By: Melanie Sparks
1. The House
Moving to this town had to be one of the most irrational decisions my parents ever made. It's cold, dark, depressing- it sees the sun at the most once a year it seems like. It's overwhelmingly northwest in the United States, so close and yet so far to civilization and shopping in Seattle. Why couldn't we just move there?
My Dad's work was right outside of Seattle, but my mother being the house finder and buyer of the team, she of coarse fell in love with one of the oldest and most beautiful houses here, and decided her next project was restoring it. And unfortunately, there had to be an efficient Magno-train system here, so my dad could get to work just as easy. I'm surprised they even had the high-tech magnetic train system in this minuscule town that is now my home. Home. What is home?
Is it the house we have in the Hamptons we go to during the summer? Was it the mansion we lived at in Beverly Hills? Or could it be the beautiful estate we lived on in Honolulu? I really don't know.
Dad and mom moved us all over. Being the CEO of the new shuttling company, it didn't really matter where he lived, there were airports all over the country. He could do his work anywhere.
So my family of the 13 year-old twin monsters, Alison and Alicia, my mother Shannon and my father Pete are now stuck in the "mud pit of Washington" as I like to refer to it.
And I would be starting over at the tiny Forks High School as a junior tomorrow. I had so many friends back in Honolulu, too. How was I supposed to be my outgoing, competitive self in a dreary town as Forks? Did they even have a music department at the dumpy little high school? I guess I would just have to figure it out; it seemed like we'd be staying here for awhile. I'd never seen my mother put so much work into a house before.
She called contractor after contractor, interior decorators, professional restorers, took the shuttle down here every weekend to see how it was working out. She just went frantic over the abandoned beauty. But after it was finished, furnished, and she was handed the keys, she packed up the Honolulu estate, and we left warm ocean surrounded mansion behind and shuttled to Forks.
My mother could barely contain her excitement when we started up the long driveway in the drizzling, dark weather. When we stepped out of the new auto-pilot BMW my mother bought with the house, I couldn't believe my eyes. The huge rotting structure with green growing on the outside walls I saw in the picture on the website was no more.
The house was now a standing majesty, and behind it the dark green forest framed the washed-out white three story mansion perfectly. My eyes were gaping at my mother's phenomenal work when the rain picked up and we all ran under the porch that surrounded the entire first story.
My mother took the key out of her pocket as gently as if it were a thin white sand dollar, gripped it delicately between her manicured fingers, and closed her eyes.
"Mom, are you going to open up the door already? It's freezing out here", Alicia said, flipping her long dark brown glossy hair over her shoulder as her identical twin rolled her big brown eyes and nodded in agreement.
My mother's eyes stayed closed, but my dad glared at the twins for her. "Girls, your mother worked very hard on this house, let her savor the moment."
"But it's like, two degrees out!" Alison replied impatiently.
The twins were so naïve. It pretty much drove me to my limit. "Alison, it's like 55 degrees out, and it's only going to get colder. It's only the beginning of September. So please just be a big girl for once in your life and patiently wait for your mother to open the doors to the house she labored over for the past year."
"Gawd, Ava, can't you not be a know-it-all for about fives seconds?" Alicia shot back. I hated how they were such a well bounded team. Tears of rage began to scorch in my eyes, so I didn't say another word.
Finally, my mother opened her glowing eyes, and put the key in the lock and left it there. She beamed up at my dad. "You do it, Pete. This ones for you."
"Are you sure, sweetheart? This is your house. You rebuilt it."
"No, baby, I want you to open it. I love you."
"I love you t-"
"ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? JUST OPEN IT!" Alicia fumed.
I shot a look of horror toward Alicia. Couldn't she just for once control her temper? This was a special moment for my parents. They barely get to see each other with dad's job and mom always being in Forks for the past year. I wish she and Alison would just show some respect. The tears of rage began to fill in my eyes again.
"Alicia, calm down." my father replied, barely showing any care for the offensive outburst.
My father finally locked eyes with Sharon for one last time, and turned the key to our new life.
It smelled so new. The bitter smell of the new hard wood floors and dark wooden beams filled my nostrils, as did the sweet smell of the new leather love seat in the huge atrium. A grand staircase circled the right wall, and the left was an opening to the next room. The back wall we came in through was covered in windows, letting in the small amount of light the sun behind the clouds had to spare. When my eye caught the beautiful grand piano sitting on the opposite wall of the love seat, my mood brightened up immensely. I loved playing the piano. I ran up to it right away, and let my fingers gently glide over the keys.
"This was left here by the old owners that abandoned the house." My mother said as she came up behind me. "The restorers told me it had to be almost two hundred years old. Isn't it beautiful?"
"It really is, mom." I replied as I pulled out the antique bench and sat upon it carefully.
As I played the first chord to Clair de Lune, it came out like the piano hadn't been tuned in two hundred years either. My finally bright mood went a shade darker again.
