Since the flash fiction competition is finished I’m going to post my submission on here. I didn’t win but that doesn’t matter. The competition is on Devin O’Branagan website and last months was based on Time Travel.
There were many lessons that her grandmother had passed on to her. How to preserve jam. How to knit but the strangest lessons was never an actual lesson. Alice remembered the day like it was yesterday and not nearly a decade ago. There had been a storm outside. The gentle roll of approaching thunder as lightening cut across the sky. She’d been wrapped up in blanket so old that it had holes in it. A cup of hot chocolate warmed her hands and she snuggled down in the blanket watching the storm.
Her grandmother had shuffled into the living room and careful lowered herself into her rocking chair. She might have been pushing eighty and with a dodgy hip she wasn’t as fast as she’d use to be. “I’m not going to be around forever.”
Alice glanced up, there was a look in the old woman’s eyes which was hard to explain. Reflective, worried and apprehensive. “Quiet you, you’ll outlive all of us.” She teased her.
“God, I hope not.” Her Nana scoffed. “Girl, you’ve got to promise me something.”
Alice frowned, slightly thrown by how quickly the conversation had changed. “What?”
“That whatever happens to me, you’ll take the house. I’ve written it in my will but you have to promise me that you’ll stay here.” Her Nana waved her hand as if trying to dismiss her concerns. “You’ve got your painting, you can do that here, I’ll even leave you money to convert one of the rooms into an art studio if that’s what it takes.”
Alice couldn’t understand her urgent tone. Nana was usually the sweetest person Alice knew, tending the plants in her garden when she woke up, usually with her dressing gown on swirling around her hip. “Why do you want me to stay here?”
She leaned forward, her eyes shining bright. “It needs to stay in the family and with your mother gone. It’s our duty to protect it.”
Duty to protect it? Protect what? That was a strange choice of words. Alice loved the tiny house, she’d spent the majority of her childhood exploring the hiding places, reading books in her hideaway in the attic. It wouldn’t be a hardship to stay, “Okay Nana.”
“Good girl, just be sure that you don’t open the attic door on the 13th of March, keep it locked.”
Her Nana’s snapped her eyes open, they flashed with urgency. “Just promise me.”
Alice frowned. “I promise.”
She never found out why her Nana was desperate for her to stay. The following morning the tiny woman had vanished, no letter, nothing but the date on the calendar. The 14th of March and a key to the attic on the kitchen counter.
A year pass quickly. There were some nights when she thought she heard her Nana’s voice and it woke her from her sleep but searching the house proved useless. Even the police had given up. Her sweet Nana had become a face on a missing person’s poster.
Alice ended up converting the attic into her art space. The light up there was beautiful, especially in the first few hours of the morning. Her movements were sluggish as she traipsed up the stairs, her first cup of coffee of the day in her hand. The light from the hallway window caught the curve of the old copper key still in the lock. Alice yawned as she twisted it, opened it and promptly dropped her cup, hot coffee splashed against her bare leg. She yelped and promptly slammed the door shut.
What the hell was that? She had to have imagined it that was the only answer that made any sense. It couldn’t have been real. Alice took a deep breath and opened the door again. From the doorway of the attic she could see tall glass buildings which the rays of the sun seemed to bounce off of. The skies were blue with small ships cutting through the air. She glanced down to see her cup had rolled across the grass. Her heart was beating hard against her ribs. Sickness rolled in the pit of her stomach. Alice carefully stepped onto the grass, morning dew glistened on the green strands and squealed as coldness greeted her barefoot.
She wasn’t dreaming.
Alice snatched up her cup holding tightly onto the doorframe, terrified that if she let go, she’ll be trapped in that mysterious world. A ship cut through the sky overhead and she yelped. “What the hell is going on?”
“What did I say about keeping that door locked?”