You know, there's nothing more tempting than a closed door.
So, you can imagine what I thought when I was a wee little girl and I first saw that armoire in my Grandmother's home. She lived in the French country-side, and every break in the winter-time, we would spend with her.
My Grand-mère loved to entertain us children with stories of her childhood, and old French fairy-tales that her Grandma had told her when she was our age. She especially told us about her cabinet. The one she called cachette.
Grand-mère told adventure stories, of love and life and death. The main character of her story was always a red headed girl with almond-shaped eyes that was painfully shy (at this point, my little sister would exclaim that it was me, for I did have red hair and I never spoke more than I needed too). My cousins and I would ask for our personal favorite stories about this little red-haired girl. My favorite was told like this:
The child's family had moved from England to Germany in the middle of summer, and she found odd ways to pass the hot days with her siblings in the mansion her parents purchased.
The girl would be playing a game, like hide-and-go-seek, and get lost in her family's extensive estate. She heard the calls of the seeker counting down to the last number, and ran to the closest thing she could find; the extra room no one entered.
There, she would find the Cachette
("The very same as my own!" Grandma would exclaim. One of us would inevitably ask "Really?" and she would smile her mysterious smile and continue her story)
Swiftly, she leapt into the wardrobe amongst the coats and furs. To escape the finder, she ran back and back and back through Chachette. After wandering through for a while, she arrived in a magical place. Everyone there loved her, and she sang and danced and ate exquisite food and had her first sip of wine, and she loved it so much there that she never came home.
The end of her story always sent a chill down my spine.
"What happened to the family, Grand-mère?". "What happened next, Grand-mère?" we would ask indolently.
"Where's the happy ending, Grand-mère?"
When I was a teenager, we stopped going to my Grandmother's house in the winter. Papa wasn't making enough money as he used to, and he couldn't pay to cross the channel and then the drive to her house like we used to. Mama said she had always liked England better in the winter than France anyway.
My older brother and I fought. He wanted to go off with his friends and start a band, but we needed to stay at home and take care of our little sister. We had always been close, and our fights tore me up inside.
My boyfriend of three years and I broke up. Mom cheated on Dad when he was at his second job of the day. My days where filled with crying when my sister and brother couldn't hear. I became a mess, and all my friends left me. Cuts appeared on my wrists when I wasn't looking. I was alone in life, other than little sister. I became resentful of her too. If she wasn't here, my brother and I would not fight. Maybe my family would be whole again.
When I was fifteen, I ran away to France. I left a note for my brother, telling him that I would be at Grand-mère's house, taking school in France. As soon as I had enough money saved up, I would send for our sister.
That part was a lie. I intended to stay in France for the rest of my life.
Grand-mère welcomed me into her home with open arms, and soon enrolled me in the local private school for girls.
School was as it always was, I made decent marks but could not concentrate. Often, I would daydream.
One day before our winter break for the holidays, I was hit with a startling vision in the middle of Literature class. It was vivid. I was walking through a forest blanketed with snow and there wasn't a creature to be seen. Suddenly, I heard the strain of a piano breaking the light silence. The melody was familiar, as if it was a children's song that had been sung to me a long time ago. I followed the source of the music through the green forest. The song got louder and louder as I went on. In the darkening light, I made out figures in the far distance. As I got closer, I saw a fire, the figures dancing around it in circles. Just as I reached the clearing, the teacher snapped his ruler against my desk and the girls of the class giggled at the wistful outsider with the odd accent.
Later that night, I had the same dream. Just as I was going to reach the clearing, I woke up in a cold sweat.
Soon enough, Holiday Break came around. I lurked about the house, re-exploring the home as I used too with my brother and sister and our cousins. My shoes made echoing "click, clack" sounds that would reverberate through the empty wooden hallways.
My mind was daydreaming, thinking about my family back in England, my new 'love' at the sister school to mine; the one for french boys. Mostly I thought about me, though. And in particular, how bored I was.
So, when I came to the room that held that old Cachette, what could I do but open the door? And when I stepped inside of the beige-walled room, what could I do but open the old armoire? There is nothing more tempting than a closed door.
So, I'm writing this from inside. Don't come and get me, I like it here. It snows often, but that's alright. I've never minded the cold. I see that fire every once in a while; the one with people dancing around it like tribal men from ancient times. I don't try to reach it anymore, I'm happy in my catalyst of cold.
Don't knock on the door, please. Do not disturb.