35 Getting back to normal

Over the next few days, things go back to normal. Astila goes to work before sun up and gets home after sunset. Salali and Inola teach Aisling some of the traditions that she will need to know. Explaining the difference between the herbs and plants. Salali and Aisling spend long hours in the woods exploring for Aisling to learn more about what is useful or harmful. Aisling gets sad sometimes since she hasn't seen Onacona since the day in the cabin. Debra is home with the girls and they are doing well. The only thing bothering Aisling now is that her Aunt and Uncle leave the next day for Texas. His leave is over. Then Salali and Inola will be leaving in a few days. That means that Astila will be gone soon as well. His time here is almost up . She isn't sure what she will do when it's just her again. For this time she will truly be alone. As if sensing her thoughts Salali sits down on a tree stump.

" come sit have a chat with me. " she pats the place beside her. Aisling sits next to her.

" your worried about everyone leaving aren't you. It's ok we will be back. You made us feel at home so much that if I didn't have responsibilities back home I would stay longer. I will be back. After all I think I may have a wedding to help with. " Salali hugs her trying to get her to cheer up.

" I don't know about that . Astila is supposed to leave in a few weeks I can't leave my home . I know I'm being selfish but I have never known anywhere else. " Aisling looks at her hands as if she is trying to hide her anxiety over what is going to happen.

"He knows that you see as much as he loves us he has never had a problem with leaving. When he wasn't satisfied with things before he joined the army. He loves moving about. As long as you take time to come visit he will be fine with being here." Aisling still isn't sure.

"I inherited all of this because out of all of the kids I was the one that loved it the most. When my father got sick I worked to pay everything to make sure they had what they needed. I took care of him at night and worked through the day. I made sure that Debra did not miss out on anything. Even though I'm younger than her in many ways she is younger . I didn't get to do many of the things that others did. I was always afraid to drink to much or do drugs. I was worried about what I would see. I am worried that I'm not good enough for Astila. He has a good job and good position. What if I embarrass him because of my quirks. I get really shy around others when I'm not where I am comfortable. Except when I dance I love live music and I can't be still when I hear music. How about before you leave we go out and dance?" There is excitement in her voice over the thought of going out dancing. Very different then normal.

" I like to dance as well so yes how about we go Friday night." Salali agreed. The girls head back to the house stopping by the lake to see how things are growing. The smell around the lake is sweet now not stagnant. The water is the clear and clean. The trees and flowers are growing well. There are even a few cattails and water lilies starting to shoot up. The next spring they will be able to put fish back into the water. Who knows the stream going into the lake a few may naturally migrate there.

"Oh have you heard anything about the items found in the lake. " Salali asks her.

" it turns out that nothing we found belonged to any of the victims except the one necklace that I sent to the girl from Massachusetts. Everything else was just put there for some reason. The gold and silver jewelry seemed to be from the mid 1800s and the coins were valuable as well the appraised value for the pieces they have been able to research so far is at over two million. The appraiser said that most of the jewelry is from Spain . I wonder if it belonged to my grandfather's family. The trapper that Daisy married was from Spain . They even have a town named after them. So he said he sent some photographs to a museum in Castile Spain. A lot of the coins were from there as well. So we will see. I will make sure to tell you when I find out. " Aisling takes her hand as they walk back to the house.

"He Jin says there is a secret place in every room I looked but I cannot find the one in mine. I'm dying of curiosity can you show me please?" Salali begs her to show her the secret places in the house.

" I tell you what Debra is coming later and I need to get the cradles out of the attic. After we get them ready for the babies I will show you and Auntie Jin where the secret places are . "

When they get back to the house the reverend and the commander already got the cribs down and into the nursery. They were leaving it up to the women to fix the room. Once inside the room Aisling motions for the ladies to follow her to the window.

" in each of the rooms there is a secret compartment. Since this house was built before the revolution as a rest stop for travelers. They put secret places to hold valuables or guns . During prohibition they hid booze in the spots. Each room is different but once you see what to look for it will be easy to find. " placing her hand next to the trim by the window a door concealed by the molding pops open. Aisling pulls out a box. Inside the box is a doll made of human hair. Salali and He Jin both look in shock.

