and the baby?” I was beginning to have a

terrible feeling that this didn’t end well.

“I don’t know. It ends August 24, 1941, the day before her father was shot.”

“I think I know where we should look, follow me.”

I took her back into the study I had found the day before.

“Look,” I showed her the date on the paper, “this room hasn’t been touched

since the day Mr. Keenan was murdered.” It didn’t take very long for us to

find the hatch. Under his desk and beneath a rug there was a little door into

a hidden room.

“Oh God.” Kayla and I descended into the dark little room. There was

enough light from the room above to see a cot and a bassinet. I couldn’t

take my eyes off of the cot, there Sarah’s body still lay, now only a skeleton

in a nightgown. I moved toward the bassinet terrified of what I would find,

but all that was there was a note.

To whomever finds this room and by extension my secrets, I would like to

apologize. This is a gristly sight and I myself wish I didn’t have to see it.

However if you are of my family then you owe me your gratitude. My

daughter would have ruined us, she wanted to keep her baby. My wife was

for a time willing to go along with this. She even spoke of raising the baby

as ours. I went through the charade of allowing her to build a nursery, but

my wife has been unable to have children for a long time, it wouldn’t have

fooled anyone. I knew her fiance would never have her when he found out,

and I would not have my daughter marry a servant. So I spoke with her

cousin Rachel. While unable to have children she was able to make a good

marriage with a hardworking man. She was willing to pay quite a large sum

after all not only was this child a male he still was of her blood. When I told

my daughter what I was going to do she threatened to tell everyone that

she was pregnant, so I had to stop letting her leave the house. Until she

gave birth she would have to be confined. I did not plan on killing my

daughter. I never would have thought myself capable of strangling my only

child, but if I had not made her stop screaming she would have woken her

mother, and Rebecca could never know what had happened. I will always

hate myself for what I have done. I maintain though that I had no choice. I

spoke with Rachel and she has agreed to name him John as Sarah had

wanted. He will never know who his mother was.


Matthew Keenan

Chapter 5

It was hours before the police left. It was sad that while the mystery had

been solved there would never be any real justice for Sarah. My mother

and I sat at the table in silence, neither of us knew what to do now.

Suddenly my mother looked up.

“What was the name of Sarah’s baby?” She asked looking intently at me.

“John Keenan.” I told my mom.

“And his adopted mother’s name was Rachel?” She looked like she was in


“Yeah.” I didn’t know where she was going with this.

“John Keenan is my father.” She said. “Sarah is your great grandmother.” I

couldn’t believe what she was saying.

“I’m going to my room.” I said still in shock. “Goodnight mom.”

I walked upstairs but I didn’t go to my room, I went to the nursery. The room

just looked sad now that I knew how much hope had been behind it and

how badly those dreams had been destroyed. Then I noticed something I

hadn’t before there was another letter on the rocking chair. The envelope

said Amelia on it. It was for my mother.

Dear Amelia you don’t know me. My name is Rebecca and I am your great
great grandmother. I know this must be a shock to you but that is why I am

leaving you this house. You are my closest relative and this is our family

house. I have never met you but I love you. I lost my own daughter to my

husbands pride and I will never forgive myself for not being able to stop it.

He never knew that I knew he had killed her, I heard her screaming that

night, and I saw what he did. I am not however going to burden you with

that information. Just know that I got even with him for taking my baby, and

I will never be caught. No one expects a woman to be able to use a pistol.

Good luck dear and be good to your daughter, no matter what.

I brought my mom the letter amazed that we could have yet another

revelation today, but hoping she could handle one more.

“Mom, I’m pregnant.”

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This book has 1 comment.

ihearthobos said...
on Apr. 7 2011 at 3:56 pm
uhhhhh.....BORING plus i like hobos!