It was not a feeling that she could describe with words. Rather, she just knew. That morning, when her mother called her from down the long corridor, she knew that there would be no moment of retreat. No retracing of her footsteps. Hermi lingered on threshold of her room, hanging onto the door frame with short, sharp, fingernails. She could hear her mother speaking to somebody else, the occasional sprinkling of her name in the conversation. She sounded ready for conflict.
‘HERMI!’ Came the call again, her mother’s voice battling with the wooden structure of the house, threatening to drag it to the ground.
Hermi hovered still, awkward in the pale dress that had been laid out for her to wear today. She stared at the sickly little flowers that crawled up from the hem, the blue embroidery that danced with the yellow. This was not her usual clothing.
‘That child.’ Came her mother’s words, once more. ‘She is so –‘
Hermi strained to hear the end of the sentence, desperate to know what she was, really. One socked foot crept into the corridor, and Hermi followed it with the other, displeasure crawling across her skin. She tiptoed gently over the uneven floorboards, carefully avoiding those that she knew creaked and groaned beneath human weight.
‘What are you doing child? What is taking you so long?’
Hermi snapped her eyes from the floor to her mother, who now stood at the end of the corridor, with her hands on her hips. She was wearing, Hermi was surprised to see, a bright yellow sundress, which appeared to be around two sizes too small. The short capped sleeves cut into her skin, causing red rivets to form over her fleshy arms. She clicked her fingers, and turned swiftly, walking into the room at the far end. The conversation appeared to continue within.
Hermi took a breath, and stepped forward again, paying particular attention this time to the patterns that covered the walls. Of course, she had seen them many times before, but it was only now that she realised that they were hand painted. Was all of the wallpaper hand painted in this house? She couldn’t think. There was a strange sound from within the room that held her mother, and Hermi reached deep inside herself for some semblance of courage. She continued forward, despite every part of her wanting to go back to yesterday, to earlier, to another time. Her fingers hovered over the wall as she moved, feeling the brushstrokes and paint beneath them.
Suddenly, quite by accident, she had arrived. Hermi stepped inside the room, and saw her mother, nodding to her, beckoning her in further. There, sat on the bed, was a man. He was wearing a dark suit, though the jacket was folded beside him, a hat placed prudently on top. Hermi blinked at his colourful suspenders and white shirt, and then focused for a moment on his face. Ah yes, she thought. There he is.
About the Author:
Rachel Grosvenor is a British writer and tutor, with a PhD, MA and BA Hons in Creative Writing. She writes in various genres and forms, from travel writing to fantasy, and her work has been published in equally diverse places – from Cadaverine Magazine to the wall of the blue bedroom at the National Trust’s Baddesley Clinton. Rachel’s writing news can be followed on Instagram at @teachmecreativewriting, or on her website www.RachelGrosvenorAuthor.com.