After two months of being bereft of the outside, Sarah was relieved when the heavy rains, and grey clouds finally dispersed from the sky, letting the sun shine through. Sarah didn’t hesitate to enjoy the fresh air, and walked away from the musty, frigid castle. She walked towards the garden while the sun warmed her cold bones. She was happy to be outside, though her respite would only be temporary.
In the gardens, she upon the abandon gondola. It didn’t show signs of aging or rot like the stables. John, must really take care of it, she mused. She entered it, and sat on one side of the bench. She closed her eyes to feel the wind blowing around her. It was indeed peaceful.
The sound of a twig breaking in half, alerted Sarah. She opened her eyes, assuming she would see John nearby, but it was Aki’s son, Haruki. She had learned his name one day, when she heard Aki calling him.
“Hallo,” Sarah said to him.
The boy looked frightened for being caught. He stood still and stared down, ashamed of his presence.
“I haven’t seen you around, lately,” Sarah said. “Do you like to hide?”
Haruki didn’t respond.
“Doesn’t your mother let you play?”
Haruki was silent.
“Will you tell me your name at least?” Sarah asked, even though she knew it. “What if I guessed? Will you then talk to me?”
Haruki didn’t dare to look up.
“Is it, Peter?”
Haruki shook his head no.
“Is it Harold?”
Haruki shook his head no
“Let me try again,” Sarah thought for a moment. “Is it Haruki?”
The boy looked up in surprise, and nodded yes.
“That’s a nice name,” Sarah said. “Do you know my name?”
Haruki nodded yes.
“What is my name?”
“Sarah,” Haruki finally said.
“That’s right,” Sarah smiled. “Now that we know each other do you want to stay here with me?”
Haruki nodded yes, and slowly entered the gondola, sitting opposite of Sarah.
“How long have you’ve been living here,”Haruki?”
“Since I was three,” he quietly said.
“I barely see you around,” Sarah said.
“I’m not allowed to be seen,” he said.
“Not allowed to be seen?” Sarah repeated in amazement. “Why is that?”
Haruki looked up, and before he could answer his eyes grew wide, and he dashed out of the gondola, out of sight.
Sarah was puzzled by his sudden exit, before she could wonder what scared him a voice called out her name. When she looked around she saw John Hawthorn, the caretaker approach her.
“John,” Sarah was happy to see him.
“Ma’am,” he took off his hat and nodded at her. “Been awhile since I’ve seen you. That storm just stuck around, didn’t it?”
“It sure did,” Sarah agreed. “Is that common, for it to rain so much like it did?”
“Nothing’s uncommon here,” he said, “even downpours. We get drought here too. It dries up the pond, and it ruins the garden. We once had it so bad, when the stable had horses we lost a few of them. But that was ages ago, haven’t been one since.”
“I thought we were going to get flooded in with so much rain. The lines went down, making impossible for Philip to get through. But, I finally spoke to him this morning. He won’t be arriving until next week.”
“If he can get through.”
“Why do you say that?”She asked.
“The bridge to cross here might be flooded,” John said. “I reckon that will take another week before the water resides.”
“That’s terrible,” Sarah felt dismayed.
“Don’t worry, the waters will ebb,” John placed his hat back on his head, smiled at Sarah ,and said goodbye.
She talked a few more times to John whenever she was in the garden. Sometimes she couldn’t help, but escape there to only meet him. She was growing fond of him, and one might say an infatuation began to grow on her. Though, she was beginning to see an odd occurrence at the castle. When Philip was away, she saw more of John. When Philip was home, she barely saw John around.