Sorry I haven't posted in so long, but time has this way of escaping me, the jerk.
There's a short story below - finally! Though it's only part of it, because (a) I'm not finished and (b) it's relatively long.
But before I get to that - THALIA! Congrats on winning the Derek Landy sentence contest thinga-ma-jig. So awesome...!! :)
... plus, did anyone know that if your reverse the t and l in tilted you get titled (which definitely does not describe a red-painted rickety wooden shed)?
FIDGENWINDLE (part I)
The autumn day started out cold and dry, like the ones had been before it and the ones would be after it. Sarah Foxx woke up, realized it was Saturday, and went back to sleep. When she re-awoke an hour later, she headed down for breakfast. Her mother was up and cooking pancakes. Her father had gone to work, because he, unfortunately, had to work.
Sarah helped her mother dry dishes, then finished up her homework. Afterwards she started a game of Scrabble with her mother, but they didn’t finish because her mom had to go change a load of laundry over and then became preoccupied with tidying up the laundry room. Remembering her father’s wishes, she went outside to rake leaves in their yard, wishing there were more kids who lived around her so she could play with someone on boring old Saturdays like this one. When she finished raking, she was cold and hungry, so she went inside and ate lunch, then took a nap on the couch.
When she opened her eyes, the sunlight streaming into her living room looked significantly darker and redder than it had before. She went to the window, and saw the sun was about to set over the near-empty trees, turning the sky a hazy magenta. The grandfather clock next to the back door had its hands indicating six-fifteen. She wondered why her mom wasn’t preparing dinner and why her dad wasn’t home yet.
She went to the kitchen, but her mom wasn’t there, so she checked the laundry room, but her mother was nowhere on the first floor. Sarah climbed the steps to the second floor, where she saw lights on in her parent’s room. Her mom was probably just getting ready for dinner after all her cleaning.
Hopping back to the living room, she stared out the window to their back yard, which was, despite her valiant efforts earlier in the day, yet again covered in a thick layer of golden leaves. Feeling slightly annoyed at this bothersome habit of nature, Sarah pulled on her coat and gloves and picked up her rake. When her father got home, he was going to find a perfectly green lawn.
She stepped onto the back porch that faced her yard, admiring the sights of the rubescent forest in the distance, the small rickety red-painted wooden shed that stood somewhat tilted over to the left, and the little brook to the right with a small stone bridge over it that led to a path through the forest. The deep orange sun and purple sky dotted with fluffy, drifting clouds framed it all nicely. She shivered as a cold blast of wind brought her back from her thoughts and she thumped down the steps and began to rake the leaves into little piles.
About halfway through the yard – behind her lay neat little piles of leaves, exposing green grass, and ahead lay the thicket of yellow leaves she had yet to attack – Sarah heard a noise coming from the shed. She walked to it, wrapping her gloved hands around the rusted metal handle and yanking open the door. Something black and white shot past her, yipping. She turned to see the dog take off through her yard – through her orderly piles of leaves, to her dismay – and disappear over the small bridge, barking all the way.
“How in the world-” she muttered, turning back to the shed, which was dark inside and heavy with the smell of dust and dirt. A small area free of dirt showed where the dog had been, but the doors were covered in spider webs. They hadn’t been opened until she had pulled them open just a moment before. A bright glint of light off something metal caught her eye. She leaned over and picked up a blue collar with a silver tag hanging from it. Etched in the tag was a name – “Bernard.”
She sighed. A tag meant that someone owned the dog, which meant that she had to go and look in the forest for Bernard the Dog so it didn’t get lost or worse – eaten by whatever hungry animals came out at night in the forest.
She jogged back across the yard, observing the one half of the yard that had once held the neat piles, though now it looked almost equally as messy as the second half. She groaned. Bernard unfortunately had lacked the decency to keep her yard neat, but at least he had not used it as a toilet. She ran over the bridge and arrived at the pathway into the woods. A small, thin sign hung from the foremost tree, shaking and trembling in the wind. “Darkened Thatch.” It was an odd name in the first place, even more so for such a friendly-looking forest, but as the sun was about to melt into the ground and bring about the rise of dusk, she felt vaguely wary about going in.
