The Other Side

April 14, 2008
By Andrea James, Brookfield, WI

I climbed up the cracked wooden stairs, checking both sides of me for spiders. Every step I took created the sound of a creak, like I was injuring the wood. It seemed like it had taken a century, but finally, I had snuck my way up to the attic. My dim flashlight scanned the room, looking for any kind of treasure I could find. That’s when I saw it. In the far right corner stood a row of paintings placed one in front of the other, and beneath them I could see the faint glow of a light.
Curiosity got the best of me and urged me forward, pulling me towards the light. What was it coming from? I took a step and heard a creak like I had split the floor in half. I stopped and listened. Nothing but the moaning sound of the wind and the rain racing to the ground entered my ears. My parents hadn’t heard me; I continued on. Slowly, I crawled towards the paintings until I stood facing them. I stopped and listened once again. The noise of the rain continued, but beneath that I swear I could hear the faint sound of clinking like that of two glasses meeting before dinner. I shut off my flashlight and got down on my hands and knees, careful not to make a sound. I leaned towards the paintings and listened. I was positive now I heard the sound of chattering, yet it was still too muffled to hear clearly.
I pulled the paintings forward one by one, searching for the light I had seen. Finally, I got past the last one and saw the light, struggling to be seen between the crack. Was I imagining this? Where was it coming from? I was so deep in thought I completely forgot about the paintings I was holding until I felt them slip from my fingers. They landed on the floor with a loud smack, sounding at the same time as a roll of thunder outside. I turned around and saw the paintings sprawled out on the floor, my heart beating out of my chest. Why was I so scared? Suddenly, I heard a small click. I turned back around and noticed the light was gone and the chattering had stopped. I put my head near the crack and listened. Nothing. I stared in disbelief. Was I dreaming?
I turned on my flashlight and shined it on the crack, and that is when I saw a small, gold square in the corner, so small I am surprised I even noticed it. I tried to pick it up, but it wouldn’t move, so I pushed it but still, nothing happened. I sighed and got up thinking this was a complete waste of time. That is when I heard a series of clicks begin from inside the wall. I pushed my head close and listened. I could have sworn I heard a gasp, but it was probably the wind. Click after click, they just kept going until suddenly I felt my house shake. I pointed my flashlight at the wall and saw that my attic was playing tricks on me. My eyes couldn’t believe it, but my heart could. Slowly, a small portion of the wall separated from its secure place in the corner and moved backwards. It then slowly proceeded to move to the left, out of sight. I stepped forward, squeezing my flashlight with both shaking hands, not understanding how this could be happening. I stepped across the line that separated my dusty, old attic from its secret and felt like I was entering a new world.
My flashlight was getting dimmer, and I couldn’t see that far in front of me. I felt around the wall for a light switch until I found its familiar shape and switched it on. Without warning, the door I had opened slammed shut and glorious lights came out of the hiding spots revealing a gigantic, grand table set for eight. I stared in awe, my jaw dropped. What was this place? That table was covered with food and so were the plates. Turkey, mashed potatoes, beans and bread covered them all, and it smelled wonderful. I couldn’t resist grabbing a roll. I looked around the room and saw two China cabinets that were empty and a grandfather clock. At the far end of the room were two separate hallways.
"Who are you?"
I turned around and shrieked. There stood a tall man with a tall hat on his head, wearing an outfit that made him look like a penguin. His thin mustache roped around his lips and dangled under his chin.
"Who are you?" he repeated, with a voice that sounded like someone had pinched his vocal cords.
Stunned, I tried to pull the words out of my mouth. "I-I-I'm S-s-sam... Samantha."
My hands were shaking so fast, and my tears were ready to flow. "I shouldn't have come here, I never should have come up here," I thought to myself.
"Well, S-s-samantha, I’m Martin. What are you doing here and how did you get in?"
"I don't know," I said, and that's when I couldn't hold it back any longer. The tears burst out of my eyes and ran down my face.
"Stop that, why are you crying?" Martin asked, suddenly afraid. He took a step back and just stared at me with wide eyes.
