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We entered the dim, archaic bedroom while it was only mid-afternoon. We knew exactly where we were going— to the secret little square in the wall. No one was there, or even in the house anywhere, but we still felt reason to creep in with caution. Tip-toeing as it seemed, we made our way across the ancient, golden carpet toward the square that jutted inwardly into the wall. Its frame encompassed trim similar to the floor’s. Kneeling down, I struggled to remove the tan panel, sliding the wood to the right, then to the left, up, then down. With enough movement the panel finally escaped from its frame. A dark hole stared at us, evoking my younger sister to turn toward me with frightened eyes. I knew what was coming.
“I’m not going in there Victoria!” Her childlike voice demanded.
“I’m sure Nan and Pop-pop have a flashlight around here somewhere,” reassuring her.
I scanned the floor, a clutter of junk in the corner, and the bureau that stood against the wall on the other side of the room. Within me I knew I wasn’t going in there either without some sort of exposure as to what the black held. My eye then caught a dusty lamp standing on the night table beside the door.
“Melissa, let’s use that lamp.” I picked myself up off the floor in exhilaration to gather the lamp and its cord. Within seconds we found an outlet and with a click, it was lit. Our eyes withheld hesitation and exploration all at once. I moved the yellow glow toward the darkness, nervous as to what was residing in such a place.
Light unearthed a space about five feet long and three feet wide. Yellow splintery wood lined the structure and on both sides, there appeared to be much smaller passages leading to other places of the house. It was a dream, a storybook, a movie! Little girls in real life didn’t find secret passages in their grandparents’ house. Two young sisters stared at each other in amazement. My next thought caught her own.
“What should we do in there?” Melissa asked.
“Let’s write secret messages on the wall!” I exclaimed jokingly.
“Okay,” her face smile with delight. “I’ll go get my markers. I’m not staying in here by myself.”
“Okay, but hurry back.” She was not the only one who was slightly afraid of our own discovery. I peered into the space. The ceiling was no more than six feet high once you stepped through the opening, and the floor was basically plywood. Melissa was back within a minute; our endeavor had her at its will.
“I got our coloring books and markers,” she said happily. “You go in first.”
“Alright.” I took a deep breath and crawled my way into the opening. Then Melissa crept in.
We began coloring pictures and talking softly near the lamp that we had placed in the middle of our arrangement. No longer was fear upon us. We were purely two children joyfully taking in the moment.
“Why is Aunt Robin mad at Aunt Bonnie,” Melissa whimpered. My face deepened.
“I don’t know.”
“I wish everyone would just get along!” I stopped coloring and looked up at her. Her hostile eyes were quivering.
“I know, me too, Mel.”
“Everyone is fighting and it’s dumb.” Her justified anger awakened my mind.
“Let’s write what we think about everything on the walls. This is the only place where we can really say what we think and no one will yell at us,” I stated without apprehension.
“On the walls, for real?”
“Yeah,” I smiled at her look of disbelief. “No one will know, and if they end up finding all of it, then maybe it will do some good to their hearts,” I said determinedly.
I wrote the first words with an orange marker.
Why are you fighting?
Melissa took her turn with a pink marker.
Love each other.
Back and forth we wrote pinning our emotions, thoughts, questions, and suggestions upon the walls of our secret place. After our colored pictures were completed we stapled them to the walls too. We stood up together, marveling at our testimony.
I took a moment to peer out the opening into the bedroom. It was dark, like the little space had been before we entered it. The sun had left the window. Everyone would be coming back soon. Gathering our materials, we crawled back out into the room, carrying the lamp with us. I managed to get the tan panel back into its place, and then putting the lamp back on its stand, we walked out, but not just as two little girls. We left our wisdom and unspoken words plastered for someone to see. Maybe someone would hear our thoughts. We didn’t know. We simply did our part.