*If you didn’t catch the start of this limited series, check out this post: October Stories #1. If you did and you’re back for more, welcome back, and thank you!*
A few years ago, I had a weird dream. This happens frequently, but my dreams usually aren’t vivid enough to warrant writing them down. This dream was different, and it inspired me to start the story I’m sharing today. I think about this one from time to time, but I’ve never come back to it. Maybe one day.
Anyway, enjoy! And come back next week. 😉
To anyone else, the door at the end of the hallway was just that – a door. And not a very interesting one. It was regularly tall, wooden, with panels in the standard places, and a simple brass doorknob. No light peeked out from underneath it, and the usual person looking at it would think, quite reasonably, that it opened to a narrow set of stairs leading up to a dusty old attic filled with boxes and crates brimming with the collected junk of a thousand yesterdays.
Sara Smith, however, and despite her entirely common name, was not a usual person. And her parents knew it.
All parents think their children are special. “Jack rides his tricycle faster than any other boy on the block,” a parent might say. “Yes, well, Jane is already writing in cursive and her fingers can barely fit around the pen,” another might reply.
Sara’s parents, sitting in the parlor with other families sharing lunch or tea, would change the subject. “The weather’s been lovely this summer,” they might suggest. Or sometimes, “I hear the spring festival this year is supposed to draw twice the normal crowd.” The conversation would then move on toward topics unrelated to children and their small but noteworthy accomplishments, at least for the next several minutes, and Bill and Anna Smith would look at each other and breathe two syncopated but inconspicuous sighs of relief.
Because Sara Smith was not a usual child.
Her birth was normal enough, if a bit early. She’d been a normally happy baby. She’d even liked prunes, though when her mother thought of that now, she wondered if it might have been the first sign that something was not quite usual. As Sara had grown, she’d hit her milestones right on schedule. She learned to babble and then to talk, to crawl and then to toddle and then to walk and then to run, to sound words and then to read them, and she’d even broken her arm trying to climb a tree when she was five. She liked unicorns, princesses, coloring books, and, much to her mother’s dismay, the color pink.
One night, when Sara was six and three months, and playing in the nursery her parents had set up in the bright, airy attic of their quaint, cozy house, her mother had come up to check on her. In between giggles, she’d heard Sara talking.
“My mommy says it’s good to be helpful and to share.”
“I don’t know how, but I’ll try.”
“You’re welcome. I like your necklace. It’s shiny.”
“Sara,” her mother called, “who are you talking to?”
“The nice old lady,” Sara replied. “She wants me to help her.”
“With what?” Anna Smith was proud that her daughter was playing at helping.
“She says she’s not alive anymore and her son is sad and I should let him know that she’s okay and that the combination to the safe is seven seven three nine. That’s a really big number, isn’t it, Mommy?”
“Yes,” Anna replied, “it is.” She didn’t know what else to say.
Looking back, Bill and Anna Smith always thought of that moment as the one that changed everything, because it was the moment they knew that Sara, their happy, normal, freckled, giggly daughter, could see ghosts.
Sara Smith was not a usual child. And to anyone else, the door at the end of the hallway was just a door. But to Sara Smith, it was the entrance to her very special workshop.