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The house looked larger on the inside than on the outside. It had dirt floors, packed down hard. The door led into a walkway, a hall extending straight ahead, and on the left was what looked like a sitting room, filled with furniture made from the same wood as the house. To the right of the front door was a kitchen.

Simon walked into the kitchen, not bothering to show Milo the rest of the house. He took a sharp looking knife off one of the counters, which were also made from the strange wood. Milo, who had followed him into the kitchen, now started to rethink her decision. But the only thing Simon did with the knife was cut away the bandages on her head.

He did this so swiftly, the knife just a blur, that Milo’s stomach lurched. He unwound the cloth carefully and examined the wound underneath. It seemed to meet his satisfaction, for he did not apply another bandage. Throwing the bloody cloth away in a wooden barrel, which appeared to be the trash can, he turned and headed the door.

Milo, who would have preferred to stay and explore the house, reluctantly followed. It was most definitely his house, and she didn’t think it would be polite to wander through it without his company.

Once outside, he again tried to hold her hand. She clasped both her hands securely behind her back and marched straight ahead. Though this puzzled the boy, he decided not to start another argument.

This was wise, considering that Milo was a woman, and you simply can’t mess around with women’s feelings. Nothing can be more frightening than an angry female, and may no man forget it! Women are warriors of a different breed, and Milo was one of the toughest specimens. Simon could sense this in a small way; if she did not want to hold his hand, then she wouldn’t. That was that. No debate. No pushing his luck.

Simon took the lead, striding towards the heart of the island. The ground was becoming as hard as regular cement. The trees were becoming fewer and fewer, and the hot sun beamed down on the two teens. Every now and then they would pass a house, built in the same fashion as Simon’s, some smaller, some larger. As they walked on, the trees began to reappear. Very tall, wide trees with broad, green leaves that provided shade. Encircling the bases of those trees were flower beds, where tropical flora had been transplanted.

They trudged onward a short distance until they reached what undeniably had to be their destination. Passing several decorated trees, Milo gasped in amazement. It was a town! An entire town, constructed entirely from that strange type of wood. There were many houses, some sporting porches, several shops, one very large building with a huge doorway, a school house, and a church that she identified by the large cross on its roof. There was another big building, on the far side of town, with a second story and many windows. Milo couldn’t tell what it was used for.

All these places were widely spread out from each other. Way off in the outskirts, Milo thought she could see what appeared to be a large, black house. Palm trees speckled the streets, towering over everything. These trees also had flower gardens planted around the bases, and some even had benches nailed around their trunks.

But what most astounded Milo was the abundance of people milling about. They were dressed almost exactly the same as people at home, only more modestly, with no offensive or statementmaking clothing. But since it was a tropical island, they were mostly dressed in colorful island attire. Such as what Simon was wearing.

Simon led Milo down the streets, pausing now and then to let her gape in through a window or at a passing person. Nobody was paying them much attention. Simon would occasionally receive a warm greeting, but Milo mostly got bemused stares.

They eventually reached a small store with a window cut into the wall. Attached to the window was a sill, and on the sill was a bell. Not the type of bell found in the lobby of 711 Shady Ally, that you slap and it would ding, but more like an old-fashioned school bell. Simon leaned his elbows on the sill and rang it. Like the bell at 711 Shady Ally, it also had a woman hurrying to answer the call. In complete contrast to Miz Ricca, this woman was a plump little thing, with a pleasant smile and a full bun of brown hair. – from chapter five of The Island of Lote by Emily Kinney

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