La Ricerca

I’m finally here. I’ve chased a book down a street, talked to a crazy librarian and gone into said book, and now I’m here. Doing all that doesn’t compare to the shock of finally being here. I’m standing in front of a neat little cottage with whitewashed walls and a thatched roof and a white-picket fence. The path is paved with stones and lead up to a brown door. It is picturesque – or at least, it is until the lion bursts out of the surrounding trees. I run up the path and knock frantically on the door. “Hello? Hello?!” I call. “Please let me in!” The lion is closing in on me. I bang on the door so hard it swings open and I dash inside and slam the door. I hear the growl of frustration then silence. I cautiously take my back off the door and look around. The inside is just as perfect as the outside. I go into the spotless kitchen, and that’s when I see the note. “Gone into forest to collect supplies!” I groan. The forest with the monsters. I glance out what I assume is the back door and there is no sign of the lion. I dash out onto the porch and into the forest without pausing for breath. Trees flash by me and when I fall down with exhaustion, I finally permit myself to have a break. I get up on my feet and continue slowly. After what seems an eternity, I come across a clearing on the edge of a cliff. I see a man chopping wood, and cautiously approach him. “Hello?” I call. “Ever heard of a Valentina Featherfield? She’s Italian.” The man straightens up and looks at me with sadness in his eyes. “Aye, Valentina…” he replies. “I knew her. Lovely lass. But the poor wee thing – Valentina’s dead. See her down there at the bottom?” I go and peer over the edge and the next thing I know I am dangling in mid-air, holding onto the edge by one hand! I look up into the man’s sneering, snarling face, and realise instantly he is a monster and I made a terrible mistake. I am slipping slowly when I hear footsteps. The monster disappears and suddenly before me is her. I know it is Valentina. “No!” I cry. “Non è sicuro!” But I am too late. She goes sailing past me and the monster’s greedy, hairy face grins down at me. His hand reaches down and levers my fingers off the edge. I scream in pain and try to shake him off, but he holds on tightly. “Bye-bye, lassie,” he snarls. My last finger peels off and I drop – onto a ledge. The monster is gone. I peer down and see Valentina holding onto the ledge below me. “Can you give me a hand?” she asks, in broken English. I help her up and to her surprise give her a massive hug. “Mama!” I cry. “Sono io! Tua figlia!”

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