Walking into the large library of my Uncle’s home my feet found their way to the warmth of the rug. The wooden floors were cold early in the morning and I forgot my slippers by the bed.
Today was my twenty-first birthday which I had waited ten long years for. My Uncle passed away when I was eleven, leaving me a skeleton key. Before the day of his death, he gave me the key and told me to hold onto it until the day where I became a woman mature enough to unfold the secrets behind his profession.
I could have used the key when I turned eighteen, but I convinced myself I still wasn’t mature enough. Waiting this long taught me patience, it taught me the ability to control myself, to contain my emotions, and my desires. My willpower brought me this far, especially in difficult situations.
My confidence didn’t waver as I pulled the key out of the pocket of my nightgown. Quickly, I crossed the room unseen by my Uncle’s bird who I did not want to wake in fear that he may wake up the rest of the house. My cousins would be very angry with me being in their father’s study.
Ever so silently my hand grasped the metal doorknob, I pushed it open and hurried in. Not even turning around, I pushed the door closed clicking it back into place. My Uncle’s study still looked the same as the day he died. His enormous desk held a bunch of old papers, books, and maps.
The room was slightly lit by the rising sun peeking over the mountains in the distance. The colors in the sky were beautiful as it went from orange to pinks. Through the large window, I could see the fog rolling over the green grass outside. It was going to be a beautiful day, I can sense it already.
I neared fireplace now seeking the warmth of the crackling fire. My Aunt had always kept this fire going in here as if my Uncle had never left us. It was quite strange in my opinion, but right now it was a nice feeling as the heat warmed my bare arms and legs.
The mantle of the fireplace was covered in knick-knacks that my uncle would collect. From old rusty antique tools to silly bobbleheads of famous baseball players. What caught my eye though was a small metal box with a keyhole that was waiting for me.
I reached for the box and pulled it down examining it carefully. It was old, kind of rusted on some parts, but it still was a beautiful box. The designs were engraved like the artist really took his time in every curve and line.
Setting the box on the ground by the fire, I took a seat on the floor in front of it. Not even hesitating, I put the key in the hole and it fits perfectly. Letting out a breath that I seemed to be holding in, I turned it to the left. I heard a click and the top popped open slightly. Gently, my fingers lifted the cold metal lid revealing a white envelope.
Is that it?
Lifting the thick envelope from the box I examined it looking to see if it was addressed to me. The outside of it was blank, but I flipped it over to find a red wax seal that had initials pressed into it.
Ck. Christopher Kross.
Carefully, I peeled the wax seal from the envelope and pulled a folded paper out. Unfolding the edge of the paper back I unveiled the disclosure that I had been waiting for.
“My Dearest Elaine,
I hope that when you read this you are of age to understand. If you are reading this, then you know that I am dead.
In this world, there are mysteries that are hard to comprehend. Mysteries that will leave you in the dark, but you go searching for them anyways.
Sometimes, those mysterious things might even search for you. That’s why I kept my work hidden from my family, from you.
If you go to the heart of the forest, there will be answers waiting for you there. Answers to your forgotten past. Be there before sundown.
I love you.
Take this with you, it will be useful.
In the last fold of the paper was a red ribbon taped to the bottom. Removing it, I stuck it in the pocket of my dress for safe keeping as well as the old key he gave me. In the distance, I could hear footsteps coming this way towards my Uncle’s study.
Tearing up the letter I tossed the pieces into the fire and closed the box to put it back on the shelf as fast as I could.
“Elaine? What in the devil are you doing in here?” My aunt called from the doorway.
“I was checking the fire, but I also was visiting Uncle as well. It is my twenty-first today.” I explained to her.
My Aunt eyed me suspiciously with her tired eyes then let out a long sigh. It made her angry when anyone would come in here without asking, but it seemed she let me off this time.
“Go wash up for breakfast.” She held the door open wider letting me pass through back into the large library. Making my way to the door that led to the hallway, I glanced back.
My Aunt was closing the door behind her as she stayed in his study. I’m not sure what she does in there, but she will spend up to a couple hours a day in there and it never sounds good.
