Sunday, August 31, 2014

READ Margot's Sample Chapters


Margot Finke's 


ALL packed into the pages of Margot's books.


"Skype Makes it Happen"



Samples (first)


Chapter Samples


Books Available
(soft cover--kindle)



ORDER Direct from Margot

For a discount,
an autograph,
and only 2.50 Postage per book.

*Add 50cents postage for each extra book.


Picture Book Samples

OSCAR is Different
About being different, and how to fit in and make friends.

 (Kindle: 3.50    Soft cover: 10.95)

Oscar the Tasmanian Devil threw back
                          his head and  howled at the moon.                                                                 
Moon looked down, a fat butter-yellow
smile on his face.

.      “You’re no help,” grumbled Oscar. He ate a
mulberry from an overhanging branch.

.                   “Why are all the bush critters frightened of me?  . .   
I’m not mean to them. I’d like to be mates.”

Moon did not answer.

                      Oscar sighed. In real life good mates did not      ……
       grow on bushes
like mulberries.

(Aussie word and animal  glossary at the back)

Aussie Word and animal glossary + more fun
information is included


Dreamtime Man
EDUCATIONAL-- for Upper Grade School
Soft Cover: 9.99     Kindle:  3.99

A rhyming picture book for all ages.
 TORN from the pages of Aussie Aboriginal History.
 How they survived the arrival of the white man.
NOTE: Aussie Word and animal glossary + more fun
information is included


Kobi Borrows a Pouch

A theme of Staying Safe.
Kobi is a young Kola that needs more "bush smarts."

Every morning, Kobi Koala and his mom awoke to the rough whoo-hoo-ha-ha laugh of the Kookaburra. Kobi was growing fast, and riding on his mom’s back was not the fun it used to be.

“When will I be old enough to live in my own gum tree?” he asked.  

“Not until you’ve learned a lot more bush-smarts,” said his Mom.

Kobi was impatient, so later, when his mom took a nap, he scrambled down to the ground. The splash-splash-gurgle-gurgle of the billabong sang through the bush. Kobi rather fancied living in a gum tree beside the billabong water. 

NOTE: Aussie Word and animal glossary + more fun
information is included

NOW. . .

and read from her other
Picture Books -
listed below.

 **Kangaroo Clues  **Never Say BOO to a Frilly

**Prairie Dog Play Days  **Mama Grizzly Bear

**Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind

**Horatio Humble Beats the Big D (dyslexia).

**Rattlesnake Jam

Fun Facts about US and Aussie Animals--
Dyslexia Help--and Big Changes.


NOW. . .

Sample Chapters


Daisy and Bartholomew Q
A FUN, Tween, Fantasy Adventure

.99 cents 

(Coming soon in soft cover)

Procrastination is a curse,

yet green worms that surprise are WORSE!

"Daaaaisy—have you started that essay yet?"

Her mother's voice blasted through the bedroom door like a fog-horn, jerking Daisy away from her pop music.

"Don't worry, Mom, I'm on it," Daisy yelled back. Then muttered, "Yeah, when I feel like it" Procrastination was one big sounding word she didn't need her thesaurus to understand. Mom was always throwing it at her.

The blank computer screen gave off a tut-tut stare, and her printer sighed, waiting to be fed. Her essay was due tomorrow. But she knew this project was doomed from the moment her teacher said they had to use a thesaurus. Petite and fair, Daisy’s smile often chased away her friend’s most determined frowns and glum moods. Yet today, her warm hazel eyes were lackluster, as she hunted for a plausible excuse not to write the essay.

    Daisy was an excellent student—until a thesaurus became involved. Then, her mind froze and her eyes glazed over. The words in the thesaurus always clumped together into one huge muddle. High on its bookshelf, the thesaurus smirked.

"You’re no help at all." She snatched it off the shelf

and flung it against the wall. “It’ll be your fault if I get an ‘F’ for this essay!"

    The thesaurus bounced off the wall and thudded onto the floor. Daisy groaned. She was out of time and out of excuses. Tears of frustration welled in her eyes. This essay will be a disaster, so what's the use of trying? 

    Daisy flopped onto the bed and adjusted her ear buds. With the volume turned up high on the iPad, all thoughts of the essay she should be writing were a wipeout.      

“Turn that rubbish off before it rots your brain!"

