I breathed a sigh. This was it. This was the house. My parents had sent me to the English countryside because I could use the fresh air. But really, it was because of me. They considered me an embarrassment.
But you can’t blame them. It wasn’t my fault trouble found me wherever I went. But then again, it did make like more exciting. And I liked to live in the wild.
Don’t worry. Not the literal wild, I mean I like to live on the wildside. Besides, animals had always been my friends. They were the only ones who actually listened to me, without the interruptions or the scolding.
I groaned as I stepped forward and lifted my foot to shake mud off my shoe. While I was busy flinging muck, a door to the dark Victorian house opened and out stepped my Aunt Carol.
"Hello, Allison, glad to see you're here." She said with a tight smile. I could tell we were both going to hate this. "Your room is up to the right, and then the first door on the left. I expect you not to disturb me in my studies."
I nodded and headed upstairs. The hall only had four rooms branching off of it, I noticed that this was the only place where the baby blue wallpaper was peeling in places.
But what was most weird was a wardrobe that seemed swathed in shadows. I quickly set my bag down in my room and came back with a lit candle.
The darkness didn't seem to flee from the light. I stepped back and decided to worry about it another day. It was getting late, anyway.
The next morning, I woke and dressed early, wanting to be able to look at the wardrobe more. I examined the closet from all side, and found the only thing different was the doors.
They hadn't been open last night, and now the door was open. I reached for the brass knob and opened the door more. Dark tendrils of smoke came zooming out of the open door.
"NO!" Aunt Carol yelled. She stomped to the wardrobe and barreled over me. Heaving, she forced the door closed and turned the handle. She turned angrily to me. "Don't you realize what you could've done?!"
I shied under her presence. "Sorry, Aunt Carol."
She sighed. "You stay here, I have to go track them down before they can do any real damage."
"No!" I exclaimed. "I'm coming with you!"
Aunt Carol rolled her eyes. "Come on."
I followed her around the house, collecting the wayward shadows. We'd captured all but one by noon, and now we just had to find it.
"Aunt Carol, please let me do it!" I pleaded.
She sighed. "Fine. It's in there." She pointed to my bedroom.
I took a deep breath and sauntered into the room. Sure enough, the shadow was drifting in the corner. I ran toward it and my hands grabbed at thin air, but it sure was something.
I wrestled the shadow into the wardrobe, then turned around to face Aunt Carol. "What on Earth were those things?"
"Have you never been told the tale of John the Tradesman?" I shook my head. "Basically, our family has tracked down these spirits for centuries, trapping them in vessels of white magic, Allison. This is the true Black legacy."
I looked to her excitedly. "Teach me to track them down."
Aunt Carol looked pleased with the idea. "Very well, after all, I'm getting on in years, and someone needs to know the true nature of this house."
By this time, I was practically bouncing on the balls of my feet. "When do we start?"
By the end of the summer, Aunt Carol had turned me from a curious, scared girl into an adventurous spirit. I’d began spending many of my days watching deer as a wolf would stock them, but without the blood lust. It was the first time I had ever truly felt free.
In my journal, I had cataloged everything I saw, different types of fish, rabbits, deer, though my favorite were the blue jays
Today was the day when Mother and my governess would come to take me back to London. Their carriage would come up any minute now.
I walked inside to see Aunt Carol, who was reading a blue leather book. "What are you reading, Aunt Carol?"
"I'm reading a book about catching monsters." She laughed. "Oh, what those petty, foolish people don't know!"
I laughed with her. People thought catching monsters was about using force, but quite the opposite, it was in using gentleness. I’d learned while roaming the woods that many animals attacked because they had never been shown a kind hand.
I heard a knock on the door and rushed to answer it. "Hello, Mama," I said.
"Allison, your clothes are filthy, where were you staying? The barn?" My governess, Lady Beatrice, laughed. Mother laughed along with her.
I gritted my teeth. My governess had always made mean, cruel jokes about my wildside.
But she didn’t understand. In the wild, it wasn’t all the talk, talk, talk, talk, plan, plan, plan, rush, rush, rush, of humans. Things happened at their own pace. I’d learned that more then ever watching a chick near the house grow and learn to fly.
In a way, I thought I was just learning to use my wings and do things for myself and no one else.
"No, I've just found a sense of adventure." I responded. "Much more then I would ever get in the city.”
Lady Beatrice looked like her heart would stop beating right then and there. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if it did.
I turned to mother. “Oh, and also, Mother, you can tell father that I would like to stay here with Aunt Carol. I will study hard, I promise. I just can’t spend another day in the city with hardly any sky between buildings and long hours cooped up in a stinky library. I’ve made the world a brighter place from here.” Really, I just wanted to investigate more about the wardrobe, rather then read about it.
“I know.” Beatrice said. “Allison, I’ve seen it. When the shadows got out, she notified me. I’ve been constantly on the lookout for them roaming about London.”
“Really?” I asked. She smiled and nodded.
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