One spring day, when the squirrels were chattering, the birds were humming their sweet songs and the trees were swaying with the wind and you could smell the spring air, there in the meadow, you could see a girl and her dog. Rebecca is an interesting girl, fifteen years old, who doesn't have many friends, but just one and Toby. Rebecca is homeschooled by her grandma because it is the easiest way for Rebecca to help her grandma. Her friend Rosalie lives closer to the town in Michigan that Rebecca is by. Rebecca lives outside of her town in a “country-style” area. She lives with her grandma in Michigan in a big, old house. Rebecca's parents are always traveling because of their style of work. Her grandma is a tidy woman whom Rebecca thinks is OCD, but is also quiet and forgetful. Her grandma loves to read and taught Rebecca how to love books. Rebecca loves her grandma's home and loves living with her, but she also misses her parents. Now, Rebecca’s dog, Toby, a German Shepherd, is in love with tennis balls. Toby will do anything for a tennis ball, even if it is covered in dirt or slim. For Rebecca, Toby is her guardian, she has had Toby ever since he was a puppy, which was when she got him when she was ten. For Toby, Rebecca is his sibling and will do whatever she wants him to do and if necessary, will protect her with his life.
Since Rebecca has lived with her grandma for a few years, she has learned that many people in Rebecca’s area are not fond of her grandma’s home. Rebecca is not sure why people are suspicious of her grandmother’s home, but one day Rebecca heard rumors of such suspicion. Rebecca was meeting up with Rosalie at the local coffee shop in her small town and they talked about a lot of things that were going on around town and how their day was. Rosalie excitedly chattered “Rebecca, did you know that your house is haunted?” Rebecca was in shock, “No, where did you ever hear something like that?” “ I heard it from Mrs. Becker. She said that her great aunt owned that home and her aunt died in it from falling down some stairs.” Rebecca responded frightened “I have never heard my grandma say anything about that!” Rosalie stated cautiously “ I wonder if it really is true, that your house is haunted?” Rebecca laughed, “ I doubt it, but if my grandma’s house was haunted, I think that she would tell me.” Rosalie, frustrated at the fact that her gossip was turned down, took another sip of her ginger Lily tea. Rebecca, concerned and confused, made a point to start a new topic. “Hey, Rosalie?” “Yes, Rebecca?” “ I was wondering what my life would be like if I didn’t have you to talk to.” “Well, first of all, you would turn into the crazy lady who's always talking to her dog. Second, I would be miserable because I would be lonely. Lastly, don’t you ever talk to your grandma?” “Ok, I see how you are, but life would be miserable without you.” “Yes, it would be.”
Rebecca threw the ball to her German Shepherd, Toby. Rebecca called out to Toby “ Here boy, bring me the ball!” Toby came jostling over to Rebecca with the slobbery ball and barked at her. Rebecca responded telling Toby “ Now don't bark at me like that!” Toby then sat, dropped his ball and looked up at Rebecca with his big brown eyes. Rebecca, pleased with his actions, picked up the ball and counted to three. Toby barked, Rebecca threw the ball, and then in that split second Toby ran for the ball. Rebecca in thought said “ Now, what time is it? I need to be back home by six o’clock for dinner, otherwise, grandma will be upset. Rebecca took a look at her phone, “Oh crap! Toby, come here! We have to go home!” Rebecca saw Toby dash through the meadow grass and come by her side. Rebecca started to walk, then run, with Toby following. Rebecca made it back in time for dinner but was too late to help her grandma make dinner. “Sorry, grandma! Toby was in the meadow somewhere with his ball. You know how he can get!” Rebecca’s grandma scolded “Well next time can you please be back to help me with dinner, not help me eat it.” “Yes, grandma, I’ll do the dishes after dinner for you to help in that way.” “Thank you, dear.” After dinner, Rebecca washed and dried the dishes. She went upstairs and got ready for bed. Rebecca crawled into bed and started to read and fell asleep reading.
