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A Welcome Retreat – by Isaac
Through the dark, murky woods he raced, sweat pouring from every possible sweat pour on his body. How long had he been running? He couldn’t remember. He had been focusing all his attention an energy to running from the Beast. Had he lost it? How much longer could he continue to run like this? Was there a safe haven ahead where he could take a rest? Should he just give up to the Beast in surrender? No, he had to keep going until he was sure he had lost it.
“Is that a cottage up ahead?” He thought. He turned around to see if the Beast was in sight. It wasn’t. He had a little time to ask whoever lived in the cottage if he would hide him. It was worth a try. He knocked on the door and as he caught his breath he asked the Maker for help. Someone was coming to the door. They were opening the door.
“Hello,” The man, probably in his forties, who answered the door said. “What is your name young man?”
“Well Nathaniel, my name is Joshua. What are you doing out here at this late hour all by yourself?”
“Uh, well,” Nathaniel stopped to catch his breath. “I can’t explain now but I need you to help me by hiding me here for a little while.”
“Where are you parents?”
Nathaniel didn’t say anything but Joshua understood.
“I understand. Well, for now, come on in,” He said with a wave of his hand towards the inside of the quaint, little cottage.
As Nathaniel followed Joshua into the sitting room he noticed portraits of many people. Each of the portraits had a plaque with the name of the person on it and two years with a dash in between them. Most of them had the same last name. Probably ancestors and dear friends. Oddly enough some of the canvases and plaques were empty except for one date and a dash. One of them, though, stood out and he thought he recognized the person in the picture but he couldn’t put his finger on it so he kept walking.
When they arrived in the sitting room Joshua sat down and told Nathaniel to have a seat.
“Well, now that you are safely hidden indoors and are comfortable tell me a little about yourself and why you are out in the woods.” Joshua said.
“Well, I am a pretty much just a nobody kid who was just out and about when the Beast tried to kill me. I don’t know why but he did and so I have been running from him for who knows how long.” Nathaniel replied.
“I see. Well, how about you stay here for a day or so until the Beast has lost you and then you can go.”
“Thank you, sir” Nathaniel said with a sigh.
“Are you hungry? There is some fresh venison cooking right now and should be done in just a few minutes.” Joshua offered.
Nathaniel didn’t know what to say. He didn’t want to take this man’s food but he was famished. He decided to ask for food. “I am famished if you have some food to spare for me.”
“There is enough extra. Since the wife and kids are out of town for the week it’s just me and I can’t finish a whole deer myself.” Joshua answered.
“Thank you sir,” Nathaniel said, thanking the Maker for this man’s kindness.
While Nathaniel waited for the man to finish cooking the venison he looked around the room. Everything seemed old and worn like it had been passed down for generations but it still looked nice. It was probably very well cared for. Then there was the piano. He felt like he had seen that piano somewhere but again, he couldn’t think of where he had seen it.
As he continued to survey the room he noticed that on the mantle above the fireplace was a set of armor and a sword.
“Dinner’s ready!” Shouted Joshua. “Come and get it!”
Nathaniel quickly hurried into the kitchen, dining room area. Once Joshua had gotten his share Nathaniel got some of his own also. As the two of them ate in silence, Nathaniel admired the fancy oak table that they were eating on and the intricate wood work on the matching stools.
Once dinner was over Nathaniel offered to wash the dishes but Joshua refused.
“You are my guest,” He insisted. “I will not allow you to do the work that I can do myself while you are under my roof.”
Nathaniel finally gave up, not willing to have an argument with this man and possibly ruin the friendliness that the man was giving him. While Joshua was washing the dishes, though, Nathaniel saw the perfect opportunity to go back and study the portraits. Especially the one that he had thought he had recognized the person in. He arrived at the portrait and began to study it.
“What you doing?”
Joshua’s voice snapped Nathaniel back into reality. How long had he stood staring at the portrait?
“Just looking at this portrait.” Nathaniel said still a little surprised.
“Good friend of mine Malachi was.” Joshua reminiscently explained. “Passed away about five years ago when his house was destroyed by the Beast’s minions. He and his wife Esther were both found dead right outside of their house. Their son, whose name isn’t coming to me right now, was never found. We expect he ran for his life and found some way to live on his own. He was a bright one. I can’t remember him that well now. It’s been a while and I’m not as young as I used to be so my memory of him has faded a bit. I do remember, though, that the age he was then plus the five years would make him a young man now. Still wish we could find him but haven’t even found a trace of him.”
Nathaniel thought the story sounded slightly familiar but again just brushed it off. “That is very sad. I’m sorry?
Then there was an awkward silence that lasted for a few minutes as both Joshua and Nathaniel studied the portrait of Malachi and thought.
“Well, Let me show you where you will be sleeping,” Joshua offered, breaking the silence.
“Sure,” Nathaniel absentmindedly replied.
As they walked towards Nathaniel’s sleeping quarters he continued to ponder the story. Why would the beast do such a thing? Why would he kill a family with a young boy? Why was the Beast so mean? Nathaniel had no idea. The ways of the Beast were very mysterious.
“Here’s your room,” Joshua again snapped Nathaniel out of his thoughts. “Here’s your bed and if you need anything at all just tell me.”
“Thank you, will do,” Nathaniel gratefully replied.
Once Joshua had left the room Nathaniel decided to lay down in the nice warm, cozy bed and think more tomorrow. For now he was tired and needed to rest up from his adventure.
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