Me and the Duchess were yelling, and the Dead Eye ghosts were coming closer, and Jose was saying “Who are you talking to?” and Granpy was walking around looking upset and then Granmy’s voice said Enough.
Said is probably the wrong word. She yelled it. And Granmy never, ever yells. Even more than I never scream, Granmy never yells. But she was yelling now. When Granmy said Enough, everything stopped. The Duchess stopped screaming. I stopped screaming. The Dead Eye ghosts stopped walking. Jose stopped talking. Granpy stopped moving. Even Simon, who was rubbing on Jose, stopped moving and looked at Granmy with great big eyes. Everyone was looking at Granmy, and Granmy was looking very angry.
She said, “I’ve heard enough from the both of you. There will be no more screaming in this house, and you two are going to be friends.”
Even Jose and Granpy were looking at Granmy, like they were listening. Like they could see her. When Granmy has something important to say, everybody listens.
The Duchess didn’t know that, though, so she was the first one to talk. She said, “But it’s not Fair. I have to scream. It’s the only way anyone ever listens.” Then she made a pouty face.
But I Wasn’t Buying it, which means I didn’t believe her At All. I’d already seen her pretend to be sad or normal and then turn into a monster. So I said, “No, Granmy, don’t listen to her! She’s an evil monster! Make her go away!”
I don’t know how to explain the way Granmy looked at me then. It made me feel like I was just a little kid again, like I had done something really bad, maybe even on purpose, and I was in Big Trouble. I felt ashamed of myself, but I didn’t really know why.
The Good News is, Granmy told me why. She said, “Now you Listen Here, Princess. There isn’t any such thing as monsters. How many times have I told you that?” I tried to say But, but Granmy wasn’t finished talking. She said, “This young lady right here might have done some very naughty things, but that doesn’t make her a monster. If you ask me, all this girl needs is a little attention, a little Tee El See. Maybe if you’d taken a few minutes to get to know her, you would have realized that.”
I looked at the Duchess, and I was surprised, because she didn’t look angry or crazy. Her face was red and she was looking at the floor with Sad eyes. She looked embarrassed.
Granmy took her arm and said to her, “I think you owe my granddaughter an apology, young lady, for all the trouble you’ve caused her.” And the Duchess looked right at me and said she was sorry, and she looked like if she hadn’t been a ghost and if she could have cried, there would have been tears in her eyes, and maybe I hadn’t believed her before, but when Granmy says something is true, you can be sure that it is, so I said It’s Okay, which is what you say when you forgive someone.
Now Granmy looked around at the Dead Eye ghosts, who were just standing there now. She told them to Find Someone Else To Bother, and they just went away, Just Like That.
I still felt bad inside, because Granmy was helping the Duchess and not me. So I got Brave, and I mean really Brave, which is what you have to be if you want to Stand Up To Granmy, and I told her what I was feeling. I told her I was sad because the Duchess was stealing her from me, and I was scared because I still didn’t know what was wrong with Granpy and me and Jose, and I was angry because no one was helping me, even though I never did any of the nasty things the Duchess had done. By the time I finished talking, I was crying again, and I couldn’t stop. So I guess I still had some tears inside After All.
But Granmy smiled at me and she patted my head and she said Don’t You Worry, Princess. Then she turned and looked at Jose, who was still sitting on the couch with Simon, and she said, “You, young man, how can you let your friend get so upset and not try to help her? Don’t you know friends are meant to look out for one another?” Then she hissed at Simon, who jumped off his lap and ran and hid underneath the couch. She bent down to look at him and said I’ll Deal With You Later, then stood back up and put her hands on her hips and looked at Jose and said, “Well?”
Jose jumped right up off the couch with scared eyes and said I’m Sorry, Ma’am, and then he looked at me and said I’m Sorry and asked me if I wanted a hug, and I shook my head No because the last thing I wanted right then was touching. So he said Rain Check, which means we’ll do it later instead, and I said Okay.
Granmy nodded her head exactly once and said Hm, then she turned to look at Granpy with Serious eyes and she crossed her arms, which was a Bad Sign. Granpy stood right up, and took his glasses off, and wiped them on his shirt, and put them back on. His hands were shaking and he was looking back and forth with his eyes, which meant he was probably nervous, which made sense, because that’s how it feels when Granmy looks at you with Serious eyes and crosses her arms.
