chapter seven

forestThe days have passed without me realising them. Sure I get up in the mornning and go to bed at night but they seem to blur into one another. I actually had to ask the delivery man this morning what day it was so that I could sign for it. I look over at it now sitting there on the table, I haven’t had a chanec to open it yet but maybe it’s more that I haven’t gotten the courage to open it yet. I’m in a strange town and no one knows my address other than Emily and my lawyer and I highly doubt either of them would be sending me a package. I take out the tea bag and toss it in the bin before walking over to the suspicious little brown box, I put my mug down and inspect the wrapping, it has a wax seal on it, who even uses wax seals anymore other than pretentious hipsters anyway. I sigh and sit down, it doesn’t sound like it’s ticking but I don’t take any chances by shaking it either, just in case. I pick open the seal and remove the brown paper to reveal a beautiful carved wooden box with my last name engraved onto the lid. Holding it up and inspecting it at every angle I can only admire the time and patience that must have gone into making it. I can’t open it and search the package for a note or key that I might have missed but there’s nothing. There’s something in it though, I can hear it when I shake it and I let out a frustrated sigh. Who the hell sends someone a box that they can’t open, do they think I’m a lock pick or something? I run my thumb over the keywhole, it’s not big but looks old. I give it one more try and put it back down on the table a little harder than I meant to, the cat gets a fright and meows at me from his spot in the sun. “Sorry you, I just don’t get it.” I reach over and give him a little scratch on his fluffy little orange head, he stretches out and rolls over onto his other side ignoring my apology. I grab the wrapping paper and bunch it up into a ball then aim it at the bin and throw. Score!

I carry the box up to my room and put it down on the dresser then exchange my slippers for a pair of boots and grab my sketch book. I haven’t done any writing since I got here and I’m sure my publisher is going to be hunting me down if I don’t send her the first draft soon. I’ve been heading out into the forest daily, picking out different paths and finding places to sit down and sketch out ideas and just plain getting some fresh air, there’s so much of it out here compared to the city. It’s gotten colder over the last week or so and the fog hangs around a little longer gradually getting thicker as winter draws near. I heard they’re expecting snowfall earlier than usual and I can’t wait. I have vague memories of playing in snow with my parents but I’m not sure if that’s an actual memory or if it’s something I made up over the years. Either way, they’re happy ones and I’m excited for that cold powder to cover the trees even though I can’t imagine all of this green hidden for months, I guess I can understand why people get seasonal depression. I stop on the little bridge and look down at the stream running underneath it, I wonder if it freezes over or not. I kick a leaf with the toe of my boot and watch as it floats down along the current. The walk is nice and this time when I get to the cross in the path I take a left. Someone must have walked here a lot as there’s a
distinct path marked out but you can see nature is slowly starting to take over again and I hop over a few vines and tree roots. I duck under a branch and walk straight into a spiderweb which has me screaching and karate chopping the air like a very uncoordinated ninja, graceful was never a word used to describe me. Once I’m sort of convinced it’s gone and that the builder of web isn’t crawling on me waiting to get revenge I carry on a little longer till it veers back and meets back up with the stream, I follow the path along it and come across a little waterfall that leads into a pool. It’s so perfect it doesn’t look real, this whole town is like that though, too perfect and I’ll admit it’s a bit disturbing when you stop and think about it.

Hopping down the last rock I pick out a spot that’s soft with ground, I shrug off my backpack and get comfortable before taking out my water bottle and sketchpad and looking around. The sound of the waterfall, even though it’s not a really big one, drowns out most but you can still hear the birds chiping as they fly overhead and dragonflies skip across the waters’ surface. I pick one of the flowers next to me and lean back against the tree, pulling the petals off one at a time like I used to do when I was at school except this time it’s got nothing to do with a boy and everything to do with habit. As the last petal falls a shadow catches my eye, the kind that you’re not sure was actually ever there to begin with, the kind that seems to follow you around but never exist. I get up and cautiously walk over to where I thought I saw it but there’s nothing as always, as I turn back I see it again and I’m sure of it this time, I’m not losing my mind. I walk along the rocks and come to the waterfall, there’s a little gap behind it, I look around the clearing but there’s nothing and no one so I put my back up against the wall of rock and feel my way slowly along it till I find myself right behind the falling water. Everything is different from here, I stick my hand out and feel the cool water splash on me and I laugh, it feels magical back here. Feeling a little further along the ledge I get to an opening, it’s not big, I have to bend to get inside but I can sit and look out through the water from here. I don’t know how long I sit staring out at the blurred clearing, time seems to work differently in here but it’s been long enough for the fine mist that sprays up to form a layer on my jeans and the direction of the light to change and start to set so I decide it’s about time to get back, I get up and dust myself off but as I turn around I notice markings on the one wall that I didn’t see there before. It must be because of the way the light is reflecting off it now. I trace the markings with my hands, they seem so familiar and yet I can’t place them, they’re there but just out of reach. They seem to follow the wall all along and further into the cave and I wish I could stay longer but I don’t think I know the woods well enough yet to navigate them back home in the dark so I make a mental note to come back here again and bring a torch with next time.

The walk home is quick and I reach it before the sun has completely set, the cat sits at the back door waiting for me, I guess I missed dinner time, and walks over and wraps himself around me legs when he sees me. I scratch him behind the ears then unlock the door and head into the kitchen, switching on the light and grabbing some tuna out the cupboard for Mr Bigglesworth who’s hopped up onto the counter and is meowing his frustrations at my slow progress of feeding him. “Alright alright, hang on to your socks” I grab a knife and empty out the can in his bowl then toss it in the bin and grab myself a pepsi out the fridge. The stairs of awesome-butt-ness are becoming easier to conquer with every ascent I make and I take the last few two at a time. Dropping my bag at the door I pick up the carved box on my table and flop onto the bed. Kicking off my shoes and pulling off my hoodie I crawl into the thick down duvets and prop up the pillows behid me. I trace the carvings and then realise why the markings on the wall in the cave looked so familiar, they’re the same ones. But without being able to open the damn thing I’m no closer to figuring out why. This house and town have to have a history and I’m wondering who’d be able to tell me about it, I considering calling Emily but I don’t want to bother her with something so trivial so I reach under the bed and pull out my laptop. Time for google to do it’s job and tell me what I need to know.

I shut the laptop, take another sip of pepsi and rest my elbows on it. Okay so what I’ve learned in the few minutes I did some digging is that apparently this house is one of the oldest in Stoneridge, which I guess makes sense if you consider the amount of ground that comes with it, but you have to love the stories that people make up to go with old houses, or with anything they don’t understand. According to a website a famous Author lived here and his ghost still haunts the place. I look around the room “You still here?” the door creaks open and I get sit up a little to get a better look but as I do the cat jumps up onto the bed and I laugh. “Damn you. I thought you were a ghost.” I’m pretty sure that the look he gives me is one of utter hopelessness for our kind but I ignore him and crawl back under the covers into the comfortable little nest I made for myself. So another rumor is that all his manuscripts are still in the house, his and his son’s. Which means that now I just want to get up and go find them, I wonder where it would be, I’ve been to a few of the rooms but I haven’t really explored the house itself very much yet. All that work hidden away for no one to find or see? And again I wonder how and why I inherited it all. In the morning it’s time to do some proper digging and find out what exactly the catch to all this is.

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