Going Home Again

Jade

ACME
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7
AMA
findcarmen.com
Known Aliases
Jade
Color #
0099FF
Hey everyone (like all three of you that read this but I love you all), I’ll be out of town for Miss USA since my little sister is a competitor (any guesses which state?) so I’ll be gone trying not to feel ugly for a week:)

anyway hopefully my dad’s cranberry sauce is the cure for writer’s block and I’ll be back ASAP! Happy thanksgiving to anyone celebrating!
I didn't know your sister enters the Miss USA competition tough part is I can't find out which state your sister is represented I wish your sister the best no matter where she placed.
 

Claire Avalon

Writer
Best answers
0
Known Aliases
Violet Nowak
Claire Nowak
Color #
%2365000
Still needs some edits but in the meantime here’s the next chapter!


Chapter VII

Show Me a Hero​

July, 1985, San Francisco

A pale 10 year old huddled close to the trunk of a sequoia tree, her black hair sticking to her forehead and her cheeks red with heat. Summer camp had never been her thing, especially not a summer camp full of outdoor activities. In fact, California had never been her thing either. In her short life, Claire had already attended five different schools and three boarding schools. She craved the comfort of home, but unfortunately, home had become a dorm room at the St. Hildegard School for Girls, and when school was dismissed for the summer, home disappeared. It hadn’t occurred to her to ask her father to spend the summer in the shady mansion in Argentina where she supposedly had a bedroom and some semblance of a family. She knew how to care for herself, she was quiet, well-mannered, and introverted. She didn’t even need a nanny, she could fix her own meals and draw her own baths and get herself to bed each night. But as much as a small part of her brain wanted to crawl into her too-big bed in that too-big home and cry, she knew her father’s main objective was to keep her occupied and protected, and that meant a summer of over-scheduled, so-called fun with a hundred other strangers somewhere around her age. The heat invaded her body and she felt like she was drowning in it, when the swift bounce of a dodgeball to the stomach reminded her what it really felt like to demand air from unyielding lungs.

“Hey! Don’t be lame, get up before I tell a counselor you chickened out!” a high pitched voice, self-assured voice belonging to a young girl with shockingly red hair scolded.

Claire wheezed out a response, “Go get one! See if I care!” She wasn’t usually so confrontational, but something about the girl’s attitude was contagious, and while she had to be at least a year Claire’s junior, her arms were already alarmingly toned, and her lanky figure had adapted to the sunshine with a charming spray of freckles covering every exposed inch of skin.

“My mom says sulking never helped anyone! If you’re sad, the best thing you can do is get outside and move.”

“I’m not sad,” snapped Claire, “I’m too hot and I’m too sweaty and I don’t like summer camp or dodge ball and I don’t have any friends and I just want to go home!” The hot tears running down her red cheeks told the truth. Claire was sad. And lonely.

The redhead’s face changed. While her nature was active and somewhat abrasive, her father was a psychiatrist and when she chose to be, the young girl could be quite emotionally intelligent. She sauntered over to the large tree and sat beside the crying girl.

“Homesick? M My little brother gets homesick too, but he’s only four so he doesn’t get to go to sleepaway camps yet. Not that you’re acting like a baby or anything…”

Claire chuckled quietly. The redhead continued, “I’m Ivy, I’m eight—almost nine. What’s your name?”

“I’m Claire,” she sniffled, “I’m ten.”

“Are your parents coming to visit? They can sign you out on weekends. Mine are coming on Saturday.”

“It’s just my dad, I don’t have a mom. But he lives in Argentina, so he won’t visit me.”

Ivy’s green eyes widened, “Argentina? That’s so cool! I know about lots of countries, my parents work for a detective agency and one of their friends gave me a whole collection of postcards from all the countries she’s visited on cases. When I grow up I’m going to be a detective too, just like her. Then I’ll travel all over the world bringing criminals to justice!” She accentuated her last sentence by slapping her first against her palm and glaring defiantly into the sunshine.

