Beatrix is in the front seat of her mother's car, chewing gum and scrolling on Instagram posts.
She hesitates for a moment before sinking her phone into her pocket and leaning in, "Mum, why are we going to Grandma's house?"
Mrs Lemons sighs and glares at Beatrix in the side-view mirror. "I told you already Bee, I have a conference I can't cancel so you're staying over at Grandma's."
"But it's going to be boring!" she moans.
Mrs Lemons shrugs grimly. "You can play a board game with Grandma." she shrugs as she parks the car into Grandma's driveway.
Mrs Lemons presses the doorbell firmly. The doorknob twists and Grandma Lolla's face appears. "Martha, you're here!" she smiles brightly at Mrs Lemons. "Ah, Beatrix has come too hasn't she?" she smiles warmly at Beatrix who manages a small hurried smile back.
They enter the house, staring at the jumbled kitchen and the taped boxes lying on the floor. They had been there ever since Grandma moved in and stayed there ever since then. Chipped and cracked plaster make up the walls along with paint that looks like it was splashed and scrape marks.
Grandma Lolla beams excitedly. "I've got an old family recipe for making brownies," she says happily, clutching a cookbook and bestowing it in Beatrix's face, cheerfully.
Beatrix forces on a strained smile and settles on the couch, whipping up her phone again. "Maybe later, Grandma," she replies, grinning at a text message on her phone and replying to it at once, her agile fingers shifting up the keyboard on her phone.
"Maybe we can go check out photo albums? You know, the ones when you and Grandpa Larry married? I've never seen a photo of him before," Beatrix suggests again, looking up hopefully at the two grown-ups.
Mrs Lemons and Grandma Lolla exchange dark looks as she brings Mrs Lemons to the door. They whisper something and Grandma Lolla's smile is now forced and strained. "Well, how about I teach you how to knit?" she smiles extravagantly, picking up a pair of socks with enormously large holes in them.
Beatrix groans. "Uh, Grandma, why can't we see Grandpa Larry's photo albums? I've never got a picture of him before. And besides, I already know how to knit." she pushes eagerly.
Grandma Lolla swallows nervously. "Um,”
The phone in her hand quivers and she looks relieved as she quickly hurries to answer it, glad to get away from Beatrix. Grandma Lolla wipes her wet, damp hands on her apron and hastily makes her way to the front porch, answering the call and pressing the phone to her ears.
Beatrix rolls her eyes. She is getting suspicious. Quickly, she glances at Grandma, now engaged comfortably in the front porch, clutching her phone.
Beatrix tip-toes up the stairs and pushes Grandma Lolla's room door.
The room smells of heavily scented perfume and old roses. The curtains are drawn and the dressing table is crowded with talcum powders and shiny brooches. The second half of the room is covered with medals and awards. Ones that Beatrix suspected were awarded to her mother.
The floor is dark walnut and the soft rocking chair planted at the side of the room is a delightful beige colour. The wallpaper is studded with maroon and violet polka dots and there is a scented aroma coming from the direction of the scented candles fixed in the bathroom. There are silky gold-coated pillows on her bed and a couple of high cupboards on the left.
Grandma Lolla usually deposits her special things up in a high cupboard. Beatrix grabs the dressing table stool and reaches for the shiny brown cupboard standing proudly in the middle. She wrenches open a drawer.
There are a few old letters stamped easily and some deftly decorated cards stocked at the bottom that Beatrix had given to Grandma for Christmas.
After a few minutes of digging around in the cupboard, Beatrix comes across an olden photograph, blanketed in shiny dust and coveted in a golden frame.
He looks neat and was a thin, smooth, well-made man in his twenties. He is thick-lipped and his hair is drowned in some shiny gel. Grandpa Larry is grinning into the photograph, but there is something odd about his smile.
This must be taken before Grandpa Larry was married, Beatrix realizes thoughtfully.
But what she doesn't understand was why Grandma Lolla keeping his photograph a secret. There must be something, a reason why she acted hesitantly before changing the subject.
It was almost as if, as if, she is ashamed. Ashamed, of something Beatrix yearns to find out.
A faint burrow of footsteps pounds against the wall of Grandma Lolla's bedroom. Beatrix quickly tucks the photograph in her shirt and pulls it hastily over it, as it is tucking out of the pockets.
She slams the cupboards, returns the stool promptly and stands still, awkwardly. Grandma Lolla frowns and stares at Beatrix and at the cupboard.
She stutters, before tucking the phone into her pocket, looking miserable. "I know what you're looking for. And I want to give it to you as badly as you want it, Bee. It's just that...just that, I c-can't." she sobs.
Beatrix is startled. She hugs Grandma and ushers her awkwardly to a couch before bringing out the photograph of Grandpa Laurence.
Grandma Lolla gasps and stands promptly. She moves a pace back. "Get that man away from me," she demands
Beatrix, astonished, tucks the photograph away before Grandma Lolla hesitantly perches on the couch. "Something happened. Tell me, Grandma."
"I can't Beatrix, I can't. It's a family secret." she stammers.
"I'm part of the family aren't I?" Beatrix asks, surprised.
Grandma nods. "I know, but you don't understand. I meant to tell you when you were older." she weeps, burying her wrinkled face into her knobbly hands.
Beatrix sighs. "I'm fifteen, Grandma. You can tell me." she cries.
Grandma looks at the kitchen. "What about those brownies eh?"
Beatrix forces a smile. "You're changing the subject." she reminds her.
Grandma gives her a strained smile before closing the curtains and leaning over hesitantly.
"Can you keep a secret?"