Previous: An Unwelcome Visit, Part One

 

Water dripped onto Hazel’s forehead as a little old man the size of her forearm rifled through her pockets. Startled, she pushed herself up, scrabbling across the stone floor as she tried to get away.

The gnome gave a wry smile. “You don’t got anything worth taking, dearie. Don’t need to be overzealous about it.” He picked up a little lantern and started to walk away.

“Wait.” Hazel said.

He turned around.

“Where are we?” Water dripped from a low craggy ceiling, barely illuminated by the gnome’s lantern. All else was dark.

“Miss Zinnia’s cellar.” The gnome wrinkled his bulbous nose. “Well, part of it anyway.” He started to walk away again.

“Wait.” Hazel said.


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Last month Celine Jeanjean over at Down the Rabbit Hole tagged me for a photo challenge where you’re supposed to take pictures every hour of a normal day in your life. Kind of a cool concept, yet terribly flawed as far as I’m concerned, because I’m pretty sure no one’s going to want to see pictures of my laptop for hours on end. Nor do I want to share visual evidence of me wearing my usual House Clothes of sweatpants and a baggy shirt up until about 3pm, where I’ll finally put on Outside Clothes and go for a walk and pretend I’m not a hermit.

So I thought I’d fill in the boring parts with more interesting photos of when we went to Visby in Gotland this summer. Visby is a beautiful little medieval town, still surrounded by its original stone wall. It has little houses, cobblestone roads, and no traffic is allowed there other than for people to drive to and from their houses or hotels. I loved it immediately. I won’t be posting pictures by the hour, though, because honestly I’m too scatterbrained for that.


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Previous: Seamless Dreams

 

The inside of Zinnia’s home smelled just as the woman herself: like freshly turned earth and an overabundance of roses, lavender, and lilacs. It was both cloying and pleasant, unsettling as well as comforting. Hazel didn’t at all care for the contradictions and she wondered how Holly managed to talk her into such a foolish task.

“Please, have a seat,” Zinnia said after she had led Hazel through a labyrinth of shelves filled with odds and ends before coming to a long, polished dark walnut table. In place of three of the chairs stood three wooden statues nearly as tall as Hazel. One was carved into the shape of a bear, one a wolf, and the other a squirrel. Each wore a garland dried flowers upon its polished head. The bear clutched a cane in its wooden paws.


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Previous: Death Before Dawn

 

Hazel followed the wooded path back to the cottage she shared with her sister. The sun was well up by the time she returned, the warmth pulling the heady scent of honeysuckle into the air. She eyed the herb patch as she passed through the garden, noting a number of red mites on the hyssop and lemon balm, and she made a mental note to return later with a bowl of soapy water to wash the pests away.

She rounded a corner and found a young man standing near the front door, his back against the wall as Holly, with a broom in hand, stood entirely too close to him than was proper or polite.

“What’s going on?” Hazel said.


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Hazel peered at the twilit sky as she wandered along the wooded path. She clutched her lantern, even though the way lightened with the approaching dawn. She quickened her step. It would be a brief visit this time. She knew she’d been too liberal with the valerian tea. She wasn’t one to oversleep, but restfulness had eluded her lately. Too much on her mind.

The skirts of her dress rustled against the brush and bushes, a rasping whisper as if the woods themselves hushed her ungainly approach.

“I won’t be long,” she said. No one was there, but one never knew when out in the woods.


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