"Martin she's probably scared!"
I looked at the other end of the table and saw a red woman rushing toward me. Her red hair flowed down to meet her red gown while her red gown greeted her sparkling, red heels. When she reached me, she threw me into her chest and wrapped her arms around to my back.
"There, there," she said. "There's no need to cry, wipe your tears away."
Martin stared in astonishment, not understanding why I was crying.
"What is your name?" Julia asked me, bringing my face to meet hers.
"Samantha," I replied. I wasn't as scared once she started talking to me. Julia was actually very comforting.
"Ok Samantha, how did you get here?"
"I don't know... My mother always said 'Sam don't go in the attic' and you know kids, as soon as their parents tell them not to do something they want to do it. So I couldn't sleep tonight and I thought this would be the perfect time to see what they were hiding up here. I came up here and that's when I saw your light.
She looked at Martin and then back at me.
"You have nothing to be afraid of, alright? Here, come sit down and have something to eat, there's plenty to eat."
She guided me towards the table and sat me down at one of the overfilled plates.
"Eat as much as you want, I'll go get the others Martin."
Julie exited the same way she came. Slowly, Martin walked towards the table and pulled out his chair, careful not to take his eyes off of me. He looked more nervous than I was.
Soon I heard a group of people coming down the hallway, chatting like a group of mice. One by one they walked up and greeted me, acting like everything was normal. They all sat down and started talking and eating. None of them asked me any questions which I thought was very strange. They all seemed so happy. Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore.
“Can I ask you all something? What are you doing in my attic?”
Every hand at the table dropped its fork as they stared at me. “You didn’t tell her?” I heard someone ask Julia. I looked at the 16 eyes watching me.
“What? Did I say something wrong?” I asked, becoming nervous once again.
“Samantha, this is all just kind of hard to explain,” Julia said. “Right now… you aren’t really in present time…”
“What do you mean?” I said, confused.
“Well… when you stepped through that door you literally stepped into another world. You came back in time about 60 years.”
She began wringing her hands, as if she was just as nervous as I was. The beating of my heart sped up again, and I could feel my fear crawling back through my skin.
“There really is no way back either.”
“Wait, so you mean I’m stuck here? Forever?” I asked, getting up out of my chair.
“Well that’s one way to put it,” another person said, attempting a false laugh.
“I can’t be… I-I’m only 12, I can’t spend the rest of my life here.”
Suddenly I was feeling light headed. I pushed back my chair and paced back and forth at the side of the table. I couldn’t think straight I had so many thoughts running through my head. “This can’t be,” I said to myself.
“Samantha, please just sit down and we can explain all of this,” Julia tried.
“No I can’t. I have to get out of here.”
I couldn’t think. My mind was racing. There had to be a way, there just had to be. I should have listened to my parents; I never should have come up here. I ran towards the door and attempted to force the locks open. I pried at them with my hands and tried to pull them open. Soon, cool tears streaked down my hot face. I was so confused. How could this be happening? I pounded on the door crying for my mom. Then, I started to feel dizzy and weak, like I had lost all of my energy.
“No, I have to get out of here!” I tried to scream, but instead it just came out like a group of jumbled words.
I felt a pair of hands on both of my arms pull me back away from the door.
“No, please don’t!” I tried again.
The room started to spin, and I was traveling down a tunnel. The lights were fading and so was the room around me. I kept crying and crying until finally I opened my eyes and saw the ugly pink wallpaper on my bedroom wall. I looked to my left, and I saw my clock read 5:30 am. It was all a dream. I never went on an adventure, and I never met Julia and Martin. There was no secret door in my attic. I sat up on my bed and thought for a moment. It couldn't have happened, could it? There’s no way you could travel back in time. I sat there thinking a few more minutes, my sensible side battling my curious one. Finally, I realized which side had won. I grabbed my flashlight, put on my slippers and ran into the hallway. I turned on my flashlight and ran straight towards the attic door.

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