Shadows in the Attic
Whack! I swung the hammer, and the hole in the attic wall widened. Even through the plaster dust, I swore I smelled flowers. Roses and something else—lily of the valley—that was it. One more whack and a section of the wall collapsed.
"Ben, look!" I stepped through the opening and stared into the room. A dusty, women's antique French desk stood in the center of the large room. The wall behind it held book shelves still lined with books. Two chairs grouped, in front of the window, around a table that held a tarnished silver tea set.
I spun around the room. "My God, what is this?" Pictures hung on faded rose wallpaper. Dim light, from the dirty, stained glass window in the alcove, cast eerie shadows. "This is unbelievable."
Shadowy figures in the corner of the room beckoned to me. At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks. Between the dust and the dim light, but no, the shadows were there, plain as day. They hovered over a carved trunk.
"Ben, do you see that?"
"See what?" Ben brushed the dust off his hands.
I held back a giggle. I couldn't help it, he looked so uncomfortable. This wasn't Ben's cup of tea. I was still trying to figure out why he helped me. He stepped through the opening and looked at me.
"Shadows over that trunk." I held back, dying to know what was in it, but half afraid to go near it.
I sighed. The look on Ben's face said it all. "Cobwebs, right."
"There you go again. You and that overactive imagination. I suppose now you're going to go ahead with the renovation." He took a couple steps into the room, stopped next to the desk, and opened a drawer. "Hm, Look at this." He pulled a sheet of stationary out of the drawer. "Mary Elizabeth Gilbert, wonder who she was."
I took the stationary from him. A bouquet of lily of the valley embossed the top of the page. Again, the shadows appeared and beckoned to me. "Those aren't cobwebs, Ben. Look."
Like I didn't know the difference between shadows and cobwebs. Definitely shadows. Willowy figures hovered over the trunk. Come open it, they seemed to say. There was a sense of urgency about them, yet I didn't feel threatened. Giving in to the urge, I hurried to the trunk and lifted the decorative lid. "Oh, look at this!" I lifted a pearl handled hairbrush out of the trunk. "It's beautiful." A shadowy figure floated above it. Then, I lifted out a corset and held the tiny form in front of me. One of the shadowy figures moved closer, almost on top of me.
"Ugh, I can't imagine having to wear one of these." Suddenly, my stomach and chest tightened. I lost my breath, gasped, and sunk to my knees. The corset fell from my hand. The shadows backed off. I was finally able to take a deep breath, and let it out slowly.
When I opened my eyes, Ben stood over me. "Are you okay? What happened? You looked like you were going to pass out."
"I...I don't know. I couldn't breathe. It felt like someone was squeezing the life out of me." I looked at the corset lying on the dusty floor. What just happened here? A shadowy figure lingered nearby. What was it trying to tell me?