Time passed quickly in the little house among the flowers. Liesl cooked for Frau Holle and kept everything clean. In the afternoons, they worked in the garden together. Every now and then, she’d shake out the pillows and make it snow, watching the flakes drift down with a delighted smile on her face.
The hours spent in the timeless garden, pulling up weeds and harvesting fruit and vegetables while chatting to Frau Holle, were among the happiest she’d had since losing her Papa. Working together meant they had enough time at night to sit by the fire and read books and tell stories to each other.
But it wasn’t home. The bed she slept in wasn’t the bed her sweet mother had tucked her into as a child. Standing beneath the cherry tree, she lay her cheek against its smooth warm trunk and looked up at branches laden with flowers and cherries. It wasn’t the tree she’d climbed as a little girl in search of adventure.
Tear rolls down
a blushing cheek
arms around the tree
“Liesl?” Frau Holle’s hand lightly touched her shoulder. “What’s wrong, child?”
“Oh, Frau Holle. I miss my home.” What was wrong? Frau Holle was far more patient than her stepmother and Else. She never got punished here and there was always enough to eat. So why was she sad?
“I--” Liesl wiped away her tears and looked at her mistress. “I guess I feel homesick. But I can’t go back. I don’t know the way.”
The old woman patted Liesl’s hand with her own thin, wrinkled one. “You’ve been such a help to me, Liesl. You can’t imagine how you’ve lightened my load during your time here.” Frau Holle pulled the Liesl into a hug. How long had it been since she’d been held like that? When Papa became ill, it didn’t take him long to lose the strength to even lift his arms. Mama and Else had only ever hugged each other.
into her voice
“I can help you find your way home, if you wish.”
“Are you sure, Frau Holle? You’ll have to do all the work by yourself again. I can stay until you have a replacement...”
“No, Liesl. I’ll be fine. I’m sure a replacement will come along. You deserve to go home if that is what you want.” Frau Holle turned away from her and walked back to the house. “But think about it. Your family hasn’t been very kind to you. Are you certain you want to go back to them? You don’t have to decide right away.”
Liesl leaned into the tree. Did she want to go back? Mama had never been very kind to her. But Else was still her sister. How could she abandon them? How could she not go back to the house where she’d lived with her Papa? To the painting of her real mother in the attic--all she had left of her mother.
“Frau Holle?” She walked into the little kitchen. “Frau Holle? I’ve thought about it. I really would like to go home.”
Frau Holle somehow looked smaller, as she looked out of the window. “I thought you might.” She turned her back to the sunlight streaming in. Her smile looked tired. “How about right now?”
finally show their age
wrinkled hands shake
Liesl looked down at her hands, clasped together at her waist. She opened her mouth, wanting to say… What? Thank you? Goodbye? “I’ll go get my things.”
When Liesl came downstairs, a small bag in her hands holding the clothes she’d made for herself during her time in the little house, Frau Holle was nowhere in sight. She sighed and turned for the door.
As she walked out, a bird whistled and feathers drifted through the air. Unlike all those other times, they didn’t turn to snow as they fell. Every feather that touched her turned to gold and clung to her skin and dress.
white turns to gold
clings to my skin
She raised her eyes to Frau Holle, shaking out a pillow outside the window. “Goodbye, Liesl. And good luck.” She pointed west. “Walk through the gate to the left, in the direction of the setting sun. You’ll come to an arch spanning the road. Walk through it, and you’ll find yourself in more familiar surroundings.”
Last walk among
onto the road
Photo by corina ardeleanu on Unsplash
Today's companion post discusses the benefits of a peer review system like the one we employ over at The Writers' Block.
Well, we're not quite there yet. Liesl will be joining us again tomorrow.
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