There was something unsettling about the comfort of Aunt Cynthia’s embrace. As we entered her humble abode, she was exasperatingly excited to see me and Robyn. I mean, we were just there for summer vacation, not to express our undying love for her. No matter her motivation, it did feel nice to be appreciated.
Once Cynthia’s tall body no longer obscured my 4’8’’ view, I was able to scan her incredible – to say the absolute least – house. The walls were adorned with paintings from eighteenth century Italy, each piece of furniture matched the historical aesthetic, and the general vibe was quaint. It felt more like a parlor you would find in Colonial Williamsburg than a modern residence.
“You both have grown up so beautifully!” she exclaimed.
“Thanks. We are excited to be here.” Robyn said with only a fraction of Aunt Cynthia’s excitement.
“I have been waiting for this trip for a long time. It feels so wonderful to see what kind of people you both have become!” Aunt Cynthia’s eyes glimmered with hope and satisfaction. There was no pretense or questionable intent; she was genuinely excited to see us.
In a quick attempt to put an end to the pleasantries, Robyn made her way up the stairs towards our room. “We are just going to go unpack, and we will be down in a few minutes.”
“Sounds great, kids! Take all the time you need and we can catch up over dinner!”
Climbing the endless stairs to the second floor corridor made my heart skip a beat; maybe I should take advantage of this summer to get in shape.
We turned the corner to take in our room. Compared to the rest of the house, it was quite boring. The walls were left empty. Two beds rested alongside each other, with a single dresser blocking the room’s only window. From the moment we entered, we knew that this dresser had to be relocated; it would feel too much like a prison if we were trapped in a room with so little light. “Let’s just move it over to the corner!” Robyn ordered.
“Sure.” We dropped our bags and grabbed opposite ends of the wooden container. “One… two….three!” It required all of our combined strength to move the heavy dresser filled with old towels and dresses. As we migrated to the sunlit window, my eyes were drawn to a rectangular cut out in the floor. With piqued curiosity, Robyn and I dropped simultaneously to the floor to examine this enigmatic, mysterious wooden panel.
“Hayden, what is that?” Robyn asked, quite concerned.
“I think it’s a hatch in the floor.”
– Maggie Di Sanza