Gabriann Doeurk – Longing for Sunlight

The young miss and sir held the hand of her father, intertwining their fingers slowly; first the index, then the middle, ring, pinkie, and thumb. It had been days since they’ve gone outside, if their pale complexion was anything to say about it. If asked why the Master of the house suddenly stopped appearing, the answer would be he had become ill. On the other hand, if one asked the whereabouts of the Master’s children…

They, too, did not venture out their door.

The young miss stayed beside her father, and the young sir, from what their mother tells them, spends his days wandering through the house.

Worried neighbors asked why they don’t go outside. The answer is as followed:

They didn’t want to leave their dying father alone.

Were it his wish to see the two smile, it is without saying that all the Master wanted was their happiness. Sadly, the Master was too ill from his disease, too ill to go outside where he beloved children loved to be.

In turn, they followed their father and shut themselves away in their house.

As the neighbors walk past their house through the streets, many swear they can see the wistful gaze of the daughter in the living room, watching; not at them, but at the sky. Others saw the son do the same as well, but he was more discreet, more quieter, like a cat. Even rarer was both siblings looking outside.

Everyone assumes that they take turns looking after the Master of the house. Such good kids, they thought to themselves, good kids who care for their parents.

Maybe that’s why a young group of boys and girls, suddenly came to their door everyday just so they could play.

Everyday, a ridiculous amount of knocking ensues: lightly at first, until it progresses to aggressive banging, and only stopped when either the young miss or sir tells them to stop. Most days their patience would run thin, thus they shoo them away not as kindly as they would do to normal neighbors. Rarely did they have the patience to listen to what the instigator of the knocking wanted.

Today was one of those days.

“Oho!” A cheshire grin came to the face of the one who knocked. She was fairly tanned, wearing overalls clearly one size too large. “Just as I thought! Hullo missus!”

The young mistress frowned, but it seemed much more livelier than it did in the many weeks after the Master became sick. “Donna, I’ve told you once, I’ll say it again,” she inhaled and puffed her chest outward, “I do not want to leave the house. Good day.” She gently closed the door and turned the lock.

From the outside, the three winked as though things were according to plan.

The next day, the boy in the large top hat of his father knocked. Unlike Donna, he handled the knocking more gently, and the reception from the young sir was appreciated. “Seems a man and woman with sense came today,” he joked. “Perhaps she is simply one too fiery to handle.”

“You aren’t wrong, friend.” He chuckled inwardly, ruffling his matted hair from work. “The lady can’t help herself.”

“No harm no foul,” The young sir dismissed, “but best not to anger the daughter.”

“May I inquire why?”

“She is just the little devil who bottles it all in until she can’t take it anymore.” He rubbed his fingers on the bridge of his nose. “The house cat’s the only saving grace at that point.” The two are shaken from the loud gong of the grandfather clock in the living room. “Adam, you should go. I hear you have glasswork classes again. Cheers friend.”

“Cheers to you as well.”

Day two ends without a hitch.

Day three is quiet. Young Adam, Donna, and the third miss do not come. The young miss and sir resort to playing a quiet game of chess, and though they don’t know the rules of chess, they were willing to improvise.

Their mother comes to offer them cookies, green tea, and coffee.

The family of three are at peace in the stillness of their house.

Day four comes around, and their father takes a turn for the better. His condition is stable, and he begins to look healthier by the day. The mother hugs both of her children in relief, and she urges them to go outside.

She can see their eyes light up in excitement. They turn their head to the sleeping Master on his bed, so they shake their head.

They weren’t stepping outside until their father was in prime condition as before.

Too tired to track the quiet days gone by, it had been around three week since the young trio came to visit. Today, the young miss has turned a year older. Her birthday was in mid-May, and it was around the same time the flowers in their yard bloomed.

A quiet knock came from the other side of the door. The young miss peered out the window while the young sir checked through the door.

