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Chapter 2: Oscar

 

Mum and dad think they know all about Treasure but the only things they know are the silly ones. They know what she looks like. They know she only eats ice cream. They know she’s the reason I disappeared out of school and they got very, very scared and had to call the police.

 

What they don’t know is what actually happened that day, or why. It was my fault. I kept on telling Treasure how I couldn’t wait for the school holidays. I showed her how I’d already packed my Pokemon rucksack with everything I’d need on the ferry. I asked if she’d ever been on a ferry and she said no. A plane? No. ‘Have you even been to a foreign place?’ I said. ‘Well I don’t have to wait till the end of term to go on holiday,’ she said. ‘I don’t have to go to school if I don’t want to, and neither do you, not if you come with me.’ I didn’t show her any more of my rucksack after that, because she was jiggling her legs about the way she does when she’s about to tell a scary story, and I didn’t want that.

 

The next Monday, I saw her standing outside the school gates at break time. I wasn’t playing with anyone because I was sad. I was sad because after break I’d have maths group with Adam and Martin, who kick me and pull my ear lobes and call me names. Mrs Bernard only ever looks round when I yell at them to shut-up-and-leave-me-alone, so it’s always me who gets called naughty, not them.

 

Oscar!’ Treasure hissed through the half-open gate.

 

I knew that shouting in maths group was a little naughty but that not going at all was a very big one. Even though I hate getting told off, I hate maths group more, so I slipped out onto the road.

 

Treasure grabbed my hand and pulled me all the way down the hill to the big main road which mummy doesn’t let me cross unless I’m holding her hand. Treasure crossed it without waiting for the green man. I followed her into the corner shop. We stole some penny sweets, and although I knew this was another naughty thing, we’d done it so many times before, that I’d kind of forgotten.

 

We got on the bus. It was nice being on the bus without any grown-ups; people might have actually thought we were grown-ups. Treasure said that we were going on holiday to where her mum was. I told her that I was OK for a holiday because we were going to France soon; I wanted to get back to class for the afternoon, so I could finish my scrapbook about trains. She stared at her half-reflection in the bus window and said that her gran was getting iller and iller. If we didn’t go to get her mum now, there’d be no one to look after her and her brother. I didn’t think it would be very nice not to have anyone to look after you, so I said yes. I could always finish my train scrapbook next week.

 

When we got off the bus there was a big, big fence. She told me that on the other side there was a really nice hotel with a pool and those drinks with the little umbrellas in them. And ice cream. She said that if we walked round the fence, we’d get to the door. But we walked and we walked and all we got to was a very big gate. There was a sign that I couldn’t read because someone had graffitied a picture of a man doing a poo on top of it. I don’t know who did that or why but it made us laugh.

 

There was a graveyard across the road. Treasure said that actually her mum had agreed to meet her there. The graveyard had millions of graves in it and I didn’t want to go there. But I didn’t want to stay by the fence, either, so I followed. We walked between the graves until we got to these old mossy ones that looked like play houses. Treasure knelt down besides one and put her eye and then her ear up to a crack in its roof. She told me to shut up about her scrapbook. Then she told me that she could see a skeleton and that it was talking to her. It was telling her more stories about the dead people that lived in our house. I told her not to tell me about more of those stories because they were very, very scary. But she did anyway.

 

There are four dead people in our house. The ghosts have been forgotten by everyone and they are very angry – if Treasure didn’t tell me those stories, the ghosts would come out of our house and into hers and they would take her away in the night. That is what she said. She said that the scariest thing about the ghosts was that they looked just like people. If I ever saw someone in our house that I didn’t recognise, it wasn’t a burglar; it was a ghost. She’d already told me the story of the mummy ghost who smoked so much she floated up to the ceiling and got stuck there. She’d also told me about the daddy ghost and how he had come from a very faraway place and when he had died half of him went back to it, and the other half got stuck here – that’s why he was so angry. Now she was telling me about the baby ghost. The baby ghost was so sick it died. It died and the mummy and the daddy ghost wrapped it up and buried it in the wall of our house. Although it was dead, it was still sick. It will go on being sick and stuck in the wall forever.

 

When she had finished she told me to look down at the skeletons myself. I didn’t want to but she grabbed the back of my head and pushed it down to the hole. She asked if I could see the bones. I said yes but that was only to get her hand off my head; all I saw was the blackness that was going up my nose. We walked around the graveyard a bit more. Treasure looked sad. When I noticed how small some of the graves were, I felt sad, too. She didn’t have any money and neither did I, so we had to walk all the way back.

 

Treasure wouldn’t walk back to school with me, even though it’s the quickest way back to the tower where she lives. She likes to do naughty things and although she acts like she doesn’t know they’re naughty, sometimes I think that actually, she does.

 

There were three policemen pacing up and down my school hall. I thought that I was in big, big trouble. I thought that maybe they knew about all the penny sweets we’d stolen. And that time I swore out of the back window of our car, on the way to see grandma in Cornwall. Instead, they gave me a lollipop and drove me home. They even put on the nee-nor when I asked.

 

Mummy and daddy were so, so happy to see me. I didn’t want to tell them about Treasure because I knew they didn’t like her much. This made dad angry at me which made mum angry at him, which made me tell them a bit of what happened because I don’t like it when they’re angry. They didn’t say much but I knew that I wasn’t going to be allowed to be Treasure’s friend anymore. I knew it even more when mummy made me go to that drama club on Mondays and Wednesdays and Orchestra on Tuesdays, even though I hate saying things in front of people and I don’t like playing the flute because it makes my lips hurt.

 

When the holidays came, I was kind of glad that I wasn’t friends with Treasure anymore, because she would’ve stayed at my house too long and been too bossy and told me too many scary stories. I even forgot about the ones she had told me.

 

After a while, I got bored with mummy and daddy. They’re too sad and quiet and grown-up for playing. I began to feel the bad feeling – the ghosty feeling – around the house again.

 

Mum and dad seemed happier when we went to France. I was too, but it wasn’t like I’d imagined. I’d packed my rucksack a gazillion times by then, but I didn’t have quite the right things.

 

I made lots of friends in the campsite. Mummy and daddy liked them all because not one of them was naughty. But I would’ve given up my Gameboy and my lilo and my rubber ring and my Pokemon colouring book, to turn them into Treasure. No one would have lilo races with me because the sign by the pool said you couldn’t; no one wanted to swim in the sea because the mummies and daddies said it was dangerous. No one wanted to sneak into any of the caravans because strangers equalled danger. Treasure would’ve done all that. She would’ve thought up even naughtier things, ones that were so, so fun, I couldn’t think them up myself. She’d have liked the campsite ice creams, and the bubble pool. She’d have made pretty shapes in the sand on the beach. But she was stuck in that grey tower, and when I got home, she’d still be there, and I’d still be with mum and dad. This made me sad because you can’t find interesting things without being naughty, but mum and dad aren’t naughty people, so I don’t really know how to do it by myself.

 

When I got home, I snuck into the loft room, because you can see Treasure’s tower from there. I got out the heavy binoculars dad uses for bird watching. I saw pigeons, sea gulls, and a woman throwing a cigarette off of the balcony of one of the flats in the tower. I couldn’t see the woman clearly but I could see the orange cigarette fire falling and falling until it hit the ground. I saw other things too, only I can’t remember what they were, because not one of them was Treasure. I’ll keep looking though, I will. 


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