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THE GATE just seemed to sit there. In mockery, I know it not to be, just an unmoving object doing what it does always…. Be unmoved. I’ve dreamt everyday of what lay on the other end of it. What could be so imperative to keep hidden away?
“Nothing as to be so important to you, miss Jane.” My father would say every time upon my asking.
I’d then turn to go off to my room, maze through the long corridors of the house that kept me prisoner just as much as the gate kept whatever-it-was chained up and out of sight. I’d spend hours of my day peering out my top window, trying to catch a glimpse of the Place over the Gate.
It seemed a vast place, but whenever I’d try to look I could never see anything more than the top pane of where my eyes would hit when trying to peer a tiny bit higher. Next thing I would know, Professor would be up in my room, ready for my lessons about physics and arithmetic and biology.
I’d be in the garden with professor for most of the day, starting sometime in the morning and ending just before teatime with father. We’d sample leaf specimens and calculate how long it took for the sun to travel across the sky.
“Eureka!” Professor cried one day while we were studying in the garden. “Come, look at this, dear Jane!” He was gazing through a microscope, which was quite the piece of technology.
I strode over to Professor and waited until he had a long enough look, (that is until he wished to stop gawking over whatever-it-was). When he was quite finished I looked through the lens scope and saw a bug’s leg magnified ten times bigger than I’ve ever wanted to see something so vulgar.
“Oh Professor!” I quickly removed my head from the horrific sight. “How can you find that fascinating.”
“Oh, I don’t know.” He was back already at the microscope. “First explain to me why it is clouds or birds or rain intrigues you?”
“They’re so splendid, those things.” I smiled and looked up at the white cotton billows in the sky. “They are such a mystery, it’s wonderful.”
“They’re not much more of a mystery than this bug.” Professor secured.
“Well, I wouldn’t say just that.” I said with an air of wisdom to my tone. “Bug’s you can study and study and study until you have practically memorized all to know about them. Clouds,” I put my hands up to the sky and smiled. “Are so free! You can’t trap them down and hold them under a microscope no more than you could a bird or a rainstorm.” I concluded.
“You’re all about mystery, miss Jane.” Professor tusked while chuckling lightly. “I prefer something I can hold in my lap and learn about, not something that is changing with the slightest wind…”
“Well I suppose that’s why you have no interest for the Gate or whatever it holds.” I puffed.
“Yes…” he said in an odd voice. “I suppose you must be right.”
“Well, that’s not even assuming you probably know what lies behind it already.” I supposed annoyingly.
Professor simply ignored me, whether it be because of my always asking of the matter or simply the reason of him being too absorbed in his study, I couldn’t make up my mind.
“Truly Professor,” I whined. “I’ve never even been out of this yard.” I frowned and then looked off in the distance. “As long as I can remember… this wall has been around our yard, with that curious Gate blocking everything out and keeping everything in all at once.”
“Mmmm,” Professor murmured, peering at a new slide under his microscope. “You’ve been plenty of places before outside that Gate.”
“What?” I suddenly perked up. “What do you mean?”
“Oh…” Professor’s face reddened. “You, er—never you mind what I said.” He shuffled his slides nervously, knowing I wouldn’t break in my persistence.
“What do you mean I’ve been outside that Gate?” I eyed him with my tenacious gaze, but he refused to look at me. Instead, he busied himself with another slide of what must have been pond scum or whatnot. “PROFESSOR!” I stared him down, doing all my best to penetrate my yellow eyes into him.
Although Professor was young, much younger than father, he still had that tired sort of look to him that old people have, even though he was probably in his twenties. He looked up from his lens slowly and gave a small frown before speaking: “You mustn’t tell your father about what I said… I’ll be back outside the Gate and then you probably won’t ever see me again.” His eyes trailed from mine as he said this and his face pained at the thought.
“Well, what about outside the Gate? What’s so bad about it?” I urged.
“No, no.” He shook his head. “I’ve said too much already…” He began to shuffle his slides once more.
“Now, Jane!” Professor raised his voice, something quite rare for him. “If you don’t do as your told and stop asking me about the matter, I’ll have no choice but to tell your father you were pestering me about it again!”
I lowered my eyes and scowled, knowing if I endured it would lead me to no good.
“Now, it’s nearly four which means it’s time for tea with your father.” He looked up at her shakily, no doubt from yelling. (He just wasn’t the sort of man to yell too often.) “Nanny will probably have it all prepared by now.”
“Alright.” I said, turning away from the garden, and momentarily away from the thought of the Gate.