Heidi and the Mystery Aunt
“Well,” Heidi said to herself as she stood and looked in the mirror, “This looks like another fine mess I’ve got myself into.” She looked over to her aunt, but she was in no position to offer any help at that moment. In fact, from the way she was lying on the floor, it was going to be up to Heidi to find a way out of this predicament.
She was a precocious girl – something of a tomboy, but loved by most of the kids at her high school. Although she was seventeen, she looked as if she was about thirteen years old; around four foot eight tall with a slim body and a shock of blonde hair on her head. The way she looked was almost elfin, but if you said that to her face you were likely to regret it. Like most girls her age, she liked to dress in t-shirts and shorts, but she could be smart when she needed to be – which was not that often if truth be told.
She also had a knack of getting herself into trouble – and this particular strand of trouble had started a few months back, when her mother had asked her to clear some space in the attic...
“Mum, do I really have to do this now?”
“Yes, you do – and stop complaining! The quicker you get this done, the quicker you can go and see your friends.”
Heidi shrugged and went back to moving the boxes from the back of the attic. She really wanted to be with Katie and the others at the mall, but her mum had insisted that the attic needed to be tidied up, and she was the lucky person who got to do it. As she moved one cardboard box, however, the bottom fell open and a number of books fell out.
“Great,” Heidi muttered to herself as she put the cardboard to one side and started to stack the books. One of them caught her eye – a photo album with “1988” embossed on the cover. Opening it, she found some photos of a young woman, about nineteen years old, wearing a black and white striped halter neck top and denim shorts. It took her a few minutes to recognise her mother.
What intrigued her more was the younger girl standing next to her. Although she recognised her mother, mainly because she had the same colour hair and face, the other girl was about her age, with long dark hair, wearing a short sleeved top and layered skirt, white socks and flat shoes. She was smiling broadly, and seemed to be using the camera rather than it just taking her photograph.
“I wonder who this could be,” Heidi said as she sat down and looked through the book. There were more photos of both of the girls, with an older woman that Heidi recognised as her grandmother. Obviously her mother had known this girl well, but Heidi had never seen any photos of her in the house.
She looked amongst the other books that had fallen out, but they appeared to be old books that her mother had used at school. She tidied them into a neat pile, but put the album to one side. Turning her attention back to the other boxes, she wasted little time in sorting them, save for one that caught her eye again.
The top of this box was open, and inside was a shoebox. Lifting it out, she opened the lid and saw on the top a photo of the other young girl, dressed in a formal dress and smiling broadly at the camera. Putting the lid back on, she picked it and the album up and made her way out of the attic. Entering her room, she just had time to hide both things under her bed before her mother came in.
“All done,” she said as she smiled at Heidi. She also had blonde hair, but shoulder length and neatly cut, and was dressed conservatively. “Yes, Mum,” Heidi said as she smiled in return. “Well then, you can join your friends, but don’t be late for dinner,” her mother said as Heidi practically ran out of the door.
As she sat in her bed that night, Heidi set the shoebox on her lap and opened it up. There was the mystery girl, smiling back at her from so many years ago, and as she took the first few photos out Heidi’s curiosity about this girl grew. Just who was she, and why were these photos in her house?
As she went further into the collection, however, she saw the images change. From the happy, smiling girl in the party dress, she went to one that showed her sitting in a chair, wearing a t-shirt and a pair of shorts, but with her arms stretched behind her back. She was still smiling, but in a way that suggested she was not too happy with what was happening.
The next shot showed why. It was the girl from behind, but Heidi could now see that her wrists had been tied together with a length of white cord. She was staring straight ahead, not looking round, but you could sense her feelings in the pose. As she continued, Heidi saw her being more and more tightly secured, with ropes around her arms and legs, taken from various angles, and then with a white cloth tied into her mouth, her lips closed around the material.
Other shots showed her in other clothes – one set in a swimsuit, one in jeans and jumper, and so on. Each time she started free, but ended up bound and gagged in different ways. In the swimsuit, she was on a rug; tape around her arms and legs as well as over her mouth. For the casual clothes, she was tied spread-eagled to a mattress. Heidi looked through the collection, with two convictions growing in her mind.
