~ Hazel's Gazebo ~
I always liked going for walks in the park, especially with my friends. We'd go to the old gazebo, and sit on the bench inside. The gazebo was always shady, with wisteria growing all over it, and making a purple curtain of lush blossoms. I walked the sawdust path, until I saw the gazebo among the trees, dripping with wisteria, buzzing with bees. I climbed the two short steps, and sat down on the bench inside. I ran my hands over the familiar wooden bench, and yet felt some scratches that hadn't been there before. I looked at what was there. There was graffiti scratched into the bench! It wasn't like the gazebo was really mine, like how I had thought it was when I was little, but it still didn't mean that anybody could just graffiti into its bench. I read the words anyway though;
"What if the stars were attached to strings, and then somebody cut them down?
What would happen if the moon was in the water, and we could touch the silver with our hands?"
it was actually quite beautiful. I wanted to know what it meant. It seemed not to be logical, but then again, it must have been some sort of poem. I sat there for a while, hoping for one of my friends to come along, but nobody but me was here, so I ended up just wanting to go home.
And I was walking back home from the park, and was about to go inside my front garden, when I noticed a letter sticking out of our mail box. That's weird; the postie comes to deliver the mail in the morning. I pulled out the letter anyway. "Number seven, Aloe-green avenue," I read. This was not our address. Our house is number eleven, Jazz avenue. I sighed, and walked towards the address. I had been to Aloe-green avenue before, and it was gorgeous; lush gardens spilling out onto the path from the nature strips, and the front gardens. Lavender, roses, rosemary, bougainvilleas, geraniums, jasmine... There was hardly any room to walk on the footpath! I looked at the envelope again. "Number seven," I said to myself. I looked around, and saw number seven was only a few steps away.
Number seven was thin, and the left part of a half house. It had a small garden with only a few plain daisies, and geraniums. I looked around for a mail box, but there wasn't one; instead there was a slot in the door. I sighed, and opened the sleek black gate. I walked through the thin garden, on the mossy, damp stepping stones towards the door. The door was even sleeker, and blacker than the pitch-black gate. The paint was perfectly smooth, and there seemed to be almost too much on the door, if it hadn't been so stylish, that is. I didn't touch the door, and just carefully slipped the letter through the gold slit under the smooth, gold, metal number seven. I almost immediately heard a loud yowly sound, and paws thumping along the hall. I looked up at the semi-circular lead light window. At the frosty thick glass, I saw something that looked like part of a head. Somebody was here, at the door! I wanted to run away, but I was too late, and the door opened. A gorgeous tall woman in a long velvet, beige housecoat, with a fur collar stood in the doorway. She looked down at me disdainfully, with her big brown eyes. "You'd just leave a letter and go, child? Not even give your letter to me in person?" she asked in a posh, arrogant voice. "I'm sorry, I just wanted to drop it off! It was accidentally delivered to us instead," I replied. The lady smiled down at me, a faint smile. "Oh... I see. If it had been your letter, it would have been different," she said, in a nicer tone of voice. "Why don't you come in?" she suggested. I thought this lady was sort of scary, and I didn't want to say anything that would make her think I was rude. "That would be lovely, thank you," I replied. She smiled; "I'm Madam Lucinda," she said, closing the door after me. "I'm just Hazel Lester," I replied. "Hmm," said Madam Lucinda, under her breath to herself.