" my great grandmother lost a baby in this room to a fever. He was about four years old. Grandma Daisy made this doll from his hair so that she could have something of him. In this box is something from every child the family has lost. We keep it inside the nursery so that they can be with the children. " Aisling takes them to Salali room they look around and see that there is an extra strip of molding by the closet. Walking over she opens. This one is almost like a closet not just a cubby. Looking inside there is a white beaded doeskin dress, a pair of buckskin. Along with bows and a water drum. Salali pulls them out looking at them .

"These are gorgeous they are handmade. They are very old and done so beautifully. You have kept them in perfect condition. These are wedding clothes. " Salali looks at them with great respect for what they stand for. She picks up the bow it's hand made as well. Behind the water drum parts is another dress . It is a dress of tears. These dresses were wore during the relocation.

"This is so amazing wait till I show Inola and Astila when they get home. " Salali is like a little girl in a candy store looking through the hidden closet. He Jin is eager to find the one in their room. So the three ladies go to He Jin room. Her room is done in dark mahogany wood with red and gold accents. There under the window is a black lacquered table with mother of pearl dragons and flowers design on it. On top is a Buddha with dishes and shells of sand for incense. She starts to look around and she laughed in delight. She found it after twenty five years she has finally found it. Walking over to the side of the bed she presses the molding surrounding the full mirror. The hidden closet pops open. Inside there are pots . She turns to look at Aisling. Aisling bust out laughing.

"Look inside you will understand I promise. "Aisling watches as she begins to pull out the pots. Inside are pipes of all kinds looking closer at them she realized they are pot pipes and bongs. There are roach clips as well. He Jin looks at her niece.

"If there is pot in here somewhere I'm going to die I just know it."

Laughing Aisling kneels on the floor and pulls out a metal box inside is not only pot but other substances as well.

" these have been here since he went into the army over thirty years ago. Uncle Johns is just like this one in Inola's room. They were pretty big in the drug scene before going into the army and navy. I remember when I was around seven. They had some plants by the creek and my grandma burned them just when they were ready for harvest. Uncle John was a real druggy before finding religion and becoming a minister. I think they must've had some visions when they were high . That maybe why they don't treat me like I am a freak. Like others do at times. I know that when I burn herbs they both always take a real big deep breath to make sure I'm not burning anything that can cause everyone to get high. You know I made a few of those clips. " Aisling giggles she knows Auntie is going to have fun teasing her Uncle over this. The ladies hear Inola and the commander come into the house with a mischievous grin He Jin pulls out some of the feathered clips and puts them in each of their hair. The ladies go down to meet them. Walking into the kitchen to start dinner . They act as if nothing is amiss the start cleaning vegetables and cutting the meat to get it ready for grilling. Inola is clueless as to why the commander is staring at the ladies with his mouth open. In Korean he asks his wife a question but it's Aisling who answers.

"Uncle is something wrong. You know Auntie was trying to move the mirror in your room and guess what she found after all of these years. " she giggled with the most innocent face.

"Young lady do not play cute with me! I know you relished in showing her where it was. " he crosses his arms in annoyance.

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" actually she showed us the baby box and we figured it out once she showed us what to look for. I did exactly what you told me to I found it on my own. Who knew this house held so many secrets. " He Jin laughed at her husband and gave him a big kiss.

" I love you darling it doesn't matter what you would have had hidden in that secret closet. " she looks at him sweetly.

"Besides are we not the cutest in feathers?" The three of them twirl and bat their eyes giggling like children.

"You didn't show them Johns did you?" He asks nervously.

"No your dirty magazines and other drug stuff is safe as you know Inola is in his old room. So it's safe no one will look ." He gets an angry look on his face.

" did you have to tell them what is in it. Seriously that was our secret. I never actually thought she would ever look for it. Do you think John even remembers that he still has stuff in there. Maybe we should let him know that you spilled the beans on how to find the secret closets. " he goes to call his brother to see what he wants to do.

" I have a feeling there will be a bonfire later tonight. " He Jin giggles as they continue to fix dinner.

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