It was a silent dark night, the windows flew open and the candle flame quivered – an unexpected storm.
The grumpy old man had fallen asleep by the fireplace while reading a book and was disturbed by the storming wind. The wooden floor creaked in pain when he got up from his rocking chair. The dog lying beside his feet jolted up and whined in fear. The old man barked at him and asked the dog to shut up.
A bolt of lightning struck close followed by a loud thunderous, crackling sound. The dog howled and scampered around the house.
The power went off.
The old man cursed continually under his breath and began to walk slowly towards the kitchen to look for candles.
Suddenly there was a knock on the door.
“Who now?”, he thought.
It took him a good amount of time to reach the door. He opened it and saw a little girl with two braid plaits smiling at him.
“Who are you?”, croaked the old man.
The girl replied, “I live down the road. We moved-in yesterday. I.. uh, we need candles. Can I please borrow a few candles? One will also do.”
“You are soaked to the skin, girl! Come in.” said the old man and started walking, “There’s a dog inside, don’t get frightened. He will bark but he is a fool, never bites.”
The girl followed him, “Thank you sir, you are very kind. I am not scared of dogs, you see I have grown up playing with two massive hounds at my grandma’s place. Do you live alone? Where are your children? Why don’t you sit, it seems like you are finding it difficult to walk. I can help you light the candles. Point me to where they are and I will get them.”
“Chatty little prick, I am not kind. The candles are somewhere in the kitchen, go find them. Take one for yourself, light one for me and leave!”, said the old man and went back to his chair.
“Yes sir, I will be quick. Is there anything the matter with your back?”, asked the girl with a worried look.
“I slipped in my backyard and landed on my back. I was taken to the hospital for a surgery, those damned doctors placed two metal plates in my spine.” said the old man with great effort.
“Oh I am sorry to hear that, can I be of any help? My mother’s making vegetable broth I can quickly fetch some for you. Specially in this weather sir, I am sure the hot broth and some toasted slices of baguette will do you good.”, she said hopefully.
“Like I said earlier, there is no need for you to get pally with me. Take the candles and leave, girl”, he said dismissively.
The girl found the candles in a wooden box beside a pair of oven mitts. While in the kitchen she noticed its messy state, “Clearly he is finding it difficult to do things by himself, silly ol’ grandpa!”
She lit a candle and placed it on a table next to him. While the rest of the house was still in darkness, she sneaked out quietly, leaving the door slightly open and ran out.
The girl returned in a few minutes and noticed that the old man had fallen asleep. She placed the hot food on the dining table and lit another candle next to the food. She also left behind a huge basket in the kitchen filled with bread, butter, strawberry jam, and some fruits.
A few days had passed. The old man woke up early in the morning and decided to go on a walk to look for the girl. He had recovered and was neither grumpy or hungry anymore. He searched long and hard but there was no sign of the girl. He asked the neighbours and nearby stores but none had heard or seen a little girl with two braid plaits around. He went back home feeling disheartened.
One night, there was an unexpected storm again, rain pelted on the roof, windows rattled, winds howled, lightning flashed and crackled in the sky. The dog whimpered and hid underneath the old man’s chair. The power went off and he heard a soft knock on the door again.