Firstly, she had to ask her mother who this mysterious girl was. She turned one shot of her in a summer dress over and saw a name written on the back – Veronica. The second was that she had to know what had happened to lead to these photos. For the second, however, she would need to find Veronica – and for that, she needed to talk to her mother.
It took two days for her to summon the courage to ask the question that was eating away at her. Eventually, after dinner one night, she sat down in the living room.
“When I was clearing out the attic the other day, I found something – an old photo album. I was wondering if you could tell me about some of the photographs?”
Her mother looked at Heidi with a raised eyebrow. “A photo album? Let me have a look at it.” She waited as Heidi left the room and came back with the album, handing it to her as she retook her seat. “1988? That was a long time ago,” she said as she opened the pages, and started to look through the photographs.
“My god, I’d forgotten all about these,” she said as Heidi joined her to look at the pages. She pointed to a few, asking what was going on, until she came to the one she had first seen, with the young dark haired girl next to her mother.
“Mum – who was this girl?” Heidi watched her mother stare at the photo for a second, before turning and looking at her daughter. “This? This, Heidi, is your Aunt Veronica.”
“I’ve never heard you talk about an Aunt Veronica. I didn’t even know you had any brothers or sisters.”
“She’s my half-sister – her father married your grandmother after my father died. She’s three years younger than me, but I haven’t spoken to her for a long time – a very long time.” She put the album down and stared straight ahead.
“Mum? Are you all right?”
Heidi watched as her mother shook her head and turned to look at her. “I’m sorry, Heidi – your aunt and I did not exactly get on well. As I say, it’s being a long time since I spoke to her, although occasionally I see her around town.”
“You mean she lives here?”
“She actually lives in Madison, but near enough that I see her shopping. She runs a real estate business out there now, bought with the money she earned from her acting.”
“Acting? She was an actress?”
“Well, she appeared on a local television show, and had a few bit parts in movies – enough to enable her to set up a business.” She turned and looked at Heidi. “Veronica doesn’t get in touch with many people, apart from Christmas cards. She likes to keep herself to herself, and I know that is the way she likes it. I am, however, meeting her for a coffee tomorrow – there’s some family business we need to discuss. Why don’t you come with me and I’ll introduce you – on one condition.”
“Actually, two – dress smartly, and keep quiet.”
The dark haired woman looked up from the table as she heard footsteps approaching. She was dressed in a pale blue jacket and skirt, with a white camisole underneath, and stood up as the two women approached.
“Hello, Amy,” she said as she hugged Heidi’s mother and kissed her on the cheek, “It’s being a long time.”
“Hello, Veronica,” Amy said as she stood back. “This is my daughter, Heidi – she found some old photos of you, and asked if she could meet you.”
Veronica shot a look at Amy, who shook her head slightly, and then turned to look at Heidi. She was wearing a smart trousers suit, and had her hair tidied as much as possible for the occasion with an Alice band to keep it back. “I’m very pleased to meet you, Heidi,” she finally said as she sat down, indicating the two seats opposite. “I’ve seen you sometimes when I’ve being in town, but never had the chance to meet you properly. Of course, your mother and I do not...”
“That’s enough of that for the moment, Veronica,” Any said as she sat down. A waitress came over, and she quietly ordered two coffees. As she sat sipping her drink, Heidi paid less attention to the conversation the two women were having than to Victoria herself. “So this is what a former child star looks like when they get older,” she thought as she continued her drink, “I wonder how she keeps so fit?”
It took her a few moments to realise that Victoria was also looking her over with a keen eye. Heidi thought she saw a slight nod and a smile before her aunt said “That seems fine, Amy. Send me the paperwork and I’ll sign it.” As she put her cup down and stood up, she turned and looked at Heidi. “I wonder if Heidi would like to join me this Saturday – I need to pick out a few outfits, and I could use some company. I promise I’ll have her back by dinner time.”
Amy looked uneasy for a moment, before saying “Well, that’s up to Heidi. She may have other plans.”