My mother turned around and looked unbothered. "We'll have to get that tuned for you later. I must have forgotten to when I was picking out your housewarming gift."
Of course. That was my mother. Material goods were her way of showing love. So instead of simply getting the piano tuned for her daughter, which would've been the best housewarming gift ever given to me, she probably went out and bought something extravagant enough to show how much she loves me. I was so sick of this theory she and my father had about love. I so badly wanted the real thing. Like instead of me coming home from a horrible day at school to a new cell phone on the kitchen table and a note saying "Going to a retreat in Spain for the weekend. Watch the girls for me", I wish maybe she would leave me a batch of cookies she made and a glass of milk. That is what love was to me, and I longed for the real thing more intensely with every beat of my heart.
I drearily got up from the piano and proceeded into the next room. It was the living room, and it was again finished with dark wood and breath-takingly beautiful, with a red patterned rug accenting the glossy dark wooden floors. Brown leather furniture framed the rug, and a big high-definition digital television donned the antique fireplace that had been installed with an automatic one below. It had to be the coziest room I'd ever stepped foot into.
My sisters walked into the next room, uninterested, and my mother, father and I proceeded after them. The kitchen was also beautiful. The dark wooden finish looked fantastic with the black appliances and the small table in the morning room nook was the same color as the finish. The white wall's contrast with the dark finish almost seemed as if it was illuminating the room, making it open and bright. As my mother rambled a story to my dad about what a hassle it was to find the kitchen table, I walked into the next room, which was the dining room.
The table was grand, the same color as the finish. A pure-crystal chandelier glistened above, completing the room elegantly. While I scoped the room, my eye caught of the new home music systems installed into the wall. Curious, I activated the touch screen, and this beautiful piece came through the speakers and circulated the house. I had never heard this piano piece before, and I was pretty literate when it came to the classics.
I stood there, dazzled and puzzled, until my mother came into the room. "I see Ava has found the Musical Home system I got installed." she said to my father, smiling.
"Mom, what is this song? I've never heard of it before."
My mother wore the same puzzled I had just then. "Oh, I thought you would know. The good man to sell me the house found a CD in mint condition sitting on the dining room table when he came to put the house on the market, and when he listened to it, he didn't recognize it either. He gave it to me when he sold me the house. The cover was labeled "Lullaby" in this beautiful script handwriting, and I decided to go to one of the transfer machines to transfer it to an mp3 so I could listen to it. It was so beautiful; I thought it would be perfect to circulate around the house."
I thought the same exact thing. It was like nothing I'd ever heard. It was excruciatingly sweet, like the composer wrote it for the one he loved so deeply. This was definitely an example of the real love I was seeking.
Finally, it was time to see the upstairs.
My sisters eagerly ran up the magnificent stair case, giggling and triumphing over the excitement of finally getting their new room. When I caught up with them, I found myself in a seemingly endless hallway with honey-colored wooden paneled walls and a matching floor.
"Mom?" Alison asked excitedly, "Which room's ours?"
"Yours is the first one to the right." She said, gesturing toward the door.
"Yes!" the twins squealed in unison as they ran into the room.
"Ava, honey, this one's yours." She said, leading me to the furthest room down the hallway.
When I opened the door to my room, I knew it was perfect. Almost one of the whole walls was covered with windows that over looked the Olympic Mountains and the forests circulating it. It didn't even matter that the window was covered in little beads of water from the never ending rain. The view was still marvelous.
On the wall opposite of that was a vast bookshelf with my massive collection and worn books I didn't recognize already filling it up and a long black leather couch in front of it. Some of the bookshelf was taken out for the high-definition digital television that sat in place of it. Under it was an antique stereo, one that plays CDs, and the shelf under that was filled with about twenty CDs from the 1900s. I couldn't believe my eyes. I'd never seen a collection like this. CDs are almost no where to be found nowadays. I excitedly took one out, one from the 1950s, Elvis Presley, and inserted it carefully into the delicate player. Out of the new high definition speakers came one of the happy toe-tapping songs that even my grandmother barely remembers.
I then turned around to take in the rest of my new room. A few feet away from the corner of windows, a beautiful bed frame with black iron rails I could tell was restored from its original sat with a shaggy gold carpet billowing out from under it. Rose-red Egyptian cotton sheets and bedspread donned the soft, body molding mattress that was held by the antique bed frame.
A few feet away from the other side of the bed was a desk that matched the finish floor, and on top of it was a new laptop for school, and the charger for my pod-phone.
I unclipped the miniature smart-phone from my ear and set it into the charger, turned on my voice-activated laptop, and my room seemed to be complete with the classic music bopping in the background. All except for one thing. I turned my head and spotted the door to the walk-in closet, my only essential guide to Forks High tomorrow.
