Hannah And Gareth

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

My entry for Keke Serene's 'Once Upon A Time Contest.'

Cover image: Pixabay.com.

Hannah And Gareth

Hannah sat huddled up, her arms covering her head and her hands covering her ears. Gareth could understand why, as he had to blink back his own tears.

Why couldn't their parents see what their fighting was doing to them? Other families seemed to cope by divorcing, but their parents persisted in staying together in spite of the increasing violence of their squabbles.

A door thudded and both children flinched, for a moment anticipating that the fight was entering the kitchen where they were hiding. Neither said a word as they listened. No, they were okay... at least for the time being, but there was no doubting that the voices were louder.

“Come on, Han. Let's get out of here." Gareth walked towards the door where he stopped, waiting for his sister.

Hannah lifted her tear-stained face towards him. “But... you know we’re not allowed out there at night.”

Listen to them. They won’t even notice that we’ve gone.” Gareth opened the door. “I’m going. Are you coming with me or not?”

O... okay.” She pushed herself to her feet. “Let me just get a flash-light.”

Why? It’s not dark out there,” Gareth stepped outside the house just as there was a thud on the other side of the kitchen wall.

Hannah leaped up and dashed towards her brother, pulling the door firmly shut behind them.

The garden was quite small and, even more importantly, was bare of hiding places. At the bottom of it was a woods, where both Hannah and Gareth had often spent their daylight hours. They had always been forbidden to go there after dusk.

Gareth was already hoisting himself over the garden wall. At the top, he paused, offered his sister his hand so that he could help pull her up too.

Are you sure it’s safe?” Hannah whispered.

I’m sure it’s not safe to stay here,” he replied. “Now, are you coming or not.”

Hannah stood, hesitant, until something swooped past her head, making her shriek. Both froze, waited for one of their parents to appear. Only when they were sure she had not been heard did they move. Gareth beckoned his sister forward and pulled her up and over the wall.

Ducking as they ran, both children headed for the cover of the trees. Even though the place was familiar it looked very different with no sun shining down on it. The sky was still slightly light until they ran into the woods.

It felt like someone had flicked off the lights. As soon as they were amongst the trees they found themselves in darkness. Brother and sister moved side by side, keeping close to each other. If they became separated there was a good chance that they’d not be able to find each other again.

That’s strange.” Gareth broke the silence. “Shouldn’t we have come to the stream by now?”

Hannah nodded, then realized Gareth might not see that. “I... I think so. But everything looks so different.”

Without thinking about it, both children held hands as they walked further and further along the path, only letting go when Gareth stumbled forwards.

What... what happened?” Hannah asked. “Did you trip?”

No,” Gareth hissed back. “Quiet, Han. Something... pushed me.”

As soon as those words had left his lips, the woods seemed to spring to life. Both children found themselves being poked and prodded by invisible enemies determined to keep them moving. Gareth swung out with his fists, but it was impossible to fight something he could not see.

On and on they went. The woods seemed to be bigger, denser and far more threatening a place than it had ever been before.

I want to go home,” Hannah sobbed.

So do I, Han, but we...” Gareth was silenced by the derelict looking building that appeared before them. “Where did that come from? I’ve explored every inch of this woods...”

Two things happened simultaneously. The children were both shoved forwards and the half-rotten door swung open. They fell through the opening, and as they landed on the dusty floor the door swung shut behind them.

Ah, what have we here?” said a voice. “Visitors? We’ve not had any of those for so long.”

Who... who are you?” Hannah asked, while Gareth still seemed to be speechless.

Sorry, I’m forgetting my manners.” A light flared inside the house and an old woman appeared.

Oh, come on,” Gareth said at last. “It’s like some kind of fairytale. This isn’t real.”

The old woman laughed, and suddenly the children noticed that she was not alone. All sorts of other-wordly creatures stood around her, none of them looking the slightest bit welcoming.

Gareth took a step back towards the door, pulling his sister with him. “We’ve got to go. Our parents will be missing us.”

The woman laughed. “I don’t think so. If everything was fine at home you wouldn’t be here now, would you!” She stretched out her hand towards Hannah, holding out a stone with a hole in it. “Take it,” she said, in a tone that said there was no choice.

What is it?” Hannah asked, turning the stone over in her hand.

A Seeing Stone. Look through it, tell me what you see.”

Reluctantly, Hannah lifted the stone up in front of her face and then she gasped.

What? What is it, Han?”

It’s... it’s beautiful... You look, Gareth.” The girl passed the stone to her brother.

He lifted it towards his own face, looked all around. “How can this be?” he said. “What’s real? This?” he said, with the stone in front of his face: “Or this?” He dropped the hand that held the stone.

Whichever you want it to be," the woman said, no longer looking old but young and beautiful. Even the creatures that surrounded her looked welcoming. Now, tell me what brought you here.”

At first the children were reluctant to confide with the stranger, who now seemed to retain her younger image even when they did not look through the stone. Slowly they spoke, taking it in turns to describe how their lives had changed from being happy to fearful.

Why don’t you stay?” The woman waited until the children had talked themselves out instead of interrupting.

We can’t. Our parents... they’d miss us.” Hannah said.

They’d tear the woods apart,” Gareth added.

“Not if they did not know you were missing.” The woman inclined her head, and both Hannah and Gareth turned to look behind them. A boy and a girl that looked identical to them stood just in front of the door.

“Changelings,” she said. “Your parents would be none the wiser.”

Really?” asked Hannah. There was no mistaking the hope in her voice.

Really,” the woman assured her.

What do you think, Han? Should we stay?”

Hannah looked around the now lavish room. "Would you mind if I said yes?”

No, because I’d rather like to stay too,” Gareth replied.

Hannah held out the stone.

You keep it,” the woman said. “You won’t need it, but it will remind you of the moment you came and joined the Fae.”

 

 


Submitted: June 02, 2021

© Copyright 2021 hullabaloo22. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:

Comments

Mike S.

Scary-goodness, Hull

Wed, June 2nd, 2021 7:09pm

Author
Reply

Thank you, Mike!

Mon, June 7th, 2021 8:52am

AdamCarlton

That'll show 'em! But is there revenge if the target doesn't actually notice?

Wed, June 2nd, 2021 7:18pm

Author
Reply

As I said to Vance, I saw the end as much about escape as revenge. I don't think they wanted to hurt their parents as much as to be away from the fighting.
Thanks for reading.

Mon, June 7th, 2021 8:48am

Vance Currie

A delightful story, Hully. Adam saw it as a tale of revenge, but I didn't see it that way. I saw it as a tale of escape. It's a good story either way.

Thu, June 3rd, 2021 9:30pm

Author
Reply

Thanks so much, Vance. It's nice to know it could be taken more than one way; personally I think it is a combination of the two.

Mon, June 7th, 2021 8:35am

dewey green

Delightful, but knowing you, I suspect there is another shoe to drop!
Good Onya mate!

Sun, June 6th, 2021 2:12am

Author
Reply

Thanks so much for reading this, Dewey. I've missed you.

Mon, June 7th, 2021 8:25am

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