There was a knock.

Ximena swallowed, put her pen down and stood up from the table.

“Hi,” she said, as she opened the door.

There Jordan stood, banjo slung across his back, with an expression on his face that was difficult to read.

She crossed her arms over her chest. “Yes?”

“Wanted to get your opinion about something,” he said.

His eyes darted to the right, towards The House, making her pretty sure of what he was going to say. But she waited, just in case.

“You’ll have to step outside,” he said, “to see what I’m talking about.”

Pressing her lips together, to hide her satisfaction, Ximena went outside, and turned towards The House. Jordan stood next to her and pointed. “You notice anything funny about those vines?”

“You tell me,” she said.

He turned, looking her squarely in the eye. “You do know, don’t you?”

She shrugged. “Depends on what you mean.”

“Those vines,” he said, “move to your voice.”

She blinked. “What? You mean they sway to music?”

He shook his head. “No, I mean what I said. They move to your voice. I was sitting out here and playing with nothing weird happening, until you joined in. How’s that work?”

Ximena went cold. Last thing she needed were some rumours about her and The House. What if people started accusing her of being a witch? All they’d have to do is phone the ICE and they’d deport her mother to Mexico, while Ximena, being a United States Citizen, would be tossed into foster care.

“Why don’t you say what you really mean?” she said, putting her hands on her hips, looking fierce. “Because let me tell you, I have had nothing to do with The House, ever. First time I went near it was because of you.”

“Hey, only reason I went there was because I was looking for a quiet place to play and my classmates said to go there.”

Ximena snorted.

“What’s that about?”

“How do I know you’re not a ghost? I mean, you keep saying you were only at The House because of your mates, but when are you ever at school? Never seen you there, once.”

A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. “Keeping an eye out for me, huh?”

“I never said that.”

He grinned. “The twins were too sick to go to crèche and my sister has a job until 2pm, and couldn’t miss work.”

“So now you are a babysitter.”

“That’s right. We all help family when we can, don’t we?”

“I suppose we do.”

He nodded, before gesturing to The House. “So back to the issue at hand. What are we going to do about that?”

Stay the hell away from it, Ximena did not say. Instead, she shrugged.

“Right, so let’s go, then.”

“Wait. What?”

He looked at Ximena as if she were dim. Very slowly he said, “To The House, right? That is where we are going, to find out what is going on?”

She took a step back. “Oh no, I’m not getting vines in my hair again.”

“So put a hat or a scarf on. Unless you’re scared?”

Obviously, Ximena did not say. Instead, she spun on her heel and went inside to find something to cover her head.


Tell us: Do you think Ximena and Jordan should investigate? Or should they stay away from The House?