“No,” Heidi said quickly and shaking her head, “I’d love to join you.” Victoria smiled and said “I’ll pick you up at noon,” before walking off into the distance. Amy watched her leaving, before saying “You’ve made quite an impression on her. Maybe it’s time she got to know you as well.” Heidi just smiled – she knew this was the next step to solving her mystery of the photographs.
That Saturday came and went, as Victoria took Heidi with her to stores she had only passed in the street, but never been into. She found her new found aunt a very easy person to talk to, answering her questions about her life and the things she had done, especially when she had been an actress. Heidi was very careful, however, not to mention the photos, and when she asked why her aunt had quit the only answer was “I grew out of it.” From the expression on her face as she saw it, Heidi knew that was not the whole truth, but she did not press it further.
Then, a week ago, her mother had asked her to come into the room. “Heidi,” she said, “I need to go away for the weekend next week on business, and Carol can’t babysit for you. Your Aunt Victoria has asked if you would like to come and stay with her until Sunday night – would you like that?”
Heidi could barely stop herself from jumping at her mother and hugging her. “If I must, mum,” she said quietly, keeping her head down in the hope she did not see the smile on her face.
“All right – she’ll pick you up from school on Friday, so make sure you take a change of clothing with you – and no nonsense while you are there. All right?”
“All right,” Heidi said, but already she had plans. She was getting on well with her aunt – well enough to risk asking about the other photos she had. Running to her room, she rummaged through a box and pulled out an old small photo book. Placing it beside the bed, she started to make her plans. As the evening drew in, she lost herself in imagining what the real story was behind the pictures.
“Wow – you have a large house, Aunt Veronica!”
Heidi could not hide her amazement as the car drew up the driveway to the old style building. She stepped out, her sneakers slapping off the concrete of the garage floor as Veronica closed the door behind them.
“I’m glad you like it, Heidi,” Veronica said as she locked the car and walked to a door in the wall. “I may live here on my own, but at least I have room to entertain guests. I hope I’ve made good use of my money.” She opened the door and led Heidi into a well equipped kitchen. “Help yourself to a drink from the fridge,” she said as she walked to the other side, “I need to get out of my work clothes, and then we can put a video on.”
Two hours later, Heidi was sitting next to Veronica on a large leather couch as the end credits rolled on the film, the empty bowl between them a testament to the amount of popcorn they had eaten.
“That was fun,” Heidi said as she stretched her arms out. “You must be getting hungry,” Veronica said as she reached for a phone, “I’ll order some pizza, and we can decide what to do after that. Do you like Pepperoni?”
“Sure do,” Heidi said with a smile. “Do you mind if I ask you a few questions – my mum never said much about you, even after she said who you were.”
“Ask away – once I complete the order,” Veronica said with a smile as she held her hand over the mouthpiece of the phone. Heidi looked at her, standing there in an old t-shirt and jeans, wondering how best to get the question out she wanted the answer to the most. As Veronica sat down, she decided to try a subtle approach.
“Aunt, mum told me you did some acting when you were my age. What sort of things did you do?” Veronica looked at her niece and said “Well, I started out as one of the kids on a local show – kind of like a member of Barney’s gang – and did that for a couple of years. From that, I did a couple of episodes of series, and then bit parts in a few films.
“I wasn’t a star – far from it, in fact – but I was good enough to earn a reasonable amount of money, and move on to do fashion shoots and adverts for companies. I don’t think you’ll have seen them, but it got me the funds to invest and start my business when I left college.”
“So do you do any acting now?”
Veronica sat for a moment before saying “From time to time, but I don’t do it as my main job. Usually it’s as a favour to friends.”
“Pity – you look beautiful enough to be a star these days.”
“It’s very kind of you to say so, but I don’t wan to be one. It can be a very nasty place when people in show business think you are a – a marketable commodity.
“Come on – the pizza will be here in a minute, and we need to sort some plates out.”
As Veronica stood up and walked into the kitchen, Heidi followed her in. “Aunt...”
“Do you have film of you on television? I’d like to see what you did.”
Veronica stood in front of the cupboard for a moment. “Sure”, she said, “I’ll get some old tapes out and we can watch them with the food.”
“You were good,” Heidi said as her aunt switched the tape off. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Why did you stop?”