The next day Rebecca’s grandma told her to go clean her closet. “Wow, my closet is a mess. Moving clothes to the side, Rebecca sees a little door that is just big enough for someone to go through. “What’s this? So unusual, does my grandma know about this? Come on Toby, let's check it out.” The door led to a long staircase that spiraled up to another floor. She called Toby along with her. Toby leads to the top of the staircase. Once they reached the top there was a hallway with a window giving little light at the end. There were cobwebs and dust everywhere. “ It's so disgusting up here. It's so old and dusty and gross, ewe.” There were three doors on each side of the hallway. Just as Rebecca started to wonder about which door she should open first, Toby ran to the last one on the left, put his nose up to the handle, wagging his tail and he loudly barked, “Woof, Woof, Woof!” Rebecca exclaimed, “What’s in there Toby? Well, I guess it's better than any of them.” Rebecca then opened the door and found, in contrast to the hall, a perfectly clean room. The room had a small bed covered with a blue and white quilt; also in the room was a chair, a table with a lamp and a rotary phone, and a small braided rug next to the bed. The chair with the nearby lamp looked inviting like a comfy place in which to curl up and read one of her beloved books. “I'm so confused right now, Toby. How about you?” Toby looked up at Rebecca and gave her a look that said he didn't really care, he just wanted to sleep.
So, closely followed by Toby, Rebecca returned through the dusty hallway, down the steep stairway, and through the closet to her room where she grabbed her book bag. Rebecca said calmly to Toby who was still halfway out of the closet, “Let’s go back. Up boy!” Once they reached the bedroom Rebecca dropped her book bag on the table. She then noticed the sun shining through the window. Once the window was opened she felt a slight breeze. “Ah,” thought Rebecca. “Now I’ll plunge back into the wonderful book that I am reading. “ Rebecca curled up on the bed and said to Toby, who was lying on the braided rug, “I see you have found a comfortable spot to nap.” Rebecca started to get sleepy while reading her book and she fell asleep.
Rebecca awoke with a start, thinking she had heard something. It was so unusual. Why had she not seen it before? It was covered with such realistic-looking doves that Rebecca had to walk over to the wallpaper and run her hands over it. No. The doves were firmly printed on the wallpaper, but still, Rebecca had a chilling feeling that something was not quite right, and as she looked toward the right of the wall, near to the window, she noticed some wallpaper where doves seemed to be missing. Not all the doves were missing from that part of the wallpaper. Empty places on the wallpaper seemed to indicate that the doves that should have been there is not. “Oh well,” thought Rebecca, “there’s just something wrong with the wallpaper. You know, I'll call Rosalie.” Rebecca went over the rotary phone and started to dial Rosalie”s number by rolling her finger in a circle. “Hi, Rebecca, what’s going on?” “Well, my house isn't haunted, but I found a staircase that led up to the third story in my grandma’s house.” “What!” Rosalie screamed into the phone. “Yes, I found a room that was all neat with a bed in it and the hallway was all gross. Isn't that weird?” “Ya, that's totally weird.” I have to go, Rosalie, before my grandma gets mad at me for not helping her with dinner.” “Ok, bye, talk to you soon!” The wallpaper worried Rebecca, but she tried not to think about it. As she and Toby left the third-floor bedroom to go back downstairs and find Grandma, the missing doves nagged at the back of Rebecca’s mind, but a good supper drove the third-floor bedroom and the mystery of the doves completely
from her thoughts.
Later when it had just started to get dark. Rebecca started to think about the wallpaper yet again. So after supper, when it got cooler
outside, Rebecca and Toby went outside to play catch. Toby loved to chase the tennis ball which Rebecca threw with as much force as she could. Sometimes, when Rebecca threw the tennis ball, it would sail over the backyard and fly into the nearby woods. Then Toby would take off and occasionally spend a few minutes in the woods, not necessarily looking for the ball, but sniffing out the distinct smells of the woods. On this particular evening, Rebecca lobbed a ball fairly far into the woods, and, as usual, Toby took off with his distinctly German Shepherd lope to recover the ball. However, whereas Rebecca could usually hear Toby scrounging around in the woods until he returned a few minutes later with the ball in mouth, this evening, minutes passed and Toby did not return. Furthermore, Rebecca could not hear Toby’s snuffling. Rebecca began to call, “Toby, Toby.” As she continued to call, she started to walk toward the woods. “What has Toby gotten into? She thought. “I hope he hasn’t found something to roll around in that will make him stink and then I’ll have to give him a bath.” As Rebecca entered the woods she continued to call for Toby. Rebecca began to get a strange feeling. It was not fear. During the years she had lived with Grandma and especially during the five years she had had Toby, she had spent many long hours wandering the woods. Especially with Toby with her, she was never afraid in the woods.