“I bet you’d be good at it,” replied Claire. “You’re really tough.”

“You don’t just have to be strong, though. You have to be really smart. Mom says playing the piano will help my brain, and I’m gonna learn to play chess and speak other languages. I want to be the best detective ever. Do you speak Spanish? Maybe you could practice with me!”

“My dad speaks Spanish, but my nanny taught me English. Maybe when I was little, but I don’t remember much anymore. I’ve been going to school in America since I was seven.”

“Whoa, like a boarding school? I wish I could go to boarding school, I wouldn’t have to share a bathroom with my baby brother.” Ivy’s face bordered somewhere between frustration and amusement.

“No, instead you’d have to share it with twelve other girls!” Claire tried to sound serious but Ivy’s enthusiasm had seeped into her voice and she found herself reluctantly attached to her new friend.

Claire tried not to make too many friends wherever she went, expecting never to stay in one place for very long. But over the next few weeks, Ivy stuck by her side like an oddly energetic barnacle. She had a penchant for getting into trouble, especially when it came to boys who wouldn’t let her play with them. She’d challenge anyone and everyone to an impromptu wrestling match, and at least that summer, Claire never saw her lose, not even to boys twice her size. Claire was jealous of her confidence. Her spirit was as fiery as her hair. It translated well to outdoor activities, but other aspects of the camp were less compatible with her temperament. In the camp choir, she never sat still and her dynamics ranged from forte to fortissimo. During her piano lessons, Claire had to admit Ivy was advanced for her age, but she played Bach with the same energy she played dodgeball, frequently leaving the whole room vibrating and her teacher hopelessly holding the disregarded metronome.

And on one very special occasion, Claire was even allowed to be signed out by Ivy’s parents for the weekend (perks of having a family in law enforcement, Avalon felt unusually confident with his child in their care). Between playing with Ivy’s precocious and adorable, towheaded baby brother, giggling late into the night in Ivy’s unexpectedly girly Victorian bedroom, and chocolate chip pancakes in the morning, Claire felt more at ease than perhaps she ever had. But with that came a sense of longing and a deep realization that her home would never look like this. Ivy’s nuclear family living in their bright yellow San Francisco Queen Anne on it’s steep hill with those picturesque gables and turrets, that would never be hers. And as much as she longed to sink into Ivy’s trundle bed and stare up at the ceiling and pretend this was her room and her family and her life, Claire was left with that unshakable melancholy that no child can clearly articulate.

The highlight of the weekend was the tour of the ACME Detective Agency, where both Ivy’s parents worked; her mother in an administrative desk job position, and her father as the agency psychiatrist. An office tour isn’t usually the best use of a summer weekend for a fifth grader, but although many of the detectives had clocked out for the weekend, the building was still buzzing with activity from the many agency residents, who seemed to share as many laughs as they did cases. Claire was enthralled by the detectives, who gathered like worker bees around splayed out case files, itching with the desire to be useful and quick.

Her fascination was interrupted by Ivy’s pleading voice. “Please, Dad? Please? You said I could last time and I need to shave off another minute before the next time I see Carmen! Plus Claire wants to see it!”

Claire nodded in agreement despite having absolutely no idea what it was she wanted to see. With a faux-exasperated sign, Ivy’s father conceded, leading the girl to an elevator and pressing the button for basement level.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do with you,” the doctor chuckled, shaking his head but grinning with pride. “Be careful, Ivy. Remember, good timing isn’t always about speed.”

The elevator doors opened, and all at once, Claire knew exactly why Ivy had been so eager to get down here. The basement contained a sprawling obstacle course, with everything from ropes, tires, things to climb over and things to climb under, boxing dummies and punching bags, and simulated booby traps worthy of an Indiana Jones movie set. Ivy’s eyes practically glowed as an employee, clearly familiar with this drill, buckled her into her protective gear and gave the small girl a knowing high five.

“Claire, are you coming?” Ivy called, half knowing the answer.

“I think I’ll watch, Ives.”

