2. My Humble Abode
After a long walk under the rain, the three of them finally approached a huge cabin. The man was upfront while Anna and Ava trailed behind him. The rain, at the moment, was drizzling.
During the walk, Ava thought several times about running back to her car with Anna. That might have been possible if there weren’t dark clouds and the downpour of the heavens. The trees, also, formed a canopy, which made the forest almost pitch black. If it wasn’t for the dim flashlight the man used, she, Anna, and the man would have groped in the darkness.
“Welcome to my humble abode,” the man said, gesturing to the cabin.
“Is this where you live?” Anna asked once they stopped in front of the cabin.
He turned around to glance at them. “Yes.”
Ava examined the cabin and its surrounding. It seemed like there were no people living close by except the trees. She looked back at the man. “You live in the middle of nowhere? Don’t you feel lonely sometimes?”
He bowed his head. Using the faint sunlight, she could see he had an upside-down smile before saying, “I do.” He raised his head and shrugged. “But I’m used to it.” He motioned with his head to the cabin. “Come in.”
They walked up the stairs at the front porch then stepped into the cabin. The whole place was dark and silent.
“Hang on,” the man said. “I’ll light the candles.”
In the dark, Ava searched for Anna’s hand to hold it, trying to make sure she was beside her and not because she was scared of the dark.
Some moments later, candle lights filled the room they were in. There in the sitting room did she and her sister stand. The first things her eyes sighted were two wooden chairs and two rocking chairs with a wooden table in the center of the room. The rocking chairs were across each other just like the wooden chairs, which were perpendicular to them.
“Please take a seat,” the man said. She looked at the far end of the corner of the room, seeing him gesticulating to the chairs.
Anna went to a rocking chair while Ava went to sit on a wooden chair at Anna’s right.
“Thanks a lot,” Anna said as she rocked the chair.
“Yes. Thank you,” Ava said too. “I’m sorry but we didn’t catch your name earlier.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he apologized. “I’m Beck.”
Ava smiled at him. “And I’m Ava.” She pointed at Anna. “My younger sister here is Anna.”
He smiled at them. “It’s nice to meet you, Ava and Anna.”
“It’s nice to meet you too, Beck,” replied Anna, smiling at him.
“Thank you, Beck,” Ava said, “for sheltering us.”
Beck bared his teeth. “You’re welcome.”
“And I’m sorry I was rude back at the car. It’s just that I find it difficult to trust strangers.”
“My appearance didn’t help so don’t be sorry, okay?”
He was right: his appearance didn’t help at all. Nonetheless, he decided to help them which was a good sign, unless he was a cannibal. She had heard stories similar to hers and her sister’s present condition. She just hoped this man didn’t have the intention of making them his meal sometime soon. Mayhap that was what he meant when he said he was hunting. She shuddered at that thought, hoping it was just her imagination.
“You girls should feel at home, alright?” he said, bringing her out of her thoughts. “I’ll be back soon.”
She put a lot of effort in hiding her feelings about him being a cannibal. For now, she just had to trust him until she was back on the road.
She nodded before Beck entered a dark corridor.
Once he was out of sight, she began to study the room. Aside the furniture, the only thing in the room was a small brown bookshelf at a corner and the fireplace behind Anna. The only things which filled the room aside the furniture and fireplace were the box of matches and a radio which were on the center table.
While she still examined the room, Beck entered with two blankets in his hands.
“Here you go.” He handed one blanket to Ava and the other to Anna which they collected.
They thanked him and wrapped themselves with the blankets.
Beck then said, “I put some water on the stove so you could have something hot to drink.”
They thanked him again.
“The shower isn’t working; do you want me to put some water on the stove for you to bathe? I’m sure you can’t spend the night in your wet clothes.”
Ava answered, “Well, our clothes are still at the car. We don’t have anything to change into if we take a shower.”
“Oh. Don’t worry about that. I have some clothes you girls can put on.”
Ava opened her mouth to say something but didn’t as Beck raised a hand to her face, saying, “And before you think about it, I’m not giving you my clothes. I have women’s clothes too.”
Is he a thief? Ava thought before Anna asked, “Are they your wife’s?”
He looked at Anna. “No, they’re my mom’s.”
Phew! Ava exclaimed within herself, not even knowing why. “You can put the water for bathing on the stove then.”
Beck nodded at her.
He made his way to the center table to pick up the box of matches. Then he advanced to the fireplace. He went down on one knee and struck the matches. Soon enough, heat emanated from the fireplace.
“Aren’t you going to shower too?” Anna inquired just as he was about to enter the corridor again.
He turned around with a smile plastered on his face. “I have to attend to my visitors first. Please excuse me.” Not a moment after was he still standing before them as he exited the sitting room.
I hope this bad luck is only for today, Ava hoped as soon as Beck was out of her sight.
Once Beck was sure his visitors were comfortable, he offered them novels to read, passing away time. Ava had accepted his offer wholeheartedly while Anna reluctantly did like her sister. Then, he excused himself so he could freshen up like they had done already.
As soon as he stepped into the bathroom, he located the mirror on the wall. He looked at himself and felt disappointed immediately. He knew his appearance was the reason why Ava was scared of him but he didn’t know it was far worse than he could imagine. Hair covered his face that he could barely recognize himself. When was the last time I shaved or even looked at my reflection?
He raised his right hand and gave himself a sounding slap. What was wrong with him now? Ever since his eyes met Ava’s cerulean ones, his blood had been boiling with pleasure, and for the first time in half a century he was worried about his looks. Surely, she wasn’t the first pretty damsel he had seen since he got stuck in time after he got cursed or even in his lifetime, nevertheless he couldn’t deny the attraction he felt for Ava.
Such feelings made him want to exclude her from being a victim to his trap. Such a beauty didn’t deserve to die for something she had no idea of—that was if it didn’t go through. But then, she wasn’t the first beautiful lady he’d ever use in trying to break his curse.
Beck shook his head, trying to shake off the thoughts of her plump pink lips quivering at the sight of him. But that led him to remember her doubtful demeanor that made his stomach knot in pleasure at the time and even now. She looked so angelic when she stared at him in a skeptical way. That may seem creepy to someone else, but not to him—at least with her. It was just the innocency that enveloped her that got him to see in a way he’d never seen the other beautiful women he’d encountered.
Then, his wife’s face flashed. He was a bit unstable as he remembered what he went through just because he had acted on the feelings he had for a beautiful woman. Who knows? She may be a witch too, he thought, referring to Ava. At least they have the sense to do something good for themselves with their witchcraft.
Beck left the mirror and entered the shower, deciding he was not going to act on his feelings for a beautiful woman by changing his signature look. After all, the one he meddled with later defined his fate.