Timmons led Isaac back to the beach. A narrow bridge of sand snaked across the water to a smudge of land on the horizon. “There it is,” he said. “You’d better hurry.”
And so Isaac hurried over the sandbar, worried that any moment the water would come rushing back to cover it back up again and wash him out to sea. Luckily, he made it across just fine. But when he stepped on the beach and looked back, the middle of the path was already underwater again. Scary.
Isaac looked around. It looked like there was a sign next to a path leading up the sand dunes at the edge of the beach. Isaac walked over. There were two signs. The top one said “Anna’s House” and pointed to the right. The next sign said “Hannah’s house” and pointed the same way.
Isaac unfolded his map. There was a red X on the island with two houses. Well, that made sense. He wasn’t sure who to visit first, but he didn’t need to decide yet. There was only one path for now. He followed the path off the beach.
He continued following the path as rocks and ferns and palm trees were replaced with rose bushes and bunches of bright orange lilies and magenta hibiscus flowers. There were sign posts every so often along the path, but they kept pointing the same way.
He reached a white rock path that led to a white house with a red tile roof. Both signs pointed to the house. Did Hannah and Anna live in the same house? Then why were there two houses on the map?
Two little girls in pigtails were out in the garden. One was arranging a puffy little footstools in a ring on the uneven ground. The other was setting up a table with a pitcher and glasses and plates and a bowl of something.
Isaac walked closer and looked in the bowl. “Cheese curds?” He loved cheese curds! His dad called them squeaky cheese, because when they were fresh, they sort of squeaked when you chewed them.
The little girl looked up. She was wearing a necklace with an H as a pendant. “Who are you?” she asked.
“I’m Isaac. Are you Hannah? Is this a party?”
The other little girl came storming over. “Cheese curds? Why didn’t you tell me we had cheese curds?” An A pendant dangled from her necklace.
“You must be Anna,” Isaac said. Both girls turned to look at him.
“It’s not polite to walk into someone’s yard without permission,” Hannah said.
“And if you didn’t have permission, you shouldn’t have done it,” Anna added.
Oops. Isaac knew better than that. Even if they lived someplace strange, these were real people who deserved respect. “I’m sorry.”
The girls looked at each other. “As punishment, you have to play musical chairs,” Hannah said.
“And listen to us sing,” Anna said. “And applaud at the end. That’s very important.”
“I can do that,” Isaac said.
“Great!” the girls said in unison. The sound of trumpets playing a peppy tune blared from the patch of orange lilies next to the table. The girls ran to the circle of footstools and began to circle them. Isaac followed them.
When the music stopped, they each sat on a wobbly footstool. There were plenty of seats. Isaac wasn’t sure the girls really knew how to play the game. “Were you expecting more people?” he asked.
“I hope not,” Hannah said. “They’d eat all the cheese curds. There are barely enough for me.”
“And me,” Anna said.
“Right,” Hannah said.
And then both girls turned to glare at Isaac. He held up his hands in a gesture of surrender. “I’m not even a little bit hungry,” he said. “So does that mean this isn’t a party?”
Just then the music started again and they were off. After four rounds of musical chairs, Anna looked at Hannah. “That seems like enough, don’t you think?”
Hannah nodded. “I’m done. So who won?”
Anna shrugged. “I think the better question is who lost?”
Both girls looked at Isaac. “But we’re all on chairs. Doesn’t that mean we all won?” he asked. The girls narrowed their eyes in unison. It was a little scary. “All right. I lost. By the way, do you know anything about a party?”
The girls ignored him. “Time to sing,” Hannah said.
“About the baronet who married the butterfly,” Anna said.
“And how they danced on the rainbow until it broke into pieces that they put into prisms and sold them to pay for their honeymoon…”
“Is this going to be a long song?” Isaac asked nervously. “I really do need to go find that party, so if you know a shorter one…”
The girls began singing. It was a long song. Isaac made sure to applaud loudly at the end.