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Peace By the River
A Hanson Story

Chapter I

Have you ever gotten the feeling that something terrible was going to happen? No, not that feeling you get when you fail an algebra test. The feeling you get when something horrible is going to change your life. Or at least it seems horrible at the time. Dana Neilson got that feeling one hot July day as she stepped through her front door.

“Dinner’s on the table!” Terese Neilson’s voice came from the kitchen, and Dana could here china clinking as her mother set the table. Terese was a preschool teacher at the local church. She loved kids. “Wash up honey, we’ll eat as soon as your father gets home.”

Dana scampered up the stairs to her room with her packages. She had been busy back-to-school shopping with her friends. After dumping her packages on her unmade double bed, she checked her answering machine. No calls. Dana had the whole second floor to herself, as she was an only child. There was her bedroom, specially decorated in 1960’s style, her bathroom, and her parent's office. She shared her phone line with the computer, so it was basically hers. After a quick look around, Dana headed back down to dinner.

The Beatles were on the stereo and bars from “Here Comes the Sun” filled the kitchen. Dana hummed along without realizing. Her mother and father were 60’s nuts, and she had inherited the love for classic rock and roll, vintage cars, and hippie styles. She was ecstatic that the old clothes were back in style and planned on raiding the attic in store of her mother’s 60’s attire. Actually she planned to do that tomorrow, since school started in a week and a half.

Anyway, back to the feeling. It had momentarily gone away, but returned with a sickening dread as her father walked into the kitchen. “Sit down and eat Dana. I have something to tell you.”

Terese switched the stereo off. She knew what Kevin had to say, and didn’t want to have to see Dana’s reaction. He had phoned her earlier in the day with the news, and insisted that Dana be told right away, but she had saved herself a few hours by being at the mall.

For with this piece of news, Dana’s life would be changed forever.

Kevin sat down at his place at the table and served himself. He was trying to put off telling his daughter. He knew the news would break her heart. He filled his plate with ham and potatoes and watched his wife and daughter do the same. After a few minutes of quiet chewing, Dana asked her father: “What was it that you wanted to tell me?”

Kevin did not know how to begin. He decided to approach the issue from a different standpoint than he had when he told Terese. “So you’ll be going to a new school this year, Dana?” He looked at her. She nodded. “High school. I remember my first day of high school. I wanted to crawl into a hole and die by the end of it. “

“It won’t be that bad, dad. I’ll know the whole gang. Just because they’ll be a few new kids from the other side of town doesn’t mean they’ll make it a bad day. Jefferson High School will be the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I mean, I already plan to try out for colorguard or something musical, maybe dance team, but I don’t think I’m really the type, it’ll be fun anyway, though.” Dana was rambling because she didn’t know what her father was getting at.

“That’s just the point, Honey. You won’t be going to Jefferson. I got a promotion today. I’m going to manage a new band. To make things convenient, the company has decided to transfer me to where they live. We’re moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma next week.”

Dana dropped her fork. It landed with a clank on the tile floor. Her mouth dropped open. “You’re not serious. This is all a joke!” Then she saw the look in their eyes and knew it was true. Dana burst into tears and ran up the stairs to her room.

Kevin got up to follow her, but Terese caught him and told him to let her cry it out. “You didn’t even tell her the worst part, yet. Let her at least get over the initial shock.”

So ten minutes later Kevin found himself beside Dana on her bed. She was still crying. Kevin patted her back and told her it was all right, even though it wasn’t, because that’s what parents do. Finally, Dana sat up and asked her father to tell her more about it, like where they would live, what kind of band, what her school would be like, and all of that. So Kevin had to tell her.

“The band is a group of teenagers, I don’t remember what they call themselves, but they’re young and just starting out. They live with their parents in Tulsa. Out in the boonies, you might say, compared to here. Their father has a job that sometimes has the family living different places, so they don’t go to public school. Rather, their parents teach them with the help of a tutor. There are younger siblings, not in the group, but I don’t know much about them.