Daisy gave a guilty twitch. She sat up, removed the ear buds, and looked around her bedroom. The only movement came from the curtains flapping in the open window.

"Whew! Thought it was Mom come to bug me about the essay,” she muttered. “Oh, great—now I’m hearing voices!” She glanced at the computer. If the teacher hadn't insisted on the class using the thesaurus to find new words, the stupid essay would be finished already. Thinking about the thesaurus made her stomach hurt.

“Over here, young lady," a sharp voice demanded. "Wake up, now! If you plan to finish that essay you
had better make a start.”

Daisy turned to see who had spoken. OMG!  A magnificent bright green worm sat coiled on the carpet beside her thesaurus. About ten inches high, it wore a smart black leather cap snug on its head. A long red striped scarf flowed down from around its neck. She saw no legs. Dainty hands held onto the knob of a highly polished wooden walking stick.

Round, pinkish, and plump, the worm-like creature's face looked an exact image of the dog next door—right down to the bulging eyes, and floppy jowls. The ‘whatever it was’ smiled and waved its walking stick in the air.

Daisy eased down her hand and pulled the comforter up to her armpits. Am I dreaming? “What are you doing in my room?" Goosebumps danced up and down her arms. “What are you?” Good manners couldn't hurt, so she added, "Please."

    “Not a ‘what,’ young lady, a ‘whom.’ ” The creature gave her thesaurus a sharp tap with its walking stick. "Bartholomew Q. Bookworm is my name. I come from a fine family of bookworms. We are rare fellows—dedicated to preserving, not eating books from all ages.” These words were followed by a formal bow.

Wow! This is weird. Maybe I AM watching too many ‘Star Trek’ reruns, like Mom said. She tugged the comforter higher up under her chin. “I need to know where you came from and what you want," demanded Daisy.

“Feisty. I like that in a girl. But you must curb the

habit of asking so many questions all the time." He shook his head, his jowls flopping from side to side. "I can tell I will have my work cut out for me with you, young lady.”

Holy Hornswagglers He’s freaking me out. This gets weirder and weirder!

Bartholomew Q. settled his cap more securely. Daisy noticed his bright yellow eyes. They sparkled like two golden jewels—topazes.

    “Now Daisy, to answer your questions:  The Lord High Bookworm can smell procrastination from a world away. He sent me
to help you. You need splendid words for your essay, and I am the bookworm to help you find them."

Daisy threw aside the comforter and jumped off the bed. "You've been talking to my mother, haven't you? Mom's bugged me all week about that essay. I'm sick of hearing how a twelve year old shouldn't allow the thesaurus to confuse her." She stamped her foot.

The green bookworm shook his head several times. "No, no, Daisy, I have not had the pleasure of meeting your mother."

Daisy tossed her pale hair and swept on, mad enough to spit. "No one understands. The minute I look inside the thesaurus all those words squeeze together. They melt into one big, fat, gunky mess.”

Her hazel eyes flashed resentment. “Just thinking about how to choose adjectives, verbs, and nouns from that mess of words knots my stomach. And I haven’t a clue what those abbreviations beside each word mean."

The Bookworm nodded. "Ah-hah, just as I thought, you have a bad case of ‘Thesaurus-itis.’ The Lord High was right to send for my help."

"Who is this Lord High and how did he know I needed help?" Daisy stepped closer and peered at him, "You sure you're not from Disneyland?"

"Disneyland? Disneyland? That does not ring a bell." Bartholomew Q. wiggled and pointed the tip of his walking stick at her. "You not only ask too many questions, young lady, you ask unanswerable ones! In the name of Baby Bookworms, I have no clue how The Lord High Bookworm discovered your problem." He shrugged his green shoulders. "He does not confide in me."
    "Well, I've never heard of The Lord High Bookworm." Hands on hips, she faced the Green Worm. "Seems to me you don't know anything. You don't have any answers to my questions." Daisy smirked. She had him there.

"You, Daisy Fowler, are not asking the right questions."

"Says you!" She shook her fist at him. "So, what ARE the right questions?"

 NOTE: The highlighted RED words pop into Daisy's head when she meets the Cousin Adjective Tree, the Oogledork, and the Dynoroar, etc. Fun, as well as educational.



