I’m sorry that so much time has passed since I’ve last written. Life has been…well, kind of insane. Ever since we left the farm, Belinda and I have been on the move. We’d stop in some nameless town and find a place to pitch our tent – sometimes in a patch of woods, or an open field, or even on the cracked asphalt of a parking lot behind some abandoned warehouse. Then we would try to make some money. Once in a while, we found temporary work washing dishes or doing odd jobs in exchange for a hot meal or a few dollars. But mostly, we ended up panhandling in parks and on street corners. I only know how to play a few songs on my guitar, but I strummed these over and over until my fingers were sore, as strangers paused to drop a few cents in our can.
Sometimes, people began to look at us funny, or ask too many questions. “Shouldn’t you girls be in school?” That’s when we knew it was time to move on. We’d pack up our gear and walk, or take a bus, or hitch a ride to the next town. At first, it was exciting, venturing into the unknown like characters in one of the shallow paperback novels Belinda sometimes buys for a dime at a secondhand store. But after a couple of years without a place to call home, it grew old. On some cold nights, when the wind howled and shook our tent, and my stomach growled with hunger, I actually missed the farm, where food was plentiful, and my warm, soft bed waited each night. But I knew that there was no going back.
Then our luck changed. Late one night, a truck driver dropped us off on the outskirts of some town. (Actually, I made him stop, because he was getting a little too comfortable with Belinda, if you catch my drift. We constantly have to be on guard in case we encounter idiots like that on the road). It was November, and there was a frosty bite in the air. We set off in search of shelter, or at least a good place to set up camp, when we came across an odd little trailer. Belinda said it reminded her of the story of Hansel and Gretel, which I had never heard.
“Maybe someone inside can tell us where to go for shelter or work,” I said. Belinda, still muttering about witches, waited outside while I went in. A very old woman sat inside, wrapped in shawls, her hands resting in her lap.
Before I could speak, she held up a hand to stop me. Then she picked up a pen and notepad and began to write. She tore off the note, folded it, and placed it in my hand before pointing toward the door. Confused, I exited the trailer, and the door slammed shut behind me.
“What happened?” asked Belinda.
“I don’t know,” I said. I stared for a moment at the note in my fingers, then unfolded it to read the message. It said:
632 Silvermoon Lane
You will return tomorrow, Girl from the Savanna.
A shiver ran through me which had nothing to do with the cold. How did the woman know that I was from a place in the savanna? I turned around and tried the trailer door, but it would not open.
“What did the note say?” asked Belinda.
I swallowed. “I think she told us of a place where we can stay.” With that, we followed the highway toward the main part of town, and traveled up and down each road, until at last we came to one called Silvermoon Lane. And there we found the address the old woman had scrawled on the note. It was a very large old house, which appeared to be abandoned. The front door screeched as we swung it open, and something flew past our heads and out into the night.
“What if it’s haunted?” asked Belinda, clutching my arm.
I laughed. “Well, then the ghosts can keep us company.” I flicked on my flashlight and motioned for Belinda to follow me inside. It was soon apparent that no one had lived in the house for a very long time. Dust and cobwebs coated every surface. The floor creaked and groaned with our every step, as though no longer used to holding up the weight of people. We didn’t find any evidence of ghosts. But we did find a box of candles and a stack of kindling. Soon, we had a cozy fire to sleep near.
The next morning, we explored the rest of the old house. We also discovered a neglected vegetable garden out back, which still boasted a few wild crops. Apples! Pumpkins! Even a few handfuls of beans. It was not much, but when you haven’t eaten in two days, any food seems like a miracle.
Did I return to the trailer to visit with the old woman? Well yes, I did. And you will never believe what happened. But I will save that story for another letter. I promise to write again soon.