“Since I will be the advertising/publicity coordinator for the group, their father, arranged for us to live near them. He has rented a nice house next door to them. Two-stories, four bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, family room, garage, just been remodeled. You can decorate any way you want. Its about a block from their house, which isn’t much bigger. You’ll make friends with the boys, I heard they’re really nice.

“As for school. This you might not like. The group has been home-schooled their whole life and their tutor has agreed to teach you, too. You’re about the same age, I think. I’m not sure about how old they are, but they’re not much older than you. You’ll like it, I’m sure you will if you give it a chance. I know it will be different, but you’ll get used to it.”

Dana had heard enough. This day was getting worse and worse. Not only would she have to move her first year of high school, but she wouldn’t even be going to high school! She’ll be stuck in a room with a few rich geeks who just might end up famous. Lovely. She told Kevin that she had heard enough and wanted to think a while. He said he understood, but Dana didn’t really think he did. She just wanted to be alone.

After another good cry, Dana found herself looking around her room. Its was too perfect to leave! She had decorated it just last summer. The walls were covered with vintage posters and she had two lava lamps that flooded red and blue light on the big flowered wallpaper that was straight from the 1960s. On one wall was her bulletin board. It was filled with pictures of all her friends. The friends she would leave behind. She decided to call Hollie, she was supposed to anyway she might as well get it overwith. Dana’s fingers were twitching as she dialed the number. Hollie answered on the second ring.

“Hey Dane! How’s it going?” Hollie sounded too cheerful.

“Not too good.”

“C’mon! Be happy! (Hollie was also a 60s nut) No worries, right?”

“Actually I have a lot.”

“So which guy is it and how did he turn you down?” Hollie knew Dana was always obsessing over guys.

“Its not a guy, its........school, I guess.”

“Worried about JHS? Don’t be, it’s gonna be DA BOMB!!!”

“That’s just it. I’m not going to JHS. My dad got a promotion.” Dana proceeded to tell Hollie the rest of the story.

“Hmmm....I wonder what band it is and if they are cute.” Hollie was even more obsessed with guys than Dana was.

“Hollie! That is SO not the point!” Dana had had it up to here with her friend.

“I know. I’m sorry. When do you leave?”

“Next week. Over Labor Day.” There was a pause. “I guess I’ll go start packing now.”

“Bye.” Dana hung up the phone. She felt so alone. Hollie couldn’t sympathize with her, she wasn’t the one moving to the middle of nowhere to live with a rich, geeking, nothing of a band. Dana flopped back on her bed and sighed.


Chapter II


A week later Dana looked around her room again and was confronted by a totally different picture. The walls were bare except for the wall paper. She was so mad that she had to leave it. It had taken weeks to find. She would probably never find the same kind for her new room. The moving van was parked in their driveway and two burly movers, Ted and Bill, were carting their furniture out the front door. Dana’s whole life was in that truck. Well, maybe half of her life. All of her friends were still here. She’d probaby never see them again. They weren’t even there to show her off, since the open house for Jefferson was that day. School started on Tuesday. Dana had been at the open house for a little while, to say goodbye, but she soon felt left out, and she wanted to get back anyway, so she left.

Dana looked down at the plaid book in her right hand. It was all the adresses and phone numbers of everyone she knew. She had brought it to the open house. Hollie had given it to her as a going away present, as long as she promised to write. She had nearly filled the little book up. She was surprised when everyone not only wrote their digits, but little personal messages, too. When she asked Hollie about it she just smiled and said “So it’ll be easier to write back.” Dana had promised to write anyway.

In her left hand was a photo album. Jason and Tina put it together for her. It was filled with pictures of her life in Austin. She had flipped through it a little at the open house, and promised to look through it on her way to Oklahoma. The Neilsons got free first class tickets through the company and were flying to Tulsa. There would be a car waiting for them there. They wanted to check out the house before the van got there.

Dana took a last look around the house where she had grown up in. So many memories took place here. With tears in her eyes, Dana walked out her front door for the last time. She piled into the back of the cab with her parents. Their car would met them in Glen View. Dana twisted around to have the last glimpse of their house. As the taxi turned the corner, the house faded from view and out of their life forever.