Multicultural Outback Adventure--Down Under.
Sibling rivalry, lies, survival, a crazed Medicine Man,
and Dreamtime Spirits
                  CHAPTER ONE          
     A Lit Fuse

 Josh Howard stared out the kitchen window at the distant
red mountains. Simmering smells from the hot baked earth,
eucalyptus, and wattle trees, drifted through the kitchen window.
His parent’s property, Coorparoo Cattle Station, was a part of  the
Australian outback territory. The wild emptiness and aboriginal
history surrounding the mountains fascinated Josh. Gotta be secrets
out there just waiting for me to discover.

 If his brother weren’t such a jerk he’d be out there now,
exploring. He turned away from the window. “Look Tom, I just
want to go out a little way and see things for myself, alright?
What’s wrong with that?” Tension crackled between them. “Jeez!
Ever since Mum and Dad went off  to Brisbane you act like you’re
the boss.”

Tom’s lips pressed into a thin line. “Quit naggin’, kid.” The
next words spat from his mouth, slow and clear. “I AM the boss
for now. Dad put me in charge.”

 Taking two slices of  toast from the toaster, Tom gave an
exaggerated sigh. “You’re clueless about the outback. It’s not
some kiddie park. Blokes die out there.” He slapped the toast onto
his plate, buttering it while he spoke. “Only an idiot goes out there
without the right gear lined up—water, food, guides. So shut up
about it unless you want a good thump.” He frowned. “Go pick
your nose or something.”

 Josh sat at the table, sturdy body tense, his brown hair
flopping onto his forehead. “Yes sir, master!” He made a rude
noise, his eyes daring Tom to hit him. “You’re worse than Mum.
I’ve heard the outback stories. B-I-G deal! I’m no dumbcluck.”

 “Yeah? Could have fooled me,” sneered Tom.
“What’s eating you anyway? These days you’re meaner than
a croc.” Josh flicked a spoonful of  dry cereal at his brother before
sloshing milk into the bowl. “You used to stick up for me. Now
you rat me out every chance you get.”

 Tom shrugged. “Sneaky beggar! You told Dad I wasn’t up
to mustering the cattle. Always on-side with Mum and Dad, that’s

  “Yeah, well you’re spoiled rotten Joshua Howard. Just stay
outa my face.” Tom grabbed the jug and poured milk into a big
glass. “Remember what dad said—stay inside the home property.
It should be big enough for even a whiny kid like you.” Grabbing
his toast and milk glass, Tom slammed out of  the kitchen. Milk
slopped onto the floor.

 “Maggot,” muttered Josh. “Just my luck—other kids have
older brothers they actually like! Me, I’m stuck with a parent suckup.”
your nose or something.”

 Josh sat at the table, sturdy body tense, his brown hair
flopping onto his forehead. “Yes sir, master!” He made a rude
noise, his eyes daring Tom to hit him. “You’re worse than Mum.
I’ve heard the outback stories. B-I-G deal! I’m no dumbcluck.”

 “Yeah? Could have fooled me,” sneered Tom.

  “What’s eating you anyway? These days you’re meaner than
a croc.” Josh flicked a spoonful of  dry cereal at his brother before
sloshing milk into the bowl. “You used to stick up for me. Now
you rat me out every chance you get.”

 Tom shrugged. “Sneaky beggar! You told Dad I wasn’t up
to mustering the cattle. Always on-side with Mum and Dad, that’s

  “Yeah, well you’re spoiled rotten Joshua Howard. Just stay
outa my face.” Tom grabbed the jug and poured milk into a big
glass. “Remember what dad said—stay inside the home property.
It should be big enough for even a whiny kid like you.” Grabbing
his toast and milk glass, Tom slammed out of  the kitchen. Milk
slopped onto the floor.

 “Maggot,” muttered Josh. “Just my luck—other kids have
older brothers they actually like! Me, I’m stuck with a parent suckup.”

It was then that a badass idea struck him with the force of
a lightning bolt. If reason wouldn’t work, maybe blackmail would?
Josh’s blue eyes held a hard sparkle.

He shouted, “If  you don’t let me go out and look around out there, I
’ll tell Dad you took that hundred dollars from the study.”

A shudder drove through him. “I’ll say you spent it all on
that girl. The one you said had “forever” legs. I’ll say . . .” He got
no further.

