Sarah was losing her mind. Without no one to talk to she was lonelier than ever. She drifted from room to room, or languished in the gardens for hours. She thought of nothing, but of her sister she hadn’t seen for two years. She wrote to her frequently, though, as of lately, she received very little correspondence from her. Her frustration was mounting, and found no way to escape her desolation.
One afternoon, she walked around the estate, and came upon the empty stables. She recalled Haruki’s words that she shouldn’t get close to them, and seemed to abide by them until she heard snorting in one of the stables.
I thought the stables were deserted, Sarah thought. She quietly began to pass them by when she heard it again. Was there something in there? I heard it again.
Driven by curiosity, Sarah carefully approached one of the stables where she heard a light stomping of hooves on the wooden floor. Before Sarah, could cross the stables, a loud banging, pounced on the doors as if something was about to burst through. Sarah was alarmed, and jumped in fright at the same time a hand rested on her shoulder, and pulled her away. Sarah turned to face John.
“You shouldn’t go near those stables,” John crestfallen face warned her.
“I heard something?” Sarah’s heart wouldn’t stop beating rapidly against her chest.
“Something you shouldn’t be near to,” he seemed serious about it. “Those stables are perilous. They can come crashing down any minute.”
“But-but, there was something in there. I heard it,” Sarah pointed at the now silent stable.
“There is nothing in there,” John scowled. “They have been empty for years. Don’t go near them. I’ve meant to demolish them, but Mr. Kent won’t allow it”
“Sentiment, guilt couldn’t say,” John said.
“Guilt? Why would he keep stables out of guilt?”
“Mr. Kent is a strange man,” John said. “I don’t mean to frighten you, but he has a terrible temper. I’ve seen him on his worst days… He kept many horses at one time. He was too harsh on them. His favorite was a black stallion. A wild one, hadn’t been broken, yet when he brought in. The horse was stubborn, and one day it tested Mr. Kent’s patience. He went into the stable, and hit that horse until it didn’t stir no more… He never went back to the stables, and the other horses were sold off.”
Sarah was distraught to think Philip could do such a thing.
“Just stay away from those stables,” John said. “They’re unsafe. If you don’t mind, I’ve got other things I need to do.”
Sarah, nodded in understanding. She turn to look at the stables one more time and then at John, but he had vanished. Sarah didn’t need to be told twice, and walked away from the stables. She found solace in the gondola where she sat shaded underneath.
“You saw him again didn’t you?”
Sarah recognized the child’s voice, and turned to see Haruki hunched behind a wooden plank on the other side of the gondola.
“Hallo, Haruki,” Sarah greeted him. “Who are you asking about?”
“That man,” Haruki whispered.”The one that walks around here.”
“Oh, you mean–”
“Don’t say his name,” Haruki placed his finger on his lips in a hush.
“Why can’t I say his name?”
“Because, he will hear us,” Haruki said. “He knows who’s in his gardens.”
“Does he really?”
“He doesn’t like many people in his gardens, but he seems to like you.”
“He’s never said anything to me about being in the garden,” Sarah said. “Why would he say anything to me about it?”
“Mr. Kent, doesn’t even go to the gardens,” Haruki said. “He’s afraid of him too.”
Sarah laughed at the thought. Philip afraid of John Hawthorn.
“It’s true,” Haruki said. “I’ve never seen Mr. Kent, go to the gardens.”
“I think it’s him that should be afraid of Mr. Kent, don’t you think?” Sarah said.
“He’s a bad man,” Haruki reiterated.
“What do you mean he’s bad? Have you seen him do bad things?”
“He doesn’t like it when I walk in his garden. He gets angry, and chases me away. I hide from him when I go outside.”
“I see,” Sarah wondered if Haruki was afraid of all adults. “I went near the stables today.”
“Did you hear it?”
“I heard something,” Sarah didn’t want to admit it.
“It’s one of the horses,” Haruki said. “It tries to get out, but it can’t.”
“You mean from the stables?”
“You can’t see it only hear it,” Haruki said.
“There is nothing in the stables.”
“There is. I’ve heard it before,” Haruki said. “Mr. Kent, had many horses… His favorite was a black horse. The horse would kick the doors to the stables every night… One day, I went to see the horses and they were gone. I’ve asked mama about the horses, and she says they were taken away… I was three then.”
“You remember well,” Sarah smiled at him.
“I can remember many things,” Haruki proudly said as he walked around toward the entrance of the gondola.
“Is that so?”
“I can remember when my mama wrapped me in a blanket when I was a baby,” he said. “I can remember our old house. I can remember my mama’s family and…”
He paused with a downcast look upon him.
“What’s wrong?” Sarah sensed something sad.
“I can’t remember my papa,” Haruki said. “I try to remember, but his face is one I never see… I can tell you many other things, but I can never see my papa’s face.”
“Maybe it will come to you.”
“I don’t think he will,” Haruki said, doubting Sarah.