What Lies Beneath?

By Jordan Baker (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)

“You’re dead,” she screamed towards me.

Michelle is my best friend, but she can get rough.  It was only a game and it seemed as though she truly wanted to kill me.  I swiftly ran through the park past the empty swing set.  My clunky black boots made it difficult to escape.

I started to slow down and made my way to the bushes to hide.  The bare twigs tugged on my short brunette curls.  I blocked my freckled face with my mittens to keep the frigid wind from burning my wide eyes.  Struggling to get deep into the woods, my short legs felt a hard surface.

 “Whoa,” I spoke softly, out of breath.  The pieces of wood stood frigidly.  The arch of this random door was just a tad bit bigger than me.  I was as curious as any other ten year old would have been.  I observed the old rusty handle and gripped it.  Using my whole body’s strength, I slowly but surely crept open the mysterious door. I looked at the dark entrance with a puzzled look.  I made my way forward, I looked back into the white winter’s land, hoping Michelle was following nearby.  I got about 40 feet into the tunnel and found a ladder like structure.  It was as weak as the door and made out of twigs and branches.  Weighing only 65 pounds I choose to take a look.

As I climbed up the ladder of the tree it started to slope over. It was like I was crawling over the hump on a camel.  Before I could climb back to the secure ground, I found my entire body hanging upside down with my head facing the ground.  It was jet black and bare.  My skinny arms could not hold the weight that was getting put on them.  My fingers slipped off of the branches as they cracked and cried.  My heart dropped into my stomach as I fell through the air.  My hair covered my face as it blew in the darkness. 

I hit the ground with a thud.

My head was pounding when I woke up.  All I wanted was my mom.  Looking around, everything was so unfamiliar.  I was still in a forest, but I had never seen this.

A house.  I walked closer to a small old cottage with my eyes still drowsy.  I grew weaker with every step.  There was a beautiful, clear waterfall near the house.  It crashed down into a large amount of water and kept a flow.  The tiny cottage looked normal.  That was until I moved closer.  This house was obviously old and had been around for a long time.  A couple hundred years I would have guessed.  The garden out front was overgrown and unkempt.  Weeds were growing up the sides of the house almost covering the wooden windows.  However, one thing stood out.  It was hanging over the edge of the cliff.  Half of the entire cottage was leaning, waiting for its final day to take a plunge.

Everywhere else I looked trees and woods continued.  I had no idea where the ladder went and I was alone.  My mother taught me not to talk to strangers, but there was no other option.  I tried to act older and more mature than my age, but it was obvious I was scared when I walked toward the front door.

I gave it two soft knocks.  A slow creak came from the door with a subtle voice saying “Hello my dear child,” It was a short woman who only showed her smoky eyes.

“Um hello? I’m sorry to bother you, but I seem to be lost,” I said nervously. 

She opened the door rapidly after I finished my sentence.  She was a small plump woman, almost as tall as me, and wore gray locks.  She had a pale pink dress on with an apron covering it.  There seemed to be something shiny hidden in it.  Her wrinkles made me guess she was about my grandmother’s age.  “Come in darling.  I will help you,” she said enthused. 

I showed a shy smile as a thank you.  I walked in slowly as I saw a familiar face.  It was another child a small, but chunky red head girl.  She was sitting at a kitchen table with sugar cookies being plowed into her face.

 It was Michelle. It just so happens she had gotten lost searching for me.  “My dear, you may call me Leda of Hebe, Leda for short,” the older woman spoke with a creepy twinkle in her eye. 

“My name is-”

“Dalia,” she said, cutting me off.

 “How do you know my name?”  I asked concerned. 

“You told me already,” she chuckled anxiously. 

I looked toward the tall, wide window in her living room; I could see the waterfall.  “How does your house stay up on this cliff?” I asked curiously. 

“Magic,” she grinned at me.  I tried to stay calm. 

“You two stay here and play nice.  I’ll be right back,” Michelle looked at me. 

“We have to get out!” 

“What are you talking about? I want to find my way home.”

“Do you know why people call her Leda of Hebe?”  There was a silent hum.  When I didn’t answer she continued “she steals the youth out if innocent young children.”

“What? You’re nuts!”  I tried to play it off.

“She holds a mirror in her apron that is magic.  She is a witch.  She sucks the life out of kids and takes their youth for herself.  No one ever escaped her except for one boy named Jimmy, but a few weeks later, Jimmy disappeared again.  The police had no proof that “Leda” had done anything wrong.”

“I don’t want to end up like Jimmy,” I said while getting chocked up.

Leda then returned to the room.  She held a large brown book overbearing in her arms.

“Sit my children,” she sang in her crackly old voice.

Getting overwhelmed, I sat down close to Michelle.

“Now, I have already explained to this pudgy young girl what I am going to do.”  She looked at me and giggled.  “You are perfection my dear, your skin, hair, eyes.  You will make me beautiful once again,” I broke down in tears thinking of what Michelle had just told me.

“What are you going to do to me?’’ I yelled.

“My Dear, it won’t hurt a bit.  You’re simply giving me the life I need.  You see, I have been living for 279 years and I intend to stay alive. Thanks to beautiful people like you, I will have my youth back once again,” She pulled out her mirror and held it gently in her palms. It was oval and silver. It had an old design of vines growing up the handle. The actual mirror was spotless. It was clean, shiny, but evil, “Your souls will be placed in here my little darlings,” She giggled again “I hold all my past victims in this wonderful object. It makes me feel like a kid again,” She then chuckled louder than ever.

“Please! why would you do this to people?” I shouted

“You’re lost and never going homes my dear, no one cares about you anymore,” she said with a blank expression.

She then pulled on the side of the big book to open it up. She then found the page she must have been looking for.

I have always been a child that was afraid of what adults would think or say about me. I never talked when I was not commanded to, play with others toys without their permission, or take other people’s possessions. Then I did, I stretched my arm across the glass table and reached my boney fingers across towards the mirror. Before the old women had seen what I had done, she heard what had happened. The sparkling pieces shined into her eyes. The tiny parts had cause blood to gush out of my hand. The pain hurt, but probably less then taking my soul. The woman saw what I did and screamed at me in a different language. What was left of the mirror, spread all across the table.

The old witch was right. She was full of magic. She disappeared within seconds of the mirrors destruction. The house Michelle and I were standing in started to shake. It jumped and tilted towards the direction of the water below. Slowly but surely, we would be in the water, swimming with the house.

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