He hated taking chances. Why on earth did it have to be him going? He peeked around a tree, down at the shoreline. The house had been placed on a small mound of land that would’ve been a peninsula had the tide been a few feet lower. But at this hour, it was an island and could only be reached by crossing a precarious pile of planks that could hardly be called a bridge.
His father had been so foolish. Here he had spent the majority of Marcus’s life drilling into his head the importance of what he was about to do. If he didn’t break into the house and steal back that box, well… His father had always glazed over when he came to that part of the story. “Well, you needn’t know what’ll happen. Because you’ll do it.”
This night would change his life, he said. And yet, dear old dad was back at the inn, drunker than he’d ever been, even in his sailor days. And Marcus was left to retrieve the box himself. It would’ve been helpful to have a helper -someone to keep watch, at least – but as always, he was alone. If only his mother were still alive, she would surely help him. But that too was a story that caused his father to go mute. “She’s dead, alright?” He’d insist. “Ye don’t need to know what happened.” But Marcus wanted to know. He cared about what’d happened to his mother far more than he cared about getting that stupid box. He didn’t even know what was inside it.
His thoughts returned to his mother, as they often did during times of fear. When he was a child she would always rock him and say, “Fear is nothing more than distrust of the one who’s in control”. Marcus was quite sure, however, that even his mother wouldn’t fault him for the trepidation he felt. Here he was, entering an unfamiliar house, filled with any number of unfamiliar occupants, to retrieve a box of ‘untold worth’, for a purpose that he wasn’t allowed to know. He considered leaving, but as he had nowhere else to go other than back to his father, who would give him a firm whipping, he set his sights on the house.
The light in the attic flickered out abruptly, this was his chance. It was nearly sunrise and the light had been glowing all night. He needed to act before morning dawned. The boards of the bridge hardly held his weight and he tiptoed haphazardly across them, gritting his teeth with every crack and squeak he caused. The pathway up to the front of the house was made of beaten down dirt, and was just wide enough for one person to walk on. It was really a haunting little island, dabbed with nothing but a tree or two and endless tufts of dying grass.
An unexpected light flared up in a front window that was almost level with his face. He fell to the ground, wriggling out of the beam of light pouring out of the window. He heard a voice speaking inside, the tone muffled and delicate through the thin, wavy glass of the window, and he paused. It couldn’t be. “No,” he thought, “No, it’s can’t be.” Though Marcus was a good boy, he was not entirely smart. His stomach pressed to the ground, he crawled toward to house, and his fears dampened by curiosity, his raised his face to the window. There, sitting inside of the house in an old rocking chair, and looking more serene than he had ever seen her, it was his mother.