 Tom was on him. A long arm flashed across the kitchen
table and grabbed a fist full of  Josh’s shirt. His brother’s angry
face was only a hot breath away. “You’re dead if you tell lies about
me, Josh. Dead meat!”

Dragging Josh across the table Tom shook him like a cat
shakes a rat. The milk jug, butter, and cutlery crashed onto the
floor. Cereal, smashed china and milk squished beneath their feet.
Gasps and panting sounds filled the kitchen.

 “Quit it, or I’ll break your arm!”

 The threat sank into Josh’s fevered brain. He stopped
struggling. Tom dragged him out of the kitchen, down the hall
toward the back door, shaking him every step of  the way.

 “Hey, I saw you take it!” Josh yelled and squirmed. “If I
were bigger you’d have a fight on your hands.”

 “I’m not a thief, and you know it.” Tom stopped and glared
down at Josh. “I planned on paying it back before Dad knew. Tell
Dad now, and I’m. . .”

 “Screwed, mate. Royally screwed! Mom and Dad’ll freak if
I tell them. They’ll kill you, Thomas Howard, count on it!”

 “Little worm! I just borrowed the money.” A puzzled
expression came over Tom’s face. “Why are you doing this?” His
hands loosened their grip and Josh wiggled free.

 There was a moment of silence. Josh suddenly realized
he had power over his brother. The thrill of it made him feel ten
foot tall. “Well, you get to try and prove you’re still their “honest”
darling boy. Me. . .? I get to say you’re a lousy thief.”

Tom’s fists clenched.

 “Got your attention now, smart ass.” Josh’s eyes glittered.
This was the most notice his brother had taken of him in years.

NOTE: Aussie word and animal glossary included.


Double Trouble
Aussie Outback Adventure
Amazon soft covr: 8.95   +   my Website

A coming of age adventure for a young aboriginal boy.
Life on Coorparoo Cattle Station in the Aussie Outback is not
easy for a young aboriginal boy with a crazy dad, and only one
friend--a smart and chatty cockatoo named Claude. His Man
Ceremony looms, and there are big decisions to make. 
And the Dreamtime Spirits have their own plans for him.

Read SAMPLE Chapter here:

NOTE: Aussie Word and animal glossary + more fun
information is included

Family saga where amazing letters help a young boy
cope with sudden family hardship

Amazon soft cover:  9.95    Kindle: 99 cents

Multi-generational story that spans the Pacific Ocean. Letters
between a boy, reluctant at first, and his grandmother,
brings them both together--as well as love and
reassurance about the future.

