On Wednesday 1st June three girls met at the exact moment of 3.30PM at the shed door. Rosetta Denison unlocked the door and they filed into the gloom.
"As soon as we get another key we must do this place up," Carla said firmly.
"And get rid of the spiders," Jessica chimed in.
"You're a coward about spiders. I don't mind them and neither does Rosie. I like spiders."
"You would!" retorted Jessie. "You're not afraid of anything, so you don't understand what it is to have a phobia. I can tell you it's horrible!"
"Yes, it is," Rosetta agreed. "You wouldn't believe it, Carla, but we all have phobias. I do, you do, even if you don't know what it is yet."
"Rubbish! I can't think of a single thing I'm afraid of!" Carla replied forcefully.
"You don't know courage until you know fear," was Rosetta's squashing comment. She had the wonderful gift at being able to make people curl up and wish they had never been born at her words.
Carla, however, would not own this, and though she laughed it off with a light, "You sound like that idiot Vienna and her O-so-wonderful advice," Carla and everyone knew that she had lost.
No one won a verbal battle with Rosetta as opponent. Though she was witty it was Carla who got any laughs dealt out. Rosetta always won because she was always ready with a simple argument that concluded the discussion without another word. She didn't usually join in with her friends' arguments. She only took a hand if it was a subject worth bothering with, and if it was not, changed the subject without further ado. Strong-opinioned Rosetta had set ideas about the important things in life, as her mother was exceedingly gifted with insight, and her father knew true from false, right from wrong. This was not usually helpful to Rosetta, because both of her parents could read her mind.
"Now, back to business. On Monday Carla brought up the idea that we should give ourselves another name. We've grown out of being the Secret Triangle who act and play games and all that. Now we're more in the real world, and we're serious. Carla thinks that our new name should reflect our revolution against Vienna. Ideas, please."
"Why don't you start us off?" Jessica protested.
"I will add my views after yours," returned the chariperson coolly.
"Onto the Vienna issue, I think we should ignore her for a bit," Carla sidetracked. "If she asks why, we must tell her why..." she trailed off. It was a child's speech, but Carla was a child, and a fairly childish one at that. Rosetta, who had no siblings, and whose parents liked to talk seriously to her, saw further, and she did not hesitate to leap into the breach.
"Wait a moment here." Rosetta had control. "Why, exactly, are we at war with Vienna?"
"We don't like her. She puts on airs and stuff," Carla said promptly.
"We can't very well tell her that."
"For a start, would you go up to her and say, 'Please, Vienna, we think you're really arrogant and self-centred and if you don't stop it we'll keep ignoring you'?"
Carla opened her mouth.
"Wait," Rosetta restrained. "Think about it a moment. If she said that to you, what would you say?"
"I'd say clearly that I wouldn't care and I'd happily return the silent treatment."
"Exactly. Vienna wouldn't care. I don't think it's that type of petty war. WHy not friendly rivalry?"
"But the whole point of our war is that we don't like Vienna," objected Jessie slowly.
Rosetta sighed. "You can't have a war that isn't friendly rivalry without being mean."
Carla saw the logic in this. "Don't we want to be mean, though?"
Rosetta rolled her eyes. "I've known you all my life, Carla, and most of yours. But I have never known you to be cruel to anyone. Maybe a little hot-headed, but never spiteful. You've never wanted specifically to hurt anyone. Anyway, what would your mum think if she knew you were giving your second cousin the silent treatment?"
Carla was quiet for a second. Then she spoke.
"Well, meanness is then out of the question, but friendly rivalry is the opposite if our aim, especially if she comes out on top and we have to try to be good losers. There's got to be another way."
"You think of one," challenegd Rosetta. "It's your relation and your idea, and a stupid one too."
"But..." Carla started.
"And you can think of five competitions for our sale, Jessie," Rosetta continued.
Jessica frowned, and it was Carla's turn to snigger.
"How about you?"
"Me? I'm organising the sale, stupid. And we need competitions because they bring in a lot of money."
"How will we man every stall?" asked Carla.
"We can import your brother Carl, and borrow some parents," decided Rosetta.
"Surely we'll have enough money for a key at this rate?" Jessica said. "And more."
"How much is it to cut a key again?" Carla queried.
"The particular one we need is extra expensive for such a nasty lock. It's an old one - £4.99," Rosetta supplied. "But I was thinking whether we could replace the lock too. It's very rusty. There's just the problem with fitting it, but I could make myself handy with a screwdriver."
"We like our rusty locks and keys," Carla said. "Don't we, Jess?"
This was the surest way to begin an argument, and Jessica's lip curled slightly.
"Well, personally I think a new lock would help us enormously. There's always the chance that our lock might seize up completely."
"A new lock with three keys costs about £20, maybe more, maybe less. I'm sure was can afford that. Rachel took all of her old rubbish to a bring-and-buy sale last term and she made over £100."
"I suppose she had a lot of stuff."
"We should triple that because there's three of us."
"Need I find five whole competitions?" moaned Jessie. "If I take one stall with two competitions, and Carla and Carl have the cake stall, and you can take over the toys, wouldn't that do?"
Rosetta relented, agreeing that to import parents they'd have to be desperate, so they agreed to this proposition.
"You'll have to tackle Carl, though," Rosetta said to Carla.
Carla groaned. She was at the stage where she and her twin were on mildly indifferent terms, as they rarely came into contact these days. However, when they did, his abrupt manner and her temper made the air electric.
"When shall we do that cake-baking?" Jessica questioned.
"At my house about half a week before the sale itself, which will probably either be in the holidays or on the last day of term," Rosetta offered. "No need to worry about that for a long time."
"Back to the Vienna problem," Carla said. "It's been pushed off to me and my mind is blank. Do you have any ideas?" She looked straight at Rosetta's steady grey eyes which often provided any inspiration needed.
"My best suggestion is to wait until something crops up that we can act on."
"That doesn't help us," Carla said dismally.
"It would if something cropped up," Jessica pointed out obvioculy, and not at all helpfully.
Rosetta clapped her hands. "Your first sensible comment of the day!" she exclaimed.