A Forgotten Secret

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A piece I wrote for my English portfolio a week before school ended.

Submitted: June 19, 2008

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Submitted: June 19, 2008

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The wind caressed my face tenderly, the icy fingers biting gently into the warmth of my cheeks. The branches of the trees surrounding me danced, waving side to side, as if they were happy that I had returned and were eagerly welcoming my arrival. I smiled as the silence slowly surrounded me, wrapping its invisible arms around my slightly chilled body.

A sudden cry from the backseat of my car broke my reminiscing and brought me back to reality. I pried the back door open and reached in, my hands already expert at unclasping my precious baby girl from her car seat. As I pulled her to my body, her tiny figure trembled slightly in the breeze and I couldn’t help but smile. This place seemed to have the same effect on her as it did me.

I moved purposefully to the back of my car, my feet crunching quietly on the gravel and breaking the chains of silence that had captured us. I had forgotten just how delicate this place was. Everything had always seemed so fragile, as if it could all just break away in a split second. The silence, the atmosphere... they had always seemed to be made of glass. Glass that would crack and shatter at the slightest wrong doing.

Shifting my baby daughter to my left hip, I pulled open the car boot and retrieved the pram. With one hand I clutched my baby tightly and with the other I made an attempt to unfold the pram. I still wasn’t very skilled at unfolding the pram correctly first try, but for a new mother, I was doing alright. I wrapped my daughter Isabella in a thick, warm blanket and tucked her into her pram, making a feeble attempt to guard her from the intruding wind that was now bellowing between us.

I slung the backpack from the boot over my back and secured it in place, before grabbing the other large sports bag I had packed in anticipation earlier. I only intended to stay the one night, but my past experiences here had taught me to always expect the unexpected and pack for it too. With my new baby girl to support, I wanted to be as careful and as prepared as I could be. This place was so remote that if anything went wrong, it would be hours before I could get medical assistance. My daughter’s life wasn’t worth the risk.

Balancing the pram and sports bag, I made my way down the dirt path, careful not to damage any of the breathtaking scenery that had captured me since my younger years. As we drew deeper into the surrounding bush, the familiar scents and fragrances like the piercing smell of eucalyptus, found their way to my senses, igniting the memories that had been burning dimly inside of me for years. I suddenly felt as if I were ten years old again. If my daughter Isabella hadn’t been present, I would have shimmied up the closest tree and scanned the bush just as I had done fifteen years before.

My feet stopped abruptly the minute our destination rose into view. The hut was just as I had left it. Admittedly, the dark green paintwork was slightly more patched and ragged, and the path leading up to it appeared as if they had been undisturbed for years. A plump crow stood proudly on the balcony’s ledge, calling to his friends and neighbours as if warning them of the new arrival. The sound of a bush rustling softly came to me and I could but imagine the creatures that were scuttling away to safer ground.

From beneath the pram’s cover, my baby girl giggled joyfully as a small, fragile butterfly twirled its wings as it flew past. The sound delighted me. This broken down old hut had been the only home I had really known. The only place where I had felt I really belonged. Everything about this place had intrigued me; the way the ripples spread on the surface of the lake as platypuses and trout darted expertly beneath the surface; the sounds of the murmured chatter and loud laughter of the tourists bouncing between the surrounding hills as they passed by our humble dwelling. It had never once mattered to me that mobile phones and electricity were an unknown up here. This bushy, hidden palace had been my kingdom and I had been its queen.

As my eyes wandered to the area beneath the balcony, the flame of memory flared inside of me, exploding brilliantly as this particular memory struck me. My dad was in his late thirties again, his hair only slightly grey and somehow handsome in the direct sunlight. I could feel the heat warming my youthful skin as I watched him. His muscles rippled as he raised the axe, before then slamming it down into the log of wood in front of him. The two sides popped apart, as if they were two opposite magnets that had suddenly strayed too close together. A warm smile spread across my face as he turned and winked at me, his bare chest rippling slightly with the effort. Leaning the axe against the wall, he lifted a new log of wood and moved to set it down before him. Fate had other plans. The log of wood suddenly slipped from his hands as if it were a bar of soap.

My heart stopped abruptly in my chest. For a whole second, my entire body was without movement. The whole world seemed to slow down, the seconds turning into minutes before my horrified eyes. I was helpless but to watch the log fall uncontrollably, my father’s hand directly in its path. In the second before the log connected, everything went intolerably silent. The whole world was holding its breath. The loud crunch of the destruction of my father’s fingers rang out and startled a whimper from my breathless lips.

