This week’s entry:
“Cori, look out the window,” her father said.
She looked up from her book and her eyes were met with a scene so picturesque. Their car followed a narrow winding path on a cliff. On the left was a treacherous mountain that looked like rocks could come tumbling down any moment. Cori marked her place in her book, Tidewater, and opened the window, sticking her head out. Her mother fussed at her to get back inside, but she ignored her and stuck her narrow figure further out. Across from them was an identical pathway on a cliff but in the opposite direction, a dense lush forest bordering the opposing path. She wished they were driving on the other side, closer to the trees. Below each cliff was a rushing river with large rocks jutting out. Cori squinted her eyes and off in the distance she swore she saw someone in a canoe or a kayak, battling the water with a neon paddle.
Her mother began to tug on her sweater and, unwillingly, she sat back in her seat. She put her window up and looked in the rear view mirror to see her father smiling at her. He winked. She smiled too and returned the wink.
Cori loved her father and tolerated her mother, for he never limited her imagination. He let her explore, have adventures, investigate, and have up close and personal experiences. Her mother was overbearingly cautious and sheltering. If it was up to her she would never let Cori out of the house.
The path started to lead away from the cliff and more into the mountain, up an incline. She listened as the car struggled to make it. Her father shifted in to a lower gear and the engined wined, but acquiesced. The car picked up speed and they sped up the hill.
Cori looked over to the other side of the car to see her brother fast asleep. Zackari was only a year a month and a day older than her, which he reminded her every chance he got. Despite this age gap he was much more childish in his actions and mannerisms, having received the full-blown coddling of their mother.
Cori said their even though Zackari was her step brother. Her birth mother had died in labor and a couple years later her father had met Sabra, her step mother. Soon her and Zackari were introduced and shortly after their families merged into one household.
After a couple of years Sabra began to insist that her and her father get married, but he never gave in. Cori got the impression that her father would never remarry. You may still be able to find love after being in love, but you may never be in love again. And until he was in love again, her father would never remarry, Cori thought.
They peaked over the hill and continued down the pathway through the mountains. Cori observed as they sped on that their were little gaps in the rock, potential pathways and tunnels. She tried to imagine a tender and kind mountain folk, but all her mind could conjure were the horror movies Zackari and herself had watched as kids of creatures in the mountain eating and killing humans. She shivered.
BAM! The car suddenly went, waking up Zackari. Cori looked up at her father to watch his face. He looked into the rear view mirror and began to slow down. She watched as he cracked the windows and listened to the car. She, too, listened intently. Neither of them heard no felt any issue from the car.
“Maybe you drove into a big hole, Father,” Cori suggested.
He shrugged, and shifted to go faster. “Probably right, kiddo.” Zackari yawned and stretched.
“Will we be there soon? I’m need to get out and stretch,” he asked.
Sabra checked the map and answered, “In about 20 minutes.” Kari, her nickname for him which he did not care for in the least, whined and bitched the entire time it took us to get to the house, which wasn’t 20 minutes but double that.
Cori could understand Kari’s pain though, for at 18 he already stood a solid 6’4. She had battled for the seat behind Sabra for the fact that her and her father could communicate in that silent way they did.
Everyone exited the car and stretched, Kari moaning. What faced Cori was more of a castle than a house. It sat nestled in a nice little niche in the mountain with bushes with odd colored flowers as foliage lining its base. Wisteria nearly covered every inch of the face of structure.
They were here to live with Cori and her father’s only living relative, Story Abbott. Story was her father’s grandfather although from pictures he didn’t look nearly old enough to be a great-grandfather.
A slight breeze started and with it a sort of high pitched whistle as it passed through various crevices in the mountain. As if the wind was a cue, Story opened the front door.
He waved his hands and jumped in joy. Her father skipped a couple of steps and met him half way, embracing him. For supposedly being 79, he was very sprightly and agile.
Story gestured for Cori to come forward. He gave her a big smile and embraced her just as he had her father.
“Stephen,” Sabra said hesitantly, a small smile on her face. As if she would ever let herself be forgotten, Sabra shot her father a look that said, “Don’t forget to introduce us.”
As if he were in a play, Stephen animatedly introduced them. Story shook their hands and embraced them like the dead. Sabra began speaking and asked him a question.
When he signed to her, she looked at Stephen confused. Cori stifled a laugh and looked over at Kari to see him staring off at the sky, completely oblivious.
