Life is more quiet on the countryside and its soft occassional breezes puts her mind at ease. It has been a week since Aislah went to stay with her Aunt on their old countryside home, she wanted to live there for good and she is convinced that this is the life she always wanted. Except for the little noises and some kitten biting her when she was asleep in the garden one time.
As a child she spent most of her summers on her grandparent's old house on the countryside. Her parents would often take her to see her grandmother, but now, a year after her grandmother died, things are now a bit different. She moved out of her parent's apartment hoping that slow living would work for her but that's not the entire reason because her mother would soon follow her few months from now to live with her too.
Everything has been going well for her in these past month with only a minor inconveniences of an almost off-grid life, though living on a stone mansion had her remember her old friend, Larke, that visits her often whenever she is around. It was a long time ago that she doubted that Larke could still remember her. Her Aunty told her that they had moved away some years ago although she never asked where, she wanted to know which place it might be, or are they really alright?! She wanted to know.
In her sleep Aislah heard her name called but she thought it was only a dream.
'Aislah, Aislah?' She heard and a soft knock from the window. She ignored the sounds and proceed to sleep again.
'Are your kids around, Aunt Betty?'
'I was hoping to see them here.' Aislah voiced out her querries one morning as they were busy preparing breakfast in the kitchen.
'Oh!' A shocked reply came from her Aunt's mouth.
'They are in their grandparents house across the lake.' Her Aunt added.
Aislah was confused by the word 'lake' that she double take the word.
'Is it the pond? Across the pond, was it?'
'Yes, across the pond. They are older than you and they wanted to be in their own already.' Her Aunty answered. She had two cousins she never seen yet or met, both of them are boys that are older than her, she knew a bit of their independence that she was hoping they would see them at their house sometimes.
'Is Uncle with them too?' That has been her last question about her Aunt's family after her Aunty nodded at her in question. So she stopped prying over the things her Aunty never wanted to talk about. But being with her Aunty is facinating too, she looked so young that perhaps maybe life here might not be so stressful after all.
'I hear people inside the house, I thought it was Uncle and cousins.' Aislah mused out after a while.
'Are you sure it was inside the house?' Her Aunt pried over her questions.
'No, perhaps it was outside.' Aislah answered and that was the last time Aislah asked about other people that her Aunty might know of.
After that incident her Aunty seems to avoid her. She wanted to apologize to her because she knew she might have asked the wrong questions. Yet she found herself going away from her usual walk to the pond and the gardens, she wanted to give her Aunt a gift. She brought with her a forage basket and a small knife to forage in the woods. She found herself a little far away from their property's edge where there was a tidy pathways around the trees. She was curious why it was so and found some cottage distance away. Similar to the old paintings she saw in a children's book she was amazed that there are still places that look like it. But soon, her joy was lifted when she found out the cottage was empty. She remembered Larke, her old friend that might have lived there before. Perhaps her Aunty was right that they have no neighbors anymore. Aislah stood near the fireplace and heard rustling noises above the ceiling. She closed the door and proceed to explore the place, she decided to just look over the place a bit before starting to forage in the woods. The house was neat and tidy without some furnitures around, except for the empty beds on the second floor. She moved towards the kitchen, and to some tiny bathroom, and to a tiny cellar below the kitchen. There were jars on the cellar filled with preserved vegetables and some dried herbs on others. She left the door open to have some light on the cellar and as she explored, she found out that the cellar was kind of long and big. There was even a candle holder on the side and more other rack full of produce. It was weird to find a place like this that are so full of produce from all sides. And there was a closed cabinet beneath the candle holder on the wall. It was kind of little cabinet made of a hardwood. She realized it was locked when she tried to open it. She brought no matches with her to light the candles above it. It was an accident that she found the cellar and it was even crazy that she thought to open the cabinet. She banged the cabinet's door, she found out it was hollow as she hit it. Aislah was thinking it was the place they store gold or jewelries but Aislah just wanted to take a look and not steal anything. It was moments later that she found a keyhole as she began to squat in the front of the cabinet looking for ways to open it. She expected that the keyhole would be bigger but it looks so tiny that the key pendant her grandmother gave her might fit. As she was thinking about it she tried opening the door with her key pendant and found out it fits. She felt like a bulglar but a bit excited of what she had done. The door opened and the light from inside the cabinet blinded her. It was so bright inside the cabinet and pried out why it was so. She found out what was inside the cabinet, it was a door to a chamber beneath the house, she tried to fit in the door and descended from it down toward the staircase holding her basket with her.
