Inch by inch the light retreated, and I watched it go from the deepening shadows of home. Part of me refused to believe this was real. That Mother was gone. I wanted to wake and find Mother asleep in her bed beside mine.
Please wake up, I told myself. I had been crying all afternoon. Just when I thought I had no tears left, more came. This can't be real.
Icy winds blew from the south where the forest had become unnaturally dark. That area look skewed, as though distorted like a stick submerged beneath the surface of water.
I shivered, pulling my cloak tighter around myself, unsure if it was the chilly air or the strange foreboding in my heart.
"Mother!" I shouted toward the Fallen Oak, voice hoarse from yelling. "If you can hear me, come home!"
Tears blurred my vision. I wiped them away with my cloak. This was not the time to cry. I had to stay strong even as my legs threatened to buckle and my head felt like a ballon floating over my body. I had to stay calm.
"What do I do?" I said, backing into the door frame while I kept my gaze glued toward the Fallen Oak. "This can't be real."
Night was imminent.
Mother and I were supposed to be sealed inside our home by now. For the first time I saw the pinpricks of stars in the deep blue sky. I should have been happy to see them, but all I could think about was Mother. If I shut the Door, she would be trapped out here. Alone in the Mist.
Loud cracking sounds forced me to look south where I realized in horror that the unnaturally dark shadows from before had gelled into a wall of Darkness, one that crept forward as the sun set, swallowing tree after tree. Every time it touched, the trees buckled and trembled, their branches creaking and groaning as though the Wall of Nothing had form and weight.
My tongue cleaved to the roof of my mouth in an unspoken scream. The Mist! I thought. Inside our home the goats and chickens squawked and bayed in their pens. I grabbed the door, knuckles whitening as I squeezed it painfully.
I wanted to wake from his nightmare.
With one last desperate look at the Fallen Oak, I said, "Forgive me, Mother," before slamming shut the door. Salty tears ran into my mouth and my heart pounded while I fumbled with the wooden bar, propped against the door at daytime, and slide it into the wooden holders on either side of the door. I had trouble sliding shut the dead bolts, three on either side of the round door, I shook so much. When the door was sealed, I backed away choking on my own sobs.
A sudden pressure hit the house, I had felt this many times before, and it groaned and relaxed. Then the animals quieted down.
I slid to my knees, hands clasped in prayer as I said, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry."
I had locked Mother outside.
She can't be gone, I told myself. My heart felt heavy and my chest inflated with hot air. It was difficult to breathe between sobs.
"No, no, no," I whimpered, tears falling freely.
"Wake up!" I said, digging my knuckles into my temples, trying to will myself to wake. That was the only escape from this nightmare. What would I do without Mother? "This is just a bad dream."
I curled into a ball on my left side, hugging my knees to my chest, and squeezed my eyes shut.
"Wake up. Wake up. I'll do anything, but wake up," I repeated over and over.
YOU ARE READING
Saffron is a very special girl cursed with a gift for knowing things she shouldn't know. Her powers are far greater than she realizes, and if she's not careful she made end up as a thrall to the dreaded Demon King who rules over Castle Gant and hold...