There is a room under the house, a room I doubt to be empty.
There is a room under my grandparent's house.
I know because the termite inspector told us so. He crawled out of the hole in the basement like a bug himself -something creepycrawley- and talked to my grandfather about it like the man should've known it was there.
"Well... I don't see too much damage anywhere except that one room down there."
"There's no room down there."
"Yes, there is. If you go through the hole in the wall, you keep going a couple of feet then you find a door. Scary shi-...stuff, and I had to kick the door open. But it was a big room, looked like a living room..."
Grandma took me home before I got to hear the rest of the conversation. I didn't ask her anything about it during the drive, it would have unsettled her.
There is an empty room under the house.
I did ask my uncle's fiance`, Sarah, about it though. She waved off the news like it was nothing.
"Probably an old library when the house was built back in the 1890's." She continued to mix the cookie dough, and I couldn't understand why she wasn't mesmerized by this Mystery Room the termite man discovered. She treated it as if I was just telling her one of my favorite ghost stories.
"Why was it all sealed up?"
"It's useless and empty. It was probably a cook's or maid's quarters once."
I wondered aloud if grandma and papa would ever open it up and get a chef. She giggled and tussled my curls, then offered me a bite of cookie dough, but never answered.
There is a room I think about at night.
One summer, a year after the Room was discovered, I spent two weeks at my grandparent's with my little brother. I was nine and he was four, and both of us slept in my Aunt Bekah's old bedroom. It was on the second story, and hovering over where the Room was supposed to be, down in the basement. I pulled the covers far over my head, keeping my eyes wide open; my brother's back was warm and pressed up against my own. Everything was still.
I don't remember how long I stayed conscious in the fetal position, but I know what I thought about during those hours - minutes, seconds, years-, my mind settled on the Rooom and what was down there. What had been down there, what would be, if I could ever see it. I decided it was not empty.
There is a room filled to the brim with oppurtunities.
"Don't do it Taylor. Come on, this is stupid," her voice quivered and teeth chattered from the frozen air of the basement, and she waved the flashlight around the room.
"Kaitlyn." My tone was clipped, short and sweet, "You promised you wouldn't wuss out. Guess what? You're wussing. Shine that in here while I climb up,"
She sighed and muttered something under her breath; I decided I didn't want to know what she said and focused on keeping a tight grip on the edge of the gaping cement hole, my palms being so numb from the cold I couldn't feel the sharp pieces trying to cut into my flesh. After taking a deep breath, I hoisted myself up, knees landing where my hands once were, protesting from the pain, but I didn't think about that.
The hole, my mind raced, I'm in it. I'm in the hole.
I reached out and she handed me the flashlight, her hands gripping the edge as I turned and shed the light over the passageway, head staying low to avoid bumping the dusty floor above my head. Before going on, I turned to Kaitlyn, her whining voice becoming steadily more irritating.
"Do you wanna shut up?"
"Do you wanna hurry up and show me this thing?" She hissed in return, and I turned around without responding.
Every crawl was a silent prayer that whatever we would find in the Room wasn't a dissapointment. That my grandparents wouldn't wake up and come into the living room, where all our things were strewn about but our bodies absent. I prayed--as I neared the door, the glow of my flashlight bringning it into view--that I wouldn't be too scared.
"Here it is," I whispered to a receding shape behind me. Kaitlyn was leaving.
"No." She responded.
"What? Come on, it's right-"
"No, Taylor. We found the door. We had our adventure... atleast I did. I'm out."
Fine, I thought. be that way.
I crawled forward on my knees, sitting up on my haunches before the door, heart rate growing, hand slowly reaching out. I turned the doorknob, and upon discovering it would take force to open it, put the flashlight in my mouth and pressed all of my body weight against it.
It refused to open. It felt as if something else was pushing on it from the other side, countering my force.
"Come on," I hissed. "Please please please please."
There is a door I cannot open, but feel as if I have seen the room hidden behind it before. It's a room under my grandparent's house. It has memories in it. It had people in it. I think about it at night and imagine what the room was once filled to the brim with. Books? Gowns? Furniture? Dishes? Ideas?
It is a room that is not empty.