I looked around the hall; it wasn't a particularly long hall; only a few metres long. The lights were incredibly dim, and there were no windows. I looked up to see a hanging light with a yellow glass lampshade, casting only the dimmest light possible. The floors were hardwood, and a very dark wood themselves, polished so that they were shining, even in the dimness. There were quite a few paintings hanging on the walls; of jungles scenes, and cafés, and even one of Madam Lucinda herself, wearing a fancy, long brown coat, with a fluffy, dappled brown collar, holding a leopard cub in her arms. I forgot what the leopard was supposed to symbolize in a painting, or just never knew. On the left, near the front door, was a place to store umbrellas, and at the end of the hall, in the centre, was a polished, wooden hatstand, with fancy fur collared coats hanging on it, and hats on top. From the hall, it looked like you could only access four rooms, and each of the room's doors were left a crack open, and seemed to be near pitch-black inside. Madam Lucinda walked towards the back right door, so I followed her. She opened the door wider and walked in before me, and I thought she cared about manners. "This is my sitting room," she said, gesturing around in the dim light. The sitting room didn't have any windows either. It also had a dark polished wood floor, and yellowy cream-coloured walls like in the hallway. There was a white leather chaise longue against the back wall, next to the doorway, and a sleek, pitch-black table, with a glass tabletop in front of it. On the white leather chaise longue, were some furry cow-skin cushions, and on the floor, underneath the chaise lounge and the glass-top table, was a large cow-skin rug, made from the whole skin of a dairy cow. Hanging up, above the chaise longue, against the wall, was a smaller cow-skin rug, with browner looking splotches, it might have even been made from a calf. Across the room from the chaise longue, was a huge wall-mounted flat screen TV, taking up almost the whole wall, and underneath it was a sleek black bookcase, with glass shelves, that matched the glass-topped table, full of classics. There was another cow-skin rug before the TV, made from yet a different sort of cow. There was a little armchair, with only one cow skin cushion, (next to a black oil heater,) and it matched the bigger chaise longue. In front of the armchair was a small, round, glass table, with an open fashion magazine, and a coffee cup on it. There were several small shelves, or ledges made from the same wood as the floor, attached to the walls; with white jasmine scented candles on them, like tiny stars in the dark room. There was also a small pot of smoking, swirling, incense on top of the designer bookcase that had the strong aroma of chai tea, cinnamon, and vanilla. The room had a very classy atmosphere.
Lucinda patted the white chaise longue for me to sit down, and then she told me to wait, before walking out into the hall. When she came back, she had two plain white plates that she laid on the glass top table, by a huge stack of fashion magazines. The third plate had two little tiramisus on it, and Madam Lucinda placed one on each plate using a napkin. I chose one of the plates, and put it on my lap. "Oh! How rude of me! I should introduce you to my dear friend, Silvester," she said standing up quickly. "Wait here!" she said, going out into the hall again. I expected Silvester to be a man that was wearing a leopard skin coat, and a fancy fur beret, but I was wrong. When Lucinda came back, a young leopard was following closely behind her, and he looked like the leopard in the painting, only a bit older. Lucinda sat down on the chaise longue again, and Silvester jumped up next to her, with a growly yowl. I moved back, and away from Silvester. "Don't worry, dear, he doesn't bite," Lucinda said calmly, resting her delicate, gecko-white hand on Silvester's head, and stroking his smooth fur. "W-where did you get him?" I asked quietly, putting a cow skin pillow between me, and Silvester. "From Africa, dear. A black market, illegal pet trade," Lucinda replied, facing me. "Poor thing," she said in a growly voice, facing Silvester, "they say not to support the illegal pet trade, but I was supporting my dear Silvester," she said in a quiet scratchy voice, stroking Silvester firmly on his back. Silvester edged his paws onto her lap. "Oh, darling... I do love you, I do," she said in that same scratchy, growly voice, just for the leopard. I wondered if me even being here was legal. I put my plate back on the table. "Maybe I should go?" I asked. "No dear. Stay at auntie Madam Lucinda's until you at least pat Silvester," Madam Lucinda said, in her posh voice. She patted my knee, and Silvester leapt next to me, and lay down, one of his arms resting off the edge of the chaise longue. "There you are," Lucinda said gently, reaching for my hand, and putting it on Silvester's head. She smiled, and took her hand away, my hand still on Silvester. "That's not so bad, is it?" she asked joyfully, patting me on the shoulder firmly. I was too scared to move my hand. "Now stroke him, or he gets dangerous," Madam Lucinda warned frantically, but sill in her posh voice. I pulled my hand away quickly, and Silvester still tried to strike at me. "He was only testing," said Lucinda, "but, he should go on the rug now, because he's done a bad thing." She pointed at the cow skin rug in front of the TV. Silvester obediently leapt onto the floor, and ran quickly to the rug, his paws thumping on the hard floor. The whole un-realness of the situation made me remember a certain few words from the gazebo. "What if the stars were attached to strings, and then somebody cut them down? What would happen if the moon was in the water, and we could touch the silver with our hands?" I recited. Madam Lucinda looked shocked. "Do you know who wrote that poem?" she asked. I shook my head. "Me," she replied. "What's it about?" I asked. She shook her head. "You know what it's about, don't you?" she asked firmly, like it wasn't a question. I guess I did somehow. I had remembered it now, in this situation after all. "It's about imagination and reality connecting. It's about how you have a leopard, and it's so rare, and so amazing, it's like you're touching the moon. And all these candles in your dark house are like fallen stars in the dark night," I said quietly. "Indeed," Madam Lucinda replied, nodding.