Mom was defrosting frozen waffles in the toaster that she had thought to bring along in the car. I grabbed two and started wolfing them down.
“Hugo, how about eating one at a time?” said mom.
I shrugged. She knew I was going to eat these plus two more. Mary was already sitting at the table reading the newspaper that mom had picked up at the store at the crack of dawn, and nibbling on her waffles. I gulped down a glass of apple juice.
“So what are you guys going to do today?” asked mom.
I shrugged. Mary looked up at mom.
“I was thinking of taking a walk around the place,” said Mary.
“That sounds like a great idea. Hugo, why don’t you go with?” said mom.
“I don’t want to go with,” I told her.
She gave me her famous scolding look. It told me that I had better go with or I was going to be stuck doing something even more unpleasant. I hung my head in defeat.
“The movers are going to be here in a few hours. I just don’t want you to get in the way, alright?” explained mom.
So Mary and I finished our breakfasts and then headed out the front door. Mary walked three yards ahead of me.
“Do you know what would be kind of cool?” asked Mary, calling over her shoulder.
“What?” I asked, humoring her.
“If our back yard was an old graveyard.”
“Are you sure you weren’t looking for the word ‘spooky’ or ‘freaky’?” I asked her.
“No, I meant what I said. I think it would be fascinating to have all of those people just resting in our back yard for all of eternity!”
“They’re not resting, they’re dead,” I corrected her.
“Think of all of the years of history there could be back there!” said Mary.
We walked farther and I pretended to listen to how interesting that mythical graveyard in our backyard would be.
What we weren’t aware of was the forest that was set so far back that when you looked at the front of our beautiful house at the bottom of the hill, it would go unnoticed. But it was part of our property.
“Mom never told us about this,” said Mary.
“Maybe she didn’t know,” I said.
“Let’s go in,” she said.
What harm could we come by in a forest? We trudged on.
The forest behind our house had the essence of a forest you might read about in a fairy tale; small animals scampered across our path only to leave just as quickly as they had come. Rays of golden light filtered through the leaves of the trees, illuminating our path… beckoning us to follow.
And follow we did.
We walked through the forest until we came across a well. We gripped the sides and peered all the way down. There couldn’t have been more than a few inches of water down there.
“Hugo, if we found a well, do you know what this means?” asked Mary, excitedly.
“I don’t know…”
“Honestly… it means there are probably other cottages nearby! Lots of civilizations are started when the ground is broken and they have a well with good water,” said Mary. “Come on, let’s keep looking.”
Mary went on direction and I went the opposite way to go looking for another house. I went through about ten yards of trees when I finally found the remnants of a picket fence.
“Mary!” I shouted.
I approached the fence and found the gate when Mary came over.
“Look what I found,” I said.
“It’s a fence,” said Mary.
“Ah, but where there is a fence, there is surely a house!” I said.
She rolled her eyes at me. I smiled.
I opened the gate that came to about my waist. Inside were piles and piles of leaves—dry and crunchy as well as freshly fallen.
“I’m going to go keep looking where I was looking before,” said Mary.
“Fine, but you’ll miss out!” I said.
She left without a word.
I headed across the property. It seemed to be covered in more forest than grass. It must have been a while since someone lived here.
At last, after several minutes of walking, I found it. The house was in utter shambles, but it was still perfect. There was a large wooden door set into the front, the curtains in the tall, rectangular windows were drawn tightly closed, housing the spiders that now took over. I moved closer to the door—close enough to smell the age attached to it. With that, I placed my hands on the door and pushed.
Inside was completely empty. No furniture, no blankets, hardly any pictures… there was only one. It rested at the top of the grand staircase, right in the middle of the wall. It was a portrait of an old man. He had a white beard that came down to where I guessed his collar-bone was located. He had a receding hairline with rare traces of black hair intermixed. There was no inscription under it.
I went to the stairs and tested my weight on the bottom stair. Surprisingly, it didn’t squeak. I moved up the stares and the first thing I saw was a long hall way. There were six doors, three on each side. I moved towards the door closest to me. I pressed my ear against the wood—the last thing that I wanted to find out was that someone was still living here, even though I highly doubted that possibility.
No sound but the wind. With that, I pushed on the wood, since all of the door knobs were missing, and walked in.
There was a small bed in the corner. It had a rounded base and headboard and there was a thin film of dust. The panes of glass were shattered in their frame—probably the work of the vandals that were able to find this place. Or had something else happened?
I looked in the closet and there was a little girl’s night gown hanging on a hanger
I moved across the hall. When I looked in, I saw an old fireplace and the opposite wall was covered in books. The wall opposite the one that I entered through was gone completely. Judging by the edges of the walls that remained, it had originally been burned away, but now it was being consumed by water damage and spots of mold. There was a chair in there as well. I crossed the room and sat down in it—still in working order!
I looked out through the missing wall. From this side of the house, the forest looked dead. There were few signs of life. Maybe a squirrel or a rabbit or two. But little to no green.
It sounded like an echo in my ear.
There it was again. But louder.
It was Mary. My head was in a fog.
“Hugo, please answer me,” said Mary.
I got up from my chair and ran down the stairs that didn’t squeak, out the front door, and through the gate, almost running into Mary.
“Hey!” she exclaimed.
“I heard mom calling, but it would look bad if I didn’t bring you with me,” said Mary.
I looked back once at the house that was obscured by trees and followed Mary back to the house.
Yes!! I did it! I have no idea why that took as long as it did... I really and truly do apologize. I'll get to working on chapter four and with any luck, I'll have it done this week. I would also like to say the same about my summer Honors Physics homework, but I'm not sure that that will be done either... then again, it is only note-taking. And I have roughly three weeks left to do it.
This isn't my best chapter... hopefully everything will get worked out when we get to the editing phase. But I just want to get everything down somewhere before I start doing that!
With that, I'll take my leave.
Have a great week, everyone!