“Got the flashlight? Be quiet and follow me.”
Susan, being the oldest, was the self-appointed leader. Her younger sister Barbara and neighbors, Janet and Jill, followed Susan upstairs. They approached the door and momentarily hesitated.
“Give me the key.”
Barbara opened the black velvet pouch and handed the key to Susan. The girls spent many hours making up stories about this mysterious room; now they’d know the truth.
The Corey’s house was an old Victorian-style home that had been in the family since the late 1870’s when it was built. The house had several stairways and even some hidden passageways—plenty of opportunities for adventure. But no one ever attempted opening the door to the mysterious room on the second floor … no one, that is, until now.
Carefully, Susan worked the lock until …
A sudden wave of fear washed over the girls. With trepidation, Susan handed the key back to Barbara.
“I can’t do this. My stomach can’t take it. I have to use the bathroom.” Jill scurried off.
“Flashlight.” Susan’s demand was quickly met. She gently pushed open the door, careful not to make any noise—they were in forbidden territory.
The girls crept into the room. Musty and dark—the air was stagnant with years of memories locked deep inside.
The flashlight in Susan’s hand scanned the room. There was an old bed, perfectly preserved with an aged quilt tucked in with precision. The ruffled pillows were fluffed and placed with care. A muslin doll was situated against the pillows.
Janet noticed an oil lamp on the stand by the bed; an old box of matches lie nearby. Without hesitation, she struck a match and lit the lamp. Light suddenly darted to all corners of the room exposing shadows that had been hidden for years. A small rocking chair was positioned beside the bed. At the foot was an old trunk padlocked as if to guard precious memories.
Barbara found an envelope on the bed peering out from under the doll’s skirt. The paper was yellowed with age. Careful not to damage it, she unfolded the letter tucked inside. At first she was unable to read the scrolled penmanship.
“Susan, come here. Can you read this?”
“I think I can make it out. Whoever wrote this had beautiful handwriting. Here …”
My precious darling Adelle,
The day you were born, I fell in love in a way I never anticipated. I loved your father deeply, but your heart immediately captured mine, filling the void left by his untimely passing. I always envisioned caring for you, picking up your dolls, making your bed, washing your clothes, and tying ribbons in your beautiful black hair until the day you found a love of your own. But our Father saw fit to take you home. I’m so thankful for the few short years you were with me. There is no one who will ever be able to take your place. So, this morning I made your bed for the last time, picked up your dolls, folded your pretty dresses and locked them in the trunk. As I seal this letter, I will close the door to this room, sealing our love for eternity.
I love you, my precious darling Adelle.
May 5, 1883
“Hey, I feel like we just robbed a grave or something. Let’s get out of here. Don’t tell anyone we’ve been here.”
Susan’s instructions weren’t open for negotiation. As they walked out, Janet remembered the oil lamp. She carefully blew out the flame and turned down the wick. Once more the room was locked and precious memories preserved.
“Mom, have you ever known anyone named ‘Adelle’ before?”
“Seems like I should know that name, Susan. Why do you ask?”
Turning sideways and running her hand over her tummy, Susan winked. “Oh, just wondering. We were thinking it would be a nice name for your granddaughter.”
“What? Are you … oh, my! Do you know how long I’ve waited for a grandchild? How long have you known?”
“Austin and I wanted to surprise you so we waited to tell you the news in person.”
“You know, now that I think of it, Adelle was the name of your great-grandmother’s first child. Did I ever tell you the story of that locked room upstairs?”
“No, Mom, what room would you be talking about?” If she only knew!
“Come on, Susan, it’s time we unlocked old memories. I’ll get the key …”
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