Lucy was helping her brother pack the cardboard box with some of the dusty remnants of the home they had shared. Both quiet, their father’s violent passing, a stark reminder of their troubled life, dying the way he had lived, his death brought a sense of relief, a closing to a bad story, they were written into.
“I could use a cup of tea right now. Let’s take a break, she said.
“What?” Michael asked, distracted from a broken toy he held in his hand,
“I could use something warm to drink. I’m going to make a cup of tea. Do you want a cup?” she urged not wanting to go into the kitchen alone.
“Do you remember our safe place?” he asked, answering her question with one of his own.
“We might be able to squeeze through the opening. Want to try it?” he urged.
The safe place, she thought to herself as the vision of their hiding spot returned, startling clear in her mind. “I’ve always wanted to come back, to… see, but he was here and…..” she left off, some memories better left in the grave. “Do you think the passage is still there?” she asked, wondering if her memories were only a figment of a troubled mind.
“Hope so,” he whispered, “come on, I… need to see it one more time.”
He went into the closet first, not too surprised to find it had shrunk in size since he was last here.
“What are you waiting for?” she asked, blocked from seeing inside because he was so much taller than her.
“He nailed the door shut,” Michael replied, a sick taste in his mouth.
“I hope he didn’t…” she was unable to finish.
Without saying a word he left the closet, searching for a tool to pry loose the nails separating them from the refuge they had discovered. Lucy stepped into the empty closet, the dust irritating her allergies, the metal hangers nothing more than a framework for cobwebs.
“This closet was much bigger,” she said, as she rubbed her hand along the smaller door, which led to the attic located over the room.
Let’s see if this works,” he said, moving her to the side, lifting the claw hammer to pry loose the nails from the door, which was a little more than three feet high and not so wide when you’re no longer a child.