After lots of effort and a full bottle of solvent all four bolts are out. I pocket the hardware and pull the gate open. The freshly-oiled hinges don’t squeak. Dad would be so pleased if he hadn’t spent over six years keeping me out of this storage cage. This has to be where the evidence is stored.
Or is it? Over the years I’ve been starting to doubt myself. Maybe Aunt Aggie really did do something wrong that week I stayed with her. Maybe she is in jail and I just can’t find the records of it. But if so, why didn’t the police ever come to talk to me about it?
The box I’m looking for is dusty and covered in tape, grease and dust. Hastily written on the side is “lawn mower parts”. The parts for the lawn mower are in the garden shed, not here in the basement.
I slide the box out and take a box knife to the tape, quietly as I can. I don’t want to alert the conspirators. I’m almost sixteen now, I have a right to the truth.
I pull open the flaps; there’s a knapsack in there, the Winx Club one my parents said had been stolen. I put it aside because the Truth is underneath it. I lift it out and hold it up; my space suit, tailored for a nine-year old girl.
It’s a little shell suit with black accordion joints at the hips, shoulders, elbows and knees. There’s a bubble helmet, a bedazzled galaxy on the front, and clips on the back for the air tanks and thruster packs. There’s little boots with magnetic soles and little gloves and even a tool belt of my very own. And yes, it’s brilliant rose pink.
I can almost hear Aunt Aggie’s voice, “You need that if you’re going to come to outer space with me, Suzy.”
And I did. We spent a week careening around the solar system, visiting the Martian deserts, facing down claim jumpers in the Asteroid Belt, surfing the rings of Saturn and even visiting dark distant Sedna so we could trade with the Outsiders.
And then I remember The Argument. Mom called Aunt Aggie irresponsible and foolish for taking me to outer space. They forbid her to ever come near any of us ever again and that’s when the lies started. I hadn’t been to space; that was just crap Aggie had put in my head so she could molest me. And there were the therapists and the drugs and nobody, not even my friends, would believe me.
I carefully put the suit back in the box and close it up as best I can. Once the bolts are back in place I sneak up to my room with the pack. Inside, among the souvenirs, is what I need. I pull out the ethercom; thank the Sun it still works.
“Suzy Q calling Space Captain Aggie. Come get me off this rock!”
The response is faint, “Roger, Suzy Q, ETA three days.”