My Niece

A W.I.T.C.H. Fan-Fic

Introduction

It has been often said that life is full of surprises. If such is the case, I would say that what happened that first week of October of 2004 would be one of the more surprising and important moments in my life. That was the week I saw my niece for the very first time.

Looking back at it, I'm very happy to have met her, especially since she no longer has a father figure to look up to ever since my jerk of a half-brother ditched her and her mother when she was still very young. It still infuriates me that he would simply toss them by the wayside in the fashion that he did, but at the same time, it made a lot of sense why the marriage failed: it would have been impossible for my half-brother who approached life the way he did to have settled down into family life. In a way, I feel somewhat responsible for not aggressively warning his future wife about my half-brother. But at the very least, I could have been given the info on where I could have contacted her and her daughter, so I could have helped support them. However, I was lucky that I had the chance to meet her at all; had she not stumbled into Whitesage, I may have died with her never even being on my conscience.

This writing here chronicles the week that she spent with me, from the evening that I discovered her in the Whitesage ravine to the day her mother picked her up to take her home. During that time, I learned much about her and the life she and her mother had been leading since they moved to Heatherfield from Fadden Hills, and perhaps she learned to be a little more forgiving of the world around her. After all, life by default is easy; it's just that we make it harder than it needs to be.

Day 1

The story began on a Friday, and it was as normal as one could expect in this day and age. I got up, fed Sven (my Elkhound), ate breakfast, and then Sven and I took off for our appointed rounds: Sven would be going off to the Howl House (a doggy day-care center) and I was heading off to The Mystic's Emporium, which is kind of like The Mustard Seed but with a more expansive religious catalogue and a late 1960s vibe.

The walk was, by all accounts, uneventful. We stopped by our usual kiosk by the corner of Bradbury and Milson to check up on the local news, and then we continued on down Bradbury Street until we reached the Howl House. I dropped off Sven and made my way to Merlin Lane, where The Mystic's Emporium is located. As expected, Bryan, my boss, was up and about, checking the inventory. "Morning Arthur." He said to me, as he always did. I replied the same way I always did: "Morning Bryan. Nothing new expected today, right?"

"Actually, I'm expecting a new shipment of goods to come in today; mostly textiles and ritual materials." The answer surprised me a little; usually if there were shipments of goods, I'd know about it. "That's weird. Why is there a new shipment of goods coming in and I don't know about it?"

"Oh, I'm sorry. I just I should've have told you about it sooner. I'm ordering a bunch of goods in the popular items for the month because I'm afraid that will have better than average sales. Now that things have cooled down somewhat, I feel that people in and out of town will rush here in droves to get their supplies for Samhain after last year's lull. I guess I was so worried about running out of supplies that I forgot to tell you."

I decided not to respond to it; Bryan doesn't take sarcasm too well. Instead, I went into the backroom and sat down at my usual desk to check over the papers regarding finances, inventory, past sales, call-ins, etc. With that done, I returned to the front of the store and waited for any customers and/or merchants to come by.

From there, not much else happened. The number of customers coming in was rather typical for the day, which consisted of a half-dozen or so people. And like most jobs where one likes their work, the time literally flew and it was soon 6:30 PM, and thus time for me to head home. "Well Arthur, another day done for," Bryan said to me as I was getting my stuff taken care of to leave. "Are you planning on coming in tomorrow?"

"Probably, unless something comes up, which I highly doubt it will." I responded. "Anything special expected during your weekend?"

"No. Just the same old grind as far as I'm concerned. Call me if you change your mind about coming in tomorrow, OK?"

"Sure will, Bryan." With that, I left to pick up Sven, and then we headed home. As far as I was concerned, the upcoming weekend was to be like any other weekend that I had experienced for years. But nothing could have prepared me for what would transpire that evening.