When I opened the door to the closet-which was bigger than any closet I'd ever had- I realized how musty and old this house really was. The hard wood floors were scraped and faded; the wooden racks on the back wall were coated with dust and cob webs, as were the clothes on it. When I flicked up the old-time switch, light bulbs illuminated the room, not LEDs that were installed in the rest of the house. Maybe the workers neglected to restore this room? And wait, why would my clothes be on there coated with dust? Hadn't they only been here for two weeks?
I walked toward the back of the closet, skeptic, as I picked up one of the pieces of neatly folded clothing off the rack. As I did the best I could to shake off the layers and layers of dust, and when I held it up in front of me, I realized this was definitely not mine. Or anyone of my family member's for the matter. It was a light pink frilly dress with ruffled short sleeves, and looked as if to fit a five year old. One that she would be overly excited to wear on Easter Sunday or to her cousin's wedding. I was only fascinated by my discovery until I noticed a shiny ringlet of long blondish colored hair on the Peter Pan collar.
This wasn't our house. This was another family's, one that lived here about a hundred years ago, the ones that suddenly vanished into thin air as it seemed in the stories my mother told me about this old house. They had left clothes, a CD collection, and the beautiful grand piano that mystified me so, and they didn't come back. It haunted me to think about the reasons for dropping everything and disappearing so abruptly from their house. No. Their home.
A shiver ripped down my spine, and I suddenly heard a tap come from my window. My wandering thoughts stopped short as I dropped the dress and sprinted out of the closet to check out the disturbance. For a split second, I thought I saw a figure sitting on the window sill outside, but at that same split second, it was gone.
It took me a few seconds to find my lungs to draw in an uneven breath, and then a few more to re-organize my thoughts.
I closed my eyes. Okay, I have to admit that was weird, I pep talked to myself, but it was probably just my imagination. Long flight, long car ride, a lot to take in.
When my heart was beating evenly again, I fled out of my room to find my mother and tell her about my unfinished closet.
My mother was talking to my dad about the abnormally beautiful people in the painting that was left in his new office when I walked in to the book-filled room.
"Mom?" I began, "We have a little bit of a situation."
"What's the matter, Ava?" my mother looked a little frazzled by my statement, so I laid it on her gently.
"Well, when I went in to pick out my clothes for school tomorrow, I realized the closet wasn't restored, and the past owner's clothes were still sitting on the shelf. It's no big deal or anything, I just wanted to get my clothes and such ready for tomorrow and I-"
My mother stopped me short. "Wait, the closet door opened?"
"Why wouldn't it?" I asked, puzzled.
My mother then looked down with a perplexed look in her sky-blue eyes, mumbling questions and answers to herself. Now I was completely lost.
"Mom, what's going on?" I demanded.
She shook her head. "It's just incredible. Did you have to try to force it open?"
"No, it opened as easily as any door in the house, mom. Why?"
"This is so strange. Since I've first toured the house, the relaters just could not get that door open. They thought it must have been locked from the inside, so they had workers come in to try to undo the door from the hinges, but it was as if they were sodered on; no worker could get it off with even the most recent technology. Because of the historical value of the house, though, they didn't want to disturb it, so they didn't try to pry it. They left that decision to the person who bought it.
"I was going to have people come next week to do the job, so I had your clothes in my closet until then… but it seems we won't need that!"
"Do you think the movers opened it while they were here?" I asked.
"No, I told them to try, but they informed me that their attempt failed also."
She shook her head again, wonder in her eyes, "Extraordinary. Absolutely extraordinary."
While she was shaking her head, bewildered, I stiffly left the room, with my mind only on one thing. What was the little girl that belonged to that dress hiding in there? Probably nothing worth fretting on, she was not even 7 years old, it seemed like. But why would that particular door be locked so securely? And most importantly, why was it opened now? I thought of the dark figure in the window and shuddered. No. This was only my imagination. But why did it seem so real?
I cautiously entered my now haunting new room, and carefully opened the forbidden door. I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath after I stepped in, reassuring myself that nothing was wrong. I was going to prove to myself that there was nothing out of the ordinary about this room.
So I started looking through the clothes again. But I not only found the childish clothes, I started finding women's and men's clothing in the other piles. The woman's clothes were so elegant and sophisticated, like nothing I'd ever seen before. Some were even surprisingly stylish despite the fact they were a hundred years old. The men's clothes were even surprisingly preppy and in good condition.
When I was done looking at the clothes, I set aside a pretty soft-blue colored blouse from the woman's clothes I could wear to school tomorrow, and started neatly folding the rest into piles in the corner to make room for my clothes.
That's when I noticed the loose floor board in the corner I was putting the clothes. It was so loose, when there was weight on one side, the other side slid up enough that it seemed like I could slip my fingers underneath and pry it up. I couldn't fight the sudden curiosity, so I shoved the clothes over and pried up the musty floor board easily, stirring up a hundred-year old dust in the process, sneezing as it hit my nose.
Although when the dust cleared, all I could do was stare at the opening in the floor, motionless, and I knew there was no way I could convince myself that this was an ordinary closet after all.