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Writing Prompt: Secret Door

This is another prompt for the Writer's Write website:

You are renovating a house and a find a secret door. What happens next?

This prompt really intrigued me and after about ten minutes of writing, it was clear a short story was forming. I may not have answered the prompt correctly, but it's also clear these prompts are great for sparking ideas; and not necessarily following the rules.

They're more like guidelines.

Dally's eyes strained as the house seemed to sit within perpetual shadow. The sun casting finger like rays reaching up the grey stone walls that ever shrank from the light. The windows clean but closed shut against the probing brilliance. Various ill kept shrubs and overgrown Hosta plants dotted the landscape, while a periwinkle vine threatened to choke out anything daring to grow within its reach. Faded annuals, draping from their cracked pots as if they made a last thirsty dive towards the earth, sat randomly upon the porch steps. If these were the sole pitiful attempts at a garden, she might have turned heel before even entering the old mansion, except her eye caught the delicate pink blooms of a huge bleeding heart near the gate where the light was more welcome. Tiny dolls that bloomed despite the formidable looming shadow of the manse. Their riotous colour and the Victorian details sealed the purchase - despite the many warnings regarding the current state of the house from the realtor. If that plant can dare to survive here, than so can I; although she kept such thoughts to herself. No need to mention the sentimental memories that flooded her mind when she saw the blooms. She already envisioned the clipping from her grandmothers garden growing just as bountiful on the other side of the gate. Old and new blooming side by side in this new future she was forging. The rest of the garden would need a complete overhaul and possibly years before it looked remotely similar to the picture that existed in her mind. Then again, time was the one thing she had to spare.

The shadows lengthened as a cloud drifted over house threatening a storm on the way. With a last sigh, Dally turned her sights from garden to house, hoping she could remember which box held the lanterns and spare batteries. Buying old houses had more risks than just landscaping and she had no wish to stumble around in the dark should the power go out. The first pelts of rain hit the back of her neck with a biting chill and she ran up the decaying steps, dodging more cold peltings beneath its leaky roof. Dashing through the wide oak paneled entrance and closing the heavy portal swiftly. With a shivering sigh turned grateful eyes towards the one thing that appeared in perfect working order and reached chilled fingers towards the welcoming heat in the huge fireplace. Easing into the plush, if not dusty, comfort of the chair, she leaned closer into the radiant and welcoming heat. The rain beat a steady staccato now upon the roof and the closed shutters, and the house seemed to groan its own weariness of the dampness. Her eyes slowly perused the rooms of faded wallpaper and dusty antiques, while her ears strained towards every creak; her confidence suddenly shaken by the sheer enormity of the tasks to be done. Her mind still held the vision of what could be, but she wasn't sure if the rapid beating of her heart was in anticipation - or trepidation. What have I got myself into? As the storm raged, lighting the house up in eerie intervals, it no longer felt like it belonged to her... to anyone. And yet, she

was surprised to discover that she didn't feel as lonely as might be expected.

Two Months Later....

Seated comfortably before the fire with a warm cup of tea and her feet propped on the cushioned stool, Dolly couldn't believe the changes due to good old fashioned sweat, fresh paint, new steps and few hanging flower baskets. All the creaks, groans and other various "bumps in the night" seemed to suggest it had come alive with the renovation. Each room had been meticulously renovated into a comforting blend of antiques and modern touches. Light now played in the corners and bounced off various well chosen knick knacks, and the newly refinished French Doors were thrown wide to catch the summer breeze. Her eyes glanced beyond the doors to the planted beds blooming with colour and with a sigh she leaned back to soak in the simple fact: this was all hers! There was still a lot of work to be done, but she had earned a rest today! A sudden breeze swept from some corner; gently stirring up dust and suggesting the house sighed along with her. A sudden flap of shutter as though it suddenly might be at odds with its restoration and wanting to cling to its dingy past. The repeated slamming against the new siding also reminding her to add yet another item to her To Do list. A commotion at the back door indicated the men were arriving to do some work in the upper floors. She nodded briefly and noted their ascent with each creak on the steps. All the random noises and often discovered treasures found in corners had Dolly wondering just how many secrets the old house still had yet to give up. She leaned back once more, the muted voices above drifting down along with her weary eyes, as her thoughts moved into daydreams concerning large master closets. Her last thought wishing the men luck in finding more space beneath the dusty beams in her master bedroom above.

"Miss, er.... Miss Dolly, there's something ya gots ta see."

Booted out of her elaborate detailed dream of cedar closets and vanity desks, Dolly's eyes opened to find one of the men covered in dirt and dust, and eyes widened standing before her. His hands were twisted and as she noted the apprehension also in his eyes, her first thought was "what's this going to cost me?" She leaned forward in expectation of him finding his voice, but he only could shake his head and give a shrug. An eyebrow arched high and his feet did a quick little shuffle while his hands raked through his hair scattering drywall dust upon the newly finished hardwood floors.

"Yer just gonna have to come see this Ma'am."

Moments later they joined the other three man standing quietly before the section of wall that was to be her newly expanded walk in closet. The house for once stood eerily quiet, until one of the men broke the silence.

"Well, at least we don't have to buy ya a new door."

Her smile was unsteady as she turned to her contractor. "Jake, there's a door in my wall."

Jake gave a brief nod and looked at his scuffed boots. "Ah yes Dolly, there is."

She briefly turned her eyes, "Why is there a door behind my bedroom wall Jake?"

"Ahh, that I do not know Ma'am."

The man who had come to fetch her raised his flashlight to shine upon the ornately carved door and highlighting where the bright blue paint had chipped over the years. His other hand reached for the brass knob and Dolly took a step closer to Jake; a fierce grip upon his arm while her breath held. The knob squealed in protest but turned slowly and before she could squeal her own protest, he stepped into the darkness beyond. It was mere seconds of many nights of noises while she lay sleeping only feet away suddenly haunting her memory before his raised voice was heard within the walls.

"Oh hell no! Oh my god, what the hell man?! No!"

She leaned closer and held Jake tighter, her voice barely above a whisper. "Please do not tell me there is some skeleton behind my creepy secret door."

His head popped out briefly through the open portal startling them all. Yet they all took a step forward when he swung the portal wider, allowing more light into the darkened space.

"No worries ma'am, there's no skeleton hiding in here."

Dolly took another few steps forward as visions of more beautiful antiques, or objects of art filled her head. Suddenly she was halted by a flung out arm, even as his other raised the flashlight into the room. The light slowly traveled along unfinished planks covered in dust, over various scattered and indiscernible items, until finally landing on a pair of gnarly toes peeking through socks with more holes than sock.

"Nah, Miss Dolly, seems ya got a whole body up in here. Alive, but I can't tell ya how well."

Her hand flew to her chest, "Oh my," as an elderly man slowly rose from a crudely fashioned bench that sat beneath the attic window. Her ears catching the banging sound as she realized it was the very one with the broken shutter. A blanket she thought she had seen on the back porch slipped from his dirt encrusted fingers to the floor, as he took a few tentative steps forward. The floorboards creaking with each step and with another gasp she recalled it as the very sound that followed her into sleep each night.


No, just no.

Why the hell did I write that? I have an attic space and the trap door is in our bedroom closet and now I'm gonna have to sell my house. LOL. This story was inspired by those urban legends of people discovering that someone had been living in their home unaware. I think a few are actually true stories and I just cannot even fathom anyone doing this.

If you want to be freaked out more, just watch this video.

I think this one has actually been deemed a fake, but still.... hide your food. Hide your tv remote and definitely fix all broken shutters.

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