© 2002 by Alessandra Azzaroni aazzaroni@hotmail.com http://au.geocities.com/vcastairwaytoheaven/index.htm



Written in Australia. This story was partly inspired by Flowers in the Attic.


Realising that I had just sealed my own fate, I hung my head as I trudged glumly back up to where the women were. I truly was down in the dumps. I felt how the women had probably felt when they had first realised the true impact of their lock-up.
The ash blonde gave a tight smile once I dropped down to sit on the wooden floorboards, knees pulled up to my chest with my arms wrapped around them. "It's not so bad," she said. "You get used to it after awhile."
The brunette came over and sat next to me, slinging an arm around my shoulders. "Well, since you're here now, we may as well get acquainted. "I'm Kärla, and this is Kassándra. Our names aren't spelled the way you'd think, though." As her sister hunted down a scrap of paper and a pencil, Kärla asked me, "What's your name?"
"Sassandra," I answered.
"Ah," Kassándra sounded, dropping down to sit with us and write their names down for me. "I see our dear sister carried on the tradition our mother started with Dominica, us all having names of places."
I looked down at the paper, admiring the letter Ks, and the way Kärla had umlauts on the first a, and how Kassándra had an acute accent on her second a. They looked quite exotic. "So how many sisters are there?" I asked.
"Were," Kassándra corrected. Three of us are still alive, but one of them is dead."
"Is that one my mother?"
Kärla nodded, her eyes filling with tears. "She died," she said, more to herself than to anyone else. "She died when she was up here with us." She took a deep breath, and wiped the moisture from her eyes. "But it's probably best we forget about that. I don't like to talk about unpleasant things."
Kassándra leaned over to whisper in my ear. "Kärla has problems. I'll tell you about them in private."
I checked to see if Kärla had noticed her sister whispering, but she looked lost in her own little world. "How many years separate you all?" I asked, trying to bring the subject away from my mother, even though I wanted to know so much about her.
"Dominica was born first," Kärla responded. "A year later came Kass, and then me, and then your mother."
"What was her name?"
That was a familiar place. "That's in South Africa, right?"
"Correct. Dominica's in the Americas, Kassándra is in Greece and Kärla is in Latvia."
"And Sassandra's in the Ivory Coast," Kassándra put in.
I smiled. "You've got a lot of world knowledge," I commented.
Kassándra was bitter. "What else is there to do up here than stare at the atlas?"
I thought that it would be better to stop talking about them and their time in here. My mother was also a precarious subject. So what else was there to talk about? Luckily, I suddenly realised an aspect not yet discussed. "Was Dominica ever up here?"
Kärla's eyes went stone cold. "Never Dominica. She was - and probably still is - far too perfect to ever come up here." She pulled herself out of her trance. It seemed so simple for her to flick back and forth from the past to the present. "Of course, you never did anything really to be locked up here. You just found us, that's all, and that's what's got you up here."
"So there's no escape at all?"
"No," Kassándra replied. "The only people we ever see are Mother and Far."
"Far?" I asked.
"It means 'Father' in Swedish."
Kärla was locked in some memory. "Remember Doctor Rizzenfeld? He came up here, and the next day he was found dead." She looked up at me. "I read that in the newspapers Far gave us."
What Kärla had just said was extremely eerie. A doctor had come up here, got out and was dead the next day? People don't die just like that. People die for a reason. "What happened to him?" I timidly asked.
"Murdered," Kärla answered, snarling. "Killed by Carson Vanger." She looked at me again. "He was Mother's lover. We heard Mother on the phone talking to Carson after he murdered Doctor Rizzenfeld. She said Carson's name and all. The day after that, we read that Carson had jumped off a bridge."
Kassándra gave another disturbing tight smile. "You see, Sassandra? If you come up here and you're not Mother or Far, you die. Whether you stay up here or find a way out, you will never truly escape."