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The Wardrobe

Page 2

Alison Knight

Father was furious when he finally found him. ‘You could have suffocated!’ he roared. Nobody asked why he’d been in the wardrobe. Nobody asked how he’d managed to turn the key from the outside. He sobbed while Audrey smiled her thin-lipped smile and examined the pattern on the carpet.

From that night on, grim phantoms began to haunt his sleep. Mother, the bruises black against her pale skin, would creep into the nursery when he cried out, enfold him in her lavender fragrance and whisper to him:

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

And he repeated it every night, a mantra against the horrors of things unseen.

But his mother was dead now. He hadn’t realised at first that she was never coming back. ‘Mother has gone away,’ his father had informed him. He’d been surprised, for she had rarely left the house. He supposed there must have been a funeral. There’d been solemn visitors, he recalled, who’d stood around uncomfortably, sipping sherry and nibbling at pale, limp sandwiches which tasted of nothing. These days, he could barely remember what his mother had looked like. After her death, his father and sister had quietly removed the stiffly posed family portraits from the drawing room, and the photograph albums had vanished from the bookcase. He had a misty recollection of a pale woman, with wavy golden hair and eyes that always seemed to glitter tears, and the memory of her fragrance, the lavender scent he’d breathed in when she’d held him in her arms to comfort him.

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