The darkness. The door. The crumbling brick; it all begged me to enter. I tucked a loose strand of flying black hair behind my ear and looked through the broken window. Darkness and the flickering light of a candle, slowly dying. After a few moments, the flame extinguished, leaving a trail of silver smoke. I pushed open the door, which groaned like a child in pain, leaving a fresh sound in the silence of midnight. I took out my lighter, which provided my only source of light, casting strange shadows over dusty concrete walls. The air was musty and ancient, like a memory or a forgotten dream, nothing like the cool night air outside. My quiet steps left muddy footprints on the dusty floor. A gust of wind blew through the house, inviting the shadows formed by my lighter to dance and beckon me forwards.
I walked cautiously away from the hallway, through a doorway that smelt of mildew and crumbled slightly under my touch, which opened to what must have been a living room with an old, slowly deteriorating moss colored sofa, another wide and broken window, three empty rusted bronze picture frames, a fireplace missing the warm embers it once held—embers I would be grateful for, I thought, breathing into my numb hands –a rotten wooden chest and a broken glass chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Of all these objects in the room, only one held my attention: a clean, fresh cardboard box. It sat in the corner of the gloomy room, with the numbers “1604” printed in large black letters on the side. I opened the box to find a silver ring, rusted beyond repair, clearly missing a small diamond or gem.
I slipped the ring onto my finger, only to find my head filled with colors and numbers, echoing through the depths of my mind. With trembling fingers, I tried desperately to remove the ring, but found it sinking into my finger and merging with my pale skin. My lighter went out. The numbers “1604” flashed through my mind, and the empty room around me began to transform.
First, the wide window repaired itself, fragments of glass flying into it from around the room and fitting beside one another like perfect puzzle pieces. The moss colored sofa turned charcoal grey and became soft and velvety. The rotted wooden chest was polished, and a paler shade of grey. The picture frames were filled with beautiful black and white oil paintings of the night sky, white stars dissolving into a sea of blackness. The floor was covered with a soft Persian rug and a sturdy wooden fireplace stood beside the sofa, filled with silver flames. Wallpaper spread across the walls, patterned in black and white with elegant swirls and delicate curves. Plush black curtains hung from silver rods and an eerie grey sunlight shone through the window. A strange melody wafted through the house.
I attempted to look out the window, but all I could see was a milky blur. I pressed my hands against the glass, and when the ring touched it, it lit up with recognition and my finger throbbed with a hot, searing pain. I backed away from the window. Desperate, I tried for the front door. Somehow, my hand seemed to pass through it. A weak knock came from the other side of the door, and the floor creaked behind me. A tall, English gentleman with curly black hair, a ruffled white shirt peeking through a black tuxedo, three quarter length beige trousers and tall white socks stood over me. He reached through me and opened the door. I screamed, but it fell upon deaf ears. A once-beautiful woman stood in the doorway now, the picture of distress. Her eyes were swollen red from crying, and her cheeks were spotted with tears.
“Ah, Marianne. How dost thou?” The man behind me said gently.
“I am well. Where art thy wife, Catherine?” She asked, twirling a strand of light wavy
hair around a delicate finger, styled to perfection.
“Cometh inside, presently the lady is upstairs, she should beest down soon.”
Marianne stepped inside gratefully. I made for the open door, but it slammed like a blow to the face. Not knowing what else to do, I followed them into the living room. Marianne sat in a very ladylike manner on the sofa, legs crossed and hands folded politely in her lap. After a few minutes of awkward conversation, Catherine finally entered the room. She was a lady of roughly thirty years, with long dark hair, a cascade of silken strands that reached her waist. On her face was an expression of pure rage, her brows knitted and her lips tight. Her blue eyes danced with fire.
Catherine’s voice was soft but laced with menace, “‘Tis done, then? He is dead?"
Isabel Ives is 13 years old and lives in Irasburg, Vermont. She loves drawing, has a dog and has lived in four different countries.