The Secret Room

We all have one.  Accept that as fact. 

Think about the house or apartment where you grew up.  Perhaps there was a small door near the floor in the back of one of the closets where it was dark behind all the clothes on their hangers.  Perhaps you glimpsed it once or twice, wondered about it, but didn’t feel bold enough to open it. Picture it now.

Perhaps you had a basement where your mom did laundry while you played on the cement floor or wandered around.  Perhaps there was a big cupboard you were told not to open.  It even had a hole for a key.  You put your eye to that hole and could feel a soft breeze coming at you, but you couldn’t see in. Stick your finger in that hole.

Perhaps there was a square or rectangle in the bedroom ceiling that led to an attic.  Once, your uncle or maybe your mom’s boyfriend climbed a ladder into that dark space. You kind of remember that, but you’re not sure.  You haven’t lived there since you were a kid. Get out the ladder and go up there.

Your secret room.  Go there now.  Take a seat and look around.   

12 responses to “The Secret Room

  1. Never mind, I knew there was something, somewhere. What is it?, I kept asking myself. I could go on and on, but I just couldn’t understand what I saw. I’d been looking at it all the time and never new. Like a camera flash in the dark, I realized no one else new either and it’s still there to this day, in plain view. Undiscovered, shall it remain from understanding unto refrain.

  2. Homes hold our history in their bones. They change and transform with our own metamorphosis, carrying our precious memories along with unwanted ones. Auspicious beginnings can lead to misfortune as love might turn to loathing -leaving its repercussions and residues within the soul of our home.

    In 1974, through serendipity -when luck and timing sometimes cross paths- a momentous opportunity landed on ten year old Darla’s immigrant family. In a small coastal town in neighboring Rhode Island, less than a couple of hours drive from their inner-city walk-up, Darla’s parents happened on a quirky little house that resembled a small shoe box with a flipped lid.
    Filled with family and friends, Darla’s family’s American Dream home came alive in the early years. Darla and her sister rode their bikes into town while their father sat in the yard in his white undershirt, hosing down buckets of quahogs collected at low tide. Their mother’s Italian cooking permeated the house with welcoming aromas and warmth as cousins and friends arrived for dinner. Laughter was common and easily filled the air. The little shoe box house became a special place for Darla’s family before luck and timing would, once again, cross paths and change everything.

    More than a decade on, Darla, now grown and living in her own apartment, sometimes visited her family summer home to escape from the harsh city heat. Feeling the urge to get away on one such weekend, she packed a small bag with a swimsuit and a change of clothing. Grabbing a bottle of sauvignon blanc from her fridge -she loved chilled white wine on hot summer nights- Darla jumped into her jeep and headed for Rhode Island.
    Less than thirty minutes into her drive Darla began to experience feelings of unease. Shaking her head back and forth and screwing up her eyes in the way a dog shakes off water, Darla tried to shed the unidentifiable feeling. A sense of time slowing down or stopping began to take hold of her. She notices her arms tensing on the steering wheel. “Christ, I better pull over soon” she says out loud, trying to talk sense to herself in order to keep calm. Pulling into the rest stop just a few miles ahead, she sits behind the wheel and draws in deep breaths before getting out of her car. “A little fresh air can do wonders” she thinks, hopefully. But the faint feeling of dread persisted throughout her ride. Darla turns up the radio and sings along loudly -though she knows she isn’t feeling it. Ignoring it as much as she could, she manages to make it across the Newport bridge and into the driveway of their small shoe-box-of-a-house just a few hundred yards below.
    Darla steps into the quiet house. An eerie stillness between the walls and furniture sends a chill through her. Every step leaves her gasping for air to relieve the sensation of weight that has hoisted itself onto her chest. Even the outside parameters of the yard have become insufferable -the drone of the bridge traffic above amplifying the static stillness below. The once familial and lively ambiance now stood in stark contrast to the spiritless house she has entered alone. Darla felt nauseous. Her sense of a bright burning flame of family energy felt doused, “ignitable only by people” she thought to herself -“my people.” But when she imagined her family she felt an inexplicable dread. The only consolation Darla had was knowing that her car sat ready in the driveway -key in ignition, ready for her to escape if she needed. “Escape?” thought Darla incredulously. “From what might I need to escape?”
    Darla couldn’t comprehend then what was to gradually reveal itself over time. That family ruptures would slowly bring forth bleak new realities while uncovering old, buried ones that had long ago set in. That a miasma laying dormant had solidified its visceral imprint on this home.
    These early visits were harbingers of unfathomable heartache to come; Darla would discover that she possessed a sensitivity few others shared.

    • It looks like plots enter into your writing easily and irresistibly. Great. That gives you a lot to develop.

      • Yes, Ann. I’m all dressed up and no where to go. Therein lies the dilemma.
        Thank you for your response and encouragement.

  3. Tense. I felt tense.

  4. The Culvert.

    For my secret room, I’ll be stepping outside the box today.
    I found the entrance when I walked my dog down a nearby hill above the bluffs. He wanted to snoop through the woods behind the tennis courts at the bottom of the hill.
    I started picking up stray tennis balls as we snooped, and filled a plastic shopping bag. As we continued up the hill in the shadow of the tall trees, I saw peeking between the tree trunks, the edges of something gray but undefined.
    We ventured closer.
    It was a concrete opening to a five foot tall circular tunnel for water from the road above. And the entrance was blocked by a steel gateway.
    I exclaimed to the dog, “Oh my!” Then I heard an echoe, and I clapped my hands together and listened for the repeat. It was long. I calculated the distance through the tunnel and into the hill. It was about five hundred feet.
    Above I noted there was a storm sewer in the road. It was an old road once used to transport farm produce into the big city. How was I going to get down there and see what skeletons lay at the edge of the underground reservoir…?

  5. Intrigue.

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