Her mother continued to pack the two suitcases set on her periwinkle bedspread. She paused momentarily before tucking in Stacey's favorite red shorts.
"Mom, why do I have to go? Why can't I stay with Aunt Margie?" Stacey's face scrunched up before adding, "I don't like it there. I hate it!"
"Sweetheart, why do we go through this every year? You know this is the annual family picnic and that we're part of the family...so, we go." She closed the suitcase and gently placed it on the floor.
"I hate it there. I hate that fancy bedroom, and the sounds..."
"Honey, not the sounds again. Stacey, you're nine years old now, you're a young lady, it's time to put away your childish thoughts." She turned to face Stacey saying, "Baby, I love you so much. Since your dad left I've been busy working hard, taking care of you and your sister. I hardly have time to socialize, so I really look forward to this gathering. Baby, at the very least, do it for me. Please?"
"Okay mom...but I hate that dad left us, and I hate this picnic. It's so far away."
Her mom chuckled, "Honey, it's a four hour drive. It's not three thousand miles away. Besides, the country air is fresh and good for you. You get to visit your cousin Jillery and play games all night."
"Yeah, but the sounds begin at night, especially when everyone is sleeping...."
Her mom held up her hands, "Honey, I've no time right now for this. I don't know what it is you think you've heard, but I can't hear this again. You'll have to grin and bear it, that's it. Your sister is a good sport about this, and she enjoys our gathering. Please try to take a page from your sister's book. I have things to take care of before we leave, now no more pouting, please."
Stacey was hunched forward on the bed, feet dangling, when Trisha barged in. "What's wrong with you now?"
"Oh no--the spooky sounds again? You starting in already?"
" The sound keeps going all night long...it's scary. No one hears it because they're all asleep. You included."
"Well, I'll stay up with you this time. Does that make you feel better?"
Stacey jumped up and in an excited voice said, "Yes, it does. Pinkie-promise?"
"Pinkie-promise,"Trisha answered as they hooked pinkies.
They arrived ahead of schedule and the day, surprisingly, was exciting and fun. The food was great, Aunt Josie's potato salad was super creamy this year, and Uncle Joey's Chili was the best. But, the best of all was Aunt Phyllis's Chocolate mocha five layer cake. She was stuffed and before she knew it, it was time for bed.
"Goodnight mom," Stacey said kissing her mom's cheek.
"Goodnight, and remember to say your prayers."
After two hours of chatting and laughing, Jillery and Trisha, fell asleep. Stacey looked out the window at the starry night. The crickets were serenading her when she heard it! Just as she remembered it... a loud sizzle, and another one. There was no consistency. No rhyme or reason. One minute there were three sizzles, and then nothing for ten minutes...and then, sizzle.
"Trisha," Stacey said, "Trisha, wake up!"
"You pinkie-promised...listen." She pointed toward the window.
"You're crazy, you know..."
Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle.
Trisha sat up quickly. "What is that sound?"
"Let's go outside..."
"No way!" Stacey said as she jumped under her covers.
"Well, this is ridiculous, there has to be some explanation..."
"What's going on?" Jillery asked in a whisper.
"Jillery, I've never told you this because I didn't want to scare you, but this place has ghosts."
She laughed, "I think you have heat stroke."
Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle.
"See there it is." She pointed in the direction of the sizzling.
"Oh my goodness, "Jillery said, before howling.
Stacey and Trisha stared with incredulity, waiting patiently until their cousin stopped and focused.
"Well, what's so funny cuz?"
"You city folks, you make me laugh so hard. Oh, this is priceless. This is too much."
"Well, do we get in on the joke that we seem to be the stars of?"
"Oh, I'm sorry guys. That sizzling sound are moths and insects flying into the electric bug zapper. I can't believe the two of you have never heard the sound of insects sizzling before."
Trisha and Stacey stared at their cousin...and just like that, the cachinnating sounds from Jillery's room drowned out the sizzling ten-to-one.
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