In time the Deerfields would come to feel more at home there. It was a lovely place with bright curtains and a white wrought iron table in the breakfast nook. The light on the flowerless blue vase, though, caused Lynn to cry and flee to the hollow darkness of a walk in closet. Dan coughed and let out a little chuckle. He nervously explained that the stress had been too much on Lynn, who was prone to emotional outbursts. The smaller child, Marla, stood partially behind him, clenching the back right leg of her father’s trousers. She was shielding herself from The Administrant, a short, thin man with a yellow and blue polka dot tie and thick fingers. He acknowledged Dan’s explanation with a curt yes. With his work complete, The Administrant handed Dan the keys, and reminded him that copies of all the documents were left on the desk in the study with the official ones to come by courier service in four to six weeks. His shoes did not make a sound as he left, and the door was shut with the sound of a barely audible click.
Dan patted his daughter’s head. Loosening her tight grip, she drifted away from him, cautiously examining the house, bright black shoes shinning against the pale wood floors. Dan walked past the table to stand before the large windows which walled in the nook. Outside he gazed upon the lawn and garden. It was cared for, or at least maintained, but signs of neglect over the long years were evident to him. The flower beds had succumbed to weeds and the natural flora of the area. A stone wall which ran the perimeter was crumbling in some places, and in others nearly non-existent. Algae and small plants covered the surface of a fountain, full of water from the recent rain. The Administrant’s white van drove along the gravel drive, disappearing behind the trees which bordered the property and covered the hills that encircled it. He stood watching the sun light play with the shadows for a while, then decided he needed a drink of water, and headed for the kitchen.
Marla came to the stairs. They ran along the opposing wall from the door to the study, narrowly rising from the entryway to the second floor, where a rug with a bird motif waited on the landing. She ascended, the tapping of her shoes on each step echoing in the silent halls. At the top, she sat down on the bird rug and contemplated her next move.
Three rooms were on the second floor, one, the master bedroom, on the left, and the other two on the right. All of the doors were open wide, and the day rushed in, blurring everything in a dreamy haze. Lynn’s faint sobs softly reached Marla, sounding like a lullaby on a snowy night. They came from the furthest room above whose door a red metallic star hung. Marla got up, rubbed her hands on her pleated skirt, and hesitantly walked towards their origin.
The closet lay to the left as she entered. Its door stood slightly ajar. She came into the room and stood at the closet’s entrance. Tilting her head sideways, she attempted to get a better look inside, but could see nothing beyond the dark crack that was left open. The crying trailed out no stronger than a sigh. It was as if the darkness horded the sound, endeavoring by some unknown design to devour as much of it as possible. Marla was fascinated. Imagining the dark shadow must be sticky, she put out her hand to investigate it, but frightened that it might capture her, changed her mind and touched the door instead, dragging her fingers down the wood grain.
“Lynn,” she called out. And only silence answered her. The crying had stopped. Fearful, Marla tossed open the door. “Lynn!”
“Here, Marla…I’m here…”
Marla peered inside. With the door open, light entered its confines, illuminating her sister at the far end between two rows of dresses, coats, pants, blouses, and shirts, all neatly arranged by type and color. Marla ran to her sister, stopping just in front of her. Lynn reached out her arms and embraced her, pulling her close. Marla nestled her head into Lynn’s shoulder. Bringing some comfort and a little light to Lynn, Marla fell asleep in her sister’s arms. After a bit, Lynn drifted off too, her back against a chest filled with sweaters, and a sewing machine resting above their heads, stored on a high shelf.
Well, this is a short story of sorts I wrote some time ago. I plan on expanding it one day, and I am not sure how long it will end up once I get busy and write it. The ideas I have for it approach a much longer tale, though.