It was an ancient castle beneath the abandoned cottage with a golden chandelier above it. There were rooms similar to where she came out to, and down the staicase was a sitting room with a grand piano but it was a bit tiny like a little girl's piano. The house was bright and endless with lots of rooms on every side. But the place she loved the most was the kitchen that has everything she could ever dreamed of having, the porcelain wares, the jars, the cooking pot, and all kinds of spices but all of it was rather tiny. She went out of the place confused by what she saw. She wanted to live there too, Aislah thought. She locked everything, the cabinet, the cellar, the house, and went straight home.
She couldn't sleep that night, she thought of everything she hasn't been told of the place she came to live. Of her Aunt lying to her about everything--or did her grandmother knew about this too? She was sad knowing this, she found out now why they had beautiful gardens and why her Aunty never left their old house but it was only a hunch. She lied on her bed holding the key pendant on her neck. The night started to get darker as she lied awake still. The candle light started to look brighter as her eyes adjusted to the darkness of and as she was lying on her bed she heard a soft knock on the window behind her thick curtains. She ignored it but the knock became constant. Her room was on the second floor of the house and she knew it wasn't a person. The night was silent and only the hum of the insects are heard, Aislah opened the window and was greeted by a cold breeze. It was until a person opened the window wider and entered room that she realized it was a person knocking from the outside.
'I heard you arrived. Sorry, I was busy with the harvest season that I haven't come to see you yet, I need to be there.' The young man went to reason as Aislah stood in front of him.
'Have you forgot me already? It was me, Larke, your friend from a long time ago.'
Aislah stood there frozen because, Larke, the friend that she came to know looked the same, in height. He was an elf--no, a dwarf, maybe?! She was scared to know this and felt happy at the same time knowing that he was doing fine. Perhaps the life that she knew wasn't always right after all. She was hoping this was all dream, because this can't be real.
'L-arke! It was you right? And I wasn't dreaming?' she asked just to make sure that she heard him right.
Larke simply grinned at her which reminds her of his teeth that was kind of weird and edgy. She should have known this a long time ago as her grandmother had told her but she refused to believe it before.
'I heard that a tall woman came banging the secret door which scared everyone in the house.' Larke, scratch his head as he talked. 'I was at the field during that time and the funny thing is that they thought you were a troll so they hid from you. But I have a hunch that it might be you so I came here ' He laughed.
She looked at him and realized that he was unusually tall for a dwarf and yet so short like an elf.
Then afterwards he decided to hop on her bed like he owns the room and started talking to her as he lied on her bed.'Shall we go to the lake tomorrow and meet everyone?'
'You have decided to drown me now?' Aislah was confused again with the lake that looks like a pond to her.
'The little kids just made fun with you before, they won't do that when I'm around.'
Aislah wanted to sleep already but the elf lay on her bed so she went to lie on the farthest end and started sleeping.
'I was waiting for you to come back.' Larke began to tell. 'I left the key here in your room.'
Aislah stared at the Larke talking, he never changed since then. His face looked the same. His long blond hair, his crooked teeth, and his height. She was almost as tall as him, only a few inches taller. She mistaked him as a child before when he might have been in his teens. She used to sleep in the garden with him as a child, he can't really move away because she used to fell asleep on his long hair. She fell asleep that night thinking it was all a dream till she woke up and found tiny apples on her bedside and the key she used to open the door at the cellar. It wasn't really a dream, and that is all she wanted to know, for now.