The Attic

The Attic

For Clare, because she's awesome :D

Chapter 1

The Attic

The Attic
By Shea Ridenour



While I was growing up in my old house, I was pretty big on exploring. I liked discovering places that even my older brother didn’t know about, and the feeling I got from knowing where everything was made me feel special; like I was somehow smarter than all the other six-year-olds in my neighborhood. In fact, there was only one place in Webster that was an unknown to me… my own attic.
Ironically, this attic was located just above my bedroom, and the entrance was a gaping hole in the ceiling of my closet; just big enough to fit a small person— like me, for instance. But my parents, not wanting my brother and I to get hurt up there, placed a big slab of wood over the gap, and it was because of this that I could not get in. Even standing on my brother’s shoulders, my fingertips could only just brush the underbelly of the wood, and being as young as I was I wasn’t strong enough to push the board away. Needless to say, it drove my brother and I crazy, knowing that there was this mysterious space that we had never been. We imagined all sorts of things that could be hiding up there, from escaped circus elephants to buckets of money to a secret tunnel leading all the way to our elementary school. We whispered to each other of monsters, hidden diamonds or maybe even a dead body. We were obsessed; spending whole weekends at the kitchen table, drawing plans that would give us access to the attic that haunted us. But with me being six and him only eight, our plans weren’t very good, and to be honest I bet they were fairly ludicrous and so we never used any of them. And as the years went by with the attic remaining unopened by either of us, we grew up, grew apart and eventually lost interest in it. The enigma that was the attic faded away to a distant memory and was forgotten for a whole six years. Actually, it would probably still be forgotten today, if only our parents hadn’t decided to move.

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I remember the car ride over to our old house quite well. We’d been living in our new home for about three months, and now that our old one was going on the market, we were told we had to return to collect all the old things we’d left behind. I didn’t think I’d overlooked anything the first time I’d packed, but the rest of my family had stuff they’d forgotten and so I’d gone along for the ride. I thought it would be nice to see the place where I’d essentially grown up one last time before leaving it for good.
So while my mother, father, and brother all headed off to find their things, I climbed the twenty-two steps up to my room, opened my creaking door, and stepped inside for perhaps the final time.
It was kind of weird—the empty space that had once made up my room was familiar in shape, but without all of the things that had made it intimate to me—my stuffed animals, my bookshelf, my double bed and cobalt blue comforter— it was also kind of unfamiliar, too. I walked around slowly, first scanning the hardwood floor that had once been littered with scratches and marks but now appeared to me as shiny and new. Second, I focused my attention on the walls, which I had spent years adorning with fingernails, screwdrivers, hammers and sweaty hands covered with dirt. Finally, I checked my door, searching for any signs of scratched off paint, peeling stickers or dirty words written in sharpie by my brother. I was shocked when I found nothing. It seemed that all the stains of my childhood had been buried underneath creamy white colored paint, and I felt sad when I realized I would never again haphazardly destroy this house—that job would fall to the kids of the next family; the ones who would live here after we cleared out. As I grasped this, I felt nostalgia wash over me, and for the first time in a long time, I thought of the forgotten attic that had taken up so many hours of my youth.
Nervous, I turned to stare at my closet door, unable to help but wonder about my attic’s fate. What if it was it gone? What if they’d painted over it and boarded it up, destroying it like they had my floorboards and walls and doorframe? And even if it was there, would I be able to open it up now?
My palms started to sweat—I have sweaty hands, and whenever I get nervous, it just amplifies the excretion. I thought perhaps I could hear my heart beating in my ears, though really it was the sound of our old next-door neighbors, the Burns, using power tools to do some sort of home improvement project. I focused on breathing deeply through my nose and out through my mouth to try and calm my anxiety as I reached for the doorknob and began to turn it. I hoped, really, really hoped, that my attic was still there…
I pushed the door open and looked up. There in the ceiling, with the same old piece of wood blocking the hole, was my attic. But it had changed. It was a lot closer than I remembered and the gap was a lot smaller, too. Just about the size of an average cardboard box, with barely enough room for me to stick my head in to glance around. It didn’t seem scary and mysterious either—it was just a dark, empty space in the ceiling. I reached my arm up and found that I had to bend it to press against the wood. I pushed up and down and the slab felt weightless. The attic was no longer out of my reach. All I had to do was push the wood aside, and I’d be in.
But for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Crazy, right? I mean, after all the time I’d been stuck on the attic’s mystery, I was just deciding that I didn’t want to look. Because if I looked, then there wouldn’t be a mystery, and the attic wouldn’t be special anymore. It would just be… well, you know. An attic. And I didn’t like the thought of that. Even after I had sacrificed Saturday after Saturday drawing plans to break in, I was just beginning to see how much it would suck to know what was up there. I had a feeling that whatever it was, it would only disappoint me. So I dropped my arm back down to my side and went to wait outside by the car.
And to this day, I’m glad to say that I still don’t know what’s up in that attic.

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