Chapter One
Grandma Rose

On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, where water lapped the sandy eastern shores of Australia, Rose Larkin slept. She lived on the edge of the Queensland bush in a small town called Morningside. At sixty plus Rose was a light sleeper, so the sound of the rifle crack snapped her awake.
Silence. This was followed by the mutter of distant voices. Rose’s cat, Lady, sleeping at the foot of the bed, had not twitched a whisker.
“The same hooligans again I’ll bet,” Rose muttered, “Shooting at whatever moves.”
Stiff from sleeping, Rose threw on a dressing gown and headed for the back door. Outside the door she grabbed a long handled garden fork that leaned against the wall. She hefted it. Not a bad weapon – just in case.
A skimpy moon left the back yard in complete darkness. But Rose didn’t need a flashlight. Her feet had long ago memorized every pebble, dip, and curve that lead to the back fence. The voices now grew more distinct.
“Cripes mate, I killed somethin’!”
“Dumb git! You offed a ‘roo. The old biddy’s heard us for sure. Let’s scarper.”
The voices faded, lost in the far reaches of the wild bush area that backed onto Rose’s property.
Grim-faced, Rose reached the fence line. Soft scrabbling noises came from the bush side of the fence. Leaning the garden fork against a fence post, she hiked up her nightie and dressing gown. Climbing over the broken section of the fence wasn’t easy. Rose struggled. Then a tearing sound. Blast! My favorite nightie, too.
Finally, she made it over the fence and into the bush, hoping to find whatever was making those distressed rustling sounds. Aha... She peered down at the ground around her – dim and blurry. Stupid woman - forgot my glasses! Her toe hit something furry. Kneeling in the darkness Rose searched the ground with outstretched hands. She felt something warm and soft. Oh Lord, NO!
In front of her lay a still warm but very dead female kangaroo. Snuggled beside his dead mum, yet very much alive, was her joey.
“There, there,” murmured Rose. “Not to worry little mate. You come with me.”
It took a few more rips and tears to her nightie, but she finally got the joey over the fence and safely back to the house. Tucking him into a spare pillowcase, Rose hung the makeshift pouch on the back of a kitchen chair. His small head peeked out, all big ears and long snout, a wistful look on its face. The pillowcase, loosely knotted at the open end, was the best she could do to provide a pouch.
Oh-ho, he’s shivering. Mustn’t let the little bloke go into shock. Rose quickly filled a hot water bottle and slipped it into the pillowcase. A swift look through her winter woolies, and her young guest wore a blue beanie scrunched down over his ears. She had knitted the beanie last winter.
“That’ll have to do for now. First thing in the morning I’ll find out what to feed you. Then I’ll phone the police. I just hope they catch the hooligans that killed your poor mum.”
Rose, chilled to her toes, made herself a steaming cup of tea. The joey, blue beanie askew over one eye, ducked inside his makeshift pouch every time she ventured near.
“You just hold on ‘till I get you the right food, matey.” Rose yawned. “Whoever said older people needed less sleep were nuts. Still, I’m a bit long in the tooth to be hopping fences. . . and in the middle of the night too!” She looked at the bulge at the bottom of the pillowcase. If she moved the chair into her bedroom, she might disturb him. What to do?
Dawn woke Rose to a raft of new aches and pains. These were mostly due to napping away the remainder of the night in an armchair close to her young guest.
A hot shower helped, plus two aspirin. Several phone calls later, she had operation ‘save joey’ well under way. The police promised to investigate, and the Lone Pine Wildlife Sanctuary had been most helpful. They gave her great information about joey care and joey food. However, it seemed they wanted her to look after the little bloke until one of their staff could come and take him off her hands.
“No problem,” Rose assured the nice lady from Lone Pine. “He’ll be jake with me.
Bright and early, on advice from the Lone Pine lady, she took joey to visit her veterinarian. The vet checked him out thoroughly and pronounced him fit-as-a frogmouth. He handed her a bottle and teat, plus a package of Kangaroo Milk Replacer.
“Just the ticket for a beaut young joey,” he said. ”It’s a completely balanced diet; easy to use, too.” He patted the young roo’s head and added, “Kangaroo milk comes in four strengths, for different stages of growth. Oh, and don’t forget to let him hop about a bit after you feed him, because he’ll need to poop and pee.”
As she left, with the baby roo safely tucked into his pillowcase, the vet called, “Don’t worry, Rose, I’ve plenty more ‘joey juice’ if you need it.”
On the way home he slept on the front seat in the pillow case. Rose smiled as she drove. Hmmm… Car trips seem to sooth animal babies as well as human ones.
Once home she put some of the kangaroo milk into a bottle, warmed it, and then took joey out into the garden. No more shivers, so she removed the hot water bottle. The beanie had disappeared, lost in the depths of the pillowcase.
Joey snuggled on Rose’s lap, still mostly inside the pillowcase, with only his head and two tiny front paws out in the open. He sucked like a trooper, both front paws clutching the bottle. After he finished drinking, Rose rubbed his tummy like the Vet said. He looked at Rose, twitched his nose, and then slid down into his pillow case pouch. A soft burp followed.
 “Oh, no you don’t,” cried Rose. She grabbed the pillowcase, full of soon to be pooping-and-peeing joey, and hurried to the laundry.
“I’m too old to chase you around the yard,” she told him. Closing the door, she gently pulled the baby ‘roo out of hiding and put him on the cement floor. ”Pillowcase pouches don’t have bathroom facilities, mate – understand? Cement floors can be hosed down.”
He took a few tentative hops, and then looked up at her, head cocked to one side.
“You want me to turn my back?” asked Rose. Chuckling, she said, “I imagine my grandson Andy would be bug-eyed over a little bloke like you.”
A few hops later, and joey attended to business. Rose dealt with the cleanup while the perpetrator hopped around the laundry.
“Right-o little mate, time for a nap.” Two sleepy eyes blinked up at her as she smoothed the fur on his head. Scooping him up, she slid him into his makeshift pouch. Joey folded himself into a ball at the bottom of the pillowcase, and slept. Rose carried him outside. She hung his pouch on the back of her garden chair, and hurried to see if the mail man had brought anything worth reading.
“A-hah, what have we here?” she peered at the sender’s label. “Well, blow me down, a letter from my grandson, Andy.” Pleased and happy, she went to her chair, ripped open the envelope, and read his letter.

