Lily kicked the ball. Hard. Really hard.
It went up in a great arch and stayed in the air for a few seconds before it came down right into a fork of the forest.
“Great kick, Lily!”Connor, her cousin, exclaimed, mockingly grinning at her.
Lily frowned back at him and said, as she bowed at the boy with desdain; “Well, sorry, oh-the-one-who-never-fails!”
Thus, she turned and walked into the trees, with red cheeks of both embarrassment and anger.
The girl walked, and walked, and walked, scanning the undergrowth for the ball at all times; though perhaps a little distracted by the golden light that always covered the forest close to sunset; the fat bees humming nosily it and a friendly butterfly now and then. Despite that, ten minutes after, there was still no sign of the toy. At last, it was obvious she had lost it and went back. Nonetheless, just as she turned, something out of the corner of her eye caught her attention.
At first, she had thought it was a fallen branch, but it turned out to be one of those old, wall clocks, similar to the one her grandma kept in her house. Lily smiled and picked it.Although it was dirty, its wooden surface was still glossy and dry. She opened its lid and played with the hands, which turned swiftly.
After a few minutes, she put it under her arm and began to walk back towards the yard, almost forgetting what she had come to look for.
When Lily finally got to make her way out of the mass of weeds and trunks, she discovered Connor wasn’t there anymore. The girl shrugged; he had probably gone back to the house, tired of waiting. As she began to climb the hill towards the building, she tried to come up with some kind of excuse to give him for losing his football.
Halfway, she came to a halt. Her eyes fixed in the house, scrutinizing it. Lily stood there for a moment, frowning. She had imagined a lot of things in her life, but she was pretty sure the house was white. Since the very first moment she had seen her grandpa’s residence, there had not been any doubt about it. Nonetheless, now she gazed at it; it was unarguably yellow.
Could it possibly be the light? Lily moved some steps to her right, but the colour remained the same. A few meters to the left proved the same result. The girl stared at the house, her frown growing deeper and deeper. At last, she simply sighed, just to continue her way, without thinking much more about it.
Lily hadn’t walked long, when she saw a man coming down the hill, whistling, hands in his pockets. She gazed at him, without interest, but a second look made her notice that, even when he seemed to be no older than thirty-something, he was dressed like her grandpa usually would; with a white shirt, smart trouser, light- blue sweater vest and (this wasn’t included in her grandfather’s outfit) a dark green beret. She tried futilely to place his face among the other staff members. He looked quite familiar, though.
When he finally saw her, he stopped whistling, but smiled with such a can-i-help-you-look, that it made her almost smile to him back.
‘Afternoon, young lady,’ he said, inclining her hat. ‘Is there anything I can do for you?’ Lily noticed he looked her at her flowered yellow dress with a queer face. She could only hope she hadn’t stained it in her ride through the forest. Or maybe he was just staring at the clock.
‘No, thank you, I was just going inside to grab some food,’ Lily pointed to the house and after giving him a quick smile, began her way again. But the man, who had raised an eyebrow at her words, put a hand in her shoulder.
‘To the house, love?’
‘Yes,’ she answered slowly, stepping back. Then she added, ‘Do you work here? I’ve… never seen you before.’
The man threw his head back and let out a good laugh. ‘Work here? Darling, I own this place!
Lily backed away a little more and pressed her lips tightly. ‘I’m afraid there must be some mistake, sir,’ she said carefully. ‘This farm belongs to my grandfather, George Sanders.’
The man laughed again. ‘Well, that could hardly be possible,’ he answered afterwards, looking down at her amused,’ as George Sanders is my son and he’s barely 7 years old!’
This time, Lily made no effort to conceal her feelings when she put some distance between her and the crazy man. He seemed not to notice and continued speaking. ‘You must have confused the names. I’m Gilbert Sanders.’
She knew the name of course; her own grandpa had said it several times and she was sure to have seen it under the picture of one of the corridors in the now yellow house. Not knowing what to say, she looked around, in search of someone who might help her to get rid of the maniac. She found none, but the girl was quite confused when she realized all the cars, which just half an hour before had been parked under a safe, wooden roof made by her uncle, were gone, as well as the roof. Queerer even, in its place there was a big, wise willow. The same, exact tree that appeared in the photos of the living room, when her grandpa was still a child.
Suddenly a very funny idea stroke her.
Lily stood still. So still, that it seemed as if she weren’t breathing at all.
‘Si-Sir,’ she got to say once her voice was back. ‘What year…what year is it?’ She managed to blurt out.
The man frowned. ‘1951, of course.’
It took a time for her brain to understand his words, but when it did, she collapsed heavily on the ground.Immediately, a pair of hands rushed to help her. A pair of hands which belonged to her great-great grandfather.