Veronica turned and looked at Heidi. “I guess I grew up – but there were other reasons as well. Why do you ask?”
Heidi swallowed hard. “Well, when I found that photo album it was not the only thing I found.” Veronica shifted in her chair and crossed her legs as she looked at her niece. “What else did you find?” she asked with a concerned tone.
“I... I brought something with me. Can I show it to you?”
Veronica nodded silently and watched Heidi leave the room, running her hand through her hair as she did so and wondering what she had found. Eventually, Heidi came back with a small photo album and sat down. “I found a box,” she said, “and – well, look for yourself.” She handed the album to Veronica, who opened it and looked through the shots inside. Eventually, she closed the book.
“Does your mother know you found these?” Heidi shook her head. “All right – let’s keep this out secret. What is it you want to know?”
“I guess – I guess I want to know why Mum had these photos, and what happened. You look about my age there and...”
“Heidi, answer me this – how do you feel when you look at these photos?”
“Scared, curious, and... well, they look exciting as well. I guess I want to know all about them.” Veronica nodded as she looked at the young girl, before saying “All right – I was your age when this happened. As to why your mum had them – well, she was there at the time.” Heidi gasped, as Veronica began her story.
“I had taken part in an episode of a series for kids, playing one of a group of three girls that were held hostage by a pair of bank robbers in their house. We had to act scared, and spend most of the time locked in the basement, but it paid a reasonable amount. By that time I’d also done some modelling for a catalogue – kid’s clothes and the like, so when my agent got a call asking if I would take part in a shoot she accepted on my behalf. Amy – your mother – had just turned twenty, and because my parents could not come she agreed to act as my chaperone.
“So, we arrive at the shoot and I put on the prom dress for the photos. The guy in charge then asks me to put on a t-shirt and shorts, and wait for a few minutes. He leaves the room, and then comes back in carrying a box. He put it on the table, and turned to look at me and Amy.
“’I want to try something’, he said as he looked at us. ‘How would you like to pretend to be somebody who has been taken hostage?’ Well, I looked at Amy, and Amy looked at him, but he continued ‘I promise you, I’m not going to hurt you. It will be like a game, or another episode of a television show. I’ll pay extra if you allow me to do it.’ I remember being scared for a minute, but when he said it would be like an acting job I calmed down. Amy said she had doubts, but the photographer said he had a way to calm those doubts.”
“Heidi, it was a much simpler time even then. At any rate, after a few minutes Amy agreed, and the man took a length of white cord out of the box. A few minutes later, he had tied my wrists together, palm to palm, behind my back. That was when this photo was taken.”
“Did it hurt?”
“Surprisingly, no – the rope was soft, and he took care. After a few minutes, he tied more rope around my ankles, then my legs, and finally my arms. He has asked me to look as if I was scared, so I did that, but - well, to tell the truth, I was actually enjoying it. After all, it was just another acting job for me.
“I looked over at Amy, who nodded as she kept watch. Eventually, the man asked if I would let him tie a cloth in my mouth, to look as if I was silenced. I opened wide, he pulled the cloth in, and that led to this photo. I sat like that for a while, and then he released me.
“He asked if I wanted to try another outfit, another story, and I agreed. So, I became a girl no holiday kidnapped from the beach, the daughter of the bank manager, things like that. At the end of the day, he thanked me and Amy, and paid us. Two weeks later, we got a copy of the photographs, and your mother agreed to hold on to them – I don’t think our parents would have approved, even if I was almost of age.”
Heidi listened to the story, her mouth open in amazement. “And mum agreed to this? What was she thinking of?”
“Probably the same thing as me,” Veronica said with a smile as she stood up, “You only have half the set there.” She walked to a cupboard and took from inside another photo album, which she opened in front of Heidi. “You see, while my photos were being taken, your mother had agreed on the condition she was tied first to reassure me nothing would happen.”
Heidi looked at the photo of the seventeen year old girl on a leather cushion. She was wearing a grey “sloppy Joe” t-shirt, a rah-rah skirt of the same colour, and grey felt boots that were falling down her ankles. Her wrists were tied together in front of her with black rope, which went around her legs above her knees and then down and around her ankles, while a black bandana was tied over her mouth.
