An eerie melody stole the winds freedom, forcing it to send the fluttering orange blossoms across the sky as an ocean wave. The spinning white petals soared upward, mimicking the song of the little girl sprawled in the grass. She was humming a made up tune, her emerald eyes squeezed shut in concentration. A flower landed on her small cherry nose as she sang a low note, a flurry of giggles vibrating her tiny body. She opened one eye, peering at the traitorous blossom relaxing on her face. A chubby hand clasped it ever so gently and brought it to her lips. She blew, the flower soaring back up to dance with its friends.
“Tara, it's time for lunch,” a sweet voice called.
Tara sighed, ending her enchanting song. The blossoms instantly fell to the ground around her, a few landing on her beautiful long chocolate hair like a crown.
The little girl stumbled up from the field and stared at the beige house sitting nearby. Her mother called again.
“Honey it's going to get cold.”
Tara glanced back longingly at the fallen petals but her feet led her forward. A growling stomach was a great incentive.
The tiny girl bounced inside the cottage, the smell of cinnamon floating through the air. Tara jumped with glee, racing to the kitchen for the delightful food associated with the intoxicating spice.
Her mother laughed, leading Tara out with the wag of a finger. Her mother was a slim young woman with luscious black hair. Her lips were full and deep red, making it nearly impossible for people to believe she was currently unmarried as her beauty was unrivaled. Tara frowned and fluttered her lashes, hoping it would get her somewhere in the direction of the small kitchen.
Her mother clicked her tongue. “You know snickerdoodle cookies are for after lunch.”
Tara's pudgy arms reached for the kitchen, but instead of moving closer to the cookies she ended up cuddled in warmth as her mother swooped the little girl into her arms.
“After you eat,” her mother reminded her. She nuzzled the top of Tara's head, sending the trapped flowers raining down onto the wood floor.
She set Tara on the ground and pulled a stranded orange blossom from behind the little girl's ear.
“Have you been-”
There was a thundering knock on the door and Tara's heart jumped to her throat. Her pulse thundered in her ears. She wouldn't have been surprised if her mother heard it. Instead, Tara's mother turned wide eyed to the door. They both stared and a bystander would have thought the door must have been horribly deformed or cursed to warrant the terror. Yet the door was quite normal, made out of thick dark wood with a few intricate designs spinning around the middle.
“Hide,” her mother whispered.
Tara ran into the kitchen, the cookies long forgotten. She tried to jump onto the counter, the maneuver difficult as it was slightly taller than she was. She managed to throw a foot onto the top, heaving upwards until she lay across the marble. Her heart told her she was running out of time as she bounded to a cabinet and threw it open. There were large boxes that reached to the top and filled every inch of the storage compartment but Tara toppled them out. They all came out at once, revealing that the boxes had been sheared so only their fronts remained. It created the illusion that the cupboard was full even when it wasn't. Tara launched herself inside, yanking the boxes in with her as she closed the cabinet door. There was a flutter of movement and the cabinet appeared full once more, hiding the quivering child encapsulated in darkness.
Another fist banged against the door and her mother cleared her throat. “Coming.”
It creaked open and Tara longed to see what was happening, but knew better than risk revealing herself.
“Good day madam,” a gruff voice stated. There was silence.
“Can I help you with something?” her mother asked, trying to hide the tremor in her words.
The man coughed, “I believe you can. A traveling spy spotted some magic being cast near your home.”
There was a pause and her mother whispered, “Really?”
“As you know, it is against the law to do any magic so I must ask, did you see anything?”
Tara heard the slight wind rush through her mother's hair as she gave a violent head shake, “I didn't see anything.”
“It is punishable by death to harbor anyone who has magic,” the gruff voice threatened.
“I’m not harboring anything,” Tara's mother squeaked.
The next sentence was so soft Tara had to strain to hear it, “Then what are those flowers doing all over your floor?”
An evil cackle split the air and Tara curled into herself.
“Take her away and search the house. I want the brat found,” Tara could almost see the wicked grin spread across his cracked lips, “I think it will do great in a stew.”
There was a shuffle of feet followed by a soft thump.
“Feisty are ya,” the man spat gleefully, “Don’t you worry, I love the ones who struggle.”
“Do nothing,” the little girl's mother breathed.
Tara hands were pulled into small balls, her mouth open to begin a haunting melody. She didn't know if it would work but was praying the song would at least alarm the guard.
“Nothing,” her mother repeated.
“Who are you talking to?” the man sneered. There was a wack and Tara's tiny body vibrated with rage.
The man groaned in disgust, “Get this woman out of my face.”
The horrible sound of boots being dragged against a polished wood floor screeched throughout the house. They finally faded away, the last sounds of her mother lost to the dust.
Tears welled up behind Tara’s green eyes, but she followed her mother's last wish. She remained frozen.
“What are all of you numskulls waiting for? Search the house.”
Boots banged against the ground, tracking in streaks of dirt across the clean floor. Doors were thrown off their hinges and beds groaned as the men jumped on them. Someone waltzed into the kitchen, aiming to destroy it but became transfixed on the snickerdoodle cookies. His fat hands wrapped around his newfound treasure, teeth sinking into the soft delight. He moaned, stealing the rest of them.
Other men accumulated in the kitchen, but the cookies stole all their attention. They fought over them, a man squealing in pain as someone bit his finger. The snickerdoodles obliterated their need to destroy everything around them, opting instead to destroy each other.
“What is going on here?” the gruff man screeched.
All motion stopped. Tara could imagine the men staring at one another, praying the other one would speak.
The dumbest of them all, or it could be inferred this way as the messenger almost always gets shot, whispered, “We found cookies.”
There was a bang and a thump as the man's body crumpled to the floor.
“You managed to search the entire house and all you came up with was crumbs,” the gruff man hissed, “We can only keep the woman for three days without proof of magic. Three. Days.”
His shoe squeaked against the ground as he turned and stalked out. The mob of men sauntered after him, a few of them still tackling one another for last specks.
Their loud footsteps faded into the distance and Tara let out the breath she had been holding. Her throat was dry and scratchy but her face was red with trapped tears. She didn't dare herself to sing or speak, fearing a blood-curdling scream would emerge instead. She just had to stay quiet for three days. Do nothing.
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Great story Kathleen! You're really a great writer Kathleen! Your stories are really AMAZING!😊 Keep writing :)))
Thank you so much, you are so sweet! ❤
No problem Kathleen! You too! :))) P.S.(Thank you for liking my stories. I really appreciate it)😊