“Okay!” Ivy was clearly more than happy to be the star of the show, “Dad are you timing me?”

“I’m ready when you are, honey,” the doctor pushed the dial on his wrist watch, and Ivy was off, racing through the obstacle course with a precision that rivaled detectives a decade her senior. Every stumble inspired rage in the small girl, sometimes swearing rebelliously to herself, but no matter the level of her frustrations, her mouth was set in a determined grin and her posture and form communicated a message that could not be misread: Ivy was born for this.

Claire had seen the little red scrapbook in Ivy’s room, it was stored in a box at the back of her closet with the kind of sacred reverence children reserve for objects that don’t necessarily contain secrets, but that often contain their hearts. In it, the aforementioned postcards had been organized chronologically, then reorganized alphabetically. Newspaper clippings, dog-earned and frayed detailed ACME cases far and wide. The clippings were dotted with mugshots and the occasional photo of a mysterious and poised looking young woman, a beige fedora covering one eye and a mass of thick, black curls rippling behind her strong shoulders. This was the detective Ivy admired more than anyone in the world, the detective who had gifted her the postcards, and whose attention Ivy had come to depend upon like an oasis in the desert. If ACME is the east, then Detective Carmen Sandiego is the sun. And what Ivy wanted more than anything in the world was to be just like her.
 

Claire Avalon

Writer
Best answers
0
Known Aliases
Violet Nowak
Claire Nowak
Color #
%2365000
Preview of Chapter VII:
In the meantime, I've got to organize my timeline a bit. I've got a jailbreak, an Ivy centered flashback from after Carmen leaves, a journey to the Golden Gate Girl's School, a kidnapping, another kidnapping, some more serious content (I'll post a warning for that and update the tag), and a possible death in the works. When does this story end? I have no idea, but I appreciate anyone who sticks around!

Chapter VIII​


“She did what?!” Joe’s low voice boomed through the echoing hallways of Avalon’s estate.


“I know what you’re thinking and I promise it’s not like I was in any danger,” Claire replied. The drive home had been tense as she slowly explained the identity of her mysterious accompanist and their prior meeting.


“No, you just communicated with a fugitive wanted in almost every country on your father’s property which was until very recently an active crime scene. An even more dangerous criminal with vast connections has every reason to have a personal vendetta against both Carmen and your family and you just...what? Left the door open?! What if Lee had someone tailing Carmen, or you? What if cops had raided your house?!”


“I just...I felt like I owed her an audience,” Claire hung her head, defeated.


“Sure, and that couldn’t happen in broad daylight with security because?”


“Because she’s a w---”


“Right, because she’s a wanted thief,” Joe finished. “And you and I both work in law enforcement. How did you think this was going to look on your ACME application?”

Claire glared at the wall, “I wasn’t exactly planning on advertising the fact.”


“And if she had broken into your computer, stolen CrimeNet files? What then?”


“Well she didn’t. She just talked.”


“Okay so you talked, did you at least get closure? An apology? An idea of her next move? If she’s ever planning to return to her crime empire?” Joe made a habit of being mild mannered and slow to anger, but tonight his anxiety got the best of him.


“It...wasn’t that kind of conversation.”


Joe buried his face in his hands, his voice muffled through them, “Okay, then what kind of conversation was it? By all means, enlighten me!”


Claire slumped into her father’s leather desk chair, lowering her eyes to avoid staring into Marguerite Avalon’s serenely painted face. She had no answer, at least not one she knew how to articulate to her fiance.


Joe kneeled in front of the chair, taking Claire’s small hands in his, “I just don’t want anything to happen to you. I wish I had been there.” he brushed the hair away from Claire’s eyes but she kept her gaze lowered as a tear fell onto her lap.


“I know, that’s why I couldn’t let you. I don’t want you to lose credibility with ACME, but I can’t just let this go!” she twirled her hair nervously.


Joe drew a long breath, “I know that. I do,” he paused, tentatively. “So in that case...how can I help?”

To be continued...don't you just hate that?
 

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