It all started around 7:45 PM. As I had for many an evening in Whitesage, I was spending my time lifting weights in the basement when I heard Sven whining and barking from upstairs. After putting up the weights up, I went upstairs to see what the problem was. But there was basically nothing wrong or out of place upstairs, much less with Sven himself. That meant only one thing to me: Sven wanted to go out for a walk. "You want to walk outside, don't you?" I told Sven; he just coyly looked at me as if to say 'What else do you think I'd want?' Not wanting to allow Sven to become destructive, I simply got my jacket from the closet, grabbed a lantern to see in the dark, and got Sven all leashed up. "Alright, Sven. Let's be quick about this; it's getting late." I told him, and off we went.

We walked around our usual spots, which were around the south-side playground, the south side co-op, and down Rabbit Boulevard towards the Whitesage Ravine. But as we were about to make our way back home, Sven stopped in his tracks, and despite my best efforts, he wouldn't move. "Sven, it's getting late, and I want to go home," I told him. "Unless you're going to the bathroom, let's keep moving." But he didn't budge; instead, he began sniffing the air as if someone was cooking sausages. "Sven, this is stupid. There is nothing cooking out right now. Why are you sniffing the air?" I told the dog again, more firmly than before.

That's when things started getting crazy. Almost a split second after I finished speaking, Sven lunged towards the ravine. However, I was strong enough to keep my balance and neutralize the lunge, but he was still straining hard and was pulling me towards the ravine. "Sven!" I shouted as was trying to keep him steady, "What gotten into…"

But then I lost my balance, and once I hit the ground, I let go of the leash as part of a jerk reaction. Sven didn't waste a second; before I knew what was going on, he was under the ravine fence and into the ravine. Though there were no large animals that would see Sven as food, I didn't want him roaming around the ravine at this time of the night, so I gave chase. Not surprisingly, when I got to the bottom of the ravine, there was seemingly no trace of him, so I began searching. But I didn't get very far until I heard a blood-curdling scream coming from my right. Doing my best to try and pinpoint where the scream came from, I began moving through the underbrush of the ravine, hoping that I wouldn't step on something. As I was doing so, I began to hear hysterical ravings coming from the distance; I had no clue what source they were coming from, but I was certain that they were human. I kept running for what must have seemed like an eternity, but I finally found Sven. He was apparently sniffing something, so I brought the lantern up to see what was going on. It was there that I found the source of the noise.

It was a teenage girl. She had to have been around 16 years old, and her hair was about chin length. I had no recollection of such a person living in South side of Whitesage, so she had to have been from the North side or that she was some sort of transient. "Oh thank god someone showed up!" she blubbered as I tried to get a good idea of the surroundings. "Get this wolf off of me!"

With that, I shouted, "Sven! Get off of her!" Reluctantly, he came to me, whining as if something was wrong, but I didn't see that there was anything wrong.

"I'm sorry that he caused you so much trouble, but he's not a wolf. He's an Elkhound." With that, I left back for home, but I didn't even get five steps before that girl yelled, "Wait! Please, come back!"

As reluctantly as Sven left the girl, I reluctantly returned to her. "What's the problem?" I asked her.

"I think that I'm stuck in something, but I don't know what." She said.

"Are you hurt?" When she shook her head no, I then said, "OK, let me take a look." And with that, I dropped down to one knee, bringing the lantern with me, to see what was going on. It came very apparent to me that she had stepped into some rocks that had pinned her left foot. Seeing this, I then said, "Let me see what I can do." It didn't take long to get her foot free.

"OK then. Let's get you home; I bet your parents are worried." I told her. But then she said: "I don't want to go back home!"

I kind of stared back at her, as it was easy to get back home wherever home was in Whitesage. "What do you mean you don't want to go back home?" I asked.

"I said it the way I meant it. I don't want to go back home. I couldn't if I wanted to!" she said, her voice shaking.

"Why?"

"I don't know where I am!"

I was a bit shocked; it was common for people from the nearby towns Codton and Gunnersville to come over here, but for someone to say that they didn't know where they were meant they had to have traveled a long distance with no sense of direction. After a pause, I then said, "Well, if you're not from here, where are you from?"

