The Child in the Castle

The voice, again. Waking her from sleep. Beckoning her. The young girl’s eyes flutter open. For a moment she appears to have awoken, but linger on her eyes and you will see the glaze that covers them, making her eyes a foggy brown colour. She slips from her bed, her small feet make no noise on the stone floor. Her eyes do not focus, she stares forwards even as she begins to walk. The voice has been calling her for weeks. The castle is vast, and his voice does not come from any one direction, it is all around, she can but wander until she finds him.

Each night the young girl walks about the stone castle in a trance, in and out of rooms, up and down stairs. Tonight was no different. The castle is black. Light only finds the young girl when she drifts past windows, the pale moonlight reflecting off her white nightgown – a ghost. Tonight she climbs the east tower, to a room she has not yet entered. Those sailing on a boat below may have been able to spot her haunting figure as it passed by the narrow slits in the tower wall.

The young girls castle is cold. and there is little of her own in it’s rooms. The furniture, the paintings are all ancient, covered in a layer of dust that never seems to shift no matter how often it’s cleaned. Food is prepared in the kitchens and delivered to the dining room morning, noon and night by unseen servants. It is a lonely place.  Perhaps that is why she looks for him. Following his voice in hopes of ending her loneliness.

As she climbs the tower her pace quickens. His voice is becoming clearer, louder, more urgent. She reaches the top of the tower and stands in the darkness. His voice is gone. He no longer needs to call. She has found him. A a sudden sparks ignites a flame and an orange light begins to flicker revealing a large wooden door.  A few silent moments pass before the young girl reaches forward and places her palm on the door and, slowly, pushes it. As the door creaks open he calls to her one last time. With the door now wide the orange flame casts a dim light inside and he is gently illuminated. He wears a black robe with a hood that hangs low hiding his face. The young girl walks to him, hand outstretched. As she nears he reaches for her and gently holds her fingertips with his. At his touch she looks up. Her eyes finally focus. Looking down at their touching hands, she smiles, and he speaks softly, ‘Well done, my child. You have found me.’

Together, they turn to the open window. He guides her towards it and helps her onto it’s ledge. He lets go of her hand and waits behind her. Eyes fixed on her back the hooded figure watches the young girl on the ledge. The wind gently caresses her as she steps forward into the air and he steps forward to watch her decent. She falls in silence. No screaming, no fear, only acceptance. Before she hits the rocks she closes her eyes. She will never be alone again.

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