55-A Pine Meadows Way
Portland, OR USA

Dear Grandma,
Mom said I should write you a letter, so here it is. I'm twelve years old. I'm in sixth grade. I have a friend called Kelly. She’s in sixth grade too. I'm real good at math and computers. But I don't much like reading, and English is boring.
My friend Kelly has twice as many Xbox games as me. I asked Dad for another music download or a game, but he said no. He said I had enough e-junk and music downloads already. Dad’s way cheap since he got downsized.

That's about all.
Your grandson,


All of a sudden Oregon didn’t seem quite so far away to Rose Larkin. “Hmmm. . . That grandson of mine seems a bit too keen on computers,” she told the sleeping joey. “He needs to discover some outside fun.”
Lady sat by her feet, swishing her tail back and forth. She glared at the bundle on the back of her mistress’s chair.
“You behave yourself, missy.” Rose shook her finger at Lady. “This joey has lost his mum. I’d better not find any claw mark on him – understood?”
Lady slunk under a nearby hibiscus bush and sulked.
She put Andy’s letter on the garden table. Tossing her gardening hat aside, Rose pulled the pen and writing paper on the table closer. She thought about her reply to Andy, as the yellow wattle flowers wafted their rich scent through the garden. “Hmmm. . . I’ll tell Andy about the joey, but what about the brutal way his mum was killed? What do you think, Lady?”
Lady treated her to a dose of feline disapproval. The cat’s attention was now centered on a greedy praying mantis eating a lunch of caterpillar.
Rose smiled to herself. “I wonder what my daughter had to threaten him with to get Andy to write this letter?” Then, pen in hand, she set about replying to her grandson in Oregon.

NOTE: Aussie animal and word glossary is included.


Ghost Mystery set in Oregon.

Amazon soft cover: 9.95      Kindle:  99 cents

  Frannie and her  reluctant twin brother
find a ghost in their house, hunt a killer, and battle their 
growing sibling rivalry. A skeleton in the cellar, guarded
by a spider-like 'familiar' has them both wishing they were
back home in Iowa.

Chapter One
Basement, killer, twin and girl,
Will the story still unfurl?