But she didn't say anything; instead, she began to shrink in stature, as if she was ashamed to be stuck in this situation. Not knowing what else to do, I said, "Come with me. Let's get you to my place so we can get things sorted out." I started walking off towards the nearest known exit, hoping that she would follow me. As I hoped, and as surprising as many people would find, she followed me, after a short delay.

It was about 8:30 PM when we got back to my place. In the light, I was able to see the girl more clearly, and I noticed a few things that I hadn't noticed before: first, she was a redhead. Second, she had brown eyes. Third, she had a noticeably athletic build. Fourth, she was wearing a blue jacket and beneath the jacket was a sea green shirt with a frog plastered on the front; she also had on blue denim pants and a pair of white sneakers. Finally, she was carrying over her right shoulder a very large duffel bag that was gray in color, and it had a frog keychain connected to the zipper. "You can sit down wherever you want. I need to get some stuff put away, and then I want some info." I told her as I unhooked Sven from his leash.

From there, I went downstairs to do what I said I would do: put stuff away, namely my weights back on the stands. I also went to grab some blankets, as I began to think that this girl, whoever she was, might be staying as a guest. All the while, I spent my time thinking about questions I wanted to ask this girl, mostly the usual stuff. The more info I could get out of her, I figured, the better I could help her out. With the blankets brought out, I grabbed a few sharpened pencils and a notepad so I could get some answers.

But when I got to the main room, I saw the girl crying softly. Obviously, it would be nearly impossible to get any coherent information out of her in this state. But, at the time anyway, I thought that she was here in Whitesage for another reason: she wanted to commit suicide.

The reason for my assumption was due to Whitesage history, though it didn't make it any more ludicrous: though Whitesage is one of the best-kept secrets in my part of the world, it also has garnished a rather bad reputation as a suicide spot for everyone ranging from distraught teenage runaways to addicts who have hit rock bottom. It was largely due to the fact that at the center of the ravine (and unfortunately, at its lowest point) was a large bridge that directly connected Whitesage to the roadway leading to Codton. Officially speaking, it was called the Hummingbird Bridge, but over the years there had been so many suicides taking place that it became known as Hurling and Hanging Bridge, as people would either hurl themselves off the bridge 10+ meters to their deaths or hang themselves from the handrails. I thought that this girl had come all the way here just to put herself out of her misery.

In nearly all cases, one would try to comfort the person in question so they didn't feel as bad about their situation as they thought. But instead, I sauntered to the garage to get some rope to make a noose.

My actions could best be explained by the philosophical reasoning of an associate, one Derek Alman. According to his beliefs, a person who was miserable were better off dead, because he thought overly sorrowful emotion (or any intense emotion, for that matter) would mess up society functioning properly, though he was very particular about sadness. Over time, the concept made perfect sense to me and I accepted it as fact. In doing so, I had done much to keep sadness at bay and had made my life far more organized than I had done before. To see someone so distraught was deeply troubling to me, and for my sake it was better for her to put an end to it as soon as possible.

After making sure the noose was structurally sound, I went back inside the house. The girl had not moved but Sven had rested his head onto the girl's left leg and the girl was scratching behind his ears; I found that odd because he didn't like strangers. Nevertheless, I dropped the noose onto the table and said, "OK, let's get you back to the ravine."

The girl, mortified by what I just said, just stared at me and said, "What are talking about?"

"I know why you're here. You want to go to the Hummingbird Bridge to end it all, and…"

The girl did not give me the chance to finish: "ARE YOU NUTS? DO YOU THINK I WOULD COME OFF TO RELIGION KNOWS WHERE JUST TO KILL MYSELF?"

"Well, yes; you see…"

"WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? I DON'T WANT TO HANG MYSELF WITH THIS THING YOU MADE! DON'T YOU HAVE ANY SENSE OF REALITY?" she shouted at me.

By this time I was starting to get very frustrated; after all, I was doing what I thought was right, and I did NOT like having being talked back to someone who I was trying to help. "Now listen here, young lady…" I said to her, but I didn't get to far when she interrupted with "MY NAME IS WILL!"

