A year must have passed, perhaps, but with the seasons never changing, not even slightly, I can never tell how long I’ve really been here. Always summer with cool breeze filling the air in this room. No holidays celebrated, not even my birthday. I would call it a jail cell, one in which I have nothing to do and nothing is expected of me.
This whole year and I’ve gotten nothing past what I learned the first month. Along with the unchanging days, I learned that I have two sister. No father, however. I have yet to meet either of my sisters, but Glinn has mentioned them several time before as she spoke with Alice. The oldest of the two, Nes, is nine. Following her is Lehvie, three years over me, so four. This is my family, though temporary until I find my way home, they are still family.
It is a strange family, or more so that it is a strange way of living. There are mixed signs of wealth an poverty. No power, no electronics. Everything is well maintained, and I’m sure the fabrics or just the items used are worth something. Glinn would visit, rarely, but comes and goes nonetheless. The way she carries herself, gentle kindness but stern when needed and always sure to show no weakness in the very few words she spoke. Careful to pick up her knife and fork whenever she would dine in this room. Alice would spoon feed me and there would be nothing much but silence.
After dinner, Glinn would clean up with a damp and hot towel and move on to watching over me for the next few minutes and then leave. It is hard to believe that this is a poor family by any means, that then perhaps it’s not much more than an exotic lifestyle to have in a place like this.
I look at the perfectly cut stone slabs placed together with not even the slightest bit of space in between them. Very fine crafting, the windows, the edges prove likely that there is nothing but the stones themselves, and no actual insulation. Not that it is needed.
Thankfully, my sight has developed clearly and I can really see the small details. Definitely, details like the fine cloth that I’ve been unable to touch from the curtains far from my reach within my cradle. The small flowery patterns that curve outward, trimmed with a different fabric, beautifully reflecting the light that protrudes from the outside of the window. The small desk by the same light, just inches below the opening to the outside, carved from wood of a type that escapes me.
It might take another few years before my eyes develop fully, but at this point, they will do the job just fine. The same with my hearing. It’s always silent, but not the kind of silence that results from a person’s mouth not opening, or from the lack of actual sound one would hear in a city or town. No, it would be from the lack of vehicles passing, the lack of electricity running in the streets and the lack of phones ringing among many other things. Normally, the wind from outside is strong through most of the day without fail. The shake and rustling of leaves on the trees outside that I’ve been able to hear now. I couldn’t do so on the first day here, which is a sign of my improved hearing. Though impossible to see the trees from where my cradle is located in the room, they were very much welcomed to my ears.That’s really all I can do in terms of observing my surroundings. That is, for any real clues as to where I might be.
Alice, for the moment, is acting as weight support while I try balancing myself on my bare feet. I want to strengthen my legs as often as possible, which only means that I’ll be able to walk around that much sooner. Alice seems to agree. She would help me exercise often, ones that are meant for an infant, but still with a mutual understanding from both sides. I tried crawling out of her grasp during these exercise when we first began, as it was the only time I was allowed to touch the carpeted floors aside from always being carried in someone’s arms. If it meant I could leave the room, I’m desperate enough to try just about anything… even crawling to a door knob I know I am too short to reach.
“Don’t even think about it,” said Alice as she let me down on the clean carpet floor to let me play with building blocks, a means to a break from the exercises.
She picked up a book, giving it only half her attention. I thought of her as a stop light in these fun moments. Wearing her down is also my job. Move when she isn’t looking, and stop when she sneaks a peak. The door itself is never opened, and I know my height won’t be enough to touch the door knob for another few years either. So again, like before, I play this little game she seems to hate.
Her eyes hover over the sentences on her book, and I move slowly towards the door. Making my way there inch by inch. At the end of every sentence, she moves her eyes to me. These are the small openings of time that I have to move when she begins a new line. We repeat the process until I reach the threshold of her range, and unfortunately, three feet is the limit. She puts the book on the table and stands. Moves to me and carefully proceeds to pick me up. She’s relentless, I’ll give her that. Sooner or later, however, I don’t think I can stand being held up in this room much longer.
* * *
“Just a little longer,” said Alice who again helps support me after our little break. Just a few months ago my legs would bend all to easily at the knees. So I’m happy with the progress having made. Alice still breastfeeds me, and since I started teething, I’m just glad that I haven’t bitten her by accident. Ignoring the pain that comes and goes, I gesture Alice with my arms held up, signaling that I’d like to be carried. And so she does. The exercise is over.
“You’ve grown so much, young lord,” she said, measuring my weight by just holding me. Though it would be hardly noticeable, seeing as how often she carries me in her arms. It’s true though, I have definitely grown in the first year here.
“How about it, like this,” she said, “‘Alice,’ can you do that for me, young lord?”
I’ve yet to really speak, other than random sounds that I make throughout the day, there has not yet been a sound close to being a real word from me. Alice has been wanting me to speak for a while now, and I’m excited alongside her because I’ll be able to really communicate with her… eventually. The best I can do is show interest and enthusiasm for learning words and phrases suited for what a one year old should be capable of.
“Ah…” I spoke half her name, saying it with pretend difficulty.
“Alice,” she repeats.
“Ahl,” again, with pretend difficulty, I said her name in partiality.
“Ah-lis,” she pronounces.
“Ahlss,” I repeat semi closely after her.
“No,” she said, “It’s ALICE.”
“Aless,” I respond. Thought not nearly as correct as it should be.
“Finally!” She yells, forcing me to jolt in surprise.
It’s the fist time I’ve ever seen this expression from her. She hugs me tightly, careful enough not to hurt me from the squeeze. Like my mother Glinn, Alice also likes placing her cheek against mine, rubbing them together almost seemingly like a repetition of the first day. I did the same thing with my sister when she was younger, so I know the feeling. However, very much, I don’t like that these moments go on for longer than necessary. Like a mother embarrassing their child–that kind of feeling. Glinn and Alice have no mercy, doing as they like with this frail body of mine.. but it isn’t as if I mind. After all, I don’t think my real parents ever had the chance to do the same.
* * *
Before bed, Alice decided to tell me a story. It’s a rare occurrence, but she must be happy with me having spoken my first word. She placed me on the soft bed and began telling the story.
“There once lived a young king,” she said, “searching lands far and wide. Traveling the road for days and months until he one day found a puddle, crystal clear and invited him to drink.”
“He took the chance to rest and closely look at the puddle, and from it, a fairy swam up from the shallow water. She asked the king what he was searching for, and the king responded for a land to build his castle.”
“The fairy pointed him North, a place cold and wet,” said Alice, “but the king knew going north would show nothing but ice and snow. For this, he asked the fairy why he should trust her. The fairy answered that the elves knew a secret to melting the snow and making the land nice and warm.”
I close my eyes as Alice told me the story, as if from memory, she needed no book. She continues.
“The young king went north and met with an elve, a young woman with darkened black hair. The king asked her to warm the land and make it suitable for his people to live on. She agreed, but only if she could keep the one thing that would always come to any person living.”
“The king, confused, accepted her offer nonetheless. He got his wish and received the power of fire to warm the land and it became a place livable for his people. He married a beautiful wife and lived long, long years.. until one day, while living in the kingdom he helped build and in his old age, having outlived his wife and children, he looked to himself. The thing he gave up was his ability to die.”
“The king answered this by using his own power of fire to turn himself to ash..”
I fell asleep shortly after, not having heard if that was the end of the story.