The latch clicked, the sound of drunken giggles moving away from the closet until they were in silence. Julie dared a glance at Peter, whose eyes were locked incredulously on the doorknob. He reached out half-heartedly.
“There’s no way they didn’t lock the door, is there?” he murmured. He turned the knob slowly.
“Yeah,” he said. He wiped his hand on his shorts. “Ok.”
He chanced a look at Julie. His lips quirked in a nervous smile.
“Guess the next question is,” he said slowly. “Do you think they’re sober enough to remember to let us out?”
“I don’t think sobriety has much to do with it,” Julie sighed, biting her lip. “This kind of thing is pretty on brand for Amber.”
“What, forcing people to play high school make-out games?”
“No, like, literally locking people in closets and leaving them.”
His eyes widened. She smirked.
“Oh,” he sighed. “Ok, you were joking.”
“No, there is every chance that Amber’s just gonna leave us here,” she said. She shifted her back against the wall, dislodging the handle of a broom from the tender space between her shoulder blades. “Ask Chrissie about the Halloween party in 2018. She’s got stories.”
He shook his head, quiet for a moment.
“At least we’re not alone.”
She laughed. “Yeah.”
He was watching her, his eyes a dark honey color in the slats of golden light filtering through the closet door. She felt her face grow warm.
“So,” he said quietly. “Do we break down the door?”
“Maybe,” she said thoughtfully. She felt his hand brush her waist, and her stomach twisted in anticipation. “But maybe… maybe not right away.”
“Yeah,” he whispered. “Let’s keep that on in our back pocket.”
It had never been expressly forbidden from her, the attic; she’d caught glimpses beyond her mother’s shoulder as she’d come down with ancestral china for the holidays, the dusty rafts and golden slant of light catching her eyes just before Mother would pull the heavy door shut behind her.
As a child, whenever she’d asked any question about her family, inevitably it would lead to lavish stories of family who could do amazing things; world-class fencers, dancers, famous accordion players. If her father were in a good mood, or had had a particularly robust wine with dinner those stories would lead to some treasure or another being hauled down from the attic as proof; gleaming rapiers, wooden clogs engraved with tulips and windmills, scuffed up concertinas with thin-worn bellows.
So when Kira asked about her aunt, a vivacious and striking woman who she only remember in hazy memories of childhood summers, she had expected a grand story, and her mother touting an armful of memorobilia down the narrow stairs.
Instead, her mother went silent. She glanced over at Kira’s father, worrying her lip. Her father stared into the fire and said nothing.
“Aunt Marigold,” she had said again, slightly louder, thinking perhaps they hadn’t heard. “You remember? She used to bring me cherry cordials–“
“She disappeared,” her father said, and startled, obviously louder than even her had intended. Kira braced herself against the wall. Her father took a deep breath and picked up his paper, an unquestionably dismissive gesture.
“Went gallivanting off in search of her fortune years ago. You were still a child.” He stared at his paper, his eyes unmoving.
“We haven’t heard from her since,” he finished. Kira looked to her mother, who was idly clacking her knitting needles together. She chose to say no more.
That night, when she was certain her parents were asleep, she opened the attic door herself for the first time.
Day….Twelve?? I’m not fond of either vignette, but I’m kind of in love with the sketch idea I had for the second of the two. Another opportunity to play with transparency and glow effects.
I am exhausted tonight, so I’m going to go take a shower and head to bed to read.
Stay safe and sane, all.
This month, I’m using a random word generator to generate three words around which I will then craft a sketch and a literary vignette. I will chose my five favorites to fully flesh out (as full digital paintings and short-short stories) in May and beyond.