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Curiosity in the Thicket

By @emilyrachdavis

It was as if the world was collapsing in on itself, but that didn’t quite make sense because it seemed to be expanding at the same time. The walls of the cottage were boxing in, the cobblestone exterior crumbling. Helena ducked under the corner of the bookshelf as it neared her, folding along the path that the walls took.

“Jeremy, what’s happening?” Helena asked as she watched her cousin vault himself over the loveseat that had been sliding across the oak wood floors.

“I have no idea,” Jeremy said with an expression of concern and curiosity; a feeling that Helena could relate to.

She laughed in delighted confusion as the glass panes popped out of the window frames and drifted into the fields surrounding the house. One moment they were reflecting the strange sight of the cottage back to her and the next they were nothing but bubbles disappearing on the wind. “I don’t understand,” she said mostly to herself, “How is this possible?”

It truly was curious, that the loveseat had rolled up into a rug upon bouncing off the wall. She found herself wondering that if she were to take the rug and fling it out, if it would turn back into the loveseat or rather into the ornate rug it appeared be. Helena felt fleeting worry at the thought. After all, the loveseat had been her grandmother’s favorite piece of furniture.

“What do you remember last? Could it have been something that we touched?” Jeremy questioned. It was humorous to watch his face when the books on the upside down bookshelf began fluttering about as if they were butterflies, and then, to Helena’s intrigue, they were.

Gorgeous Monarch’s soared around her head and one landed briefly on her nose. She could still smell the dusty scent of old books as they flew off on the breeze and that was when she realized that the house was gone, for she stood on golden grass. Jeremy sidled up beside of her as they watched in absolute wonder.

Their curiosity only grew as they felt less at home and more in a strange, fascinating place.

The trees at the edge of the fields seemed to wave their branches back and forth, the silver leaves rustling much like the ocean tide that pulled them out to sea. Only they weren’t in the ocean and there wasn’t any sand. Instead, and quite suddenly, they were wrapped in thick forest and brush as warm glimpses of the sun drifted across their freckled faces through the canopy above them.

Helena looked at Jeremy, only to see his look of alarm, but it was too late. The splat of something warm and squishy hit the side of her face and Helena let out a shriek of surprise. She brought a hand to her smarting cheek and brought it away again with red flesh and peel and yellow seeds.

“Ouch, that hurt,” Helena complained softly, her only complaint of the events that had unfolded thus far. At her feet, a tomato sat squashed in the dirt.

Jeremy looked like he wanted to laugh, because she wasn’t actually harmed. It wouldn’t leave a bruise and the redness of her cheek was already fading. “Where did that come from?” he asked as he glanced around them again, only to find that everything had stopped while they weren’t paying any attention.

It was peaceful, in the middle of the thicket. A hum of a song that Helena could only recall in distant memory glimmered on the passing air. They could feel it in the very earth where they stood and the comforting graze of something gentle upon their bare faces.

Helena stared down at the tomato. A thought or perhaps a memory niggled at her mind just behind her left ear. She tried to remember, as she gazed upon the warping pines and spruces and birches. They twisted into the sky as if dancing merrily. It made her happy somehow and then the memory, not the thought, came to mind.

“We had just finished picking tomatoes from grandmother’s garden,” Helena said and just as the words fell from her lips, she was standing once more in the cottage kitchen. The walls were upright and the windows a bit foggy. The beautiful oak floors ran through the house and under the comfortable loveseat.

Jeremy was across the counter, wiping his face with his hands making his cheeks a ruddy red. When he lowered them and didn’t see the once expansive and welcoming forest, he sighed a breath of uncertainty. “Tomatoes, right. Did that all just happen?” he asked as if he were already forgetting the magic that Helena had seen too.

“Yes, I believe so,” Helena said as she eyed the basket of tomatoes on the counter, “although I don’t know how.”

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