Now, Rebecca felt strange, and she didn’t know why. Something seemed different. The woods seemed unusually quiet except for a soft cooing coming from deeper within the woods. The cooing reminded her of the sound made by doves which came to scavenge seed dropped from the birdfeeders in her grandma’s backyard. At times, Rebecca had seen as many as five doves wandering the backyard in search of easily acquired food. They looked so sweet, and she would have liked to get closer to them, but they seemed a little skittish and would fly away at the hint of a noise that might imply danger. So, when Rebecca heard the cooing, she thought it was probably doves, and she thought that maybe she was near to where some doves had a nest. Rebecca thought that maybe Toby had been drawn to the sound of the doves, and so she thought she too would follow that sound, and maybe she’d find Toby. As she carefully stepped over gnarled roots and half-rotted leaves, she suddenly realized that the woods had opened up a little, and when she looked up, she saw the full moon shining down through the twilight. She was surprised to find this little clearing in the woods and did not remember that she had ever before seen it. Who had cleared out the trees? Rebecca could not see that anything had been disturbed. Just as these thoughts were running through Rebecca’s mind, she heard cooing. This time, as she looked around, she saw Toby lying peacefully at the edge of the clearing. He was looking at her with his wise eyes. “Toby,” she exclaimed, “What in the world are you doing? Didn’t you hear me calling?” Toby continued to lie contentedly on the ground and look at Rebecca as though he did not have a care in the world. Normally, if Rebecca would scold Toby, his ears would droop. But now it was as if he didn’t care.
The next day, Rebecca went back to the woods, still curious about the doves. Toby came along with his usual happy self. Rebecca knew that she had to keep an eye on him so that she doesn't run off or get a tasty forest creature. “Hello!” Rebecca called out into the woods. Suddenly a noise from the bushes and the trees startled Toby and Rebecca. “ Who’s there! You can't mess with me because I have a big dog that will protect me!” At that same time Rebecca picked up a big stuck off the forest floor and Toby began a deep growl. A flock of doves came flying over her and Toby. Toby frightened, flattened his ears, and cowered behind Rebecca. Rebecca had noticed that the birds’ calls were different. Toby noticed it too, wanting to run away. Rebecca tried to call him down but was trying to keep an eye on the birds. Suddenly, as if the birds were not there in the first place, they disappeared. Rebecca, stunned, decided that it was time to go home.
Rebecca continued to go back into the woods for the rest of the summer. She learned the doves' language and learned that their problem was that they were cursed by the neighborhood cat, Shadow.
Rebecca asked the doves “ How can I help you break the spell?” The story of Shadow is that when he was a kitten he thought he had his forever family, but the sad thing was that they decided that they were going to move and they left him. Ever since then he has wandered around the neighbor angry from that event.
The doves told her that she needs to bring Shadow into her home before the first frost. During the rest of the summer, Rebecca tries to make friends with Shadow so that she can get him to break the spell on the doves, but Shadow resists.
The night before the first frost Rebecca was finally able to catch Shadow. She made him a bed next to her grandma’s fireplace in the living room. Shadow curled up in the bed and started purring loudly. The spell has been broken and the doves can fly freely.
The next summer Rebecca and her Grandma went up to the third-floor bedroom and put up some brand new wallpaper because the doves were all gone on the wall. Rebecca is as happy that she had done a good deed. Rebecca’s grandma was pleased that Rebecca had found the room that she had been keeping for her for so long. The spell had been broken, but there were more rooms to discover.