Click on the chapters to read if you are not up to date.
Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8
I finish off the email to my editor and hit send, I sit back and stretch my arms up above my head, clicking my back and neck as I do so. I’m pretty proud of myself, for all the writing I’ve been able to do the last two weeks. I’ve actually finished the first draft of my book, okay mostly because I haven’t been able to sleep much for some reason and the weather hasn’t permitted too many more forest excursions. But my editor is going to be pleased so I guess it’s been worth it even if it is going to catch up on me at some point. I check my social media, I’m still avoiding some people and the questions of where I am, I’ll eventually tell them, I’m just enjoying being away from it all still. Away from the stress and chaos and the constant questions and media. I close my laptop and decide to go see if there’s anything edible in the kitchen, since I haven’t been shopping in a while, I’m going to wager a guess that I’m probably all out of everything except peanut butter and noodles. I could really do with some of that heavenly cake Emily made. Or pancakes, pancakes with cream and chocolate sound good. There’s a noise outside that sounds like someone throwing rocks at my window ad I turn around so quickly I fall flat on my face, narrowly missing the bed. I can’t help but laugh at my clumsiness, tripping over my own feet again. As I get up I notice something under the bed and reach out for it. It’s an envelope, actually, it’s the envelope that I got from Mr Earthsap and I wonder how it ended up under the bed, I’d completely forgotten about it in all honesty. I sit up and cross my legs, no better time than now to open it seeing as I’m on the floor already, maybe it has all the answers I’m looking for, or at least some of them anyway. I carefully tear open the back and a open it up, there’s a note and something else, a key, a beautifully ornate key that slides into my palm as I tip the envelope over. I flip it over a few times, feeling it between my fingers and weighing it in my hand. I pull out the note, it’s handwritten and the script is beautiful.
Find the place that water hides, there place where darkness resides.
When the lights in the sky shine bright and the blue moon is at it’s peak the path you seek will lead the way.
You have the key now find it’s twin, only with the set you will be able to fix what has been wronged.
What the fuck is that supposed to mean? I turn the page over to see if there’s anything else written on it but all there is is some strange crest stamped onto the back. I look at the key again. Great, so now I need two of it? I didn’t even know about the first one how am I supposed to find it’s twin. I sigh in frustration and get up, I reach over and put the key down on the bedside table but as I walk away a thought strikes me and I turn back towards the table. It can’t be that simple can it? I reach for the carved box that’s been sitting there for the past few weeks and sit down on the bed then bring the key over to it, they look like they could have been made at the same time. I fit the key into the lock and hold my breath, it’s a perfect fit and I hear the click as I turn it. A million thoughts and scenarios of what could be inside it run through my head in the few seconds it takes to open the box. And there it is, the thing that rattled every time I shook the box, seeing it now I wish I hadn’t shook it quite so hard and am really thankful that it doesn’t seem to have broken or been damaged. I carefully pick it out of the box, it’s as large as my palm but delicate, and it has the same crest that is on the back of the paper molded onto it, the chain it is on holds another charm as well, a crystal about the length and thickness of my thumb that has a beautiful cast on it with the same symbols on that are on the box engraved into it. I lift up the chain and put it around my next, the crest and the crystal hanging on my breast bone and they feel warm, must be from when I was holding it.
There was nothing in the fridge just like I’d suspected so here I am perusing the isles of the grocer again. I’ve gotten to recognize a few people and they wave or smile as I pass them, I guess they must be getting used to the weird girl who’s moved into Forest Lane, either that or they’re worried I’ll curse them if they’re not friendly. But at the same time every one here is just that, friendly. It’s weird, must be a small town thing though, everyone knowing everyone else’s business and plans. I guess if you’re not friendly here you’d be a bit of an outcast really which is why I wave, nod and smile appropriately. “Excuse me?” I turn around quickly as the tap on my shoulder brings me out of my thoughts and come face to face with a lady a little taller than I am which isn’t all that hard considering I’m shorter than average, she has short cropped grey hair and a big smile on her face. “Um, yes?” I look around to make sure she hasn’t perhaps mistaken me for someone else but we’re the only two in the isle. “Excuse me dear, you’re the young lady who’s just moved into the Forest Lane cottage are you not, A Ms Fairdale I believe?” I frown and nod my head. No one’s actually come up to talk to me yet unless you count Emily and the teller so this is a little weird. “Sorry, I should have introduced myself, I’m Mrs Eldrige, I’m the mayor of Stoneridge. I’d heard someone had moved into the old house and when I saw you in the isle now I thought it might be you, I know everyone in town you see.” The mayor holds out her hand and I take it, she has a really firm grip and shakes mine vigorously while holding it with both hands. My necklace seems to catch her attention and a look crosses her face, she quickly lets my hand go but she recovers in a split second and looks back up at me and smiles brightly “Will we be seeing you at the ball on Saturday? I trust you’ve received an invite and have acquired a dress? It is a dress up after all.” I shake my head “No, I don’t know about any ball?” Ms Eldrige looks a little concerned and starts digging around in her bag then hands me a card tied with twine and what looks to be precious stones. “I’d hoped Emily would have dropped it off for you but I guess she must have forgotten, please say you’ll join us? The blue moon is a grand affair in Stoneridge and in a small town like this any reason to dress up and celebrate is a good one.” Something she says tickles a part of my memory, the letter had mentioned a blue moon. “I don’t know, I don’t know anyone and” but I cut myself off, I’ve been saying I need to meet some of the townsfolk, perhaps this ball is exactly the kind of thing I need to attend. I’d have to find something to wear though, would a town like this even have a place I could find something so last minute? Maybe I’ll make a day of it and head to the city. I look up at the mayors eager face “I’ll be there.” I swear she just about jumps for joy “Great! I’ll see you there then” she lowers her voice and leans in a little closer “and don’t worry, there are some very nice gentlemen attending so I’m sure you’ll find a good reason to stay in Stoneridge” She winks and turns away before I can correct her. What a strange old lady.
I park the bicycle at the back against the wood pile and carry my groceries into the kitchen, placing them all on the counter and putting them away systematically but leave out the steak and broccoli. May as well start eating healthy. The invite slips out my bag and lands on the floor, I bend over and pick it up thinking of the odd encounter at the store. I look back at the invite in my hand and finger the fine twine bindings. Well then, I guess I’m going to a ball this weekend. What the fuck am I going to wear?!