A Dark and Stormy Night
by Christine Collier
Calla had a school break and was spending a week with her grandmother at her beautiful old house on Lavender Hill. There were lace curtains in every window. Calla always stayed in the guestroom on the second floor. This room had an oak bed with a colorful quilt, vanity with an oval mirror, and a matching dresser. The most amazing thing about this bedroom, however, was its access to the third floor attic.
What looked like a normal closet door was really the entrance to the attic. Behind the door, steps led to a full third story attic filled with antiques and treasures from long ago.
Calla loved this room! Boxes filled with old books, jewelry, and clothes were everywhere. It was the perfect place to play dress up or any game imaginable.
On the first day of her visit, Grandma read some of the mysteries Calla had in her journal. “You’re a very talented girl,” Grandma said, as she smiled at Calla. “I used to write poetry years ago.”
Calla gazed at her lovely grandmother. “Did you ever have a mystery happen to you?”
Grandma thought for awhile. “Years ago when your mother was a teenager, your grandfather gave me a beautiful gold locket with a picture of our four children inside. The back of the locket was engraved with their names and the date I received it. I misplaced it and searched for months but never saw it again. I still think its somewhere in this house. How I’d love to find it!”
That evening Calla was snuggled in bed, reading her newest mystery, Behind a Foggy Window. She was wrapped inside the quilt, fixed just the way she liked it, when she heard a very strange noise overhead in the attic followed by a loud thump. She jumped out of bed and ran to the attic door. She slowly opened it, then switched on the lights in the stairway. Nothing seemed unusual as she quietly climbed the steps. At the top, she switched on the attic lights. Everything looked normal except the old shade at the attic window was crooked and hanging half way off its rod. Calla shrugged, climbed back down the stairs and crawled into bed. She fixed the quilt just the way she liked it again and drifted off to sleep.
Two nights later Calla was in a very deep sleep after a busy shopping day with her grandmother. Suddenly, a deafening clap of thunder awakened her as lightning lit the sky! Rain beat against her window with a mighty force. The dial on her clock glowed 3:00 a.m. A crashing sound jolted her upright! It came from the attic.
Creeping upstairs to the room at the top of the stairs in the middle of a storm-ravaged night was not something Calla wanted to do. However, there were bizarre noises coming from the attic. She opened the door, turned on the lights, and slowly started her scary journey. Another clash of thunder made her quiver. The lights flickered and dimmed and then went out. She was stuck in a dark stairwell, and her entire body was trembling. Calla looked ahead to the top of the stairs and saw two golden, glowing eyes staring back at her! She gasped.
Terrified, Calla slowly backed down the steps and ran out of the guestroom to her grandmother’s room below. “Grandma, I just heard a terrible noise and I saw glowing eyes in the attic!”
Calla was talking so fast Grandma could barely understand her. “You saw WHAT in the attic? Why were you in the attic at this time of night? Calm down, honey. You must have been seeing things in the dark. The lights are back on now. I’ll call Mr. Jennings tomorrow morning.” Mr. Jennings was a trusted friend and often helped around the house. “You’ll stay with me the rest of the night.”
The next day Mr. Jennings’ footsteps were noisy on the attic floor above them. They heard several strange noises.
“Calla, please come here.” Mr. Jennings’ voice sounded urgent.
Calla ran to the guestroom and looked up the attic stairwell. She didn’t want to enter it, even on the first step.
“There’s an injured owl with a broken wing up here,” Mr. Jennings said. “I have a cage in the back of my truck. It’s not heavy. Would you please bring it to me?”
After Calla brought in the cage, Mr. Jennings slipped on protective gloves and a vest. After some coaxing, he finally got the frightened bird into the cage. He explained to Calla and her grandmother that the owl had built a nest in the gable end of the roof. The fierce storm confused the owl, causing it to miss the nest and crash into the window. He thought the bird might have also missed the nest two nights before when Calla saw the shade knocked half way off the window. Mr. Jennings knew of a protection agency that would care for the owl.
“I’ll clean up the broken glass in the attic, Grandma. Mr. Jennings left gloves for me,” Calla said as she ran up the steps. The owl made a terrible mess after he had crashed through the window and flew around, bumping into things. Calla was organizing and sweeping things up with a broom and dust pan when she noticed an old cat bed with its plaid flannel liner tipped over in the corner. Something gold and shiny was resting on the bottom of the cat bed. Calla’s jaw dropped. It was a beautiful golden locket!
When Grandma saw the locket, she cried. “Our old cat Calico must have hid it in her bed years ago. She used to hide things on us often, but this time she really did! If the owl hadn’t made such a mess, it would never have been found.”
Calla’s visit ended. She hugged her grandmother and said, “It was a dark and stormy night when your mystery was solved, Grandma. What a perfect story to add to my journal.”
Grandma was wearing her new found locket, and she touched it lovingly. “I’ll never forget the stormy night that led to me getting back the most wonderful gift my husband ever gave me. Thank you, my dear. I can’t wait until your next visit. Maybe you’ll solve another mystery? Did I ever tell you about the time your grandfather lost his invisible ink pen? He was writing a secret message to your mother in the kitchen and it simply disappeared.”
Calla’s eyes grew wide. She hugged her mystery journal to her chest and a huge smile spread across her face.
1. Who was Calla staying with for a week?
2. What had Grandma lost?
3. Why did Calla go into the attic in the middle of the night?
4. What did Mr. Jennings find in the attic?
5. What did Calla see in the cat bed?