Erin lived a quiet lonely life until she was twelve years old, when her eldest brother Xavierstarted to become more power within the kingdom. It would not be long before he inherited the throne from their father the King.
Erin is banished from the palace and forced to live in a dilapidated cottage at the furthest edge of the palace grounds. Although she knew this day would arrive eventually, Erin was still sad to leave her only sanctuary; the library and courtyard were very dear to Erin and her heart ached when she had to leave them. After gathering her few possessions and sneaking a few of her favourite books out of the library, Erin held back her tears as she followed the stern knight to her new “home”.
The uncertainty of her future always frightened Erin; ‘how many years would she live in the cottage?’, ‘What did Prince Xavier have in store for her?’, ‘Would she ever be able to escape the clutches of the royal family?’ Such thoughts floated around in Erin’s head from time to time.
After escorting her to the abandoned cottage, the knight left silently, he never even looked Erin in the eye. Arriving at the small cottage reminded Erin of the day she first set foot in the overgrown courtyard; it was a mess. Singles missing from the roof, broken windows, weeds sprouting out of the chimney and the wooden stable door was barely hanging on its hinges. Spiders had taken residence in the rotting widow frames weaving their webs carelessly, while tall tangled grass transformed a former vegetable patch into an unruly jungle.
Inside the cottage was no better; dark, damp and mouldy walls from the lack of sunlight and damaged roof. The small cottage had been left at the mercy of nature for too long. At first glance, the cottage looked beyond saving but after a little investigating, Erin is glad to see there is still hope for the little house.
The first few days in the cottage were challenging; the horrible conditions, broken windows and leaking roof invited the icy night breeze from outside. Erin was tired and freezing but was afraid to fall asleep in case she never woke up again. Erin felt she had returned to the weak and hopeless child she once was.
One night when she was truly exhausted, Erin heard a faint jingle (bell) accompany the whistling wind. The soothing sound relaxed Erin, for the first time since moving to the cottage she felt at peace. Her freezing and exhausted body had reached its limit. Slowly Erin felt her eyelids become heavy and her thoughts hazy as the sound of the gentle jingle lulled her to sleep.
As the jingle faded Erin heard a soft whisper calling out to her, she ignored it as the comfort of sleep was too tempting. The voice did not retreat, instead the whisper got loader and clearer as if trying to wake Erin from her slumber. Only when the beautiful voice desperately cried out ‘Erin!’, did Erin open her eyes.
Photo in cover art by Euan Carmichael on Unsplash