I shivered as the memory left me, draining from my body and leaving my muscles weak and exhausted. There was something magical about this place, and the memory proved that to me. I had never remembered anything as crisply and clearly as I had remembered the memory of my father’s accident. His fingers had turned a grotesque yellowy green and I remembered the fear I had felt. It was strong and daunting, like the feeling created by being stalked by a strange man. In the seconds before the log crushed my father’s fingers, I had managed to persuade my young mind that my father was going to die a painful death right before me.

Dropping the sports bag at my side, I concentrated my attention on manoeuvring the pram up the scattered stone steps. There were thick, silver webs all around the front door’s frame, as if suggesting the only occupants of this hut had been the wild creatures that knew of every secret, hidden entrance. Grasping the cold metal of the key between my fingers, I slowly unlocked the door to my palace, the ancient hinges of the entrance creaking in complaint. I bent down and retrieved the princess from her carriage, her body wriggling excitedly as we entered our palace.

The wooden bench that ran along the left well was still covered with a variety of skiing and snow gear. The red toboggan I had once ridden down the endless, icy mountain seemed to cry out desperately to my Isabella, her own young voice gurgling in incoherent response. The varying coloured skis were still tucked away under the bench, the wooden floor beneath them still damp with the memory of melted snow.Curiously, we wandered into the next room – the main room of the hut. It held two long wooden tables with attached benches for chairs. The memory of family meals once eaten here caused me to briefly long for that sense of belonging I had once felt.

Prying the curtains open, I was presented with a beautiful view of the lake and all of the walking tracks that ran around it. One in particular threw me back in to the pool of lost memories.

Tears streamed slowly down my chilled cheeks, the feel of the wet tears contrasting warmly against my shivering skin. I was too young to really understand what was going on, I knew that, but I still felt that at twelve years old I understood the world in a way that most people never would. I felt as if I had matured nearly three times faster than those who surrounded me every day in school. All it did was make me feel like I didn’t belong even more than I already felt. I carelessly brushed at the tears, my sleeves smudging them across my distraught face rather than absorbing the small pools of salty water.

The wind groaned around me, as if Mother Nature was sharing my pain. The sky darkened angrily, the clouds morphing into a dark shade of grey. The thick layers of trees around me grew silent, the wild animals foretelling what Mother Nature was soon to bring down on them. As the rain began, I couldn’t help but laugh wildly, the sound smothered by the moisture of the downpour. The rain soaked through my clothing, as if it were in search of the warmth of my skin. I started to dance almost manically, my arms and legs spinning and whirling crazily.

Isabella stirred in my arms, her tiny fingers curling around a strand of my hair and tugging impatiently. All sense of time had escaped me as I had been lost in the strength and determination of my memories. I was unsure of how long I had been standing before that window, but the sun had moved since I had last really seen it.

Settling down on the couch by the window, I fed Isabella, my mind recalling the times I had seen the mothers of other families doing the same thing with their newborns. The way the baby had been so secure and safe in its mother’s arms as it drank. It was watching those mothers that had begun my own sense of longing for children. I rocked Isabella gently and closed my eyes, flashes of memories playing before me as if I were watching a slideshow of snapshots from my life. I saw my ten year old self hopping down the top of the mountain, one pink gumboot not on my foot, but instead buried in a deep hole of snow somewhere behind me. I watched my eleven year old self build a cubby house out of blankets and sheets in the corner of the bedroom. My twelve year old self jumped from the top bunk of one bed to another, the hard wooden floor layered with plump pillows... just in case. The good parts of my childhood had been here in this broken down, gas powered hut. My parent’s messy separation, everything that haunted me at home, evaporated the minute I stepped foot in the bush.

My fingers wandered across my precious baby girl’s forehead, stroking her smooth, youthful skin lovingly. Her beautiful blue eyes stared silently up at me, as if she could see straight into my heart and soul. I could tell in an instant that my baby girl would treat this place just as I had done in my younger years. This would be her haven too. I would protect my little girl for all it was worth, but in the end, I knew that there was only so much I could do.

I stood, Isabella still clasped tightly in my arms, and wandered curiously out to the balcony. The sun was just beginning to disappear behind the distant hills. The blue of the sky and the pinks and purples of the sun mingled together, creating a contrast of magnificent colours. Pulling Isabella closer to me, I smiled and kissed her forehead gently, my mind wandering to the times we had yet to share ahead of us.


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