The room was empty, all except for a bed that was sitting up against the wall facing the window to the left of the attic. Molly hesitantly poked her head in, looking left to right. It was as if, all-of-a-sudden, the air had cleared. There was no longer some secret room that was hidden away from her. There was the room… and a bed. Molly contemplated the reason for the bed. She still didn’t remember any details about the room.
She found beauty in observing the sunlight that was coming in through the window, beaming down on the thick, gray wooden floorboards beneath her. As she approached the bed, she observed it very closely. There was a discolored and ragged blanket lying wadded at the foot. There was no sheet or pillow and the mattress itself had mold growing over the top of it.
Molly folded the blanket over the bed and laid down. She looked up at the rafters above her and closed her eyes. She released all the negative emotions from before she entered the room and breathed slowly, in and out, in and out.
“Think, think, think,” she chanted under her breath.
Almost obediently, all the tension left her shoulders, then arms, then legs and she melted into the bed in complete relaxation. There was suddenly a silence within the silence. Her eyes shot open. It was dark in the room. She gazed hard upon the window, but nothing could be seen outside, just total darkness. All around her, there was darkness. She could no longer see the door to the attic. Everything she had come to know when she entered the house was consumed by the darkness.
Through the penetrating silence, she heard humming. As it grew louder, she began to see the flicker of a light from outside the door. There was a person behind that light and Molly knew who it was. The light approached her. It seemed to fold along the lines of a familiar face, revealing to Molly more than she could comprehend in that moment.
“There’s my Mole. You came back to me.”
Molly couldn’t speak. She observed the details of the woman’s face. It was gray and there were wrinkles below her eyes and in the creases where her cheeks met her nose. Her hair was curly, dark brown, and came down to her shoulders. She had round glasses stuck to the top of her nose as close to her eyes as they could reach.
“Shhh. Rest your eyes.”
The old woman hummed as she ran her cold, clammy fingers through a few hairs on Molly’s head. She looked at the old woman, at a face she hadn’t seen in so long. She racked her brain to try and remember anything she could.
“Mother, what is this place?”
“This is your room. Have you forgotten again?”
“Yes, I don’t remember anything. Tell me, please.”
“You always forget. This is where I keep you to protect you.”
“But.. you’re dead. Are you real?”
“Oh child, you always go back to that. Last night you were traveling with a circus and happened to stumble upon the town and came by the old house. The other week you were a traveling saleswoman and came-a-knocking. It always ends the same way. You venture up to the attic and try to remember where you are. It always ends just like this.”
“That isn’t true. I’ve been happily married for five years now.”
“Last week, when you were the traveling saleswoman, you were single. You were a foster mother.”
“If that’s true, then why I do I remember every detail of my life so vividly? How can you be so sure that I’m the one imagining things and know for certain it’s not you who manifested this in your mind?”
“Look at you, dear. You’re the one talking to your dead mother, looking shocked and confused, trying to remember a reality that you keep burying too far back to recall. Think, think, think, and you’ll know what’s actually real. You concocted those memories in hopes of finding a world you’ve never experienced.”
Molly closed her eyes. She listened to the humming as her mother walked away. The humming faded and there was silence, penetrating silence. She wouldn’t dare open her eyes. She had to get back to her husband.
“Think, think, think.”
Her mind started letting go of every thought of the attic and clinging to the memories of her life. She was finally able to come back. She opened her eyes and the memories had left her. She had no recollection of the house, or her mother, or the attic.
She was standing at the bottom of a path of steps. Her mother had recently passed, and because she was the only child, she had to be the one to go through her belongings. There was something about the house that gave her chills. There she was after all those years, back at her childhood home. Suddenly, her phone rang.
She turned away from the house to observe the desert land around her. There were beautiful cacti that went on for miles. Sand swirled wonderfully in the wind. The entire area glowed a beautiful yellow-tan. Sun waves could be seen reflecting off the surface of the ground.
“Mav, I’m so glad you called.”
“So, how’s it going?”
“Well, I don’t really remember anything about the old house, you know. I think I’ll just come home. I don’t think I want to do this today.”
“You know you have to. Why not just do it and get it over with, huh?”
“You’re right. Have I told you I love you lately?”
“…And I love you, baby. I’ll see you in a week.”
“Ok, love you, bye.”
She turned back to the door and looked at the house as if she were looking at it through a telescope from hundreds of miles away. It was glowing with fresh blue paint, and that blood-red door that had seemed to have a soul was just a door. She walked up the steps, “1…2…3…”, and turned the handle.