“Before he started on my photographs,” Veronica continued, “Amy insisted he tied her up first so that I could see nothing bad was going to happen. What I did not know until later was that she returned to that photographer for more shoots later – she asked me to keep those photos, in return for her keeping mine secret.” Closing the album, she said “and you’re too young to see those ones.”
Heidi looked at her aunt. “Are you telling me my mum liked being tied up?”
“Liked being the operative word – she grew tired of it.”
“What about you?”
Veronica looked thoughtfully at her niece. “A question for tomorrow- time you were in bed. Go on – and no sitting up reading.”
Later the next morning, as they sat eating waffles, Heidi screwed up her courage and asked her aunt the question that had gnawed away at her all night.
“You never answered my question last night – what about you?”
Veronica looked up. “All right,” she said as she put her food down, “yes, I do like being tied up, and on occasion I have tied others up. It’s a hobby – a way of relieving stress. Why?”
“Well – I was wondering...”
“Can you tie me up like you were in those photos? I mean, as if I was a hostage?”
“I don’t know, darling – have you ever being tied up before?” Heidi shook her head. “Well, doesn’t the idea scare you?”
“A little – but I think it could be exciting as well. Please?”
Victoria looked at her niece. “All right,” she eventually said, “I need you to go and have a shower, and then put something on such as a leotard or swimsuit while I sort some things out.” She pulled the cardigan she was wearing around her top. “It beats going to the supermarket this morning, anyway. Make sure you go to the toilet as well, all right?”
Twenty minutes later, Heidi came into her aunt’s bedroom, her blonde hair falling around her face. She was wearing a pink two piece leotard and white knee length socks. Victoria was sorting some lengths of rope out on the bed, but as she heard Heidi come in she turned to look at her.
“All right,” she said as she picked up a length of rope that was a pale pink colour, “Let’s get started. Have you been to the toilet?”
“Yes,” Heidi said as she came over. “Where do you want me to be?”
“Stand with your back to me, and put your hands behind your back. Would you like them tied together side by side, or would you like your wrists crossed?”
Heidi looked at the length of rope, which was almost as long as she was tall, before saying “Crossed.” “Very well,” Veronica said, “turn round and cross your wrists behind your back.”
Heidi looked over her shoulder as her aunt doubled the rope up, and passed the loose ends through the middle as it went around her wrists. She had expected it to rub against her skin, but instead it felt as if there was a scrunchie on her wrists, even as both of them were pulled tightly together. The rope went round several times, before Veronica passed the ends between Heidi’s wrists to cinch the ropes, secured the ends and tucked them into the coils. “How does that feel,” she said as she turned her niece round.
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt like this,” Heidi said as she moved her wrists up and down. “it’s like a soft band holding them together.”
“That’s what it should be like,” Veronica said with a smile. “Sit on the bed and I’ll take care of your ankles next. By the way, you do know you’re starting to turn into a young woman, right?”
Heidi looked down, and saw that the material of her t-shirt had stretched over her chest, with her breasts visible underneath. “No, I hadn’t” she replied as she watched her aunt repeat the process on her sock covered ankles with another length of rope, tying the together side by side and passing the rope between her legs to tighten the bands.
“There now,” Veronica said as she stood up. “How does that feel?”
“Scary and nice at the same time,” Heidi said with a giggle as she swung her feet up and down. “Is this possible?”
“That’s how I felt,” Veronica said as she went back to the box. “So, are you ready for the next step?”
“Would you like a scarf, a piece of cloth or a tape gag?”
“What do you have in your hand there?”
Veronica held up a long pink strap, in the centre of which was a small yellow ball with a yellow strip at each side. “The photographer gave me this,” she said, “but this is your first time tied up, I don’t think you will...”
“I’m no chicken – use that.”
“All right,” Veronica said with a smile, “you’ve got my courage if nothing else. Open your mouth as wide as you can.” She eased the ball between Heidi’s teeth, taking the straps around her head and tying them together under her hair so that it was held firmly in place. “Now what do you have to say for yourself?”
