Chapter Three

     She sat on the floor, slowly rocking back and forth with a fixation on the two pieces of paper. Fig sat and watched her with his head tilted to one side. With her pointer fingers pressed to her lips she swayed puzzling out the new evidence. “Did I leave myself clues? Or did someone leave me these?” she mumbled. Fig walked over to her and brushed up on her side, then walked over to the storage room’s door and pawed it.


     She slowly stood up and put the little pieces of paper into her pocket. She walked over to the pantry and started to move everything out into the main space. There were little wooden boxes, ribbons, clothes, books, and tools. She brought each thing out and dug through them searching for another little paper to add to the two she had collected. “Fig, I am not seeing a reason you want me to dig in this closet.”


     She found a bag that had peppermint, lavender, honey, cinnamon, ginger, and other herbs. Deeper and deeper into the crowded closet she went. She froze when she got to the back. Under an old sheet in the very back corner was a painting. She stared into the bright green eyes of a round faced girl with raven hair. She was looking into her own eyes in a painting of which she had no memories. She brought it out to the main room, into the light, and studied the painting. It was her. Her head was tilted to the side and her eyes smiled more than her lips. She had a ribbon tied into her hair and the bright red pedant she had found in the box was around her neck. She massaged her temple and watched Fig rub his scent on the picture and purr. She listened to the rain falling outside and looked around the room. “Am I home?”


     She hung the painting above the mantle and started to organize the items that she found. She had books on medicine and stories of far off lands, none of which revealed any more hidden messages as bookmarks. She filled her bookshelf with her finds and decided to put on the necklace she had found before. As she took it out of the music box, she felt an icy surge run through her as the cool stone touched her bare skin. She boiled some water over the fire and added the lavender to it; the scent filled the entire cabin with the sweet, sleepy smell. She took some of her concoction and applied it to her temple. She didn’t know why she needed to do this, but it seemed instinctual. For a little while, the pain went away and she got sleepy, from the scent of the lavender. She changed into some of the clothes that she had found in the pantry and snacked on some odds and ends that she had found on the shelves. Little Fig went out in the rain and came back licking his chops; it appeared he had taken care of his own dinner for the night.


     The cabin was clean and organized. She plopped down on the overstuffed blue chair with the dingy, gold buttons and started to read one of the medicinal books she had found. It showed how to heal colds with honey and upset stomachs with peppermint. The book was all hand written, by different hands and inks. Some had drawings of the plants to use and how to prepare them. “Interesting,” she murmured. Fig lazily lifted his head before rolling onto his other side to sleep.


     They snuggled up on the chair and she flipped through books. She found one that piqued her curiosity. The book was leather bound with gold lettering that read ‘Creatures.’ “Even more interesting, Fig.” The little cat purred as she read through all the different creatures she found on the pages.


     ‘The Epimelides are beautiful tree nymphs with hair the color of apple blossoms and soft as undyed sheep’s wool. They protect apple trees and sheep. They are able to change shapes between trees and humans. They like to play tricks on humans for fun.’


     Next to the description was a beautiful coal drawing of a little tree with the face of a woman.  “Have you ever seen one of those, Fig?” She showed the picture to the sleepy kitty. He viewed the picture with wide eyes and meowed at her. He pawed at the book and knocked it to the floor. “Hey!” she playfully yelled at the cat as she bent down to pick up the book. The pages had fallen open to show a large, shadowy, cat-shaped creature on it.


     The subtitle labeled it, ‘Grimalkin.’ Curiously she read on, “An all-black, cat-like shadow creature with bright green eyes and a white spot on its chest. The grimalkin travels at night stealing the souls of those it captures. It has been said that a witch’s cackle can be heard shortly before the large cat appears.”  As she settled back into her chair with her little furry friend she started to creep herself out with every fairy, nymph, dragon, or monster she read about in the book of creatures.


     After a time, she put the book down and looked around the little cabin. The rain still rhythmically fell onto the roof and the fire had finally warmed the walls of the little abode. She let out a sigh of contentment enjoying the warmth, cleanliness, and sweet smell of lavender. She finally felt a sense of comfort. The pain in her head, though still there, had dulled. Despite the comfort, things did not yet make any sense. She twisted the pendant between her fingers and it cooled her fingers. She didn’t know what to think. At this point she was just starting to accept that she was where she was supposed to be even if she could not remember anything before two days ago.


     She curled up in bed with Fig in the nook of her arm, purring as he softly snored a little cat snore. Tonight she drifted off into a dreamless sleep.


   Scratch.

          Scratch.

               Scratch.

 

     She stirred in her sleep. Scratch. She slowly opened her eyes as she stretched her arms over her head. She looked down and saw Fig standing erect, staring at the door. His tail was puffed with hairs on end and his ears were pinned back. A low throaty growl was coming from his throat. Scratch. Scratch. The noise seemed to be coming from the other side of the door, then from under the window, and then back at the door. She reached for her bag and got out the little knife. She slowly got to her feet and crept to the window. She pulled back the corner of the curtain and peered into the darkness. Fig let out a cry that sounded like nothing she had ever heard before. It sounded like a war cry that a lion would roar. She dropped the curtain just as a shadowy figure started to run toward the forest. When the lightning struck and lit up the field she could see the large black figure reach the edge of the trees; just as quickly as it appeared, it vanished into nothing.


     She was trembling as she looked out into the grim nothingness. Fig’s tail had returned to normal size and his ears were no longer pinned to his head. She sat on the edge of the bed and stared at the window uneasily. Fig came and nudged her arm as if he was trying to comfort her. They laid back down on the soft bed. Sleep did not come back, at least not soundly. When the morning came, the sun came too. The rain had finally stopped and the warm daylight filled the windows of the cabin.


     They ventured outside onto the rickety porch. Everything had a light dew covering it that glistened in the sun.  There was a small vegetable garden off to the side that she hadn’t noticed that first night. It had become overgrown and clearly ravaged by many critters. It looked as if it hadn’t been tended to in months. There was nothing around the clearing except for trees. Trees in all directions.


     She went back inside and packed up a few of the books, the bag of herbs, the knife, and the matches. She changed into the pants she had found and tied a cloak over her shoulders. “Fig, I have to find people. I need to know where I am. Who I am.” The cat looked as if he understood and walked to the door, waiting for her to open it.


     Fig dashed out to the left. Naturally, she followed the cat. After all, Fig knows the way.