Dana turned around and sighed. Terese put her arm around Dana. “We’ll all miss Austin, dear. But you have to learn to move on. Tulsa will be a big change for all of us.”

“You can finally have a dog, Dane. He can run around the yard. Did I mention our is on a couple of acres? There is lots of land there. Lots of country hicks, too, but they’re nice folk. You can have two dogs if you want, and a cat, too.” Kevin also was trying his best to cheer up Dana.

“That’d be nice. I’ll take care of them, too, I promise.”

The ride to the airport was soon over and the Neilsons frantically tried to find their gate. They got there just as Delta flight 103 to Tulsa was calling for its first class passengers to board.

“No hurry,” assured Kevin. “We still have plenty of time. They board first class first.”

After checking in to the desk, the Neilsons boarded the plane. It was a MD-88. Kevin’s company had purchased three first class seats, two aisles and a window, all on the same row. Dana quickly took the window seat, 3D, and Terese sat down beside her. Kevin sat across the aisle.

Dana had only been in an airplane a few times before, when they went on vacation, but never in first class. She stowed her knapsack under the seat in front of her and ran her fingers over the blue leather seat. She closed her window blind once, and opened it again. Men in orange vests were running about the plane and driving little carts full of luggage. She reached up and turned her reading light on and looked to see what was in the seat pocket in front of her. Safety rules, barf bag and a Sky magazine. She opened up the magazine and flipped through it. Boring. She thought. It had mostly business stuff in it. Suddenly she felt a thump as the plane lurched backwards and looked up. A stewardess was collecting glasses. She introduced herself as Kylie, and was very perky. Too much cafiene. Dana thought. Another stewardess came on the PA system while Kylie demonstrated how to buckle the seat belt and where the exits where located. Dana reached down and buckled her safety belt and Terese did the same. Soon, the plane was in the air, and Dana reached into her knapsack and pulled out her discman and the latest issue of Seventeen. The flight would last under an hour, but Dana was prepared to make the best of it. After a few minutes she was in her own world and Terese had to elbow her when she started to hum along with the Smashing Pumpkins.


Chapter III


Barely and hour later, the plane touched down in Tulsa. As the Neilson’s stepped into the terminal the first thing Dana noticed was the guy in the business suit holding up a sign that said “Welcome Neilsons.” Kevin noticed too and hurried over to the man. They exchanged a firn handshake and the man introduced himself as Walker Hanson. He was young, and thin. His hair was sandy brown, hs features strong. He was quiet, and didn’t talk again until the Neilsons and their luggage were in the van. The van was black, with a light grey interior. Dana leaned back to enjoy the drive as she listened to Mr. Hanson talk.

“Its a forty-five minute drive to our house. The house is ready for you. The boys and I fixed it up for you. When do you suppose your furniture will arrive?”

“The movers said sometime tomorrow morning.” Kevin answered.

“Perfect, then. You’ll have all tonight to check it out, make it ready. There are a few pieces left over from the last people who lived there, but that was long ago. It was falling into disrepair, but don’t worry, as we have fixed it up for you.”

“How did the boys get started?” Terese wanted to know.

“Oh, they have always been into music! When they were younger we moved around a bit becaue of my job, and there were no English radio stations to listen to. Diana and I (Diana is my wife) have a collection of old sixties music, and the boys really got into it. They only got their instuments a few years ago, so they’re amatuers, you might say. The older two have always had a flair for the piano, but when they chose instruments, only Isaacs (the eldest) arms could reach the strings properly, so Taylor got to play the keyboard. Zachary plays the drums. He’s the youngest in the band.”

“Are there other children? I’m a preschool teacher, maybe I can help teach them, as I heard they were home schooled.” Terese asked.

“As a matter of fact, yes. We also have a three year old, a six year old and a nine year old. And we can always use more tutors. They are so hard to find for younger kids. I’ll be glad to pay you if you are interested.”

“Thank you, I’m sure I will enjoy it.” Terese was about to ask another question when Mr. Hanson announced that they had arrived.

