Chapter no 16

The Locked Door

26 Years Earlier

I can’t sleep.

I started to drift off when I first lay down, but then I got woken up by the sound of my parents fighting. Their bedroom is right next to mine, sharing a wall, and I could hear every word. Worse, they were fighting about me. They fight about me a lot.

Nora needs to see a therapist, my mother kept insisting. There’s something wrong with her. She’s not normal.

As always, my father defended me. She’s fine. You’re imagining things, Linda.

She’s not fine! I’m worried about her. She doesn’t have any real friends. And she doesn’t even seem to care.


There’s just something about her, Aaron. She’s not right.

You don’t know what you’re talking about. She’s fine—trust me.

It went on for almost an hour. I finally had to hold my pillow over my head so I wouldn’t hear them. But it didn’t work. I could still hear every word.

Anyway, my mother is wrong. I have friends. Like, I’m excited about spending time with Marjorie tomorrow. I thought of a great game we could play together. She might not like it at first, but I think I can talk her into it.

I stare up at the patterns on the ceiling of my room. One of the cracks in the paint sort of looks like a face. Actually, it looks like Marjorie! Well, a little.

My mouth is very dry. I drank a glass of water with dinner, but now I feel like my mouth is full of sand. I need some more water. I’ll have to go downstairs to get it.

Mom doesn’t like it when I get up in the middle of the night and “start wandering around the house.” I don’t know what she thinks is going to happen to me in our own house in the middle of the night. I mean, I’m

eleven years old. I’m not a little baby that’s going to stick my finger in an electrical socket if nobody’s watching me. But anyway, I’m just getting some water. No big deal.

I creep downstairs to the kitchen. I take a glass from one of the cupboards and run it under the tap. I fill it almost to the brim with cold water. Then I chug it until all the water is gone.

That’s better.

I put the glass in the dishwasher, then I start back in the direction of my room. I pass the basement door, and just like the other day, I hear a noise coming from inside. A banging noise.

Is my father in there working? It’s so late…

I don’t understand it. He’s always in his workshop, but after all the time he’s spent down there, he’s made like basically two pieces of furniture. So what is he doing down there?

I press my ear against the door, listening, as the scent of lavender fills my nostrils. I hear something muffled. Almost like someone talking.

I jerk my head away from the door. I look down at the doorknob. I put my hand on top of it, expecting it to be locked like it’s been every time I’ve tried it for as long as I can remember.

But then the knob turns under my hand.

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