“Oh, might I have forgotten to mention he’s mute?” He feigned, maintaining a straight face.
Sabra was the only one who didn’t know how to do sign language. Cori and Kari had taken courses throughout their scholastic career that involved sign language. Cori and her father had also spent time together studying other languages.
Story smiled and motioned them inside. Cori turned around to see two women and a rather large burly man grabbing their bags out of the car. Something was off about them.
“Story,” Cori started, grabbing his wrist. He turned his head and followed her line of sight, and signed, “They are just my helpers,” and smiled with his eyes closed.
Hmm, how odd, Cori thought. She shot her father a look and the look he returned was of mutual agreement and skepticism.
Story led them into a beautiful foyer with grand steps on either side that led upstairs. Up the stairs they went. Lining the walls were elaborate, detailed, some textured, landscapes. Every couple of paintings there was an alcove that held a menagerie of live plants. The alcoves had intricately painted people on them, however they were faceless.
“You grew up here?” Sabra questioned Stephen, shooting him a look. He smiled and nodded.
“Some guts you got,” Zackari mumbled.
They made the first landing and took a sharp right down the hallway. Story opened the seventh door on the left that led down yet another hallway. The farther they went inside, the colder it became.
Story opened one more door that led them into a bibliotaph‘s paradise. Cori let out a little squeal and pushed past Sabra, Story, and her father.
“Corianna!” Sabra yelled.
It didn’t even phase her. In an instant she was up a ladder, another, then another, quicker than anyone could blink.
“Father!” She yelled from the top of the a ladder on the sixth story. Her voice echoed. “Look at all of these books!”
Story beamed with excitement and joy, looking at Stephen.
“I see where she gets this addiction from,” Zackari muttered, laughing. He wandered past his mother to plop down on the love seat near the fireplace. He perked up instantly when he saw a glass chess set set up on a table nearby.
“Story,” Kari called. He turned his way and Kari motioned towards the chess set and signed,”Do you play?”
He nodded and signed, “All my life. Wanna have a match tomorrow?”
Kari agreed and smiled, going over to check out the chess set. Story followed.
Cori caressed the book in her hand and looked down at her family, the only one without a smile on their face being Sabra.
Initially Cori had been against moving 3,000 miles away into a climate where it was more cold than hot, but after meeting Story and being introduced to this enormous collection of books, she was glad they’d made the move.
She picked a few books to read and carried them down the ladder with her.
“Cori!” Her father yelled as her feet touched the fourth level. She turned and followed his pointed finger to a sort of water wheel type design. “It’s for the books.”
She walked over to the contraption. Surprisingly there was a diagram. She followed it and waited until a shelf at the right pitch came about to put the books on so that they made it to the ground floor. Once it appeared she put the books on it and to her amazement, watched the path they traveled that brought them all the way to the ground floor.
“Cool beans!” Cori said. She made her way down the rest of the ladders and retrieved her books.
Story gestured to a door that led upstairs to our designated sleeping quarters. He looked mighty tired. Zackari was the first to go up, bidding everyone a goodnight. Sabra shortly followed, calling for her father not to be too far behind. He wasn’t, and then it was just Cori and Story.
They talked for a bit longer, covering dozens of topics. “How did you come by all these books?” She finally got around to asking him.
He smiled, an expression she noted always lit his face. “Some from traveling, others were gifts, and some just magically appeared.” He waved his hands mysteriously. She laughed.
Suddenly, an alertness came about him. He sat up straighter and came forward in his chair. “I’d like to show you something before we end the night”
Cori nodded eagerly. Story stood up and motioned for her to follow. She complied and followed him to a ladder that was sort of disguised behind this massive wooden desk. Story ran his hands along the wood affectionately, along a word across a rung that read, “Penetralia.“
She cocked her eyebrow at Story. He returned her expression and she chuckled. She reached out and ran her fingers along the word as well, taking a step forward to take a closer look.
On the other rungs were carved patterns and vines and flowers, but no more words. A dark, moldy looking yet shimmery book caught her eye. She reached and began to pull it out but it stopped half way suddenly, her fingers slipping. Cori stumbled back into Story who caught her.
To her astonishment the ladder shrank backwards and slid to the side, a black abyss behind it.
“Trust,” Story whispered, shoving her forward. She rolled and began to slide down. Her hands reached out and caught nothing.
“You can speak!?” Cori shouted as she went down. All she heard was Story’s boisterous laughter.