Updated: Aug 31, 2019
Excerpts from the Journal of Marty Olsen
"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."
~ Steve Prefontaine
Rosie had the gift of vision. She wasn't guided by the stars that had aligned on the day that you were born. Nor was she guided by the lines in the palm of your hand. There was something else at work. It was something that I couldn't quite explain. She could look into your eyes and straight on through to your soul. She offered unique insight into missing children cases. She saw beyond the mist of darkness and the confusion of lost souls. In the deepest crevice of the darkest heart lives a small seed of hope. That seed is crying out for truth & light. She knew how to reach down and guide it up to the surface where it can discover the light and begin to flourish on its own.
I was boarding a plane en route to my two week vacation. I would stay with my relatives in Hawai'i. I haven't been there since I was a kid. I was about to turn off my cell phone when it buzzed in my palm.
"Rosie is missing,” my mother sobbed.
I was in shock. This wasn't possible.
"I just spoke with her on the phone yesterday."
When I last heard her voice, it ached with grief over the unsolved case that she had been working on: a three-year-old girl, who went missing a few days ago.
I missed my baby sister already. I didn’t always appreciate my siblings—we fought constantly. But over the years, my family and I stayed in touch. My older sister Lisa became a Human Rights lawyer and my little sister Rosie—she became what she was truly destined to be: a finder of lost souls. She had just begun her career as an elementary teacher, but remained part-time with the local police department. She helped them solve missing person cases over the years.
"I'm on a plane headed for Hawai'i. What do you want me to do?"
"You can't just leave now!" mother's sharp whisper pierced my eardrum and transported me back to the past when Rosie went missing for two days. My mother was so frantic. After Rosie's safe return she took her aside and lectured her very sternly.
"Don't you ever go off again!"
The memory cross-faded with reality, to what I first thought was a young version of Rosie walking toward me.
"You'll find her."
"Rosie," she said.
"What? Who are you? Where will I find her?"
"The journal. Everything is in your journal."
Then she turned and went back to sit with her parents.
I gathered my things and got off the plane. I’m gonna need a train for the rest of this trip back in time.
Thoughts of regret arose from not keeping in touch with the friends I left behind. The attempt was there, but the attempt was weak. They seemed angry when I accepted the position as a coach for Intrepid High, many miles away. I dusted off the guilt as I stepped off the train and back onto the streets of my hometown.
My parents wouldn’t be home until later that night, but they knew I was on my way. And I still had my key. The familiar sights of town and the warm welcome of home brought back a great deal of memories, but none so much as the locked box in the old tree house. It was fashioned as a pirate’s treasure chest that held my boyhood dreams and memories. I climbed the wooden steps to the small house atop the thickest branches of the towering maple tree in front of our house. My dad and I built it together. It was old but sturdy, so I wasn’t worried about falling through the floor. My dad’s father had taught him carpentry when he was young. And Grandpa was taught by his own dad in a time were things were built strong; built to last.
I dusted the webs off the chest and unlocked the memories inside. There was a heap of old concert and movie ticket stubs, track ribbons, medals and photos. On the bottom of it all, was a long-forgotten journal…
MARTY OLSEN’S JOURNAL – KEEP OUT!
WHAM! Right out of nowhere—like a fast-ball that you caught with your face instead of your hand, along came a hurricane that destroyed everything in its path. My little sister, the great big pain. She was born one month prematurely, in the thick of Hurricane Iniki, during our family vacation in Hawai’i. Having Big Mouth Lisa for an older sister was not what I would call "the calm before the storm." In less than one hour, my fate was sealed. I became the middle child in the Olsen trio of trouble.
Of course, mom and dad warned us early on that she was expecting another baby. But she didn’t fully explain about all the changes this little bundle of joy would bring into our lives. Although it definitely made me quicker on my feet, nothing prepared me for that day and the days that would follow.
That was almost three years ago. They named that little hurricane, Rosie.
EXCERPT from Chapter 9
A puppy! I scooped him up into my arms. It was a Golden Retriever. The all-time best present—the family dog.
"Well, what are we going to call him?" inquired dad. That started a five-minute debate.
"Why don't we put it to a vote?" dad suggested.
“Moppy?” said Rosie.
“You already have Moppy the toy dog,” I said.
“Pain in the butt?” suggested Lisa. “Oh, right—that would be you two!” She meant my little sister and I.
"Arizona!" I said.
Last year we stayed with my cousin Tory in her parent's friend's home in Arizona. It was awesome! We went to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, and we explored the Grand Canyon by airplane, helicopter and boat! I hope to go back there some day.
"Arizona! Any objections?" said dad. Everyone was quiet. “Then Arizona it is!”
"Well, maybe Arizona would like to open a gift!" said dad.
Our present had a present. Cool! It was a giant toy basket, full of chew toys, food and water dishes, a collar, leash and soft toys with bells. The dog just got here and he's already spoiled!
"That basket is so huge and he's so small," said Lisa as she picked him up.
"Oh don't worry, he'll get much bigger." I showed her one of the library books that I borrowed a few months ago. Her eyes grew big with fear.
I hated to admit it, but Lisa was right. He ripped up all of Lisa's nylons, just like she said he would. For the next few weeks, Arizona chewed on the socks that I left on the floor. When I was wearing them, he nipped at my toes! She laughed as I shooed him away.
"So what?" I said. "Whose feet don't need a little 'air conditioning'?"
"Give it up, Marty, I noticed that you hid your new runners from him." What can I say; I'm not as dumb as she thinks I look.
I didn't complain out loud though. I didn't want to give her the satisfaction of being right. He definitely had a taste for cotton. I donated two of my socks to the cause. Mom sewed a blue triangle on each of the socks so that he would recognize them as his chew socks. We put them inside his toy basket. A day later, I noticed that one of the socks was missing. I just hoped that he didn't eat it!
Everyone seemed too busy to train our new puppy. The only thing we managed to do was to "toilet-train" him with newspapers, in case he had any accidental emergencies at night.
Rosie was scribbling in one of her colouring books while nibbling on what looked like a very large chocolate bar. Arizona came over, sniffed it and took a large chomp. Most of it fell on the floor, but he ate whatever I wasn't quick enough to pick up.
"ZONA, GIVE IT BACK!" screamed Rosie.
"Rosie! Don't feed him chocolate. It's not good for dogs," I said.
"I didn't. He just grabbed it."
That bar didn't look familiar. I picked up the wrapper that Rosie had tossed aside. Great. Not only was that a chocolate bar—it was a chocolate laxative!
"God! Where did you get that?"
I was fuming and I let her know.
"Mommy, Marty said a swear!" yelled Rosie at the top of her lungs at the bottom of the stairs.
"And just how do you know what 'a swear' is?"
"Well, I hate to tell you this, but your chocolate is gone forever."
At least we won't have to worry about that missing sock. If he did eat it, he’d be rid of it soon enough. But, she didn't seem to understand.
"It's on a one-way mission." I pointed towards his rear-end. Usually mom would have been here by now to find out what all the ruckus was about, but she was busy dealing with the mess that Arizona had left in her room before he pigged on chocolate laxative out with Rosie. He got into a box of facial tissues, ate some and threw up on her carpet. We had to be careful not to leave anything lying around.
One day, Rosie's friend, Jenny came over with a brand new doll she'd received for her birthday. It was one of those crazy talking dolls—and get this—her doll was wearing these socks that had little blue triangles all over them! Arizona recognized his favourite pattern and charged! We managed to pry the doll from Arizona, but man, those socks were history.
Mom had had enough. She put him outside for a while. Apparently, someone left the backyard gate open, because when we called him in for dinner, he was gone.
I once read about how smart dogs are. Some have been known to find their way back home when stranded miles away from their owners. But Arizona's only a pup. What if he was too young to remember where he lived?
At home I moped around but nobody seemed to care. One of the things that I liked about Arizona was that if you were sad, he'd sense it and try to cheer you up by getting you to pet him or giving your face a good wash, whether you wanted it or not...
That night, our little search party scoured the whole neighbourhood. We checked around his favourite trees and fire hydrants. We even visited the yard of that cat he loved to hate. Not a trace. I moped around the track for a bit. It was funny, but that's exactly where I found him. He started wagging his tail as soon as he saw me.
I called the rest of my family over to tell everyone the good news. We hung out at the park for a while. Arizona relieved himself all over the snow-covered flowerbed. Those poor geraniums don't stand a chance with the Olsens around!
“Eww!” said Rosie as she watched Arizona.
"Rosie, this is why you DON'T EAT the yellow snow, no matter how thirsty you are!" I try my best to pass on bits of wisdom to my younger sister. She usually listens - for the most part, anyway.
I took Arizona for a run around the track. He's not that fast yet, but I'm working on it.
Teens & up.
Windsong is a novel narrated by Marty Olsen. It weaves tragedy, humour and mystery. He must read his childhood journal in order to locate his younger sister.
This story was inspired by many sources, including: Malcolm In The Middle, Charlie St. Cloud, Holes, My Dog Skip and Judy Blume.
Hannah Ellie is one of Susan Leitch's writer pseudonyms.
© Copyright 2002, 2014, 2019, Susan Leitch (Hannah Ellie). All rights reserved.
Join me, in November, on the National Novel Writing Month site, as I rewrite Marty Olsen, There's Trouble Afoot! and Windsong and weave them into one novel: