Kaitlyn moved into her childhood home in the small town of New Haven. She had just spent the last four years in college studying to be a teacher. She had a passion for helping people, especially kids. With her, came her four-year-old daughter Allison; they looked exactly alike. They had long, curly hair, and emeralds for eyes. The two of them finished unpacking and got settled in; then they set off to buy some groceries.
It was a particularly odd day. The sky was filled with dark, heavy clouds. Strong gusts of wind swept through the empty streets, carrying bits of trash with it. The normally lively town was quiet as if all life ceased to exist.
The two of them were walking down the streets when Kaitlyn saw a familiar face walking towards them. She was taken aback, “Beth? Is that you?” she said with a hint of disbelief.
“Kaitlyn? Oh my gosh! Hi!”
“Hey. What are you doing here?”
“I just came to pick up some things, but I have to take off again… I can’t afford to stay here as much as I’d love to…” Beth trailed off; she looked so sad about having to leave. They were both silent for a moment. Kaitlyn considered asking Beth to live with them, but something seemed to bother her about the idea of Allison living with them. She didn’t think it was the right idea but since Beth seemed so upset, she pushed that aside. She hesitantly asked Beth,
“Do you want to stay with my daughter Allison and me?” When she said this, Allison looked up at her mother kind of surprised. She gave her mom a look, her face showed that she didn’t want her moving in.
“Really? Oh wow. I wasn’t expecting that. I’d love to move in with you guys! Thank you so much!” So, the three of them finished shopping together, then headed back to Kaitlyn’s home.
They spent the next few days catching up on their lives after high school. The biggest thing Kaitlyn told her was about Allison’s father. Beth didn’t say much about her life. Just that she went to college and traveled a little bit, but she always managed to avoid Kaitlyn’s questions and redirect them towards her. She would change the topic to good memories from their childhood. One of the most memorable ones was when they found a hidden room. They were just goofing off when they discovered a small hidden door in one of the walls. Curiosity proved to be too strong, and they went in the door. A seemingly endless tunnel was on the other side. They grabbed flashlights and began crawling. It ended up leading to a whole new room. This became their secret hideout that only the two of them knew about. They were telling embarrassing or funny stories and giggling like little girls all over again. Kaitlyn started to feel that old bond they shared as kids again; she felt that she didn’t make a mistake after all by letting her move in.
After two weeks of being home, Kaitlyn found a job as a biology teacher at her old high school. Walking through the same beige hallways and seeing the same grey lockers brought back a flood of memories. She was a very intelligent, loving, and beautiful girl. Everybody loved her. Beth and Kaitlyn did everything from their first football game and homecoming, all the way to going to prom together. It was just the two of them against the world. Nothing could separate them. But Kaitlyn was oblivious to the fact that Beth was envious of her. She always felt like she was living in Kaitlyn’s shadow.
This didn’t change. Allison began to become aware of Beth’s true feelings. She would watch her and notice the slightest things. Whenever Kaitlyn would turn around while talking to Beth, Beth would just stare at her. Her smile would twist into a glare. Or if they were talking about anything that made Kaitlyn happy, Beth would roll her eyes. It appeared as though the resentment towards her just grew over time. Meanwhile, Kaitlyn felt as though their relationship was becoming like how it used to be.
Allison didn’t like it when her mother went off to work. She would always ask to come with saying how she didn’t want to be alone with Beth after she noticed these things. But Kaitlyn just thought she was being silly and just had to get to know Beth. Even though Allison would constantly bring up what she had noticed. Kaitlyn would defend Beth by saying how she could never act like that. They loved each other. Kaitlyn mentioned this to Beth because she wanted her best friend and daughter to have a good relationship. So Beth would suggest things that they could do to hang out and have fun, but Allison would keep her distance. She would just end up staying in her room or kind of just talking to her as needed or finding reasons for her to stay away from her.
One night, the sky was lit up by the scattered stars. This reminded Kaitlyn about how on nights like these, her and her family would take long walks on the beach, and Allison would occasionally join them. She wanted to experience that sense of blissfulness again. So, she went home to pick up Allison to go to the beach; Beth couldn’t go because she had a doctor’s appointment. The waves were crashing, trees dancing in the wind, and the moon cast its light over the vast ocean. They strolled down the soft sandy shore, enjoying the beautiful scene in front of them and just talked. Talked about their day, talked about life, talked about anything and everything. Then the two of them drove back into town only to be welcomed by a strong downpour of rain, and strong gusts of wind. Lightning shattered the sky into pieces as thunder echoed in their ears. This was the first storm to pass through since the day Beth moved in with them. When they pulled up to the house, they found the door wide open. Kaitlyn’s first thought was that it must’ve been because of the intense winds. But upon entering the house, she knew what happened. Pieces of glass laid scattered across the floor, furniture was broken and moved around. Kaitlyn calmly whispered to Allison, “Honey, stay right here. Do. Not. Move.”
Her response was shaky, “Okay Mommy…”
There was no one in the house. The only clue the police could find was a note that read: You should’ve known. Beth didn’t return from her appointment till around 8 that night. She asked what happened and Kaitlyn told her what the police said. Beth’s face got slightly pale, and there was fear in her eyes. Kaitlyn assumed that she was worried about the person coming back and harming them. She hugged her and told her that everything was going to be okay, but Beth just stood there.
The break-ins continued to occur with no set pattern. The only thing they noticed was that whenever they happened, it was almost always on a stormy night. Which until recently, were very rare for New Haven. They also noticed that Beth started distancing herself from them. She was out most of the times and wouldn’t say where she was; whenever she was home she was always anxious and angry. She never used to be like that. Kaitlyn thought that she was going through something personal, so she didn’t think much of it assuming that she’d get back to normal over time.
Because of all the break-ins, Kaitlyn wanted to show her daughter the secret room. That way she could hide there if anything were to happen while they were home, but Beth didn’t want her to. She said that was their secret, not Allison’s. Kaitlyn was shocked by what she said but kind of just ignored it. She told herself that Beth was just joking. She showed Allison where the door was and how to get in. then proceeded to tell her that they were the only three people to know about the room. So, if someone were to break in, she could hide there. She would be safe.
As the months went on, the break-ins became more severe. It escalated to the point where things were broken. Glass would lay scattered, covering the floor. Things were stolen; the intruder also left behind threats. The police couldn’t find any clues as to who was behind the break-ins.
A few weeks went by without any incidents. Allison was feeling sick one evening, so Kaitlyn went to the store for some medicine. Beth was out running some errands. Allison was terrified of being left alone, but she knew it wasn’t going to be for long.
Allison was watching a movie in her room when she heard a loud crash followed by a creaking of the downstairs floorboards. She didn’t hesitate to run to the secret room that her mom had told her about. While she was in there she wrote a note: Mommy someone’s in the house.
Kaitlyn returned from the store and saw the broken window. Her heart sank. She ran inside screaming out “Allison! Allison baby! Where are you?!” No reply. She remembered the hidden room and ran up the stairs towards the room. She found the note stained with drops of water; tears streamed down her face. She went downstairs and called the police through her sobs. They arrived in minutes and began questioning her. “Who do you think did this? How did they know about that hidden room?”
Kaitlyn struggled to answer his questions “I… I don’t… I don’t k-know…” she trailed off. “No one else knew about that room. No one, except for…” She broke down and collapsed to her knees and sobbed uncontrollably.
“Ma’am, except for who? Who is it ma’am?” the policeman asked. She whispered to herself
“I’m sorry ma’am could you speak up?”
“Except for Beth…”