Trees and other shadows can play against the mind at night, especially when inside a dark forest. Stumbling through the brush, just barely seeing the groggy path, Eliza finally pushed through the last of the vegetation that tried to consume her.
Bending over to catch her breath, (for she always ran when going to visit her Aunt and Grandmother), she stood and inhaled stale musty air.
One would think that living within a forest such as this, the air would be pleasant, but not here.
Adjusting her cape and hood, she brushed the extra dust off of her knees where she had earlier taken quite a beating from the trees.
The basket, thank the Lord it hadn’t been damaged, waited patiently to be received by its new owners.
The door creaked and shuddered with the turning of the doorknob. They really needed to get that fixed, she thought. The hall light was on and a large grin beamed off of her Aunt’s face. She looked washed out, though, just barely there.
“Why hello, Elizabeth! It’s always a pleasure to have you visit us.”
“Thank you, Aunt Rae.Where is Clarence off to? He needs to fix the -”
Rae dismissed it with a wave of her hand, though Eliza noticed it shook a little, “He knows. Don’t worry. He should be out in the shed working on the new door and the wood surrounding it. Come in, come in.”
“Is that Eliza?” a raspy voice called from upstairs.
“We’ll be up in a minute, Mom,” Rae called.
Turning to Eliza, she lowered her voice and attempted to keep her eyes steady. “Eliza, I don’t know how much longer we have her for. She’s been getting worse and worse and…” She shook her head and place her hands on her niece’s slim shoulders. “What I’m saying is, you might have to go and retrieve the rest of the family and the priest tonight.”
Eliza pursed her lips together and hung her head. This is why her mother had sent her. She had known they had seemed a bit secretive. She placed the basket of biscuits and desserts on the kitchen table and gripped the nearest chair for support. The world was swaying, but she forced it to still. Blinking back tears she pushed away from the table and trudged up the ancient, and almost crumbling stairway.
She knew the only reason they lived here in the old house was because it had belonged to her Grandma and Grandpa when they were first married. After his early death, her Grandmother couldn’t bear to sell it; it was all she had left of him.
She paused before the grand oak door and inhaled the wood smell that was infused with jasmine and ginger root. She recalled coming to the same door years earlier and the smell becoming a beacon to her Grandmother’s whereabouts throughout the house.
She heard the wailing coughs; the sound made her wince, and then the once soft voice, raspily call out, “Come in, child. I’ve been expecting you.”
Grasping the doorknob, with less courage than she had the front door, Eliza held her breath, afraid of the sight behind the jasmine-ginger infused door. Be still heart, she told her internal beating drum.
They really should fix that.