Today I’ve got a bit of a story that I might turn into a serial on this blog…or a novella…or a MG book…give it a read and share what you think it should become in the comments!
Once upon a time, Matilda Wiggins had been a child.
You wouldn’t believe it to look at her, but years ago, the faded eyes had been a striking blue and the gray bits of hair that straggled out of her cap had once been gold. Her now aching legs had once carried her swiftly over the moors, gathering heather and bracken to arrange in odd little jam jars that had been chipped and discarded from use in her mother’s kitchen.
Even if her legs could still have carried her out of her cottage for a walk about the moors, it would have been little use to her except for the fresh air. Matilda Wiggins had gone stone blind, and could no longer see even the blazing fire her granddaughter kept blazing in the hearth.
On this particular November evening, Matilda sat now before the fire, her old bones enjoying the warmth of the blaze. She rocked quietly in the rocker her late husband had fashioned, her still sharp ears soothed by the comforting creak of the ancient rockers rolling back and forth, back and forth on the well-swept floor.
“It’s certainly a blustery night!” her granddaughter (Beatrice, they called her) said loudly from across the room. Beatrice never could seem to understand that her grandmother’s hearing was as fine as it had been when she was Beatrice’s age, even though Matilda told her time and time again. (Young people have always had a great knack for misunderstanding their elders.)
This time Matilda merely sighed and turned her face to where she once had seen the doorway. She could feel the fingers of wind swirling in from outside and reaching all the way across the room to wrap themselves about her ankles, and she didn’t like it.
“Do put a rug up against the door, Beatrice; I feel a draft.”
Beatrice did as she was told, for she really was a good-hearted girl. I’ve told you what Matilda looks like (although I don’t believe I told you she was toothpick-thin), and so I ought to tell you about Beatrice. Beatrice looked a good deal like her grandmother used to look. She was about as tall as most girls of sixteen, and rosy cheeked, due to standing so close to the fire for so long. Her work-worn hands were chapped by winter, but she never complained.
“Still it blows!” Beatrice exclaimed, quietly now, as it was more to herself than to her grandmother. She had dammed up the wind’s entrance with an old rug, and now she peered out of the little glass window beside the door, breathing at the frost to melt it, and scrubbing it away with her apron so she could see the snow swirling across the moorland. Even the long-forsaken castle in the distance was hard to see now, what with the dying light and the wind-tossed snow.
Beatrice loved the castle. She’d only ever seen it from a distance, for she rarely stirred from the cottage she shared with her grandmother, but its grandeur captured her imagination. Secretly she dreamed of what it would be like to live in it, and wear beautiful dresses, and eat chocolate every day, and never chap her hands with dishwater and the wind again.
“Will the stew be ready soon?”
Her grandmother’s quavering voice burst the bubble of her reverie, and Beatrice turned from the window with a sigh.
“Yes, Grandmother. I believe it shall.”
If you got to live in a castle, what would you do in it?
Photo by Cederic Vandenberghe on Unsplash