But then she heard Bernard yapping from up ahead, and she sighed again and ran forward. She could see his tracks along the path, which was good. As long as he didn’t stray from the rough pathway, she could find him quickly and bring him home and try to find his owner.
She passed a large boulder with a star etched on its side, a tree with roots tied like a bow in the ground near it, and a shallow stream with three rocks lending themselves as stepping stones so she could cross. She had encountered all of these before. But as she walked past a bush with big red berries and a ledge with green moss growing in distinct circles, she began to feel uneasy. She didn’t remember ever seeing these things before. She listened carefully for Bernard’s barking, but she didn’t hear him.
Dusk had now set in, and night would be quickly falling. The sun was only specks of light shining through the trees now, and suddenly Sarah became afraid that it would go down before she left the forest.
Feeling guilty about abandoning Bernard, she turned and started to run back the path. But it wasn’t long before she reached a V in the road. “What?” she gasped. In her haste she must not have noticed that the path she was walking had merged with another, and now she didn’t know which one to take.
She tried looking ahead, but in the quickly dimming light she could hardly see, and Sarah started to feel scared.
All of a sudden, she heard a crashing noise coming from the thick tangle of forest to her left. She jumped back in fear, imagining the worst – a wolf, a bear, a crazed axe-murderer – but out of the brush jumped a dog with a black and white coat covered in leaves and twigs. “Bernard!” she cried thankfully.
“How do you know Bernard?” asked a curious voice.
Sarah gasped and looked up. A short blonde boy had followed Bernard out of the trees and was now staring at her from underneath his messy bangs.
She held up his nametag and he reached out and took it. “By golly!” he exclaimed. “Must’ve fallen off the poor brute. He got lost yesterday – he loves to run away, though he always comes back if he can find the way.” As the boy bent to reattach the collar, Sarah scrutinized him.
He had tangled blonde hair that hung low over his eyes and ears. His nose was a little upturned and he had tiny freckles across his face, but she couldn’t tell what color his eyes were while he bent over. He wore old-fashioned clothes, like he belonged in a nineteenth-century storybook, not a twenty-first century world. His shirt was white linen, buttoned up in the front, with rather puffy sleeves and collar. His trousers were dark brown and tucked into his boots, which laced up in the front. A blue handkerchief poked out of his pocket, and after he brushed off his dog, he took this piece of cloth and wiped his hands.
“What are you wearing?” she asked as he straightened.
“Clothes,” he said simply. “And you?”
“Clothes,” she replied, feeling a little confused. “I need to get home.”
“Oh really?” With a worried expression, he looked up at the sky, which was now a dark gray a sprinkled with emerging stars. “I think I ought to be heading home too. Do you know the way back to yours?”
“Um…” Sarah bit her lip. “Not really.”
“I don’t either,” he said, “but I know someone who’ll be able to get you back. Follow me!”
Hesitantly, she followed him, because she couldn’t see anything else to do. He led her faultlessly over the rough path in the dark, even though now it was so late that she could hardly make out her surroundings. The moon was waxing, and it was little more than a sliver of white. She could barely see the boy and his dog ahead of her, but he kept up a steady stream of chatter, though from now and then she tuned him out so she could look around – in vain, for she couldn’t see a thing but shadowy trees.
“What’s your name?” Sarah asked him finally, interrupting a story about him and Bernard fishing in a leaky boat.
“Well my real name is Fidgenwindle, but everyone just calls me Fidget!”
Sarah almost laughed, but didn’t want to sound disrespectful. “Your name is Fidgenwindle?”
“Yes.” He sounded defensive. “What’s yours?”
“That’s quite boring.”
She thought about that. It was, at least compared to Fidgenwindle. “I suppose,” she agreed.