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The Wardrobe

Page 3

Alison Knight

One day, Father announced that it was time to put away childish things. His soft toys were spirited away to a chest in the attic, and he was moved from the nursery to the spare bedroom on the second floor. Audrey looked at the locked wardrobe and then smiled at her brother. The smile didn’t reach her eyes. At night, as he lay on the cold white sheets in the hard, lumpy bed, the terrors gathered with heightened intensity. Goblins slithered out of the wardrobe, twisted the blankets over his face with hideous fingers and whispered evil in his ear. He screwed his eyes tight shut and repeated the mantra. How he longed for the lavender safety of his mother’s arms.

Every trace of his mother seemed to have vanished. Nobody spoke of her. It was as if she had never existed. Perhaps he’d merely imagined that he’d had a mother, and the woman who’d smelled of lavender was nothing but a wish. Father and Audrey barely seemed to notice him. He wondered if he were difficult to see, or even if he were there at all. He took to wandering through the many rooms of the house, hoping, just hoping, that he might find some trace of a mother, however insubstantial. Some of the rooms had been closed off, dust as thick as ash on the windowsills, the heavy furniture enshrouded in white sheets. Tentatively, heart thudding in his chest, he’d lift a corner of a sheet, half in fear of what might lurk beneath, half in hope of the barest whiff of lavender. But he found nothing, no matter how hard he looked.

Time passed. The night terrors didn’t. In the moonlight, the shadow of the locked wardrobe crept over the foot of his bed. ‘From ghoulies and ghosties,’ he intoned, ‘Good Lord, deliver us!’ One day, in the winter holidays, Audrey unlocked the wardrobe and hung some of his clothes inside. ‘You can’t keep all your clothes in the chest of drawers.’ Her thin lips twisted into a mockery of a smile. ‘They’ll crease.’

That night, before he’d even fallen asleep, the wardrobe door creaked open. He stifled a cry and tensed his body. ‘From ghoulies and ghosties, good Lord, deliver us!’ he whispered. He clenched his eyes shut and waited for the goblins. His breathing came in ragged gasps … Nothing.

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