The Attic Door is a spooky story about a child whose mother had a secret she keeps hidden in the attic. It was inspired by parts of an old poem by Robert Frost called “The Witch of Coos”.
There’s something in the attic that my mother won’t talk about. The attic door is nailed shut and the headboard of mother’s bed is pushedup against it. Sometimes I hear it in the night, banging at the door, wanting to be let out. It wants to get back to the cellar where it came from. But mother will never let it.
It left the cellar twelve years ago. I was just a baby then. It carried itself up the stairs, clacking like a pile of dishes. Up one flight from the cellar to the kitchen, up another from the kitchen to the bedroom, then into the attic. It walked right past father and mother and neither of them dared to stop it.
Father had gone upstairs to bed and mother was downstairs asleep in a chair. I was a baby so I don’t know where I was the night the bones came up the cellar stairs.
The cellar door was open and mother thought she heard something rooting around down there. Then something began to climb the stairs, two footsteps for each step, the way a man with one leg and a crutch comes up.
Mother grabbed the knob and flung the door wide. It was the bones. They came at her with one hand outstretched. Mother fell back on the floor, shouting to my father, “It’s coming! It’s coming!”
Mother ran to the stairs and shouted, “Shut the bedroom door, for God’s sake!”
Then she ran upstairs, and I could hear her shrieking, “I don’t see it. It’s with us in the room, though. It’s the bones.”
“What bones?” I heard father ask.
“The cellar bones,” said mother. “Out of the grave.”
The steps went into the attic. I heard them. My mother slammed the attic door and held the knob.
“Quick, get some nails!” she cried.
She made father nail the door shut and she pushed the headboard of the bed against it. She said there wasn’t anything in the attic that we’d ever want again and if the bones liked the attic, they could have it. Mother wanted to be cruel to them because they were cruel once to her.
I think they had a grave down in the cellar. When father was alive, I asked him once whose bones they were. He was sick in bed and the doctor said he wasn’t going to live long, so he said he’d tell me the truth for once. They were the bones of a man he killed for mother. A man he killed instead of her. A man who once was married to her. He said the least he could do was dig their grave.
I know the story, but it’s not for me to tell the truth. Mother doesn’t want to end the lie. We’ve kept it up all these years between ourselves, ever since father died.
Late at night, when I’m lying in bed and I hear a banging on the attic door, I call out to mother and ask, “What’s that banging?” and mother replies, “I don’t hear no banging!” and I lie back down and try to sleep and make believe there’s nothing banging on the attic door.