“Nt a lt”
The sound of the doorbell came from below. “Must be the postman,” Veronica said as she stood up. “Can I trust you to look after yourself for a few minutes?”
“hm-mm” Heidi mumbled. “All right,” Veronica said as she walked to the room door, “breathe normally through your nose and you’ll be fine. I’ll deal with this as quickly as I can.”
Heidi watched as her aunt closed the door behind her, and then lay back. She could hear a muffled conversation from downstairs, and then a door closing, but not a lot else. Eventually, she sat herself up and shuffled to the end of the bed, placing her feet on the floor and standing up. Hopping over to the wardrobe, she looked at herself in the mirror, turning this way and that as best she could.
The door opened, and Heidi turned to see her aunt coming in. To her horror, she saw that there was a large pad of silver tape over her mouth, and that there was a masked woman coming in with her. She was about the same height as Veronica, and wearing a black leather jacket and dark trousers. She looked over at Heidi as she stood there, and smiled.
“Well, well,” he said as he pushed Veronica onto the floor, “Playing tie-up with your daughter were you? You just stay where you are, lass, and don’t do anything.”
Veronica looked up and whimpered through her gag as the woman grabbed her ankles and started to tape them together. Heidi could see the silver bands over her aunt’s top, and the way her wrists were pinned behind her back, but was too scared to do much else. The intruder left Veronica lying there as she quickly searched the drawers, pocketing things as she found them, before running out of the room.
Heidi turned and looked at herself in the mirror. After a few minutes, during which Veronica was quietly sobbing on the floor, the young girl hopped round and started to move towards her aunt. At first she hopped, but when she reached the rug she snagged her foot and fell onto her side. Veronica cried out, but Heidi said “m l rght” as she got herself into a seated position and scooted over the floor. Eventually, she managed to get round so that she was sitting next to her aunt.
“Msre, ms sre,” Veronica said as Heidi watched the tears coming down her cheeks. She turned and wiped them away with her hands, before shuffling closer to her aunt’s face. Looking over her shoulder, she reached over with her bound hands and started to rub at the edge of the tape that covered Veronica’s mouth. Eventually, after about half an hour, she was able to start to gradually tease the tape away, releasing an edge and grabbing it between her fingers so that she could pull harder. Slowly, painfully, she pulled the silver tape from her aunt’s mouth, until she heard her say “Enough – stop there, you’ve done enough.”
Heidi looked over her shoulder to see the tap hanging from the edge of her aunt’s face, a thin grey line around her lips. “The bas.. She grabbed me as I opened the door, and taped my mouth and arms before I could do anything. Are you all right, darling?”
“Good – turn round so that your hands are by my mouth. I can untie the rope around your wrists with my teeth, if you sit still.” Heidi waited patiently until she felt her wrists move apart, and then scoot4ed round, rubbing her skin as she did so. Reaching behind her head, she untied the ball and let it fall from her mouth. “Good girl,” Veronica said, “now – untie your feet, and fetch the scissors from my sewing box.”
“No, Amy, she’s fine – the woman locked her in her room and didn’t harm her. She’s just a little shaken up, that’s all.
“Of course she can come and stay any time she wants – I’d be more than delighted to have her over. I’ll drive her back to your place tomorrow – you just take care of your business.
“No, I’m sure she won’t have nightmares. I’m the one who is going to have them, all right?
“I’ll talk to you tomorrow – bye for now.”
Veronica replaced the phone and sat down. “Your mother’s worried about you,” she said as she sipped her mug of coffee, “but you just tell her you were unharmed. I don’t think she’s ready to hear the whole truth just yet.”
Heidi nodded as she lay on the couch, watching the television.
“How does Chinese sound for dinner tonight?” Veronica said, and Heidi nodded. “All right – I’ll phone for takeout. Will you be all right for a while?”
“Mm-mm” Heidi said as she looked up at her aunt, the brown sticking plaster over her mouth preventing anything more understandable. She was in a pair of powder blue pyjamas, and her wrist and ankles were tied with soft rope. As she lay back, her head on a pillow, she put the events of the afternoon behind her and looked forward to the future – and more games with Aunt Veronica.
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