Knock… Knock… Knock… I bolt upright… I had procrastinated getting off my sofa and apparently that had turned into a nap. But I stand up and think about who would be knocking at my door at this time at night. Maybe it was just my- KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK. Fine, fine I’m coming. I walk down the corridor, admiring all the dust that painted the walls and floor, small puffs rising as I step. Renovating a house is hard, it’s even harder when the nearest Ikea is 55 miles away. I flip the latches on the door and pull it open.
Before I see who’s there, I’m hit by the blisteringly cold wind that roars through the valleys, the rain scratching my face like glass. Who in their right mind would- Then I see her. She’s wide-eyed staring at me, I’m probably the same. She must be like eighteen or something? She’s bone dry, and I just don’t understand how that’s possible, until I remember… I smile, I open the door a little more and gesture for her to come inside. "Shwmae! T’in iawn?" I’m pretty sure I could feel the blinks slapping me across the face. "Come on in before one of us freezes." She does.
It’s at this point that I realised I have no idea what I’m doing. The old owner made this look so easy. He’d probably have soup already warm on the off chance someone might be knocking, he’d have blankets and ice packs and either a warm or cold drink because you never know where the knockers might have come from. But here I am, surrounded by floor boards, dust and cobwebs. "I’ll pop the kettle on. You can have a brew if you like?" And I just walk into the kitchen. That’s the best idea right? I want to communicate that I’m not forcing her anywhere, so I give her the option but I haven’t closed any doors. Literally in this case as half the doors aren’t in yet. But she does follow me.
I grab some mugs. I quickly rinse out the mugs because they are not clean. Tea or coffee? She doesn’t say anything. That’s fine. I grab the coffee jar and the tea bags from the side and put them on the table with a mug full of hot water. "Do y’know, the words for tea and coffee are really easy to learn in Welsh? It’s literally Te and Coffi. And there was this TV series that was really popular in the UK and in it there’s this Welsh guy called Brynn and he says the only welsh he knows is ‘Rwy’n hoffi coffi’ which is I like… coffee." What the fuck am I doing… I just make tea for myself. And funnily enough, she does the same. "I’m Caryll." I say in the friendliest tone I can muster after a nap. And I’m amazed because it only took her two attempts to go from Cariss to Caryth. I pretend not to notice that this is the first thing she’s said since appearing at my door. She doesn’t’ say her name.
"I’ll make some toast…" I calmly go over and grab some bread, pop it in the toaster and wait for a few moments. "Do you know why you’re here?" It’s at this moment I notice she hasn’t taken her eyes off me and the nearest door leading outside the entire time she’s been in this room. "The door’s locked, but the key is in the door." I smile, turn around and start to butter the now toast for her. I should probably buy jam or something, do people still eat jam? I put it down in front of her and she doesn’t move. I sit back down across the table and only then, does she slowly pick up the toast and nibble on the corner.
"So, the house works in a bit of a weird way. Sometimes, when people need… to be somewhere else, a door appears for them and then… here they are. You’re welcome to leave whenever you like. I haven’t quite got the doors working in reverse yet but I’m working on it." I don’t think she’s listening to what I’m saying, but that’s fine. Maybe she isn’t, but I just want the words to be said. And then I realise I haven’t put the milk on the table like an absolute melon.
Later, once the toast is gone and she’s finished her tea with milk I stand up and I walk back to the hallway that we entered from. Her eyes follow me as I walk. "The door there leads to one of the spare bedrooms. The sheets are fresh and there are blankets and I think there are lots of pillows on the bed but you can just throw them on the floor, or you can cwtch them if you want, they’re clean as well. If you need me, I’ll be in the room at the end of the hallway. You can come knock or shout for me if you need anything. Do you remember my name?" She’s not staring at me anymore. She’s staring at the floor. And once again I’m left feeling like I have absolutely no idea what to do. "Caryll." ‘Ca…riss’ she mutters back. Close enough.
I open the door to her room and flick the light on, then pull it ajar a little. She’s now back to watching my every move from the kitchen. "There’s no rush. You can go through whenever you want. Nos da." I go down the hall, into my room and push it about ¾ of the way. And I just stand there, hand against my forehead thinking of all the things I should have said or should have done like I mentioned the doors not working? What does that even mean the doors don’t work. I don’t even know why- Click. I can hear that she’s turned off the light switch in the spare-room. I get into bed, and sigh deeply. I have no idea what I’m doing. But, if she’s here, then the house has decided she needs to be. So, I’m just going to have to pretend I know what I’m doing until I figure it out because this story isn’t about me.
((If you're seeing this bit, thanks for reading! Just had a random idea for a bit of a free-write for Caryll's history so I thought I'd put it here. Hope you enjoyed reading it!))