When the door closed behind her I still didn’t move. I felt afraid to touch anything at all, and even breathing didn’t feel appropriate in this room. Every time I blinked I was afraid that the room would disappear before my eyes, and I would be back in the orphanage. Was this really real? My eyes started to get teary of not blinking. Slowly, I took a step forward. I reached out my hand and softly brushed it against the smooth fabric of the couch. If I felt it, it should mean that it was there. That it was real, right? I took a deep breath and sat down. It was real.
I sat there for a few minutes, breathing in and out as deep as I could. What had just happened? I tried to piece it all together. “So they were expecting me,” I thought to myself. “That could mean they were already informed about the missing children from the orphanage. And how, in God’s name, did they know about Lilly and Julia? They never said how they knew… Maybe they just saw us, when we went into the shed? And why on earth did they take me in? They didn’t have to. I can’t pay or give them anything in return. I know Emma said some stuff about being a school for girls, but still… This kind of house… With rich people…”
The more I though about it, the more I started to doubt the entire situation. I jumped up from the couch and started pacing round the room.
“Okay,” I said to myself, “okay let’s say this is all real and they are really just nice people. Then what? How long could we stay here? If they are really that nice, it wouldn’t hurt to stay a night. Then tomorrow, if it’s dry of course, we could maybe ask them for some food for the road. Would they give it to us? Maybe it was better not to ask. Okay, no, different approach. When it’s dry, we will wait ‘till nightfall and plunder the kitchen for as much food as we can. Maybe we should take some valuables with us, you know for when we really need money. We wouldn’t take much but just the necessary. It’s not like they’re barely scraping by or anything…” I scanned the room for small valuables which I could possibly take with me. A small silver candle holder on the top of the fireplace caught my attention. I walked up to it, picked it up and examined it. “I should take this anyway,” I thought to myself. “So maybe this was all just a scam, and they were alerting the cops right now. I should take this right away. Get as much as I can without being seen, take the girls and get out of here. The risk was to great. It would have been amazing if this was all good natured, but the risk of going back was to big.” I sighed. I knew that when we would be forced to go back, the Witch would take much joy out of torturing us before she’d sent us off to jail. “No, it’s to dangerous to stay. I have to get out of here. Immediately.”
I gripped the silver candle holder tightly and started to search the room for something I could carry it in. In a drawer next to the bed I found some clean sheets which I figured I could use to make a bag out of. I knotted the ends together and put the silver candle holder in the sheet-back. I didn’t expect anyone to be listening at the door but every movement I made, I tried to make as quiet as possible. I found there other silver candle holders, a small copper school for the fireplace, a loose silver knob in an empty drawer, and some silver brushes in the bathroom. I also decided to take the soap from the bathroom and to wrap every single item I found in a towel, sheet or cloth to make sure they wouldn’t make to much sound when I would carry them all in my bag. I filled up my bad with the stolen, wrapped items and decided to throw a few other towels on top, so it would look like I was just carrying a bag of clean towels. I didn’t wanted to attract any attention when we would reach the city.
I almost screamed it out when I heard a sudden, soft knock on the door. I had spent so much time searching the room and making the bag that I had totally forgotten about the time. ‘Miss?’ It wasn’t Emma’s voice. I luckily threw the bag under the bed, took place on the couch and tried to look as normal and innocent as possible. ‘Miss, can I come in?’ the voice asked. ‘Yes,’ I answered and I felt my heart pound in my chest. The door opened slowly and another new girl stood in the hallway. She had dark skin and a lot of dark curly hair that seemed to be standing in every direction. I had never seen a girl like that before. ‘Miss?’ the girl said after a few seconds. I suddenly realized that I had been staring, that with my mouth a little opened, and i quickly closed it. ‘Are you allright Miss?’ she asked hesitantly. I nodded ‘Yes, sorry, yes,’ I stood up, with my eyes still on her face. Her eyes were almond shaped and her skin looked soft. She seemed to be of Julia’s age, but she also could’ve been so much older and so much younger at the same time. She wore the same clothes as Emma had, but somehow it seemed to fit this girl better, and made it look prettier on her.
‘If you please would follow me to the dining room Miss? the girl said and she waved her hand graciously into the direction of the hallway. I nodded and quickly followed her out of the room. On our way to the dining room she didn’t say anything. Sometimes she’d wave her hand to indicate where we where going. Now and then I looked at her out of the corner of my eye. She really had something enchanting about her, and I couldn’t imagine myself not feeling safe, loved and happy in her company. The feeling of distrust had left my mind and body completely and I even forgot about the knapsack with valuables waiting for me back in the room under the bed. The walk seemed way shorter than when I was brought to my room, even though I knew the distance we had walked was way further. The girl opened the door for me and led me into a beautiful dining room with large windows and hardwood furniture with a table that was already set. She pulled back one of the chairs ‘If you please Miss?’ She nodded to the chair. I sat down and looked around. There was no one else here yet, but that didn’t bother me. “Your friends will be here in just a moment. Would you like something to drink while you wait?’ the girl asked. I noticed that my throat felt dry and asked for a glass of water.
Just when she had filled my glass with a crystal water can, another door opened on my right hand side. The sound seemed to wake me from a nice dream, and I heard Emma before I saw her. ‘..room has already been set so when the food is brought in you can eat,’ Emma appeared through the open door followed by a happily smiling Julia who seemed to be dragging Lilly forward as she walked on. Lilly seemed not at all happy. I instantly knew that she was afraid of the same thing as me. ‘AVA!’ Julia cried out and ran over to me. Before I knew it she hugged me so tightly that I could barely breath. ‘I thought… And you.. Don’t ever.. Okay?’ I could barely make out the words Julia cried. I looked over her shoulder to see Lilly still standing next to a content looking Emma. ‘Aren’t we lucky?’ Julia said when she let go of me. ‘Yes,’ I stammered. ‘See!’ she said over her shoulder to Lilly. ‘I knew you would think that too, But Lilly said… Anyway, you know Lilly, she’s always so negative and… But anyway…’ Julia babbled. I looked at Lilly. Her jaw was sharp and she looked me intensely in the eye. I stared back for a second and knew I made my message clear when she took a step in my direction.
As Julia and Lilly came to sit with me at the table the beautiful dark skinned girl bowed and walked out of the room. ‘Ida will bring you your food in a moment. Would you like something to drink?’ Emma asked the girls. I had been watching Ida leave the room and quickly turned my head back to the company. Emma was already filling up Julia’s glass, whose bright smile seemed to cover her entire face. Lilly however was still looking at the door behind me in which Ida just disappeared. Apparently she had been as striken with Ida’s appearance as I was. Lilly finally stopped gazing when Emma tried to get her attention by impatiently but softly clinking the water can to her glass. ‘What? Oh, yes please.’ Lilly stammered. With some difficulty I tried to manage to refrain myself from laughing or smiling. There was no time for laughing or getting distracted. This was serious. Our lives and futures could be in danger right now. While Emma filled Lilly’s glass carefully, I tried to find Lilly’s leg with mine under the table. Because the table was so big and we sat so far apart from each other, I only managed to softly stroke my toes against hers. She looked at me. I looked back at her, then at Emma, frowned, then at the clock on the wall, and then at the door. We used to send each other these kinds of messages while we were still in the orphanage, and apparently we got quite good at because almost unnoticeable Lilly nodded.