I’ve read this chapter and I realize it is very connected to chapter 10, so I’m going to post it! You’ll want to re-read chapter 10 if you forgot what just happened. Still checking into options for this book and praying like crazy about it! I love my faithful fans and I promise I will update the blog the minute I get any positive news!
I can tell she’s coming, and I know she’s in the house alone. I think I’ve impressed her with all my abilities. I couldn’t help breaking the doll, it was just too good an opportunity to pass up. Too bad she didn’t go back into the white bedroom, I’d planned a treat for her there as well.
I basically run back down the stairs, and try to compose myself. Is this all him? Or another ghost? What are they trying to tell me? I test the flashlight outside the door of the right hand room. It shoots out a very small, halogen blue light at the door. Okay, well, at least I’m partially ready. Maybe I should just try talking to him. He did talk to me, after all.
I creak open the door and wait for the familiar cold-air blast. Nothing happens. I click on the flashlight and hold it in front of me, pointing it to the sides of the wall. I don’t go in the room yet. Sure enough, there is an old-fashioned light switch, the kind you push the bottom button and the top pops out. That thing has to be 60 years old.
I reach in and push it. It is higher than where you would expect a switch to be, probably why I had no luck last time. The fluorescent blinks on slowly. Saving the environment never looked so bad.
I let my eyes sweep the red walls. All the paintings seem to be rearranged. The one of him and the woman is right next to me. I guess I’ll start dusting. Sure enough, her face is the same one I saw in the water.
I continue to dust all the paintings, with only the slightest feeling of being watched from the painting behind me. It seems he’s not here, or if he is, he’s just laying low.
Maybe I should say something. “Hello,” I say, sort of faintly. “How are you?”
How dumb that sounded. “My name is Aurora, and I was wondering if you are trying to tell me something. I don’t even know your name.”
No answer. I don’t know what I expected, anyway.
I finish dusting and head back toward the light switch and the painting. It seems the fluorescent light has gotten dimmer, so I squint to see it. It looks almost as if the woman in it is standing, and the man is sitting. I get closer. Sure enough, she is standing, with her hand on his shoulder, and he is sitting. They are perfectly posed for the portrait. At this point, I begin to wonder if I have lost my mind.
I go closer. The air gets colder.
I decide to touch it. Maybe that will make him real or something.
I touch the tarnished gold paint on the frame, nothing. I touch the canvas itself, still nothing.
The light flickers. I pull my flashlight out of my pocket, ready for action.
The light goes back on, and it gets warmer. I wait a few minutes, eyes fixated on the picture. It doesn’t change. I realize it must be getting late. I reach for the light and back out of the room, shutting the door behind me.
I bump into someone. It’s Dollie.
“Oh, Dollie,” I say quickly. “I had to get a flashlight so I went upstairs and one of your dolls somehow fell on the floor and broke. I left it on your bed. I couldn’t find the light in the painting room.”
Her hair is looking almost glow-in-the-dark blue, so I’m wondering if she got it done in town. She looks at me strangely, but says, “Oh, that’s alright. I have plenty of other dolls.”
“I need to get going, for Phoebe,” I add, and hand her the flashlight. “See you tomorrow.”
“Alrighty,” she says. As I turn to shut her front door behind me, I can see her heading into the right turret. What is she doing in there?
–copyright Heather Day Gilbert–January 2009–all rights reserved