Amanda looked back. She saw the wall of giant green leaves and through them the light that suggested the field where she left the councilor. She could easily go back there, to the place that made much more sense in her mind. To her rented car and the paperwork explaining the soil samples and the complaints of all the locals. Had any of the locals wandered beyond the rotted stalks, through the jungle of massive rhubarb leaves into the garden in front of the cottage?
It looked familiar – the way something looks familiar from a movie. Or maybe a dream. But it looked real enough to be from a memory. The stone was washed with white, made more brilliant by the redness of the door - just off to the center of its long rectangular shape. There were only two small windows, the trim painted a deep forest green. A chimney shot up through the center of the thatched roof, puffing smoke and the smell of peat into the sky.
There was the reflection of a light in the window – whether that came from the flicker of a fire or something else, she couldn’t tell. It was difficult to see anything else within the house, but it still pulled Amanda closer with its invitation. She took a few steps closer and before she had the opportunity to lift her hand to knock, the red door opened.
She pushed the latch handle to open it further. At first the shadows of the room blurred her eyes. But then she swiftly readjusted her sight to clarity and saw the fire burning bits of turf in an iron grate, with a pot swinging above the flames. In the corner beside the fire was a bed, neatly made up but seeming too small for one of reasonable height to lay upon at full length. Above it was a shelf covered in baskets and a harp, just slightly visible.
Along the wall, between her and the bed was a set of shelves and cupboard. There were elegant pieces of china with a blue pattern against the white. But the set was incomplete, she thought, until she noticed the table set for tea.
Each of the four chairs had a cup and saucer filled with tea and milk that were still steaming as well as a small plate with a scone, all spread evenly with butter and jelly. She could smell the sweetness of the berries in the jelly and saw the butter melting into the scones. Her stomach rumbled with air. It had been hours since she left her hotel room and all she had was a cup of coffee and granola bar from her suitcase.
Jessie Olson lives and works in Central Massachusetts. She is the author of the novel An Ever Fixed Mark, a co-founder of the Worcester Writers Collaborative, and currently working on a time travel series. She wrote this piece during the Ireland Writing Retreat this summer.