An awkward silence soon pervaded the room. I then said the first thing that came to my mind to that situation: "Will? You don't look like a boy!"

"IT'S SHORT FOR WILMA!"

I suddenly stopped for a moment. Wilma? I thought to myself. Where have I heard that name before? But my thoughts were quickly extinguished to the situation at hand, and I responded, "OK, WILMA. I'm trying to help you out here the best way I can. I only assumed you wanted to kill yourself…"

"I told you before, I do not want to kill myself." Wilma said, calming down a little. "Why would anyone believe that whoever shows up in a ravine would want to die?"

"As I was saying before you interrupted me, there is a bridge where every now and again people go to leave this realm. I naturally thought that you were one of them."

"That's disgusting. And I'm NOT one of them."

"That said, Wilma, if you're not from here, I'd like to know where you're from so I can get home."

"I'm not telling you."

"Why not?"

"I don't want to go back home."

"Wilma, I don't think that's very helpful in the long run."

"I don't care. And could you just call me Will?"

"I don't feel comfortable calling you Will. It makes me feel like I'm talking to the guy that works in a café downtown."

Wilma didn't respond. I didn't though if she was just getting my goat or was otherwise too miserable to respond. Knowing that she would not respond well if I tried to call the police department in my house, I then said, "If you'll excuse me, I have to go to my neighbor's house. My phone for whatever reason is out of order and I need to talk to a client tonight."

Once again, she didn't respond. I simply got my jacket on and walked to the door. "Whatever you do, don't leave the house." I told Wilma as I stepped outside.

Once outside, I walked across the street and towards the house of Orin and Sharon Walls, a couple who I considered my friends, and whom I had helped their offspring out a number of times, namely with schoolwork. Knocking on the door, I was answered by their 13-year old son, Robert. "Hi Robert. Is your Mom or Dad here? I need to use their phone." I told him.

"Wait here." Robert said. He then left and I heard loud footsteps, and then some muffled noises. About a minute later, Orin was at the door. "My son says you need to use our phone." He said, sounding rather annoyed.

"Yes. The phone at my place is out of order."

"Fine. But I don't know why you want to come over here. Why can't you just try talking to the people on your side of the street?"

I then stopped, and realized that Orin was right. "Oh yeah. Well, I'm sorry to disturb you. I better…"

"Since you're already here, you may as well use the phone." Orin grumbled. "There's no reason to disturb the rest of the neighborhood."

From there, I headed into the main hallway and picked up the phone book, looking for the number for the Whitesage Police Department. "By the way," Orin said to me while I was flipping through the pages. "Who are you calling?"

"The Whitesage Police Department." I answered. This not surprisingly shocked Orin, as it would shock anybody. "Why would you call the police department? I don't see anything wrong with your house." He said.

I replied, "It's a long story, but to keep it short, I came across a teenager in the ravine and she won't tell me where she's from, so I'm calling the police department to find out where she's from. Ah, here's the number."

From there I dialed the number, and as expected I got a quick response from one of the desk officers. When prompted, I said, "Well, first off, I am Arthur Addlestadt of 314 Crystal Street. I'd like to report that I found a transient from out of town who refuses to go back home."

"Can you please give a description of the transient?" the officer asked.

"Yes. It's a female, about 16 years old. Her name is Wilma, she's Caucasian, is average size in terms of height, has an athletic build, brown eyes, and chin length reddish hair."

"Is the person hurt in any way?"

"Not physically, but she seems to be emotionally despondent to my questions."

"Do you know where she's from?"

"I know for a fact that she's not from here, nor is she from Codton or Gunnersville, so I'm sure she must have come from outside this area."

"Is there anything else that was of note that could help us fill in her description?"

"Two things. First was the clothing she's wearing. This includes a sea green shirt with a frog on the front, a black jacket, blue denim pants, and white sneakers. Second, she was carrying along a large duffel bag that was gray in color and had a frog keychain attached to the zipper."

