Found – Writing Workshop

2010
07.28

Prompt 5 of the writing workshop is ‘Found’. I’m not going to write an introduction for this – it is simply a fragment written for a larger story & I am absolutely terrified to click publish.

***

Wandering around the darkened house, fingers trailing on the worn wood-panelled walls, Jamie thought maybe she should go to bed. Her head had other ideas. Buzzing from the book she had just finished; the world she had just left. She had been imagining herself as the feisty princess who was the main character – having all that power and all those people loving you. Jamie often felt quite lonely after she finished one book, before she started the next. Her real life was so much quieter. So much emptier than how she imagined life should be; how she wanted it to be. She had finished the book so recently that she was still living in the reflection of the story where she could almost see the rich, exciting people around her – and pretend she was one of them.

She span around the parqueted floor in the large entrance hall, feeling the arms of her beloved prince around her as they danced, oblivious to the looks of the other dancers, eyes only for each other. Eyes shut, she didn’t realise how close she was to the wall and her shoulder bumped into the framed mirror hanging there. She gasped, eyes wide, and flung herself round in time to catch hold of the heavy frame and use her bodyweight to keep it against the wall on its hook. The gilt frame hung slightly to the right of its original position, exposing a wide strip of the panelled wall. A strip of wood that had never had chance to be faded by the sunlight leaping in dusty, sparkling motes through the window next to the door, aging everything it touched.

The newly exposed wood was rougher than the wood on the rest of the walls, as if it had been part of a living tree more recently. Distractedly gazing at her reflection in the mirror, not wanting to leave the fantasy behind quite so quickly, she ran her hand down the length of it, her every nerve still tingling from the imagined dance. The skin of her hand felt hyper-sensitive as it brushed against the textured wall. Jamie paused with a finger stroking a knot in the wood. It felt strangely smooth; worn in the same way the other walls were. Her image blinked back at her, green eyes focusing back in the present. The knot looked normal, but felt wrong – before she had turned to look at it she had almost thought it might be a button.

Around her the house felt smaller and even more secluded than it did during the day. She could sense her mother and father asleep and snoring in their separate bedrooms. Their presence was so strong she looked around her, holding her breath as if she was about to be caught committing a crime. There was no one there. Feeling slightly ridiculous, she tentatively pushed at the knot. Something behind the wall clicked and pushed against the body of the mirror. Her heart felt huge and heavy in her chest; the air seemed thin. This was something she should not be doing. She felt the world turn around her and knew the choice she made next could change things forever.

The silence banged and thudded in her ears. She listened again for any sign that her parents might appear.

Click. Click. Click. Click.

She tried to swallow and it gagged her. Her heart burst into flame and her mind raced, trying to come up with an explanation to pacify her parents. The air flooded her lungs and she found herself panting.

Daniel wandered over and pressed his body against her leg; his warm fur soothing her in an instant. Of course it was her scruffball dog. Her parents’ feet wouldn’t click on the wooden floor the way her dog’s claws did! Relief made her giddy – she rode the crest of it as she lifted the mirror off its hook and slid it down the wall, choking a laugh down as each corner hit the floor.

She felt she ought to be silent, but knew that her father was on the other side of the house, and her mother always drifted off with the help of sleeping tablets. As nerve-wracking as this experience was, in reality she was fairly safe. She looked back at the wall, and the little door that had opened in it. It was a little higher than head height so she had to stand on tiptoe to see into it. About the size of a small trunk, it was deep enough that she struggled to reach the back of it. And the back was what looked interesting.

The front was full of paperwork. Lifting them out and flicking through, she could see the names of her parents scattered across the sheets. She wasn’t interested in looking closer. There was a small box at the back the cupboard that caught her eye. Stretching to reach it, her fingertips scraped across its edge. Holding her breath and pressing herself against the wall in an attempt to gain more height, she tried again. She got a finger on top of the box and gently slid it forward. Settling herself down on the floor she crossed her legs and placed the small box in her lap. It felt familiar. Warm, somehow. Her fingers rested on top of it for a moment before Jamie took a deep breath and lifted the hinged lid.

Inside she found a confusion of objects. Some stood out immediately; a bracelet made for a wrist much smaller than hers; a locket; a length of white blonde hair, tied together with a green ribbon; a miniature painting of a family with a blonde girl sitting in the centre. As she took each item out of the box, she felt a strange sensation building. The careful, conservative part of her wanted her to stop, put everything back just as she had found it, and go to sleep. She knew she would never do that. Shoving her cautious thoughts back down, she carried on examining the items.

In one of the corners she found a yellowing piece of paper, folded and refolded many times, soft with age. Carefully opening it out she could see the light shining through the thinner paper along the creases.

It was a letter.

It was addressed to her.

Once more, she began to read.

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5 Responses to “Found – Writing Workshop”

  1. Tammy says:

    Now I want to know what happens next!!!!!!!!! I was totally absorbed in this. Good writing ms cheeky mummy!

  2. Skip says:

    Love it, so many little moments that build the atmosphere like the sunlight “aging everything it touched” and “Jamie often felt quite lonely after she finished one book, before she started the next. Her real life was so much quieter.”

    Really able to imagine each moment of bumping the mirror and discovering something behind it. You know what I’m going to say, don’t you? MORE please.

  3. Allie says:

    Aw shucks *blush* I would also like to know what happens next, Tammy! Two things have been blocking me for ages – how she finds whatever it is she finds, and what exactly it is that she finds. I know what happens after that, so I just need to figure out what’s in that letter!

  4. shirah says:

    What did the letter say???

  5. Allie says:

    I don’t know!! Well, I know what it needs to tell Jamie, but how it should tell her? Not a clue. I may chicken out & gloss over the content of the letter to the bit where she knows everything…if I ever find time to write again!

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