||Mabel carried piles of neatly folded clothes to the bed where an empty suitcase lay open.
Then she consulted her list.
1. Pack suitcase. Use special packing bags.
She took a plastic bag and carefully placed a pile of folded shorts inside.
She pressed out all the air from the bag and zipped it tightly.
Now her shorts wouldn't wrinkle. And neither would any of her other clothes. Mabel hated crumpled clothes.
Mabel put her T-shirts, underwear, and bathing suits into the packing bags.
She slipped her sandals and water shoes into drawstring pouches.
Then she tightened all the caps on her shampoo and lotion.
She put her toothbrush in a special travel case.
Everything was organized. It made Mabel feel calm and in charge.
She looked at her list again.
2. Bring addressed, stamped postcards to send to friends while on vacation.
Yes, Mabel had already bought postcards to send to her friends. They had pictures of fruit, baby animals, and goofy people on them. They didn't have pictures of their destination. But did that really matter, anyway?
Her mother thought that was crazy. "Why don't you wait until we get there?" she asked.
"But what if there aren't any postcards?" Mabel asked.
"There are always postcards," her mother assured her.
"Always?" Mabel repeated. "What if we get stranded on a desert island? Or get caught in a tropical storm?"
Her mother laughed. "We're visiting your cousins. They live in the country, sure, but it's only three miles to town."
But Mabel believed in being prepared.
If she really thought ahead, she'd write the postcards now. Then all she'd have to do would be to post them in a mailbox.
Having fun. Wish you were here. Violet is a pest. Love, Mabel
No matter where they were, and what they were doing, those words would always be true.
Mabel let out a sigh. She couldn't wait to be on vacation. She couldn't wait to see her cousins.
But she wished she didn't have to be stuck in the backseat for two days with her annoying little sister.
Thinking of Violet brought her to the next item on her list:
3. Pack a bag of games, books, music, and other stuff for car. Be sure to take extra things for Violet.
Violet would have her own bag, of course. But it was smart to have a few things to share with her.
She always wanted whatever Mabel had.
Mabel took out a backpack.
She packed it with paperback books, games, brainteasers, puzzles, her portable music player, snack bars, and stuffed toys.
The she added stickers, coloring books, markers, and a few of her old toys for Violet.
Mabel zipped up the backpack and put it next to the suitcase on the bed. She was almost ready to leave.
She felt a shiver of excitement.
It was a long trip, but they were breaking it up. Tonight they were staying in a hotel.
By tomorrow evening, they'd be at their cousins' house.
There were two girls, Zoe and Mya, who were exactly the same ages as Mabel and Violet.
Mabel didn't know them very well. She hadn't seen them in three years. They were her father's relatives.
Mabel glanced at her list. There was only one item left.
4. Give Violet the Talk.
Mabel sighed deeply.
It didn't matter how many times Mabel gave Violet "the Talk." In the end, Violet did what she wanted.
But Mabel had to go through with it. There was no one else to warn, caution, and protect Violet.
Mabel was the only one in the family who knew about her little sister's magic.