The young girl closed her eyes, relishing the book she was reading. It was quite the adventure, and at times it made her breath come out in short gasps of excitement. She closed the book, put it on her bed’s nightstand, and she walked out into the upstairs hallway of her family’s farmhouse.
Her bedroom was at one end of the hallway, and at the other end there stood a small door, shiny and new, barely four feet tall and arched at the top. Her father had made the door from milled boards after their house had caught on fire. The fire had burnt down half of their farmhouse and, with the help of a wrinkled, silver-haired handyman, her father had rebuilt the lost half.
The shiny door was the new access door to the attic above the new kitchen. It beckoned to her as she stared at it. “Don’t ever go in there,” her father had warned her after the house was rebuilt, “or you’ll fall through.” She knew what her father meant. She’d fall through to the kitchen below, but, with the help of her books, she couldn’t help wondering to herself if there were other places she might fall through to? Her books did that to her. They gave her all kinds of new ideas and things to think about.
When she wasn’t reading her books she was outside exploring the world. It was summer and her freckles grew larger and larger with the passing of each playful, sunny day.
On those long lazy days, she walked among the butterflies in flowering fields. She caught grasshoppers in the tall grass. She found lost cats in the hay barn, and she visited the family’s cows in their pasture.
On windy days, when the butterflies would stay home, she chased after rabbits in the light wood. She didn’t care if she ever caught one. For her, that wasn’t really the point of the chase.
On hot days she went down into the coolness of the dark wood. It was farther from home, but there was a pond there, hidden from sight. She sat beside the pond and watched as clouds, reflected in the pond’s water, passed overhead in the deep blue sky. It was her own personal cathedral and for her each day was filled with wonder.
On rainy days she was bored. She could read her books for only so long before the longing to move would fill her. She would look at her dad in the most bored way she could, with her head tilted towards one side and her shoulders slumped almost to the ground. He’d make a bored face right back at her and start to twiddle his thumbs.
“You can always do this.” he would tell her.
“What? Twiddle my thumbs? That’s so dumb!” she’d reply with a laugh as she raced out of the door to the barn, to look for any cats that may have disappeared.
In the stillness of the night she read her adventure books while curled up in bed. The only sounds in her bedroom were the chirps of the crickets outside, and the bumping of the moths against the window screen as they tried to get inside to reach the lamp light on the table beside her bed.
She was a curious child, and it took her almost two weeks of standing in the hallway outside of her bedroom, staring at the new door, before she decided to walk to the end of the hallway and enter the attic. “You’ll fall through.” The words echoed in her mind as she remembered her father’s warning. She felt just like she did when she read her adventure books, with little gasps of excitement.
With a tremble she opened the arched door and she stepped inside. The light was dim but as her eyes adjusted she saw a narrow wooden plank about five feet long going out into the attic. She walked slowly along the narrow plank until she reached its end, and once there, she sat down.
The air was cool in the early day, and she could see specks of dust carried in the air as it raced up one side of the attic, where it tumbled at the peak, before it raced down and out the other side. Below her, between the attic’s rafters, was a sea of gray, fluffy insulation filled with sparkles of pink and blue. The smell of the freshly cut wooden rafters hung lightly in the air.
“It’s like the pond,” she thought, “with the trees above and the sparkling water below.”
The thought occurred to her that there was enough room for a tea party. This made her smile as she sat planning her party. She looked at where her guests would sit on her next visit.
Then, in due time, a commotion started pushing at the stillness inside of her. She grew restless with thoughts of butterflies, grasshoppers, and rabbits. Her commotion turned to excitement. Standing up, she left the attic, closing the small door softly behind her.
She went downstairs to the kitchen where her mom was baking. She ran up to her mom and she gave her a big surprise hug. Smiling up at her mom, who in turn smiled down, young Alice turned and went outside to play.