Lingering

January 9, 2010
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I have free run of the fourth floor; the entire floor and all of its five bedrooms, two sitting rooms, one library, and one music room. The bedroom I sleep in is the first door on the right from the staircase. My name is engraved on a plaque, and I shine it once a week. I wouldn't want it to look grubby.

Further down the hall is the music room. It's inhabited by three flutes, two violins, one trumpet, one clarinet, one cello, and an ivory piano. There's an entire shelf full of sheet music. Each row has music for a specific instrument, and there's even more in one of the storage closets. Every day I choose a random piece of music to play for a random instrument. Yesterday was the violin. I don't remember the name of the piece.

The last room on the right of the stairs is another bedroom. I don't go into that room often. It's where I store my old things. Clothes I've outgrown, baby toys, ratty stuffed animals, old quilts. In the corner there's a pile of old cardboard boxes. I don't know what's in them, I've never looked. I don't want to anyway. There's no reason to.

On the left of the stairs the hall stretches on much longer. The first door is the library. It's a large circular room much like an observatory, except there's no telescope, just giant wrap around shelves of books. The floor isn't carpeted unlike the other rooms and the hallway and the wooden floor gets very cold in winter. My favorite shelf is organized alphabetically by title, and is full of fantasy stories. Dragons, elves, trolls, and witches. They all amaze me, as do the worlds they inhabit. There's one shelf I've never touched, and I don't want to.

Across from the library is a sitting room. The walls are pale yellow, and the furniture is all white. There's a large comfortable sofa, and two squishy wing back chairs. I like to read in the wing backs. The tables are all glass and void of coffee or tea stains. I keep them very clean. There are blank pieces of paper in black picture frames all along the walls. Once I found a pencil under the sofa. I put it in my lucky and neat items drawer in my room, but the next morning it had disappeared.

Past the library and first sitting room are two more bedrooms across from each other. One is much bigger than the others; I suppose it'd be called the master bedroom. The bed is a four poster with deep blue curtains hanging around it and a name carved into the headboard. I don't know whose name it is. The room other than the bed is fairly sparse, but it has its own bathroom like my room. Only this bathroom has a much larger tub. Sometimes I use it.

The other bedroom is the size of mine, with a round bed covered in a lavender comforter. I store my out of season shirts, skirts, and dresses in the large walk in closet. The dresser holds my out of season pants. This room does not have a bathroom, but it has a desk like mine, and a globe on the desk. There are little red tags on the globe, but I don't know why. I never bothered to look at what countries they mark either.

The last two rooms are the fifth bedroom and second sitting room. I've never been in the fifth bedroom. There's a name engraved on a plaque on its door as well. I don't remember the name. The sitting room has mint green walls, and white furniture. There are only armchairs and a shiny mahogany table. The mahogany table is also void of stains.

There is one window on either end of the hall. The shutters are closed and can't be opened. The red paint is slowly peeling away, revealing the rough wood underneath. I slowly wipe dust off the window panes with an old brown rag and run my finger across the glass. Perfectly smooth, not a particle comes off on my pale skin.

I walk to the door behind which is the staircase. I carefully push open the little square of wood on hinges that's level with my chest in the center of the door. I drop the rag through and let it swing shut. I don't know what's on the floors below mine. I almost walk away, but in the end I do something I haven't done in years, at least I think it's been years. I reach out and try to turn the door handle.

Slowly, the door swings open, and I listen. Nothing. Cautiously, barefoot, brown hair tied back into two long braids, I descend. The stairs are coated in dust and creak deafeningly. I don't look down the halls as I reach the third and second floors. I wait to look until I reach the first floor.

The tiles in the front atrium are also covered in grime and dust. It is completely silent. I try the front door. Locked. There are no windows. I try to call out for someone, but I cannot make a sound. I haven't spoken in so long, I can't remember how.

I lean against the door and sink to the floor.

I hug my knees to my chest, and I close my eyes.





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