"OK Arthur, I will check the database and make calls within the province to see of any missing persons fitting your description. This may take some time, so we'll call you back as soon as possible."

"Thanks; I really appreciate the effort." With that, I hung up the phone and sat down. Not more than a minute passed before I was approached by Robert's twin sister, Renee. "What are you doing here Arthur?" she asked. "Shouldn't you be at home?"

"I should." I told her. "But I can't."

"Why not?"

"Because I have someone who refuses to go home, and I have been talking to the local police department to see where she's from."

Renee kind of stared at me, as if she found my story ridiculous; looking back at it, nearly everyone would think along the same lines. Then she said, "Well, if you want to call the police department, why are you here calling?"

"Well, Renee, I figure that in my guest's current state of being, that she would do anything to keep me from talking to authority figures like police officers, so I thought to avoid any more emotional trauma, I would call from here."

"Well could you please hurry up about it? I'm not in a big hurry to do this, but I have a friend who's been trying to organize…"

But then the phone rang. I got to the phone first. On the phone was a man that sounded somewhat different from the previous officer I talked to. "Hello. Is this one Arthur Addlestadt from Whitesage?" the man said.

"Yes, this is he." I answered.

"This is Thomas Lair of the Heatherfield Police Department. I got word from the Whitesage Police Department about a girl that matches the description of a recent runaway here."

"I see… Wait a minute, did you say you're from the HEATHERFIELD Police Department!"

"Yes sir. I was rather shocked when I got word about the description from such a faraway place myself." There was a short pause, and then the officer said, "But getting back to the subject, the description given to us by your police department matches one Wilma Vandom."

"OK. What should I do?"

"Well, is she hurt?"

"Physically speaking, not that I know of."

"I see. Now, it'll be very late to come and pick her up at Whitesage, knowing how far she is away. It might be best if you get her a place to sleep for the night and we can pick her up tomorrow."

"Eh, Officer Lair, I don't know if that's in the best interest for her."

"Well, that's easy for anyone to say, but the sooner that I can get her home, the better. And furthermore, these actions are standard routine at police departments everywhere."

"Well, let me explain. Though she doesn't appear hurt, she's in bad emotional straits, and has not responded to my questions. I don't think it would be in her best interests, her parents' best interests, your best interests, and/or even my best interests to just let her return home."

"And why is that?"

"Because she will likely try to run away again, kill those who she feels wronged, and/or commit suicide."

"So, are you some kind of therapist?"

"Not technically, Officer Lair, but I have dabbled in the science. Now, if I could, I'd like to ask some questions in regards to Wilma, if you know anything about her. Or if I'm allowed to."

"No, I'll allow it. To be honest, I don't know THAT much about her; all I do know is that she's a friend to my daughter."

"OK, there's something we can work with. Try talking to her and seeing what may have caused Wilma to run off like that."

"I'll see what I can do, but going back to the topic at hand, the sooner we can get her home, the better."

"Yes, I understand that, officer, but I really don't think that would be in everyone's best interest, and certainly not hers."

"So what would you suggest, sir?"

"As far as I'm concerned, she can stay here for the night. If you have any spare time tomorrow, I'll drive over to your police department and have a talk with you on what would be the best course of action. It might be a good idea if you ask her parents and/or guardians to also join us."

"I guess that could work; it's definitely unorthodox, but it's worth a try. I'll see if I can get a conference room set aside for the afternoon tomorrow and then I will call Wilma's mother to see if she can make it to the meeting. Now, if I need to phone you, what number should I dial?"

"Well, not this number; this one belongs to a neighbor. If you have a piece of paper and a writing utensil, I can provide it for you." From there I told him of my home phone number and asked for his, just in case I needed to talk to him. After recording his number, I also told him not to reveal his identity over the phone until he could confirm it was me, to avoid a potential emotional relapse. We then said our good-byes and I hung up. "OK, Renee, you can have the phone now. Just don't talk about my discussions over the phone, OK?" I said. She nodded yes, and I then made my way to the door, but Orin stopped me, saying "So, what's the scoop?"

