The Estelle Series

Story # 8

It took another month for Estelle to recover from being so sick.  By the time she was healthy again, it was time to return to school. This year, Iris the third born, was old enough to start, so each day, Margie, Estelle and Iris would walk to school together.  Estelle returned to doing light chores, and was up each morning at the crack of dawn to get some of them done.  When she finished, she would get her things and walk with her sisters to school.

On some mornings, she simply had too much to do, and Margie and Iris were told to leave and Estelle would catch up.  Estelle didn’t like these mornings, because part of that walk to school, involved a small stretch through the woods.  It wasn’t that Estelle would lose her way, rather there was something mysterious about those woods that spooked the heck out of her. 

She had asked Betsy several times during her recovery why she had these extra senses---why she was able to see and feel that which others could not.  And the answer was always the same, because she was strong enough to handle it.  That didn’t set too well with a ten year old girl, at all; it was a rather alienating burden she felt she carried.

It was the beginning of October, and the rain hadn’t let up since the September’s Harvest Moon appeared in the sky.  Estelle hadn’t finished her morning chores by the time Margie and Iris were ready to leave, so she would have to run along by herself after they left.  By the time her mother told her she had done enough, Estelle grabbed her book and tablet and raced off the path toward the school.

It was a rather dreary morning, the rain pelted her face as she ran toward the school.  Upon entering the woods, the trees gave her some cover from the rain, but a feeling crawled along her back as she raced to get through the wood covered path. As she ran, she was acutely aware of her surroundings.  Every noise, every movement, every scent came over her.  The sound of her feet hitting the ground and the wind whistling as she passed through, pounded in her ears.  She saw everything around her as she ran, and it was caught somewhat in slow motion as it passed her peripheral vision, her eyes caught everything down to minute details.  The smells of pine, cedar, leaves decaying and animals that had left their marks, filled her nostrils, reminding her where she was.

She had another sense too, that someone or something was watching her.  It was as if someone had a birds eye view of her, yet was all around her at the same time.  She tried to pick up speed, but it just seemed to follow her closer.  If she slowed down, she felt as if she would fall prey to what ever it was.  Dread over came her and panic set in..until she reached the clearing at the back of the school property.

Once in the clear, Estelle didn’t have to think about haunted woods, but being late for school meant that she would have to stay after.  And thus, she would have to face traversing the woods alone again. She closed her eyes and wished that she wouldn’t have to go through the woods again alone. 

After school, she told herself that it was just the woods and this was just another one of her senses kicking in fear.  When she reached the back of the school yard and entered the woods, she decided she would walk, just like she did when she was with her sisters.  She kept reminding herself that it was all just silly nonsense.  The heightened awareness returned and she fought the urge to bust out into a full sprint.

About half way through the woods, a clear and distinct voice boomed around her, “Run Estelle!! RUN!!”  And at that point, Estelle took off running like her entire existence depended on it.  She ran so fast that when she reached the clearing on the other side, she ran smack dab into Mrs. Shrock, knocking her over on her backside.  Estelle landed across Mrs. Schrock and each had a look of surprise and utter horror on their faces. 

Mrs. Shrock was carrying a basket full of fresh baked bread and jam, which she had made for another neighbor, and when Estelle flew into her at such a quick pace, the loaves and jars flew everywhere.  Estelle quickly apologized and Mrs. Shrock took a moment to catch her breath.  Estelle scurried over to pick up the loaves of bread and place them back in the basket and then offered her hand to help up Mrs. Schrock to her feet.

“You horrid child!!” she spewed. “I certainly do not want your hand or your help. You hustle along to your home, and stay away from me!”

Estelle was quite shaken, “I’m so sorry, Mrs. Schrock” her voice still in shock.  “I certainly didn’t mean to hurt you or upset you.  Please, let me help you up.” Once again, Estelle offered her hand.

Mrs. Schrock refused the hand and got to her feet.  Estelle picked up the basket and its belongings and handed it back to Mrs. Schrock and she snatched it right out of Estelle’s hand.

“You listen to me,” Mrs. Schrock demanded. “Stay away from me and my family. I don’t like witches and I don’t like evil children.  I won’t be subjected to them either.  So get…shooo…go!!  Move along quickly, and stay away you wretch!!”

Mrs. Schrock’s words stung.  She had never done anything to her to deserve those harsh words.  Estelle grappled with why she saw, heard and felt what others could not and why she was seemingly different.  She didn’t like being called a witch and she didn’t like someone thinking of her as evil.  Tears streamed down her face and she ran on home.

She told her mother about running into Mrs. Schrock and what she had said.  Her mother fumed at the thought and decided she would address Mrs. Schrock on her own.  Her children, especially Estelle, had not deserved that, and like a mother hen protecting what is hers, she took off her apron, put on her coat and headed out to meet up with Mrs. Schrock.

Estelle decided to get busy with chores, what ever she could find.  Betsy appeared from around the corner and Estelle made no quams about how hurt she was. “Tell me it is going to be alright?”

Betsy just smiled saying nothing.  Estelle was agitated with that response.  “Well?  Tell me it is going to work out alright?!

“I don’t know how things will work out, but usually time has a way of straightening out the kinks.” And Betsy wandered off.

Her mother came in the back door hollering “Estelle!  Estelle!  Come here this instant.”

Estelle, fearful her mother was upset with her, ran and was greeted by her mother and Mrs. Schrock at the back door.

“Estelle,” her mother was firm in her line of questioning, “are you a witch?”

“No.  How could you think that?  How can anyone think that? I’m a good Christian girl.” she answered with a tone of disbelief and hurt.

“Do you do evil things?” Her mother kept pressing.

“No, I don’t do evil things.”

Then her mother turned to Mrs. Schrock and scolded, “Shame on you Mrs. Schrock for calling my daughter these awful things.  You’ve certainly fell short of the Golden Rule.  I’m ashamed to call you a sister in the faith.”  And her mother just stared coldly at Mrs. Schrock for the longest time.

Mrs. Schrock, taken back by Estelle’s mother calling her out.  Estelle’s mother held her gaze almost the entire time as if hypnotizing her into some weird form of submission.  Mrs. Schrock looked over at Estelle briefly, then looked away. Finally, she apologized to them both and sank her head and headed home.

Margie and Estelle had prepped most of the dinner, her mother had finished cooking it. They ate as soon as her father returned home from the Mill.  As they were eating, Estelle noticed Betsy pacing back and forth from one room to the next.  She found this awfully curious.

A knock came from the front door.  Her father had answered it and spoke for a few minutes.  Then he returned and announced, “That was Mr. Wojeski.” He paused long enough to sit himself back down at the table. “He just informed me that Mrs. Schrock died suddenly this evening.  Mrs. Wojeski was there when it happened, she’s pretty shook up.  Mr. Schrock is out of town and another neighbor is keeping there kids.”  That was all he said on the matter, but that was all he needed to say.

Estelle locked eyes with her mother.  This was part of their doing.  There was something said between them that was unspoken and unmistakable. Estelle had made an undeniable connection.