A quiet young girl wrapped in a black shawl stood awkwardly on her lonesome, a basket of flowers and sweets in her slim hands.

“For you, sir Michel.” She mumbles nervously as her bangs began to cover her eyes. “A birthday present for lady Ave.” She arched her back and gently placed the gift into his hand.

He smiled at the offering and took it to his sister, then returned. “Thank you miss… Erm…”

“Lady,” she corrected gently, “Lady Swan. I am a year older than Lady Ave. Good day to you both.” She curtsied then headed towards the horizon, to her home across the way.

Following the generous gift offering from Lady Swan, Sir Michel and Lady Ave shared the many macarons inside, saving half for their mother and father to share as a couple together.

They also went to their small library in the room near the grandfather clock and produced many cookbooks from within. Their mother was delighted with the two’s desire to cook, and under her watchful gaze and patient teachings, weeks went by as the family cooked together.

Once again, the trio came together all at once. Donna banged the door loudly, so loudly that the Mistress quickly invited them inside for tea.

“My word…” The Mistress chuckled as she watched Donna try to mimic how Lady Swan and Sir Adam respectfully eat the cookies offered to them. Eventually she gave up, resorting to just grabbing them one by one and stuffing them in her mouth. “For a young miss from the country-folk, your enthusiasm surprises even myself.”

“Why thank ye, ma’am,” she chuckled bashfully, “truth be told, I was just a tad bit nervous ‘bout bein’ in da city’, but it ain’t so bad!” She hooked an arm around Adam and Swan. “The two ‘ere showed me da ropes! As the sayin’ in ma hometown goes: you treat someone with kindness, they pay ye back in return!”

The Mistress chuckled at how close the three of them were. “I see.” She says quietly, the Mistress does not wish to seem rude to her guests, so she sips her tea.

As quickly as they came, the trio left with smiles on their faces as they waved goodbye. Those kids were very sweet children, and they would make great friends of her daughter and son. ‘I suppose,’ she thought to herself with a sweet smile, ‘they would do my children some good influence if I let them be.

The days following, the Master’s condition varied on the weather, and it would seem, from the autopsy of the doctor, that it would be quite a while until his body adapted to the quickly changing weather of spring. 

There was no decisive conclusion that the Master was going to make it through the illness, but considering how young he was, he still had a small sliver of hope. They prayed that he would continue the uphill road to recovery.

Lady Ave and Sir Michel patiently awaited the day to pass. It was a beautiful day, but they couldn’t bear to go outside. It seemed unfair their father couldn’t go with them, so they were determined to stay inside.

A definitive knock of the door, and the two knew better than any other as to who they were. The young tomboy, glass worker, and noblewoman’s daughter stood beyond expectantly.

“Do ye want to come outside?” Donna asked with wide eyes. “Purdy nice if I say so myself.” She offered a hand to both of them, patiently awaiting their answer, but her feet bubbled with the urge to move.

Michel and Ave glanced towards each other in surprise. How often had they told them that they couldn’t? The two of them couldn’t leave, they had to wait until Father got better. They guessed that it would probably take years until it was confirmed by the doctor, but still! 

But… Seeing a hand offered to them now, beckoning them to follow them to the sunlight, was tempting. Perhaps sensing the uncertainty in their decision, Lady Swan offered a piece of advice. “Perhaps it is not my place to say,” she began slowly, “but it would be wise to acknowledge the child from within, no? A child acting the role of an adult is still a child, after all. Which, I suppose, is what the both of you are right now.”

A moment of silence followed, but as it grew, two smiles were returned in kind. They supposed she was right in some aspect. Pretending to be like Mother by holding it all in started to become a chore in the past two months already. “I suppose.” They both voiced in unison.

“I suppose it’s alright. Just this once.” Michel told Ave.

She nodded in understanding. “Just this once.” She echoed his words.

Both longed for the sunlight outside, to feel it on their skin. So for now, it was alright. They had a feeling their Father was proud that they finally made a step towards the outdoors.

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