Muffled voices come from the candle-lit basement but I don’t dare to descend.
Every now and then, I catch a clear sentence.
Standing at the stairs holding the smallest candle I could find, the steps are steep, narrow and made out of stone. It seems like construction was never completed.
Hushed tones dominate the air, the atmosphere heavy and humid in the midst of summer. Creaks bounce off the wall and I have to convince myself that the spirits aren’t coming after me for breaking bedtime rules.
Slightly quivering, my breath hitches as squeaks come from down below. A burst of light emits from the now open door, footsteps becoming louder and louder. Fingers shaking, the candle dish rattles and I mutter a silent prayer.
Scurrying around the corner, I bump into a wooden beam and fall to my knees—dropping the candle dish which clatters onto the floor, the wax forming a hot, small puddle.
The voices stop.
Curling up, I squeeze my hands over my mouth as I try to make myself as small as possible, hiding amongst the wooden pews. The stairs groan as careful feet ascend up them, the light sound of fingertips brushing against the concrete wall.
They inch closer, all holding brightly lit candles, illuminating the wide space. One of them closes the wooden latch, the boom replaying throughout the room. I squeeze my back tightly against the wood, sweat dripping from my face.
Suddenly, my hand is yanked and I struggle not to screech as another hand slaps over my open lips. I’m dragged hard, my nightgown scraping against the scratched wood. More light comes my way and I’m dragged even faster, my bare legs scraping against loose screws.
In a dark corner, I’m huddled up against someone who trembles. All I hear is the faint click of the closet door shutting, the same closet which is said to be haunted. Did a ghost from the past save me?
“Aneta! What were you doing out there?” He hisses, his cold hands desperately gripping me as the order patrols the church.
“Tobias? Why are you awake?” I question back, my hushed voice wobbly.
Although he’s older than me, Tobias is the most fragile, always sick and too weak to move—much less drag me across the floor!
I feel him shift behind me, “If they find out we’re here, we’re going to be sent away.”
My throat gulps hard, fully aware of the consequences of being awake past ten. We stay silent for what feels like centuries, our ears pricking at every little sound. After being certain that the coast is clear, Tobias stretches his arm out and gently pushes the door with a fingertip.
Crawling out, drafts from beneath the floorboards whip us in the face, my thick, brunette curls lashing at me. Straightening up, Tobias, who’s almost an inch taller than me, grabs my hand, “Let’s go, quickly.” He whispers.
I can only see his silhouette as we tiptoe, the moonlight bursting through the coloured corridor windows like a protective veil. I can only catch a glimpse of his face, his eyes full of concentration, his fingers cradling mine.
Padding around the corner, we stop at our respective rooms and squeeze each other’s hands, signalling our goodnight.
Slipping back into my room, I cuddle my duvet and try to calm my frantic heart, trying to process the information I overheard.
“You’re raising a weapon—the girl with the fairy ring?”
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