Watchers in the woods
The little cottage by the stream was a lovely thing to behold. It filled every notion of quaint and picturesque, and with the white snow whipping around it and settling on its old oak windowsills and thatched roof, it may have seemed magic was its maker. But this was not the case. The lady of the jars put much time and effort keeping her little home pretty and practical. She tended the garden when she chose the spring seasons, and at the rear of the paddock she kept a giant domed greenhouse, full of orchids, dahlias, hibiscus and all manner of strange and unique plants. All kept under the huge dome, now this she had bewitched, repelled the snow and kept the natural light shining in, bathing the plants with the life-giving ultraviolet rays.
Aesthetic wise, her house was all her own doing. But for the maintenance and security, the magic she knew dripped through every stone and brick. She was not against a bit of hard work, and she had known years of toil and trauma as much as the next person. She did use her magic to keep the house dust free (though she had some jars filled with dust that she tainted different colours, shaking them and watching the motes shimmer in the coloured light), and a little help with the laundry and such; was merely a perk of knowing the inner workings of such deep and sacred magic. She also held spells and incantations over her little abode which kept it safe and secure; warding off bad spirits and deeds which promised to slither in with the shadows. But inside she was safe, and she knew it.
Outside, creeping around the back and down towards the stream, the gentleman of the boxes pushed through the huge snow drifts that had piled up by the hedgerow. He knew the place was safe for her, he knew he would have a battle on his hands if he were to challenge anything here against the lady of the jars. And he didn’t want to do that now, or perhaps anytime.
A part of him knew something must be done, but for now his curious mind and eyes were searching the backyard for it. The place where she had landed. It had already been covered in so much snow that the scorched outline in the ground would be, to an average eye, hard to see. But with a magical twinkle that now twirled in his own lenses, he could see, even feel the place where heaven and earth collided.
He moved slowly, bending down every few steps to pick up a little piece. Digging his fingers into the white covering and extracting the soil, droplets of blue that permeated the thick black earth. They looked like tiny sapphires speckled in the ground, the residue from the cocoon craft that had landed not long ago. He knew that only a grain of this would be precious to him, to fill only one of his little matchboxes would give him foresight and energy, to be able to cancel out the retched snow and bring back the blaze of the summer sun.
He collected what he could, searching for the large chunks of matter that sparkled abnormally in the dead snowy light. Too concerned about his diamonds in the dirt, he did not notice the others. The eyes that had appeared in the woods all around him. For it was not just the gentlemen of the boxes who longed for the new gift from the stars, but others as well.
They watched him. His dominant gait slinking abnormally along the path towards the cottage. He moved like a shadow, whereas they moved like ghosts. Only noticeable if they wished to be seen. Spectres of the forest for now as they hid their figures and their intent. Woken from their slumber by the power dwelling now in the cottage by the stream, it had cracked open their hibernation and murmured within their DNA. They quickly gathered, shaking off the sleep of a thousand years and rattling like old bones in the clearing.
Collecting themselves and moving on mass to the throb of the heart that was warming itself by the fire, sipping tea and eating blueberry tarts. They watched, their eyes translucent like the stream that ran behind the cottage, following the shadowed man collecting the fallen shards of space, pocketing them in the deep caverns of his coat. They watched, they whispered, then vanished into the ground.
“And it is your home, as long as you want it to be. I know you mean in the bigger picture, the bigger sphere of this planet, this space in time. But my home, my little life, is here for you if you need it. I want to help you, and I know why you must be here. Please, let me be the guide for you in this place.” The lady of the jars said, her heart shifting inside.
“You know why I am here then?” The girl asked her.
“Yes, I know. It’s been foretold in a way. Well, I’ve read about it and I feel it within me. I’ve been feeling it for a while now, something on the horizon about to appear. Like a dream where I reach out and grab something like a rainbow, beautiful, but untouchable.” She added.
“I understand. I would like for you to help; I know this might be hard for you though.”
“It is time, I think. Locked away in my little cottage, doing good but not seeing the wider world. It is time for me, I think. So let’s get started. You need some decent clothes, and I need my book.” She said, heaving herself up out of the seat, quickly snatching up a stray blueberry from the tin and throwing it into the air, catching it in her mouth. “Time waits for no Europan!”