At the instant of awakening, Grace felt the contrite cloud of recollection of what had happened earlier that day before she scared herself to sleep. How could she be so afraid of the wild wolves after spending so much time admiring their prestigious presence? Grace crept the heavy blanket under her chin to look around the room. The dark corners held secrets and the moon revealed dark blue ground outside which reflected the loss of snow. She leant forward and reached to grab for a small book of matches.
The kerosene lamp sat on the nightstand across the room. Grace tried moving her legs but she felt weak. Her mother wasn’t around to help her. The small wooden walls couldn’t protect Grace from herself. Anything and everything came back. The brain eating insect coat hanger, the claws of the trees outside and the trace of feral fear. Everything and anything could be outside the walls with just a hint of force. Pray that the force doesn’t crumble the walls and toss her into the cruel imagination of a world she has come to find. Pray to be protected by loyalty or a charlatans mirrors.
Grace holds the book of matches to her heart. Fear dances through her body as the howling winds slide around the outside corners of the house. She pulls her blanket over her head and leans forward to feel a bit stronger. Grace holds the book of matches up and counts each red end. “Three left…” she stares through her tired, alert eyes. Her cold fingers pull one of the three matches out of the flimsy pack.
The match was ripped from the box like a science project going downhill quick. Her eyes lift from the tiring alertness when her fingers wander to the coarse strip on the back of the little book of matches. Grace puts the match head to the strip and pauses. After just a moment, she slides it across the strip with insubstantial effort. The match does not light, but just makes a little spark that flutters away to burn into an infinitesimal material. Her displeasure inspires the next lift off to be stronger and more capable of lighting the match. Grace firmly presses the stick to the strip and, like a jet, ignites the darkness of the underside of the blanket. The soft yellow glow paints her pale face in some places. It definitely reveals her charming smile.
Grace can smell a scent that she only experiences from the kitchen when her mother cooks a nice meal. She lifts the big blanket and the breeze that results from the rapid movement of the blanket only feeds the flicker of red embers on the thick cover. Grace exerts a terrifying shriek. The blanket catches on fire and she can only struggle out of bed. Grace falls to the cold floor and tries desperately to kick the burning blanket off of her. Not even the strongest thrusts can get it away. She feels as though her fate is sealed. A horrible pain, unlike any other, shot through her leg. Grace’s ankle has a dark burn from the engulfed blanket. “Mother!..” Grace screams out in desperation, “Please help me!” no matter how loud she screams, no one can help.
The once still, dark and quiet room was now a pandemonium of fear and pain. Grace uses her shaking hands to pull the blanket off of her feet. The glowing walls seem to cackle and grin as they dance around her. Grace closes her eyes so that she can go back to the moment when she woke up just a few moments before. Grace wants a normal fear, just another chance to have a regular pain and fear.
She hears a significant struggle on the other side of the door which separates her from the soothing moonlight. Voices attempt to break through the cackling and dancing of the walls, but the effort yields no results. Finally, the door is thrown into the room and two men come rushing in to pull Grace from the burning tomb. Once outside, she loses all consciousness.
Where were the loyal guardians? Where was her mother? Why did the security of the walls secure her fate instead of her life? More questions go through her mind than the explanations that leave her mouth. Her mother is beside the uncomfortable bed to pat her daughter’s forehead with a moist cloth. Grace wakes up and looks her mother in the eyes with an empty stare that leaves a colder impression than the icy cold cloth against a lit match. Nothing could be mended right now. Delilah leaves the comfort of the cloth beside Grace’s hand and stands to walk outside to get some well needed fresh air.
The wolves were cavorting in the woods being wild and feral. Delilah was off doing whatever she does. The walls did what they were naturally meant to do. Grace could only recall the stinging fire tearing her ankle apart. The thought of the experience shocks her worn leg. She looks down and moves a small part of the thin blanket off of her foot. Anxiety chokes her and she freezes for a moment until she can collect herself. Grace moves the blanket until she can see the bandage. Nothing like this has ever happened. Grace’s thoughts crawl around her memory of the night before. Suddenly, the burning walls come back and begin circling around her with a devilish cackle. The small room Grace was in couldn’t possibly protect her more than her own home, her sanctuary. She begins crying hysterically until she eventually falls back asleep from fatigue.
The loud noise shakes Delilah back to reality and she comes running inside the small medical room. “Grace!-” she hushes, “ sleep well…” Delilah returns to meandering outside the door of the room. The lamp shining out from the opaque window revealed amber jewels in the snow. Delilah looks into the glittering morsels and begins to weep silently. Inside her heart, Delilah knew that she had betrayed her daughters trust. Deep inside, she knew that Grace would need the finite amount of trust to grow into something worth-while. If Grace were to be gone forever, Delilah would be lost and alone in a cold town with all but familiarity.
Ms. Doubtly comes scurrying across the way to see Delilah with strained eyes and a morose figure. “Oh dear,” Ms. Doubtly grabs Delilah’s hands warmly, “I know you and your Gracey have faced rough obstacles, but those trials and tribulations will fade in time.” Delilah smiles and embraces Ms. Doubtly lovingly. “Thank you for being here for the two of us, even though you do not have to.” she severs the heartfelt gesture. Ms. Doubtly smiles and looks up and into Delilah’s lost eyes, “I am always here for the two of you;” Ms. Doubtly shuffles to her side closest to the door, “I haven’t any cobwebs in me yet.” Delilah smirks, “No fading for you huh?” she stays outside as Ms. Doubtly slips inside. Grace slowly wakes up.