She said, “And You. I left you In Charge of our Princess, and this is how you take care of her?” She stopped talking for a few seconds so Granpy could think about What He’d Done. Then she uncrossed her arms so she could could the things he’d done wrong on her fingers, and she said, “You made a mess of her room.” That was one finger. “You broke a deal with her and invited someone over without telling her first.” That was another finger. “You let that awful teacher Brainwash you into thinking you were doing something wrong by paying attention to her.” Another finger. “And worst of all, you ignored all her cries for help when she needed you most.” She crossed her arms again and stared at Granpy with big, angry eyes, waiting for him to Explain Himself.
Granpy tried to speak. He said some words, like But, and You See, and Darling, and The Thing Is, but he couldn’t think of any better words to say, so he just stopped talking and looked at the floor and said, “I’m sorry, dear.” And Granmy nodded her head exactly once again and said Hm.
Then she said, “If you don’t want your granddaughter to turn out like this poor young lady,” and she put her arm around the Duchess, who was still looking embarrassed, “then maybe you had better pay a little more attention to her, and a little less attention to Uppity young teachers who don’t have any kids of their own.” Then she looked at Granpy with her I’m Waiting eyes.
Granpy nodded his head lots of times, then he walked over to me and he looked me Right In The Eye, which is what you do when you want to show someone you are paying attention, and he said, “I’m sorry, Princess. I don’t know what got into me.” Then he asked if he could give me a kiss, and I said Okay, and then he did. He was looking at me and smiling and looking Proud when Jose started talking.
He said, “Wait just a minute.” Then he shook his head back and forth really fast, and blinked a few times, then he pointed at Granmy and the Duchess. Then he said, “Who are they, exactly? And how did they get here?” Then he looked at me and Granpy and he said, “And how come he can see you now? Can he see me, too?” Then he shook his head back and forth again and said, “What the hell just happened?” And then Granmy told him to Watch His Language.
Then the same thing happened to Granpy. He realized what was happening and who he was talking to, and his mouth opened but he didn’t say anything, and then he started to cry. He said Darling and Is It Really You, and then he tried to hug Granmy, but of course he went right through her.
Granmy laughed and turned around to look at Granpy and smiled and said, “Don’t be foolish, hon.” Then she winked at him and took her arm off from around the Duchess’ shoulder and grabbed her hand and smiled at her, too. Then she told the Duchess that she would love to come visit her and hear more stories, and the Duchess had a Great Big smile on her face and said she’d love that. And then my stomach went down into my feet again because I realized Granmy was going to leave.
I told her to stop, but then I couldn’t say anything else because I was crying. It’s very hard for me to talk when I’m crying.
Granmy let go of the Duchess’ hand and walked over to me and said, “Now, Princess, don’t be selfish. You have your grandfather to take care of you, but this poor girl doesn’t have anyone. And look what that did to her. Do you really think that anyone deserves to be left all alone?” And that was an easy question, so I said Yes. The old man and the old woman deserved to be left all alone. But Granmy made an unhappy face at me and said that wasn’t fair At All. She said that I didn’t know them, or their lives, or what happened to make them the way they were. Maybe someone was really mean to them first. Maybe their parents never paid attention to them and they didn’t realize that was wrong, or that there was another way to treat people. Maybe if someone was nice to them, they would learn to be nice to other people.
And, she said, maybe they wouldn’t. But it’s Not Up To Me To Judge People. And then she asked me if I understood.
That’s the great thing about Granmy and Granpy. They always make sure I understand. They were the ones who taught me that when people get angry at each other, it’s usually because of misunderstandings. Granmy said that me and the Duchess had had a big misunderstanding, and now it was time to Let It Go.
So me and Granmy and Granpy made a deal that night. The deal was that Granmy would stay with the Duchess in the Haunted House for a while, so that she wouldn’t be alone, and so Granmy could teach her how to be polite. I was allowed to visit them as long as I told Granpy where I was going first. Granpy could visit them, too, if he wanted. But Granmy made us both promise some things. I had to promise that I would keep my room clean. Granpy had to promise that he would always keep his deals with me and never ever again invite someone over without telling me first.
The whole time, Jose was standing off to the side, just watching and not talking, and looking embarrassed. Granmy said he was probably feeling Left Out, so she made him promise something, too. He had to promise that he would stay my friend and always Look Out For me and never let anyone bully me at school. She said he could do a good job of that, because he was a Strong and Intelligent Young Man. That made him smile, so he promised. Then we all said goodbye, and Granmy and the Duchess went out right through the wall. I think they did it just to scare Granpy and Jose. Me and Simon thought it was very funny.