The house was OLD! Dana shruddered at the fact that the band actually LIVED there. Well, it wasn’t THAT old ,Dana realized. Maybe thirty years. It was just MUCH older than their modern house in Austin.

“Why don’t we drop off your suitcases at the- your house and have a look around.” Walker suggested.

“No.” Kevin argued. “I think we all want to meet the talented young artists. Anyway, there’s no where to put the suitcases. Dana has been especially looking foreward to meeting your sons.”

“Yes, off course. That’s right. Taylor is just your age, I think. He’s the keyboard player.” Walker opened the car door and helped Dana out. “He’s been waiting to meet you, too. At least, the others have.”


Chapter IV


Zachary Hanson heard the car pull up and called his siblings. The girls and Isaac raced to the library window to watch their guests arrive. “Where’s Taylor?” Zachary wanted to know.

“I don’t know.”

Zachary whistled. “Look at her! She’s gorgeous.”

“Zac she’s too old for you!” Isaac cried. “She’s at least Taylor’s age.”

“You just want her for yourself!”

“C’mon guys, I bet they want to meet us, I mean you” Jessica was always breaking up her brothers. She felt that they kept her out too often.

“You mean you want to see if they brought any dogs!”

“No, I want to see if they’re dog people.” Jessica made her brothers laugh, as she usually did without realizing.

The doorbell rang and the “ding dong” flooded the hall. The four Hansons ran down the curved stair case and hugged their father.

“Where’s Taylor?” Walker wanted to know.

“I’m here, I’m here.” Taylor desecded the steps slowly. He had been taking care of his youngest brother, Mackenzie, who had just woken up and was with his mother now. He gave the Neilsons a nod and stood behind his brothers.

Walker began introductions. “This is Clarke Isaac. He is sixteen.”

“Call me Isaac. I play the guitar.”

“Jordan Taylor, 14, he sings and plays the keyboard.” Taylor nodded again. Walker went on. “Zachary Walker”

“Hello and welcome to the middle of nowhere. I’ll be one of your hosts today. I’m 11 and play the drums. I’m more of a comedian than a musician.”

“And last but not least, our girls, Jessica and Avery.”

“In my veiw, they’re dog people, but they like cats, too.” Jessica was still on the animal issue.

“Boys, this is your publicity manager, Kevin Neilson.”

“Pleased to meet you, boys. It’s a pleasure.” Kevin proceeded to shake their hands. “This is my wife, Terese, and my daughter, Dana, who is also fourteen.”

“Hello boys,” said Terese. “You four must be very talented. Wisely, the Hansons remained silent after that remark. “Dana?” Terese meant for Dana to speak.

“I-I didn’t know you were so young,” Dana paused. “I’m really pleased to meet you.” She finished in a hurry.

“We’re please to meet you, too. I hear you’ll be studying with us.” Zachary had taken a likeing to Dana.

“Dana looked down, as she didn’t want to show her disapointment. “Yes, I will be taught with you.”

The adults wandered into the living room to talk some more. Diana, the mother of the Hansons, would be down shortly to discuss the matter further. They shut the big mahogany doors against the six children.

Dana looked at the boys. Isaac was sort of handsome. He had dark blonde hair that was kind of longish and curly. He was pretty thin, but Dana didn’t notice that, much. He did have a nice mouth, though. Taylor was shy. She could tell that straight off. He had blonde hair that was a little longer than Isaac’s. He kept looking at the floor, so she couldn’t really tell about his face, but, even when he spoke, which she now knew was rarely, his voice had an amazing quality.

Zac was loud. His blonde hair was thick and long, his clothes were loud and his features were cute. He was cute in a loud, little kid sort of way, but Dana didn’t really like that. He was being the nicest towards her, and she asumed that he had a crush on her, which he did. The girls were cute, too. They both had long blonde hair and bright blue eyes. After a few seconds, they ran upstairs for their mother, saying that they had a surprise for Mackie.

