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The Wardrobe

Page 4

Alison Knight

Nothing but a faint whiff of lavender.

And then, somehow, the door slowly swung closed again.

Late next afternoon, Audrey slapped him hard on the arm because he’d spilt his glass of milk. He gulped back the tears and stared at the angry imprint of her hand on the bare flesh. He wondered if the good Lord might deliver him from earthly evil too. He slid off his chair and slunk out of the kitchen. He opened the door to one of the unused rooms. Cold, uninviting, it offered no haven. He lifted the corner of a sheet and then, on a sudden impulse, tugged it off. Dully, it occurred to him that he was no longer afraid of what might be beneath. Nothing but a battered couch. He dropped the sheet and surveyed the room, now robbed of all mystery and all possibility of hope. He stared in a mirror and his small white face stared back at him. Sighing, he trudged upstairs to the room on the second floor. He sat on the cold bed. And finally the tears came.

He woke with a start. Night had fallen and moonlight cast eerie shadows across the window sill. He climbed under the blankets and recited the prayer his mother had taught him.

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-
leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

He heard a click. The wardrobe door edged open, inch by quiet inch, until the mirror met him face to face. It was hard to see in the dark, but he sensed there was something amiss with the reflection. His face seemed somehow to have lost its childish softness and his hair was surely not that long. He tried to untangle himself from the bedclothes and climb to the end of the bed to have a closer look, but he must have stirred the air for the wardrobe door swung quietly back and clicked shut. And then there was nothing. Nothing but a faint trace of lavender which hung tantalisingly in the cold night air.

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