Late one evening after all had gone to bed Jak snuck beyond the limits of his safely tucked bed and quarantined room, turned the handle to the room he had been confined to for some days now and ventured down the barren hall. Each step lingered in the creeks and wails of a floor far beyond its years in repair.
This house, a haven for sick and needful children, filled with the stench of young death and illness had been his home as far back as he could remember, and with the days Jaks memory had surely lost a few years, days, months had past and all he could do was wait. There had been good days when laughing did not cause an attack and sores were not as blinding, when they would play together in the court his friends, long since had he seen another child in which to play, and now after eight years Jak was secluded from them to imagine play in his own ways.
He had spent hours thinking about this venture and now he was moving closer to his goal. Feeling the cold on his feet he wished he had worn socks and the pain began to burn in his soles, rubbing one foot on top the other he looked back knowing if he turned around he would not have the strength to make it back here again, pressing on, a noise a whimper of sleep, came from beyond a door as he past; looking through an opening in the door allowing a sliver of light to enter the room from the night hall Jak saw a beautiful young man, beautiful to him, he did not appear sick and rested like an angel perpetual and resting. The young man lie on his side light brown hair flowing healthy and bright reflecting the little light encompassing the room, hand pressed gently toward his body as if for warmth of comfort, Jak stood in amazement for a moment wondering who and where this man was coming from. A tear of sadness rolled down his cheek, the man shifted and the whimper came again shaking Jak from his midnight daydream.
That mans whimper reminded him of his cold feet and crying he came to a corner, quickly viewing the adjustment hall Jak hobbled as quickly as his little swollen legs could carry him toward the cooled dead end. This frozen corner just beyond the visitors seating at the top of a grand oak staircase was once his safety though he could not remember when, pulling back the drapes he touched the aged glass not since the greens of summer had he felt. Peering out the glossing frosted white window Jak wanted nothing more than to throw himself into the piles of lightly fallen snow, to play again in his own way beyond these walls, but he knew if that were to happen he would surely pass to the cold now over whelming him from the windows draft, and with whom could he play?
Jaks sleep filled eyes, borrowed knees and weakened state allowed him a sudden strength to view his surroundings, all new somehow and polished brightly. Children playing in the long halls, the man he remembered was there but somehow disappeared in retrospect and Willow, the nanny, Jaks nanny smiling brightly while polishing the banister. As if he were new and refreshed Jak ventured on un-swollen legs with breath not his own, toward the children and they too became unreal as he looked the noise of them stayed with him longer than the illusion and his sleep filled eyes grew heavier as he walked toward Willow, she was to disappear too, Jak thought to himself, but she did not; a wakeful tired filled his body but strength and ambition lead him to her.
“Hi…” Jak whispered as he rose toward the image “I’m Ok?”
She did not respond but smiled to an image beyond him, she looked paled but refreshed in laughter, rosy cheeks and lips drown out to the corners.
He turned toward the image she was addressing but saw none. Looking back toward the staircase he saw the image disappear beyond the corner and walked closer to follow its path down the stairs.
Jak had for years been confined to the upper floor of this estate level boarding home and the thought that he may venture down the case thrilled his newly found legs. The first step was a little tight but the third and forth had become second nature by now and he quickly came to the bottom with very little hesitation.
Feeling the wooden flooring of this forbidden pleasure under his feet was warm; his memory had not lost its grand entrance. Vases filled with peonies and garden lilies masked the stench of disease and death, Jak remembered the day he had first visited the estate, the tall ceilings and wide walls appeared to expand with these flavors, citrus and blossoms, fresh coffee brewing in the foyer his mother had anticipated a quick departure and as she drove away, Jak remembered. A waft of perfume lingers.
Moving toward the window Jak can still see the engine of her dark motor car turning the final bend to disappear forever. A tear begins to well in his soul but does not emerge the surface, a young child should never harbor such resentment for a mother, she had never returned to receive her child again, left to die alone Jak turned from the window and ran through the foyer toward the Chefs kitchen beyond the hall. When he was still well he remembered the smell of baking and the round man who served the children cookies and sugar buns.
No one was about; he wandered down the somehow twisted hall and found a lone girl darkened by the shadows sitting alone in the empty study room.
“Hello” Jak approached
“We’re not allowed in here” The girl whispered back, her hair was golden and she wore a white dancing dress with blue ribbons, the image reminded Jak of a princess, statuesque and perfectly tailored. An object Jak had not seen previous emerged within the dress and sparkled in the light. A key lay stitched to her waist ribbon and he wanted badly to ask where it lead when unlocking a door.
“This Key is my own and leads me any where I need to go, you can come if I invite you” the voice spoke not from synced lips which did not seem to confused little Jak as he entered to darkened room.
"Like an adventure?" Jak thought aloud
A black door opened behind the princess girl and a white light shone in warm and brighter than any of the dull bulbs which lit the estate, perhaps this room lead to outside, but summer was months away and night had not broken sun this early. The princess girl disappeared to the light and Jak, curious, stepped closer feeling the power pulling toward the door. He wanted badly to see beyond the blinding white light. Stepping closer he could hear the sounds of children playing and Peter, his only friend, he could hear Peter from beyond the warmth stepping closer the light faded slightly and a land of green leaves and trees taller than houses reached for the sky with arms bigger than barrels. Children danced in costumes and tiny lights flickered beyond focus.
As the door began to close Jak lost sight of the princess girl and pushed the door aside.