Chapter 13

Copyright© 2020 by Olga Chinka

As we enter our home we are greeted with the festivities of the holiday. The lights are on in every room and carols are being played on the radio. I can hear laughter coming from the dining room as the smell of dinner invites me in.

My mom comes around the corner with a smile on her face. “Oh girls! You made it just in time. Take off your shoes and come join us. How is Taylor doing?”

“Doctors say she was poisoned. They pumped her stomach.”

The expression on her face quickly turns to shock. “Poisoned! That’s horrible! Will she be okay? How are you feeling, not sick are you?” She sounds terrified as she scans my face for any sign of sickness.

“I feel fine mom. I obviously didn’t have whatever it was that made her sick. She was being checked into the hospital when we left.”

“Remind me to call her mom after dinner. Maybe we can visit her tonight or tomorrow morning?”

I lean into my mom as she wraps her arm around me and leads me into the dining room. I am grateful to be home, safe with my family.

We follow her to the dinner table, and I am surprised to see we have guests joining us. Sitting next to my father is Mr. Whitmore and his wife Amy. On the other side is Steve, looking nervous. He jumps up at the sight of Jane, “Your parents invited me to dinner” he explains before she can get a word out.

Jane shoots a dirty look towards my dad, who just shrugs his shoulders.

“Christmas eve is the time to be with our loved ones” my mom declares, “we are grateful to have you all join our family tonight.”

“Let’s dig in! Sweetheart you have outdone yourself.” my dad states as he reaches for the potatoes.

It is true, the table is covered with a wide spread of different foods. I load my plate with ham, potatoes, and salad. I can see from the corner of my eye that Jane has yet to fill her plate. She and Steve are whispering, and she does not look happy.

“Did the emergency room let you see Taylor?” my dad asks.

Before I can get a word out, I hear the clanging sound from Mr. Whitmore’s fork hitting the plate. “Taylor is in the ER?” he asks, chocking on his food.

“She got sick on the way home from church” my dad starts explaining “her parents took her to the emergency room.”

“She was poisoned dad!” I blurt out, angry that her condition was being downplayed.

“Poisoned you say?” Mr. Whitmore asks rubbing his chin. “Do they know how?”

“I don’t know. They pumped her stomach. She’s spending the night at the hospital.”

“But were the police alerted yet?”

Confused, I look at Mr. Whitmore. How in the world am I supposed to know if the police were called yet? I have been so worried about my best friend I didn’t even consider that this was a crime.

“We saw Mrs. Wheeler” Jane chimes in and the room goes quiet. All eyes are on her.

“Was she awake?” my mom asks softly.

“Not when we were there” Jane continues. “They had to sedate her to run tests. She was really panicking and trying to fight off the hospital staff apparently.”

“If she was awake, did she say anything about who hurt her?” Mrs. Whitmore asks.

“Not that we are aware of. I don’t think the police have had a chance to question her yet. How can you question someone who is hysterical?”

“They will soon enough” Mr. Whitmore replies. “Did you seen any officers watching over her?”

“No. It was only the nurses” I explain “they even let us in. All we had to say was that we are family.”

“So, you lied?” my dad asks, looking at me with one eyebrow raised.

“Sort of. She’s kind of like family at this point” I reason. “We really wanted to check on her!”

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