Opening the door to the hallway I cautiously poked my head out making sure it was clear. I didn’t want to run into anyone. Stepping out slowly at first I looked around once more then darted quickly down the dark hall trying to get to my room without being seen.
A relieved smile formed on my face when I saw my door come in view. Approaching the dark brown wooden framed entrance my hand fumbled with the broken knob. Finally, when the door opened I went to throw myself in when a hand grabbed my arm pulling me back into the hallway slamming me against the wall.
“Why were you out of your room?” My cousin Gale hissed, his eyes growing dark with anger.
“I was washing up for breakfast Gale.” I tensed up waiting for him to strike me like he always does.
“Very well, today is your birthday. I’ll let this one slide for now.” He closes the space between us moving his head towards my neck. He sniffs me and lets out a distasteful sounding moan.
“You’re of age now. I won’t be holding back anymore,” he whispers onto my neck.
With that, he leaves and strides down the hallway giving me a lustful glance with his brown eyes as he disappears.
I let out a sigh of relief thankful he’s gone for now, but he will be after me later. I shuddered at the thought of him touching me in any way. I will be long gone before he tries to lay his dirty hands on me for his own pleasure.
Gale has been after me since the day my Uncle had brought me to his home. Uncle Chris wasn’t my actual Uncle, he was my Father’s best friend and when my Father left me he took me in as his own.
I went into my room and locked the door behind me afraid Gale may change his mind and come back for me now. I pulled my dress over my head taking it off and hurrying to my wardrobe.
The only three dresses I owned were hanging there waiting for me to pick what color I would wear today. Then I remembered the red ribbon my uncle left for me, I could put that in my hair so I don’t lose it.
The red long flowy dress was my decision along with my pair of black boots. I went to the mirror to mess with my long black wavy hair. It was a mess from sleeping last night, I was so excited to finally learn about my Uncle I could hardly sleep.
Yet I still didn’t learn much, but I will tonight after supper. I will not be coming back after that, I will go to the city and start my life. Maybe find a job or a fitting man who can take care of me.
All that sounds too good though, I’m sure Gale will know I left and try to find me.
I took the ribbon using it to tie my hair half up while the rest stayed down.
“Time for breakfast, wish me luck,” I told myself in the mirror before I leave to go down to the dining room.
The smell of bacon greeted my nose and my mouth watered as I saw all the food is placed onto the table. Eggs Benedict, bacon, pancakes, hash browns, sausage, and baked tomato with avocado placed around it. Am I in heaven?
All my cousins sit along with my aunt and I. I sit in the same spot I have for years next to Lily Anne and Geoffrey. The two were the younger twins, my favorite. They were ten years old and I loved them, the rest of my cousins were cold-hearted. There was a total of six of them, Gale being the oldest, then Jana, the older twins Harry and Henry, and that leaves Lily Anne and Geoffrey.
“Happy Birthday!” Lily Anne and Geoffrey sing in unison.
“Thank you both.” I smiled at the two little towheads as they filled up on pancakes.
I heard a scoff across the table that came from Jana who was delicately cutting into her sausage.
“No one here cares about you Elaine, you should just leave,” Jana spat.
“Shut it Jana, I will not tolerate that kind of talk at the table.” Gale spoke out.
If he wasn’t such a creep I would have thanked him.
Ignoring them both I filled my plate up with what I could, which wasn’t much. They hardly let me eat anything, especially the twins. Every time I would go to get something the two of them would take it before I would get a chance. Geoffrey passed over some pancakes from his plate to share with me.
“Eat up” he whispered cutely.
Breakfast was over fast and of course, they all left me to clean up, I would never expect the two younger ones to help, but it’s sad that the adults can’t clean up after themselves.
“Elle dear, let me take over,” One of the maids took the dishes out of my hands and brought them to sink.
“Run along hun, we will take care of this. It is your birthday after all.” The other maid told me.
I didn’t argue with them, I would any other time, but today was different. I had to go pack my things, I have to be ready for tonight.
“Thank you both for being very kind to me.” With that, I left up to my room and I locked myself in all day long.
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