It is often believed that walls have ears and Cordelia would receive a shocking reminder of this later in the day.

The day started plain and uneventful, even more so than the past few days which had been as exciting as a brown paper bag. Her town was a small one, quaint and it had a certain cosy cabin-in-the-woods kind of atmosphere to it. Everyone in the town was well acquainted with each other, and no scandals were threatening to be uncovered or secrets to be exposed because to be fair there wasn’t anything interesting or news-worthy to be exposed. The people were happy with their serene and mundane (droll, according to Cordelia) lives they had built and sought no adventure, escape or vigour to shake things up.

This was quite peculiar, as Cordelia was a writer (an aspiring one at least), because who could find a glimmer of adventure or fantasy in a place like this. But she loved it here, she had lived here all her life and even though it lacked any decent inspiration for her writing material, the idiosyncrasies made the town more lovable. Her parents were the heads of the town council and well off, which worked out perfectly, as even though she didn’t want a closet full of Chanel, she had the liberty and freedom to do what she pleased and scour off even at the tiniest molecule of excitement she could uncover. She was always sneaking around, exploring, and venturing to the places in the town where no one stepped foot in, not due to any eerie signs or lack of inhabitation, but they were just deserted for no reason in particular. She usually ended up dragging Emily, her best friend to her sightseeing shenanigans but unfortunately, Emily had to visit the atelier on account of fittings for her wedding dress, which she would wear down the aisle the following week. Her subconscious told her that she had intentionally chosen that day to cruise through the town to distract herself from the misery she felt at the reality that Emily would soon move away.

Emily had lived with Cordelia and her family since she was five and her parents had passed away. The two were as close as sisters and for the first time since Cordelia could remember, Emily wouldn’t be in the adjoining bedroom of her parents’ townhouse. Cordelia decided to battle the mixed feelings of boredom, anxiety, and melancholy by throwing the last ounce of fear away and going to the spot on the outskirts of town that she had been dreading to visit.

It was just across the lake, a small forest of sorts full of birds, and animals bright with the mesmerising song and thrall of the various organisms that lived within. Cordelia always sensed a sinking feeling of horror which she found infuriating as the forest was more cheerful than the annual laughing festival that the town hosted. She crossed the strong oak bridge and almost sprinted into the woods. There was a defined trail to be used for hikes and nature outings but the adrenaline that coursed through her body, the melee of emotions, the pain of Emily’s near departure from their home surged her forward, off the trails into the depths of the tall pine trees.

This was such a cliché she thought to herself, this is the part of the story where the protagonist discovers something unknown or stumbles into a ditch and screams hoarse for help, in the process finding 800-year-old lost treasure. However, to her dismay, Cordelia roamed for hours and found zilch, not a hint of something new or even remotely dangerous (unless of course, you count that bee that buzzed near her
ears almost sending her into a frenzy).

Her feet trudged along, as she grew lethargic, not realising how much energy her little escapade had zapped from her. She returned slogging and panting, climbing the stairs in a huff eager to plonk herself on the bed and surround herself with the hoards of fluffy pillows that took more space on her mattress than she did. Even cushioning down feathers couldn’t entice her into climbing into her bed as she sank into the corner of her room, not having the strength to brave those remaining few yards to her cosy bed.

On the brink of passing out from exhaustion, she heard scurrying noises of shoes along with the patented click-clack of Emily’s Louboutin heels against the wooden floorboards. Her interest was piqued when she hushed tones which sounded like arguing. Emily never used hushed tones, she was quite clear, and it wasn’t in her nature to argue unnecessarily. The unrecognised sound of the other person’s shoes further intrigued her to listen, as Cordelia thought of herself as observant and not knowing something she ought to puzzled her.

The slamming of Emily’s door gave Cordelia the clear sense that Emily was in a truly foul mood, as her best friend was known to be the calm voice of reason amongst both of them. She pressed her ear to the wall, straining to hear the already silenced tones of the two people. The words she heard next nearly threw her completely of balance causing her to slam into the brick clumsily, “How am I supposed to tell her that the man I am to marry in the coming week is specifically hired to assassinate her parents?”

– Vaagisha Kanwar, Indus International School, Bengaluru

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