My parents moved to Dubai this week. Every time I sat down to write a blog post it was all I could think of, the proverbial 'elephant in the room'. But I can't write that post now. I will eventually, when I can write thoughtful reflection instead of emotional vomit. So I asked for writing prompts and one suggestion was to write about what I'm thinking about when I'm not thinking. Um, I don't think my mind ever turns off, but what about when I'm not consciously thinking? I have many weird dreams and sometimes when they happen right before I wake up and I remember them vividly and I actually get my butt out of bed to write them down and no one bothers me, I have fodder for stories. This is a story born from a dream I had in March of 2008.
The first memory I have of this place is of the trees descending from the sky and planting themselves in two long rows on the ground. My family and I stopped our wandering to watch. The ground was dry and parched. I remember thinking the trees would not grow without water, their roots would not be deep enough yet to sustain them.
Edward went up to the closest tree, the long line stretching away into the distance. Whether it was because he touched the tree or it just happened at that exact moment I do not know, but water began rising out of the ground. It quickly rose to our ankles as we moved in between the rows of trees. There was a feeling of safety under the green branches that had been absent with only the vast sky above. As the water climbed towards our knees and showed no signs of slowing the boys began to talk of climbing the trees. We were wading and half swimming as the water crept past our knees. Mother silenced the boys, there were no low branches, the trees rose in tall straight columns of blue-grey bark before branching out into a green canopy high above our heads. Besides, Chloe would never be able to climb. She was already on Mother’s back, the water would have been above her head now. We waded as fast as we could through the waist-high water with no destination except further between the comforting trees.
We began swimming when the water rose to our chests; at least for us older ones, the younger ones were already swimming. We were concentrating so hard on swimming that no one knows when the house first appeared. Natalia spotted it first. At the same time her shout went up we noticed driftwood in the water. Each of us grabbed a piece or two, clinging to it to keep our heads above water. Mother was leading so she was the first reach the pebbled beach in front of the house. The pebbles went all around the mansion, it was an island in the midst of water. The line of trees stopped at the beach. The white clapboards were covered in a film of green moss. The house looked as if it had stood for a hundred years, even though I knew it had not been there when we started swimming.
The door was open. All the doors in the house were open. I could see straight from the front to the back and out onto the stretch of water beyond the house. Once inside the house we claimed it and spread out. It was ours and it was huge. My brothers and sisters invaded every crevice, exploring and making a racket. The boys were using their driftwood as drumsticks on every surface they found. Then they found the pianos. There must have been one in every room upstairs. The sound was deafening on the second floor. I continued upstairs, past more open doors on the third floor. I turned right down a passage with no windows. At the end was a door, open of course, with stairs leading up. I was confused. I only remembered three levels of windows from the outside. Was there a fourth floor? I peered up the dark staircase. There was a door at the top. It was closed.
The steps creaked under my feet, as many of the floorboards must have, but this time I heard it. The passage and staircase muffled the din created by my brothers. The air felt stuffy and stale. I lifted my hand to knock. But why? Would there be an answer? I put my hand on the knob instead. Locked.
No other door in the house had even been closed. I could feel the blood pounding in my ears. Why was it locked and where was the key? I realized there was a key hole so I bent down to look through. There was an eye looking back at me!
After I clamped my hand over my mouth to stifle my scream I realized a scream had come from the other side of the door as well. I bent down again. Light was coming through the key hole now. The owner of the eye must have moved away. I cautiously took another look. There was a girl moving away from the door. Perhaps a little older than me, but unkept and wild looking. It was hard to understand her. She was talking to someone. I shifted positions and saw a woman sitting in a chair; a sort of maid or nanny. She called the girl Deirdre and told her not to talk through the key hole.
“There’s nothing there Deirdre” she said. “What a story. You must be imagining again.”
Deirdre looked wistfully at the door. “But I saw someone Greta. There’s someone there.”
“No child. There is nothing beyond that door. It’s just a locked closet.”