"That girl that I found in the ravine… is from Heatherfield." I told him.

"What?" he exclaimed. When I nodded my head yes, he then said, "You have to be pulling my leg, Arthur! There's no way that someone of ANY age, let alone a teenager, could go all the way from Heatherfield to Whitesage in one day!"

"Well, I talked to an officer from the Heatherfield Police Department who said they have a match in the missing persons files, and I don't want to doubt a police officer. And besides, there's an extensive bus system in the province; maybe she was traveling about on the system and got lost."

"Well, that certainly possible, but I still find it hard to imagine how someone that age could go for such a distance in one day by themself. I mean, Heatherfield is about a two-hour drive from here."

"Yeah, I know." After a brief pause, I then said, "Listen. I'm going to Heatherfield to speak with the police officer in question and perhaps the girl's mother as well."

"So, why are you telling me this?"

"Because I don't want you, or anyone else in your family for that matter, to go spill the beans that I found a girl in the ravine and I then took her to my house. Even in a society like this, people will get suspicious about potential… perverse activity."

"Oh, I see. Well, I'll be sure to let everyone in the family know about the issue, and I promise that we will have our lips sealed."

"Thanks. Have a good night."

"You too." And with that, I left back for home.

When I got back into my house, Wilma was still sitting on the couch, but Sven was now laying his head on her lap, and in his jaws was the noose I had made; it was likely that he saw it as a chew toy of sorts. Wilma demeanor had improved a little, but I could clearly see in her eyes that she was still emotionally shaken. After staring at them, I finally broke the silence by saying, "Well, Wilma, where would you like to sleep for the night?"

She looked at me and asked, "What do you mean?"

"What I mean is that would you like to sleep here for the night, or do you want me to find a motel room for you?"

She became very quiet for a moment, as if she didn't know what to do. I couldn't blame her; after all, she was in a strange town that was very far away from home, and now she was in someone's house that she had never been in before. Neither option was very good, but I would've expected to say that she wanted to go to the motel. Instead, she said, "Eh, I don't know."

"Well, it is getting awfully late, and I have a business meeting out of town I have to go to, so I'd appreciate it if you could make up your mind about this, Wilma."

"Eh, I guess I better stay here. I don't want to spend money on me simply because I'm here."

"OK then, I'll get the guest room set up. The bathroom is over that way, if you need a place to clean up and change." I then motioned to Sven, saying, "Sven. It's time for bed."

Reluctantly, Sven got off of Wilma's lap and trotted over to his pillow where he layed back down, still clutching the noose in his jaws. Content that Sven was getting ready for bed, I then made my way to the study so I could set up the futon into its bed configuration. But as I began to get the bed made, I froze. Hmm. This Wilma girl seems rather familiar, I thought to myself. She almost halfway reminds me of… No! That's Impossible! Even if he had the desire to settle down, there's no way that he…

My thoughts were stopped when I heard a low knocking on the door, followed by a, "Eh, do you have my bed ready, Mister?"

"I'm just about finished, Wilma." I said. "And you can call me Arthur." I finally got the sheets fitted and the pillows put on the bed, and then I opened the door. There was Wilma, standing in front of the door. She was wearing a pair of rather plain pistachio green pajamas and holding her duffel bag in her hand. I then said to her, "The bed's done. Hopefully it will suit your needs for the time being." After a short silence, I then said, "Well, I guess I better get ready to hit the sack. Just let me know if there is anything you need resolved." I then walked off to the bathroom. From there, I cleaned my teeth and then trotted off to my bedroom where I changed into my pajamas and I turned in for the night. As far as I was concerned, it was a pretty normal night, though I thought I heard crying coming from the guest room. If that was true, my thoughts would've been accurate to the situation: Are you sure you don't want to kill yourself, Wilma? There's no reason for you to be this miserable, especially having me going through the trouble to provide for you in your time of need. But it wasn't long before I was so sound asleep that I wasn't thinking about it at all.