The Houses of Enchantment


1. The Necklace

What do you think this is?’

Two hands slammed onto the table in front of Haiden and a small silver something slid across it.

Haiden stared nervously at his father, trying to judge how angry he was.

‘Well?’ his father spat.

‘I – err,’ Haiden stammered.

His father leaned towards him until their noses were almost touching.

‘Do you have any idea what this is?’ his father shouted. ‘Do you know what you’ve done?’

Haiden looked at the silver object lying on the kitchen table and realised that it was a necklace. Its chain was fragile and intricate, looping around itself in tight circles. Hanging on one of the delicate loops was a pendant with strange marking and patterns engraved around the edge. A crack stretched down its smooth surface.

‘How did this happen, Haiden?’

‘How did what happen?’

He had never seen his father so angry before – rage seeped out of him, his eyes flared.

This.’ He jabbed a stubby finger at the pendant. ‘How did it get that crack?’

‘I don’t know,’ Haiden said, bewildered and shocked. ‘I’ve never even seen that before.’

‘Oh, haven’t you now?’ His father’s voice took a new tone: sly and malicious – something Haiden had never heard him use before. ‘Then why did I find it flung on your bedroom floor? Did it find its way there by itself? Hmmm?’

‘No, I – I don’t know how it got there,’ Haiden said anxiously, shrinking away from his father. ‘I told you: I’ve never seen it before.’

‘Don’t give me that rubbish – I’m not a fool!’ His father grabbed the necklace and thrust it in front of Haiden’s face. ‘This was your mother’s – it’s irreplaceable. She wore it every day! She treasured it and when she died I kept it safe for her. And now look at it! Nothing will be able to repair that amount of damage! What did you do to it?

Haiden stared at the necklace swinging from his father’s grip, a new emotion running through him – the fear he had been feeling was quickly turning to anger. Two circular engravings on either side of the crack seemed to pulse and glare, almost like eyes.

‘This was my mother’s,’ Haiden said, his voice shaking. He kept his gaze firmly fixed to the necklace, ‘and you never told me? All I have left of her are my memories and they’re already fading! Why didn’t you show me this before? I have nothing of her left!’

‘That’s not the point, Haiden! How did it get in this state? Don’t try and deny it – I know it was you!’

‘I haven’t done anything to it! I wouldn’t do anything to damage it if it was my mother’s!’

He expected his father to become even more furious. He thought he would shout at him for answering back and lying. But he did neither – instead he sighed deeply and put his head in his hands, his elbows resting on the table.

Haiden didn’t know why his father was acting like this. Usually he was a calm considerate person who was always looking out for others. He couldn’t remember his father ever having an argument with someone. It was a rare thing to hear him raise his voice even by the tiniest bit. Yes, he had been angry with Haiden before – like when he tripped over one of the chickens and broke the fence or when he split a sack of grain and sent its contents scattering across the field. But that was different – his father was always primarily concerned with a person’s well being, not what they had done. Never – never – had Haiden seen the fiery glint in his father’s eyes, a glint that was so full of hate and rage.

‘Get out,’ his father whispered. His voice was so quiet that Haiden thought he must have misheard. The necklace slipped between his father’s fingers and clattered onto the wooden table.

‘What?’ Haiden said.

‘I said, “Get out”,’ he repeated coldly. He raised his head from his hands, his eyes boring into Haiden’s. They were so hard and cold that Haiden could hardly believe that they belonged to his father.

His father darted around the edge of the table and grabbed Haiden by the scruff of his neck. He pushed him across the kitchen and into his bedroom. When Haiden just stood there, staring at him with a bewildered expression, he said, ‘Come on, gather your things up – I’m not having you under my roof a moment longer.’

‘Father – you can’t be serious,’ Haiden spluttered. ‘You can’t really mean – ‘

‘If you won’t gather up all your things, I’ll do it for you.’ He grabbed the thin bag lying on the top of the cupboard and started scurrying around the room, throwing clothes inside it. ‘You know, Haiden, there’s only one thing I hate more than a thief and that’s a lying thief. I can’t bear to have you in my sight a moment longer. Don’t come back here again.’

‘But, father.’ Haiden was struggling to hold back tears of shock. He didn’t know what to do or what to say. ‘You can’t do this.’

‘I think I can.’ He thrust the bag, now full, into Haiden’s hands and dragged him by the shoulder through the tiny cottage. His father flung the front door open and pushed Haiden outside.

‘Father, please, I – ‘

‘Sorry now? You should have thought of that before you started destroying something that was never yours.’

‘Father, I never . . .’ Tears were falling down his face now and he didn’t know how to stop them. He clutched the bag helplessly.

‘I never want to see you here again.’

His father gave him one last look of hatred before he slammed the door shut.

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