The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years...
The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window.
Sophie stood in the dark forest and watched the flame dance. She’d never seen so much as a mouse on the property, on the days she walked to school.
But there was the candle, burning low and orange behind the glass, and she watched it, transfixed.
A memory shifted in the back of her mind, of her mother seven years ago and Sophie on her lap, the two of them swaying gently in the rocking chair. “Candles represent souls, my love,” her mother had said.
She liked to say things like that, out of the blue.
“How?” little Sophie wondered.
The woman smiled and rested her chin on the top of Sophie's head. “We are all candles burning lower in the darkness, pushing back the shadows." She ran her fingers through Sophie's curly hair. "We give each other light. And then we puff out, leaving nothing but smoke."
The chair creaked gently; the fire crackled in the hearth.
"And even smoke blows away with time.”
Her voice was soft and soothing, and Sophie felt her eyelids droop, felt her head bob up and down.
“Shh, my love,” her mother whispered, rocking back and forth in the cramped living room, her arms wrapped around Sophie, the shadows wavering on the walls. "Shh."
Sophie pulled herself from the memories. The light was fading around her, the sky deepening from blue to dark purple above the trees. Her mother would be worried.
So she turned away from the cabin. She set off toward home, lifting her face to the sky as she walked, breathing in the scent of pine and damp earth, listening to the twittering birds all around her. It was a lovely evening.
On her way to school the next morning, Sophie passed the cabin again.
Two candles flickered in the window.
She approached the stairs, stepped onto the deck, stopped before the window and peered inside. Nothing but darkness, save for the candles - impossible to tell if anyone was home. Cobwebs and dust and dead flies on the windowsill behind the glass. It didn't look like anyone was inside. She knocked on the door anyway, three soft taps, and waited. No one answered.
She went to school and sat at her desk, and didn't speak to anyone. She thought about her mother’s words, all those years ago, as they sat together in the rocking chair before the crackling fire.
Three candles burned in the window when Sophie passed the cabin that night. Surely someone must be home. She climbed up the steps and knocked firmly on the door. Tap tap tap.
She noticed there was no keyhole. Nothing but a black iron door handle that was icy cold to the touch. Sophie pulled. The door didn't budge. She pushed and it swung open, and she fell right through into the cabin. The door slammed shut. Darkness pressed in around her.
Sophie picked herself off the floor and wiped the grime from her skirt. "Hello?" she said into the gloom. It was late now, and hardly any light filtered through the window. The only window. She turned around.
The cabin was one room, and it had one window. "Hello?" she said again, louder this time. Her eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness and she could make out a ragged armchair and couch in one corner. A wood-burning oven in another. Flakes of plaster and clumps of dust on the floor. The air thick with decay. Mould and rotted wood.
And three candles flickering on the table in front of the window.
She turned back to the door and found a shadow standing before her. Tall and thin. "Hello," it said.
Every Saturday night, little Ben walked through the forest after his baseball game. It was quicker to his house that way. He always passed the cabin, hunched there in the forest among the trees, dead and silent. Never did he give it a second glance. But tonight he did.
Tonight there were candles dancing in the window.
Four of them.
About the author
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Original narrative & well developed characters
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
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On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme