Tabitha pressed her small hand against the thick brush that concealed the rusty gate. The rust left dark red marks, like cell bars the color of mud, across the backs of the bright green leaves. The thick air left a layer of slick dew on everything it touched, the leaves were no exception. Tabitha pushed the sticky leaves aside to peer through the old bars.
The other side greeted her with more overgrown vines and rusty, damp leaves. It would have seemed clear to most people passing by that the old plantation house was abandoned but on this day Tabitha swore she heard children playing on the other side of the overgrown gate.
“Hello.” The air swallowed her small voice and returned only silence. Not to be deterred Tabitha grabbed a nearby stick and thrust it through the vines to the opposite side of the gate. Once she was able to wiggle the vines to the side Tabitha could see that the house stood back empty, with boarded windows and vines crawling along the siding. Other than some stray cats and a bird or two the grounds were equally unkept and empty.
There it was again, she tilted her head as the distinct sound of a child laughing floated towards her.
“Hello!” Her voice was stronger this time, bolstered by the certainty that there was someone on the other side of the gate. The laughter stopped abruptly. Tabitha jerked the stick from one side to the other trying to get a better view of who she heard. Still she saw no one. “Don’t go! I just want to play!”
Tabitha leaned closer to the rusty gate and lowered her voice. “I really just want to play, I don’t have any friends.”
“No friends? Me either.” The voice made Tabitha jump. A pair of blue eyes flanked by matted blonde locks stared back at her through the vines. “I’m Zeke.”
For more Tabitha and Zeke story pieces check out Old Wood