Suddenly Diana Hanson came down the stairs. She immediately scooped Dana into a big hug and introduced herself. She smiled. “You must be Dana! I didn’t know you were a sweetheart! Isn’t she just the cutest thing you ever saw? Where are your parents?” Dana didn’t like her compliments too much, but she knew that Mrs. Hanson was all right. She pointed at the parlor and Diana made another grand entrance. She heard gasps of surprise from her parents. Soon she came out again. “Ike, Tay, Zac, would you mind showing Dana aound? Oh! And the girls are playing with Mackie, why don’t you introduce her to him?”

The boys agreed right away and Kevin came out of the living room for a moment.

“Be brave, my Dana. The boys are going to show you around the house. I’m sure you’ll like it. I’ll see you in a little bit.”

Dana gulped. “I’ll do the best I can.”


Chapter V


Dana followed the three Hanson brothers up the stairs and into a small bedroom that appeared to be Mackie’s. It was decorated in blue and had a door connecting it to what Dana assumed was Mr. and Mrs. Hanson’s room. Mackie was sitting on his bed being tickled by the girls when they entered. Intoductions began again, and before Dana could say hello, the three youngest Hansons flew out the door and down the stairs singing “We’re off to play in our yard, our wonderful back yard!” They were a little off key, but they still had nice voices. Dana turned to Isaac, who seemed to be in charge.

“Hyper kids.” She said casually. “What did they eat for breakfast?”

“Oh, they’re always like that. You really haven’t seen them hyper yet, I mean hyper for them.” Isaac answered. “C’mon we’ll show you the rest of the house.”

Dana followed the boys around the second floor as they showed her their parents room (yep the same one she had seen through Mackie’s door), the grils’ room (decorated in pink with Barbies everywhere), their playroom (more Barbies), and the bathroom. Then they took her upstairs.

“This is OUR floor” said Zachary proudly. “See, this is our bathroom and mine and Tay’s room and Ike’s room and our TV room.” Zachary was pulling Dana from room to room.

“Cut that out Zac, I wanna show her her house!” Taylor led Dana to a window in over a bed in the room he shared with Zac. “See? That is the third floor of your house.”

Dana nodded. Her house was long and narrow. “Can we go see it? I want to pick out my bedroom.”

Zachary jumped up “Just let me lead the way, madame!”

Isaac laughed. “Its ‘madamoiselle’ if she’s not married!” He looked at Dana, “You aren’t, are you?”

“No!!”

“C’mon guys! Leave her alone, she just got here.” Taylor pushed his younger brother and they ended up in a fist fight.

Isaac sensed Dana’s tension and whispered to her “That’s why I don’t share a room with them.” He was realeived when Dana let out her breath and laughed.

After a hurried goodbye to their parents, the four teenagers walked outside. Dana grew more and more homesick for Austin when she saw her house up close. It was OLD! And falling apart. The front porch was sagging and pieces of the ceilling were missing.

“Don’t worry, we fixed up the inside.” Taylor said. “We’re gonna fix the outside, too, as soon as you move in.” Dana looked somewhat relieved.

They unlocked the door and pushed their way inside. Indeed, it was cleaner. Dana led the way, silently, through a living room, a dining room, a small kitchen and a large study. She found the stairs to go upstairs and climbed those. There were two large bedrooms there, and a bathroom. Those would be her parents room and their office, Dana thought. She looked for the attic stairs, but couldn’t find them. Finally, Taylor led her to a small door, and she opened it, reveiling the steep staircase.

Dana climbed the stairs, slowly. Inside, she was desperitly hoping that there was a bedroom up there, with a bathroom.

The attic was dusty and dark. The only windows were dormers. At the top of the stairs there was one large room, and one door next to the stairs. She held her breath as she opened it, expecting just a closet.

Instead there was the cutest little bathroom! She breathed a sigh of relief. She would have the whole third floor! She turned to the boys and smiled. “This will be my room, but it will take a while to get it how I want it. Maybe this house won’t be so bad after all!” With that she ran downstairs and out the front door to tell her parents and the boys could do nothing but follow her.


Next five chapters