Juliet closed her bedroom door and climbed up on to the bed. Her hands trembled as she let the contents of the envelope spill out on to the eiderdown. She found two birth certificates, one each for Maisie and Dawn.
“I’ve found you at last,” Juliet whispered, as she read the writing on Dawn’s one.
There were a couple of old photos, faded to sepia, but possible to make out. The first one was a family group, her grand-aunts, and their parents. The oversized sun hats the children wore told their own story; it was taken in summertime. Maisie was about four years old in that one, Juliet guessed, and the baby sitting on her mother’s lap about one. Juliet held the photo up to get a better look.
“Hello, Dawn, it’s nice to meet you,” she ran a finger down the baby’s face.
The next few photos showed the girls a couple of years later. In one, Maisie is holding her sister’s hand and as she toddled across the lawn. As she skipped through the pile, Juliet knew she was coming closer to the time when Dawn disappeared. In the last one, the children were sitting by the stream, eating a picnic. There are no grownups in the frame, and she wondered which parent took the photo, and if they were the last one to see their child alive. Was this the day Dawn disappeared? She knew in her heart it was, and it gave her an overwhelming sense of sadness when she looked at Maisie innocent, smiling face. So different from pinched, bitter old woman she had become. Kim was demanding she keep her promise and let her play on the computer.
“Ok, let me check my mails and I’ll bring it in to your room,” Juliet called.
“You better, or I’ll tell mom,” Kim warned.
Juliet was too excited to bother answering her. She had a mystery to unravel and three messages from Rick. Reaching out, she traced her finger along the words that said I love you, and then giggled, as he talked about the high jinks, they were all getting up too. The computer pinged to tell her a new message had come in. It was from Mr Thomas, her archaeology teacher. He liked to keep his students informed of any new discoveries, and it was not unusual to get an email from him. Despite spending most of his year in the classroom, Mr Thomas was deeply tanned with searching blue eyes and all the girls had a bit of a crush on him. All he needs is the whip, they whispered, and he would be Indiana Jones. Great news, the email began, I have just received backing for a dig here at home and am looking for twelve students to take part. It’s at the ruins of a castle called Culdoplin, I know, I’ve never heard of it either, but the powers that be want to knock it and they want to make sure it’s of no historical interest before doing so. I have funding for four weeks, so they are not expecting us to find much. Attached is a map of its locations and there will be further directions for those of you who are coming along. As usual, the pay is a pittance, but I will see to it that you are fed! I need to get started right away so get back to me ASAP. I can’t promise you all a place on the dig, so you know the drill.
Juliet could not believe her eyes. Culdoplin was the word whispered in her dreams. Goose pimple rose on her skin, it was so weird. She had the chance to take part in a real dig at that very place. It would also get her away for her aunt’s strange looks for a few weeks. A shout from the other room told her that Kim was getting impatient. She did a quick check of her favourite site to see if any of her friends were online. No, there was no one, so she carried the computer into Kim’s room.
“Don’t break it and don’t you dare go into my private mail.”
“Like I would,” Kim snorted. “Who wants to read your stupid stuff?”
Running down into the kitchen, Juliet found her parents preparing dinner.
“Calm down,” her mother laughed, as Juliet tried to explain about the dig.
“It will only be for four weeks,” She explained. “And I do not need anything, other than my fare. Mr Thomas said they will feed us, and we will even get a small wage. It is the chance of a lifetime. You can ring Mr Thomas about it. I know from some of the others who have been on digs with him that he watches them like a hawk. You won’t have to worry about me, please,” she begged.
Her parents looked at one another and shrugged. It was good to see her enthusiastic about something.
“Give me the number and I’ll ring him,” her father said.
“Do it right away, because the places are limited,” Juliet scribbled down the number from memory.
Her father came back in minutes.
“Well, I’ve spoken to you Mr Thomas,” he let the words hang in the air to tease her, until finally, “You’re in.”
Juliet screamed and ran to hug him. The dinner that night was filled with tales about the mysterious castle. It was late when she got to bed, and she tossed and turned for hours. Deciding the sleep was a lost cause; she opened the laptop and clicked on to her usual site. Few people were on at that late hour and that is why she noticed Corey’s message. She paused before typing, why do you want to know?