What Lies Beneath?

By Bailey Ellixson (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)

Her wrists burned when her father, Axel, shoved her into her lair, where she spent most of her time. Esther, her mom, stood by the small wooden door, smiling. Together the parents shouted, “We love you, Annabelle!” and after a loud bang and the click of a lock, the room became dark.

Annabelle’s bony legs bent as she squatted next to the locked door. Her mind allowed her to picture what it looked like from the outside, although she wasn’t lucky enough to see it from that perspective. The wooden slab had a twig for a doorknob. Thick pieces of wood met at all four corners and worked as a barrier to protect the innocent girl, as did the trees that surrounded it. When she snapped back to reality, the only thing that was visible was a small ray of sunshine that peeked through the peephole. Tears dripped down her face, one at a time, as she thought about her situation. When she rolled onto her side, Annabelle’s eyes squeezed shut and her fists tightened. The frigid ground caused her to shake. Instead of falling asleep, her eyes widened.

Peering through the door’s peep hole, Annabelle closely watched a small group of wooden creatures from the garden as they shook and came to life in the twilight. After staring at them with her mouth open, she vigorously pounded her dainty hands against the wooden door. She screamed, “Help! If you help me, I promise I will give you all a better life!” The gnomes turned to each other, raising their white eyebrows. After whispering to one another, their stiff bodies turned to face Annabelle. A small, squeaky voice informed her that they would accept the offer. The rest moved their heads up and down in unison. Annabelle’s smile made the creatures giggle. Her shaking arm pointed towards the tree in which the key was hidden.

The gnomes jumped on top of each other, stacking themselves high enough to reach the rusty lock that forced Annabelle to stay inside. Their small feet crushed the dead leaves beneath their shiny boots. The highest gnome used all of his arm muscle to insert the delicate key into its hole. He scrunched his face and fixed his hat and the lock fell rapidly to the ground. The door flew open, bouncing back into Annabelle’s face, and she winced. Her bare knees touched the cold ground, and the gnomes piled on top of her. A pink hue covered her cheeks as she stood up. Her silver heels poked into the muddy forest ground while she ran.

“Slow down!” the gnomes yelled. “We can’t keep up!” All they could see was the silver jewelry bouncing up and down on Annabelle’s ankle.

When the miniature creatures caught up, Annabelle’s hands covered her knees and the sun glistened off of her damp forehead. The gnomes copied her position.

“I don’t know where we are. I spend most of my time locked away,” Annabelle admitted.

“We’ve never ventured this far either,” cried a gnome. A blank stare came across each face. Annabelle’s neck snapped when a familiar sound came from the vacant woods. The group ducked down and looked in the direction of the noise. The stomping became louder every second until it was unbearable. Light brown leaves rustled as the gnomes hid in bushes. Annabelle’s height kept her from hiding with them, so she stood still with her eyebrows raised.

“Annabelle!” screamed a stern voice. Her jaw dropped and the loud stomps started again. A gnome peeked out, and realized they were left in the wilderness alone.

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