The below story is fiction. It is based upon a word prompt for this week from Woven Dreams – A Creative Prompts Blog. It is also a newly created scene and chapter I have written for my current longer fiction story, When Dark Closes In. Comments and feedback are welcomed. And if interested in reading the previous chapters and scenes from this story you can find them in the recent posts column and under the Fiction category.
The Attic (Literary Fiction – A Scene from, WHEN DARK CLOSES IN)
1976 – Clear Creek, Wa.
With her parents both, now deceased Jennifer had so much to do to get their house ready to sell. It sat empty, but she could still feel their presence in every room. Where to begin, cleaning out and sorting through things no longer wanted or needed. She started with the attic.
Changing into a pair of old jeans, tee-shirt, and hoodie she took empty boxes up stairs to the second floor. Standing on a three-step stool ladder she reached up and pulled back the attic opening, grabbed hold the attached fold out ladder and pulled it down through the opening and climbed up into the attic. She pulled up empty boxes, and a flash light lantern resting on the ladder rung in case the overhead ceiling light was burnt out. It felt like fifteen or so degrees cooler in the attic without the upper portion insulated. The dank smell of mold and mildew from floor boards permeated the room. She pulled the light switch cord. It still worked but the bulb was weak. It gave little light so she switched on the lantern and pulled it over to a stool and sat down. Cold winds blew, rattling a weather vane attached to the roof, its noise seeming so much louder in the attic than down on the first floor.
She began with filled boxes, going through each, all full of things that went back to the early years before she married. Some of the boxes went back to her years as a teenager before college, while in high school. 1963, 1964, 1965, and on they went, all marked and labeled with the contents. So many things saved, souvenirs from trips, carnival trinkets, programs saved from plays she performed in while in school productions, achievement awards and certificates for various events associated with her drama class, tickets from football games she attended.
She opened another box, with pictures. There were so many of him, many with them together. There were pressed flowers, jewelry and mementos he’d given her, the corsage, the pair of high-heeled shoes and her prom dress, its once vibrant color of the deep blue now faded to a dirty hue, the color of the Pacific ocean washing ashore at Puget Sound when she and he…and there on the top of all were newspaper clippings of the war that had separated them.
She would not allow herself to remember. She had shut out those memories years ago, trying to forget and move on, but she couldn’t. She could not organize her life, much less her thoughts. The memories forced their way back into her head, here in this dark attic with its cold, flickering bulb as if to remind her all she once had, and could not forget. Would there be no escape from the shadows of depression that came over her? The dark dreams, the nightmares that would not stop that oppressed her, clawing at her throat like a pair of hands choking her until she could not breathe. Could she escape the tormenting darkness that closed in around her life? How would she tell her son about his father?
Her own father once said, “Honey, the shadows in our life are a part of the process of growing, maturing. The painful parts and the hurts we will always remember, as we will the good times. In time they heal, making it possible to see the light. But, time cannot heal a wound if first there is no reason to cover the scar.”
She left the boxes siting open where they lay and quickly climbed down the ladder, and went outside. Taking deep breaths of cold air blowing off the Sound from the Pacific Northwest she lifted her face towards the sun.
God, help me find your light.
Joyce E. Johnson – 2013