          Sunlight flooded Frannie’s bedroom. Everything looked totally ordinary–but Frannie knew differently. Last night’s eerie visitor had changed everything. Her head ached. If only she could talk to someone, but there was no trusted girlfriend in Oregon.Phoning friends back in Iowa wouldn’t work either. I guess Ghost hunting’s a face–to-face talk. As for the ghost, or whatever, Frannie had questions but no answers. What made the room so cold when the ghost was there, yet warm up the minute it left?And the biggie: why haunt her?
           The thought of it haunting Jeff made her grin. “Now that’s something I’d pay money to see!”
           Frannie sat on the edge of the bed and combed her hair. Then, she remembered. Right! That TV show said ghosts always bring cold with them. But they didn’t say why. Yikes! First I’m seeing ghosts, now I’m talking to myself! Next it’ll be séances and levitating!
           She stared at herself in the mirror. Watch it, or you’ll end up bonkers. Where is this ghost? I mean, right this minute. Wow–gotta be ten shades of weird!
           Dressed in blue jeans, a ‘Save Our Whales’ tee shirt and sandals, Frannie headed for the kitchen. The bathroom was on her side of the upstairs landing. Dad and Jeff’s rooms were opposite. Piles of empty boxes cluttered up the landing at the top of the stairs.
           Rock music pumped out of Jeff’s room. As she passed, Frannie caught a glimpse of her twin, still in under-shorts, squeezing zits in front of the mirror. I don’t have much in the boobs department, but at least I don’t have zits. Way gross! 
           Wrinkling her nose, she headed downstairs to the living room. Glancing over the banister, she could see the comfortable chairs on either side of the fireplace. A fat sofa snuggled under one window. The computer and printer, both still boxed, sat under the other window, waiting until her Dad had time to buy a desk.
           The Oriental rug they’d brought from Iowa would make rainy Oregon winters cozy, while the shelves beside the fireplace held treasured books and ornaments. A wreath of plaster roses circled the ceiling’s central antique light fitting. Love the roses!
            Jeff pushed past her, rattled down the stairs, and beat her to the kitchen. Frannie shrugged and followed slowly.
           Stains smudged the front of Jeff’s tee shirt, and his face looked pale and pudgy. He scowled at his bowl of cereal, as if it were personally responsible for messing
with his life. Who said twins were always close? Huh. . . They never knew Jeff and me.
           He looked up at her. “What about laundry? When can I expect some clean stuff to show up?”
            Frannie ignored him.
           Dad came into the kitchen in time to hear his son’s protest. “The laundry’s that little room to the left of the back door, in case you’ve forgotten.” He grinned. “You’ve two choices, Jeff, join a nudist colony or wash your own clothes.”
            Frannie laughed. “Way to go, Dad.” She pointed to Jeff’s grubby top. "X marks the spot!" Giggles exploded out of her.
           Red-faced, Jeff mumbled, "Smart-ass."
           "No need for that, you two.” He looked at Jeff.
          “Wash your own clothes and you won’t need to look like a reject from a grunge band.” He frowned. "And I don’t want to find those boxes still upstairs when I come home. Throw the empty ones in the garage. There has to be a recycling depot somewhere in Tigard." Coffee in hand, he went back upstairs.
           Jeff grunted and stared into his empty bowl.
          "Look, this move means a big promotion for Dad--so drop the attitude, okay. I wasn't too keen on moving, either. You're not the only one bummed at leaving friends.”
         "Yeah, well Dad had no right to make us move here. I don’t know anyone in Oregon. And I’m not likely to until school starts.”
           Frannie wondered how this zit-infested excuse of a brother could be her twin?
          “Whatever! How about helping with the chores?”
           Jeff scowled "Chores are for girls!”
           Dodging the dishcloth she threw, his arm shot out and plucked it from the air. He slid from his chair, chanting, “Ya misse-e-e-ed!”
          A hot gleam in her eye, Frannie wiped off Jeff’s smirk with a well-placed wet sponge. Jeff swung his arm, ready for a return throw.
         “Stop it, you two, or there’ll be no pocket money this week. Good grief, can’t you two get along for five seconds. It’s like a wild rock concert around here –waiting for casualties.” Dad stood in the kitchen doorway.
          Between sips of coffee he went on, “Now listen, I have to hurry. I need to make a good impression on the barons of Portland finance.” He groaned. “Can’t have them thinking us mid-westerners are slackers. Oh, and Frannie, try to finish unpacking the crate of dining room china. Let's make this place look like home."
         “Yeah, but it’s not home, Dad,” whined Jeff.
            Frannie rolled her eyes. He’d said the same thing every day for a week. Frannie stood on tiptoes, hugged her dad’s solid frame, and reminded him that his hair needed a trim.
            “Can you drop me at the mall? Bus service in Tigard sucks - only goes to the mall twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon.” Jeff looked hopeful.
             “Me too. I’m going to see what the library here is like.”
             “Fine with me,” said Dad. “But get a move on.” He retreated to the living room.
Frannie gazed out the kitchen window. Gathering clouds–that meant afternoon showers for sure. Oregon might be rainy, but the results sure were spectacular. Every house on their street had green lawns, trees, and gardens bursting with flowers. Maybe Oregon wouldn’t be so bad after all.
             Dad’s voice from the living room interrupted her thoughts. “I’ll be a bit late tonight, kids. Think you can manage dinner? And help your sister, Jeff. I’ll get myself a snack in Portland.” He poked his head around the door and sent them a fond look. “Put a hold on fights ‘till I’m here to referee, okay? This meeting shouldn’t go any later than 8 pm.” He added, “Hustle now. I’m leaving in a minute or two.”
            Frannie put their wet-sponge-missile in the sink.
             Jeff stuffed his hands into his pockets.
             If Jeff were a halfway decent twin I’d tell him
about my ghostly visitor. Up in her room, stuffing a water bottle into her backpack, Frannie shivered. Was it a nightmare or a real ghost? If a ghost, would it return, or had last night been a one-time haunting?


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