“I hate you!” Clare screamed, tears streaming down her face. She thudded up the two flights of stairs and ran into what she thought was her room, slamming the door behind her. It was after she dried her eyes that she realized that the room was not hers, and not even a bedroom.
It was an attic, dusty with cobwebs hanging off of the slanted ceiling and draped over everything else. The light coming through a single window in one of the ceiling’s highest points illuminated the room slightly. Clare could see around her once her eyes adjusted to the dim light. It was full of old furniture, chairs and dressers, even an old bed.
The bed was covered with a lace comforter. It was dulled by years of use, but she could still see the hints of pink in some places. As she smoothed down the blankets, something in the corner of her bed caught her eye. It was a doll.
The doll was porcelain. She had blonde hair and blue eyes that seemed to pierce deep into your soul. Clare shuddered, feeling like she was being watched.
Clare was examining the doll’s clothes when she heard footsteps on the stairs and her name being called.
“I’m in here!’ she responded.
Her mom poked her head in through the door. “Come on out of the attic so we can talk,” she said. Clare nodded and followed her, realizing that she still had the doll in her hand.
“What’s that?” her mom asked.
“Just some doll I found,” Clare put the doll on the chair closest to the door.
Clare made a careful mental map of the top floor as her mom led her to her room.
“Clair, I know this move was hard on you, but Grandma is really sick, and you know we can’t afford to hire a nurse for her,” Clare nodded. Of course she knew why they moved, she just didn’t want to be here.
“Besides,” her mom continued, “this place is nice. You can invite friends over anytime, we’ve certainly got the space,” her mom gestured around Clare’s room, which was about the size of their old house’s top floor.
“Ok, cool,” said Clare unenthusiastically. Her mom shook her head and left. Clare picked up a random book from one of the moving boxes on her floor and started to read. She was halfway through the book when her cell phone rang.
“Hello?” said Clare, somewhat suspiously, seeing as she didn’t recognize the number.
“Hey, is this Clare?” the voice on the other end, clearly female, was fuzzy and distant.
“Yeah. Who is this?”
“You don’t know me. And I just wanted to tell you one thing: Don’t trust everyone who says they-” the last words were cut off by a mechanical voice telling her that the call had been disconnected due to bad service.
Weird, thought Clare. She decided not to tell her mom about the call. It might freak her out and that was the last thing Clare wanted.
By now shadows had begun climbing up the walls surrounding the house. She hadn’t realized how late it was. It must be time for dinner now, or at least soon. As if on cue, her mom yelled for her from the 1st floor.
Clare made sure her window was fully closed before she went downstairs. Her mom had opened it when they had just arrived, before the giant argument, to get rid of the musty smell of old house. The smell was gone anyway so there was no need for it to be open, besides letting cold air in.
Her mom was waiting for her at the dinner table, eating from the plate of pasta that was set in front of her.
They ate in silence, not wanting to start another argument.
“I’m going to my room. If you want anything to eat any time from now to mid-night, you know where to find it,” her mom said after dinner was over and every thing had been cleaned up. Clare nodded and her mom started up the stairs.
Once she was alone, she noticed the large size of the house and how her footsteps echoed around her. She could hear her mom open the door to her room.
“I’m going to let Daisy come down with you,” her mom yelled from her room.
Daisy bounded down the stairs her toung hanging out of the corner of the exited dog’s mouth. Daisy leaped down the last stairs and jumped on Clare, making the girl laughed. Daisy was Clare’s border collie rescue dog, an intelligent, sweet, and loving dog. Daisy was a gift from Clare’s father before he left her mother.
Daisy cocked her head and sat on the hardwood floor, her wagging tail sweeping up a little pile of dust from the floor.
Clare patted her head and started off into the next room. I might as well explore while I’m down here alone she though. As if sensing that an expedition was approaching, Daisy let out a yap of excitement and ran over to the nearest door, a heavy looking wooden one, carved with intricate patterns of leaves.
Clare pushed it open and nearly gagged as a whoosh of stale air passed by her. Daisy rushed in and Clare followed, holding her nose. The room was a library, filled from the ceiling to the floor with books. When Clare went over to investigate further, she looked at some of the titles. They were mostly boring things like Goldman’s Field guide of Birds and Botany for the Beginner and things like that, but one book in particular caught her eye. It was a dark red, with no title on the spine. Clare pulled it off the shelf and coughed as a spray of dust flew into the air.
The cover of the book was so dusty and faded from age that Clare could hardly make out the word “Journal” on the front, but it was there. She opened the book to the first page.
May 4th, 1927 Dear Journal, Today is my 10th birthday! I got you today because Mama wants me to have someone to tell everything to. I guess she thinks I feel lonely because we live so far out in the country, away from any possible friends. But, what she doesn’t know is that I do have a friend. The friend is a little doll that I found up in the attic. I named her Annie. She’s more faithful than any friend that could ever have, and she’s prettier, too. I feel strange right now. Kind of weak, like I might collapse. I might go to lie down soon, to get my strength back. With Love Forever, Elsa
Daisy came running, leaping over a pile of books in the middle of the room. She stuck her nose up into Clare’s open palm and ran out into the kitchen. Clare checked her watch. It was 9:30. She decided to go upstairs and get ready for bed, even though her mom wouldn’t care if she stayed up an hour longer.
As soon as she got upstairs, she knew that something was different in her room. She looked around. There was nothing missing. Nothing was out of place. She was slipping into bed when she remembered. The window! She had closed it tightly before she went to bed. It was open now, her curtains flapping lightly in the breeze.
She went over in alarm. How could it have opened by itself? No, she though, it must have been my mom. She opened it. Clare kept this thought in her head as she got into bed, but although she wanted to be reassured by that single thought, she still lay awake for hours before she finally fell asleep.
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