Finally, Elizabeth's mother insisted that they had watched enough television for now and they should go play outside. At first, Elizabeth was rather offended, because at fourteen years of age she no longer liked to think of herself as playing. Hanging out, maybe, or fooling around, but playing was decidedly middle-school. But Elizabeth was actually pretty ready to stop staring at a screen, so she shut off her computer and strolled outside with Maggie.
Elizabeth's mother was an extraordinary woman. She was highly organized, punctual, and well-rounded. Despite having five children (Elizabeth, the only girl; Max, the oldest who was now in senior year of college; Peter, who was in Sophomore year of college; Eric, who was Senior year of High School; and Jimmy, the baby of the family, who was now entering 4th grade) she somehow managed to get everyone to soccer practice or choir or the school play (not so much since Max and Peter left and Eric started driving, but still) and hold down a full-time job and organize a monthly Mom's Night Out and Book Club. On top of all this, she was constantly smiling and was a good listener. Her only fault was that she was extremely nosy and she gave an awful lot of advice and basically was very interfering in Elizabeth's life. Which made her clash with Elizabeth a lot, since Elizabeth, though mild-mannered, was fiercely independent, and was, after all, a teenager and some rebellion can be expected.
At any rate, Elizabeth and Maggie stepped outside, Elizabeth a little annoyed, and Maggie a little distant. She may have been thinking about the hole, but Maggie was always a little distant, so that could have just been her normal self.
"Well," said Elizabeth glumly, "What do you want to do?"
At this point, Maggie was definitely considering telling Elizabeth about the Hole. She didn't get the chance too, however, because Elizabeth casually strolled over to the side of the house, saw the Hole, and shrieked a very high-pitched shriek.
The neighbors on the left of them were listening to loud rock music and did not hear Elizabeth. The neighbors on the right were not at home, and neither were the neighbors behind them. The neighbors to the front had a very sound-proof house so they did not need to hear the neighbors on the left's music all day. Elizabeth's mother (filling out bills in the kitchen) thought, rather foolishly, that Elizabeth had gotten over her "adultness" and was playing tag. Maggie, knowing the cause of the shriek, thought nothing.
The little man behind her smiled and thought that Elizabeth had found it. Excellent.
Maggie walked over to Elizabeth and attempted to explain.
"That's been there a little while," she said calmly.
"Wh- what? How did it- wh- how do you know?"
"I saw it earlier," said Maggie placidly, reaching for her earbuds.
"Oh," said Elizabeth weakly, trying to decide what to do next. What was it? Also how did it get outside her bedroom window? Why was it making a whooshing noise? Also who was that crackling the twigs and leaves behind her?
Elizabeth spun around, followed by Maggie, who looked mildly interested in the proceedings.
They were faced with a little man, about half their height. He had such pale skin it looked almost green. His eyes were squinting at the sun (which had chosen that moment to peek out from behind the clouds). He wore a very odd brown cap that looked a bit like moss was growing on it.
He began to speak.
"Hello," he said, then continued, nervously.
"My name is Bariso."