|Part of my bedroom ceiling. There's a hook in the middle of the flower for hanging a lamp.|
“Thanks.” I tested each step as I went up the staircase, only putting my full weight on them if they didn’t bounce back. For sixty-plus years of neglect, the wood actually felt pretty solid. Still, I was glad I had skipped that extra piece of chicken at lunch. The banister was a little bit shaky, but the wood felt warm and smooth under my hands. The floor creaked under me and a rotten board would occasionally crush under my heel, but overall, it felt safe to walk here. Upstairs, another set of wooden doors covered in peeling light blue paint opened easily with a light push. These had been the main living quarters and, as I walked down the hallway, bedrooms and sitting rooms broke off to each side. Light filtered through dirty windows, reflecting off of the dust that I was kicking up with each step. Ignoring all of the side rooms, I kept moving forward to another large doorway at the end of the hallway where it looked like another set of doors used to hang. Something about the doorway seemed to promise an interesting room.
My instincts were right. I stepped onto the stone lintel of the far room and gasped at the room before me. A wide, empty space opened beyond the doorway, punctuated with a number of long, arched windows wrapping around three sides of the room. Window-seats were carved into each window alcove as if they had organically grown there. A delicate, wood-inlaid floor stretched the entire length of the room.This must have been the ballroom my grandfather had mentioned.
The entire room was beautiful in a decayed-but-breathtaking way. I wandered further into the room, trying to be careful to not damage the floor. The room’s walls were covered in a material that felt like raw silk, in a color that looked like it might once have been a pink or peach, and a section frayed miserably under my fingers when I touched its surface. Furniture, covered with drapes or layers of dust just as thick as I’d seen downstairs, sat in a little ring near a fireplace with a collapsed mantel.
As I stood there, that same feeling of almost being able to see the room as it had been rushed through me and I reluctantly gave into the feeling. Slowly, my vision overlay the ruin that presently occupied the space around me, and the room came to life. A soft sheen came back to the walls, cobwebs disappeared from the carved wooden ceiling. I bent over a table and blew at the dust, amazed that, as it flew up, the table began to gleam like new. Tentatively, I blew into the room and it righted itself even more, drapes appearing in the windows and lights in the empty wall sconces. “Oh, damn….” I whispered, then, with a deep lungful of air, exhaled once more, watching as, in a swirl of dissipating dust, sixty five years of neglect disappeared. A fire crackled in the fireplace, its mantel now solid and intricately carved. I stepped into the center of the room, turning a full circle in amazement. “I did this…” I murmured to myself in shock, laughing a little bit. The whole thing had me torn between euphoria at my newfound ability and fear for my own sanity. Just to make sure that this was all real, I squeezed the key still in my hand until its carvings dug sharply into my palm.