Lady feels liberated. She glides through the hallway. The day’s events sift and fall through her head like fairy dust. Blue carpeting ripples under foot like a rising tide.
She rides it like a wave while grasping at green papered walls; its texture, wrinkled like old skin, supple and cool to the touch. She grabs onto a flickering sconce light: gold plated, chipped, cobwebbed. A piece of web sticks to her hand and she rubs it off. It drifts onto a sea of carpet and disappears. Everything here belongs; every stitch and fixture itching to be a part of a whole – moving through rooms like blood through veins. Switching places. Switching purpose. Alive and magical. A chameleon, waiting.
The ceiling yawns and creaks, it stretches its arms and opens a door that was tucked behind paper wrappings. Out of its green skin a gaping hole. She steps in, carried by warmth and whim. Comfort. She feels comfort and touches her name badge. There are stairs leading up. She climbs, spiraling up and up and up- handrails like butter. It’s lighter up here. She lands. The wall’s at attention, flaunting photographs like a chest full of medals. Proud and anchored; safe from the rough seas below. There’s a mahogany desk in the corner: thick, polished, manly; bolstered by billowing lace (an open window, curtains dancing). She’s drawn to the desk and the upholstered chair. Dust rises when she sits. Particles scurry in sunlight. Tarnished brass pulls demand her touch, but she waits.
Poised. She waits. The room is filled with light, the walls hang onto the framed faces with perfect hair and eyes that look out. They look faraway, wandering, traveling, scuttling under doorways and out among rolling leaves. They rest on tree branches breathing in cool brisk air, alive and green and rosy. Ghosts of another…pulled this way and that, but grounded by roots, grounded by heavy heels dug in deep.
Lady fingers the brass pull. The drawer slides open easily in its track. A key ring with a key. Old, like a castle key, weighty, big as a fist. Substantial enough to open a world. It feels good in her palm; important, imposing, kingly. She cradles it with both hands. And a notebook, leather-bound and creased, worn-out from too many hands, ink bold on its pages. The letters rise and fall in fountain blue. What has she here? There are whispers in the walls. You are the keeper of the key they say, please take it, they say. The ink looks new, fresh, drying on the page.
She traces letters with her finger. The pages don’t run but her fingers, blue with words turn and turn. The Ivory pages smell of perfume, earth and spice.
You are welcome here. What’s that? She closes the book, pats the cover and sits back. A hush of warm air pricks her neck. Her arms tingle with gooseflesh. The pages flutter and open to a pressed poppy and fresh ink.
You are welcome here. This house was handed down, father to father, then to me. I, the only daughter. I, who sweep a basement ripe with loam and idle chatter. I, who warm these bones of plank and mortar, I… seek something more. Here, where the sun fits through cracks and shuttered eyes. Up here on a pedestal of stairs… is something more. Come see.
Idle chatter? Lady scans the walls. The eyes are looking in. Surely this is a dream. Sarah would say it’s for lack of a hat that such things blow in. And right now her head is full of fancy… A pedestal of stairs? She had come in out of the wind, ducked in, no, blew in through a heavy door for want of motivation. She lunged, hopeful and open-minded, landing here with mad curiosity. A Take Charge seminar with no leader. No speaker. Music piped in, leaves blowing, clock hands spinning. Delia May, shot down trying to talk sense. Lady losing her head for lack of a hat. She should have listened to Sarah but instead…
This is not a dream. You have the key. Use it.
Use it where? A keyhole this size? The white curtains rush in, hang midair and fall. Once, twice. The room is breathing but Lady is breathless. What is it waiting for?
It grows impatient.
Words write themselves on a blank page. It knows her thoughts. Sarah was right; wear a hat – keeps thoughts in and keep thoughts out. She grabs the key and heads for the stairs. Yes it does go up. But where? The key. Look for the door.
She ascends. There’s a strong scent of polish and pine. The stairs go round and round, higher and higher. Bells ring. Bronze tones chime deeply, soulfully and resound in her chest. She’s in the rafters. Birds flutter. It’s drafty. It’s here. The door. And the key to open a world.