The Key

A Short Story

The Key

My 16th birthday is in eight days. I have been preparing for weeks. Booking the venue, ordering decorations, making the guest list, shopping for food, and of course, many many trips to the mall for the perfect outfit. My name is Eleanor Waldorf. You have probably heard of my last name, but don't think any different of me. I am just a fifteen year old girl growing up in the streets of New York City, worried about my grades and trying to fit in. Don't let me fool you completely, though. It all may sound normal, but it couldn't be farther from it.

Every day I walk to class with my best friend, Lilly. Not much happens on the way, but today was different. I got this very strange feeling in my gut. It was no stomach ache, and it wasn't cramps. I noticed Lilly had a very concerned face, which was when I also noticed I was leaning against the lockers, hoping they would keep me from falling. Just as soon as this little episode began, it was over, and I felt fine. I walked to the bathroom carefully so I could calm down a little bit, and decided I should text Caleb to pick me up later instead of Jonathan picking me up. Caleb is my older brother and Jonathan is our butler…Yes, I know, we have a butler. I try not to think much of it. Half the time I pretend he isn't even there. If he came to pick me up, he would ask me all these questions that I was not prepared to answer. I pulled my phone out and texted my brother, Caleb.

E: Hey Caleb, not feeling to good, any chance you can grab me after school?

C: Yeah, Everything okay?

E: Fine, just don't feel like sitting around. Jonathan always takes forever.

After fixing up my mascara a bit in the bathroom, I realized I had missed a good fifteen minutes of english. I have never liked English too much anyways; more of a history kind of girl. Lilly, on the other hand, always had a perfect score in English. I envied her writing skills. When I write, it is messy and makes no sense, but throw a history essay at me and you will be blown away.

Today’s topic in English is Romeo and Juliet. Definitely one of my least favorite love stories. What girl dies for some dumb boy? Maybe that is just how my mind works, you know…the whole “I hate English” thing.

The bell rang at exactly 1:13. Don't ask me why it is such a specific number. Everything in school these days has to be difficult, I guess. While I stood outside waiting for Caleb to pull up in his black matte jeep, I felt another episode beginning. I'm not sure how I knew that was what was happening, but it became pretty apparent when I fell to the ground and it seemed as though someone flipped a switch and the world's lights had gone out.

When I woke up, my vision was slightly blurry, but I could pick out a few faces in the sea of people clustered around me. Caleb, Lilly, Jonathan, and one that I couldn't completely register, but for some reason, it felt like I knew exactly who it was. She was an older woman, about 5’1", had light brown, almost grey-ish hair color. When I could finally see clearly, the woman was gone.

I tried to sit up in my hospital bed, but some nurse held my shoulder back, and for some reason I was feeling very weak and lightheaded, so she was able to keep me down. Apparently I was put on sleeping meds to keep me stable. I am still trying to process why I would need those, but I chose to save questions for later. Caleb walked over to the side of my bed and sat down in the chair that seemed to be placed where it was on purpose… Caleb must have stayed the night with me. He handed me a vanilla pudding cup and my favorite book, The 5th Wave. He explained it was to keep me entertained, which only got me thinking…How long am I going to be in here?

I lay in the bed, scraping the last few patches of pudding out of the cup. I began to think—something weird I noticed in my episodes was that, during them, I have been having short dreams. It has been difficult trying to remember each dream once I am awake, but one thing I do know is the same woman is in them every time. This is the same woman I saw just before I woke up in the hospital. As a child, I was told my father left for war and never returned, and my mother died of cancer. For some reason, every time I have a dream, my brain associates the mystery woman as my mother. I never knew what she looked like, but it feels like it is her, and I am going to figure it out.

I hadn't had an episode in a few days. I lay in bed with Caleb next to me for most of the time, watching my favorite show, Chuck. It had only been a few days in the hospital and I have already picked up a routine. In the morning, I take my medication and eat an orange, then I sleep from about 10:00 AM to about 12:30 and eat some more. All I do is eat and sleep, even when I'm not in the hospital and it is all I can do.

On Friday, I woke up pretty spunky. I had been feeling a lot better, and the nurse said I was going to be able to get home to have my birthday party. Later that day, Caleb took me home and got me settled and decided to run out to the grocery store. We were running a little low on snacks. While he was gone, I just sat and watched some more Chuck. Getting distracted, as I usually do, I started staring off out of the window when I noticed a strange yellow truck pass my house. The truck was driving slow enough to make me uncomfortable, so I got up and closed the curtain. Once I sat back down, I started falling asleep. Right before I was out, I heard a violent knock on my door, but before I could register it, I was asleep.

I woke up in a very dark room. Last I remembered, I was falling asleep watching TV, and now I don't know where I am. I sat up slowly from what felt like a genuinely comfortable bed, which was weird. Looking around, the only sign of light I saw was about ten feet from me, down a narrow hallway. My least favorite thing about horror movies is when the girl or guy goes down the dark hallway, or into the basement… but I am about to do it myself. Slowly, without making much sound, I hobbled towards the light. As I grew closer, the smell of chicken filled my senses, and I was immediately hungry…what else is new?

Before I got to the door, I looked in a small mirror that was leaning on the wall and noticed something strange around my neck. I was wearing a necklace with a key hanging at the end that did not belong to me. While I stood there, examining the key, I had completely forgotten what I was doing, and before I could get out of the hallway, I was standing face to face with a very tall, handsome boy who looked about Caleb's age. I wasn't sure what to do, so I stood there with my mouth open. An innocent smirk grew on the boy’s face, and that was when I decided to back away.

“What is going on,” I asked, frantically, my head turning in every direction,“ Where am I? WHO are you?”

“Maybe you should go lay back down…You need to rest.”

“What do you m…” I was unable to continue.

I felt an episode begin. The room started spinning and my vision was suddenly blurry. Before I was out, I could tell the boy grabbed me before I fell to the ground, and that was it.

“Eleanor?”

He said my name very softly, as if I was still asleep and he was unsure. It was kind of sweet.

“How do you know my name?”

I am not often a very demanding person, but from what it looks like, I have been kidnapped by some random boy and I need to know why.

“Please stay calm, you can't afford to have another episode.” He said this in a way of attempting to keep me calm. It wasn't working very much.

I shot a look in his direction as soon as he said this and said, “What are you talking about?”

“I have a lot to explain,” He said softly, “You are special, Eleanor.”

He said this, and immediately, I was out like a light. Throughout my episode, I was having a different dream for the first time. In this one, I was in a strange house. The same lady who is always there was in the dark, damp room, sitting on a couch. I couldn't see much of her face, but enough to know that she looked as though we could be related.

Before I could collect enough information in my dream, I was awake. Except, this time, I was alone in the room. I am not too sure where the boy went, but I took this chance as my only opportunity to run. It wasn't very easy, as I had a mild headache, but I managed to get to the front door. I looked around one last time, and then noticed something very strange. The table next to the door had my cell phone, keys, shoes, and coat. It was almost like the boy was letting me leave? But why.

Once I got outside, I called Caleb. It wasn't much use, considering I didn't know where I was, but it was better than roaming the streets of wherever I am. I talked to him for a while, explaining what the area around me looked like, and that I wasn't hurt. As soon as we got home, I decided to look around the house for some more information on my parents. It had been something I had never really looked into.

It was very strange. I am just now realizing that there isn't a single picture frame with my parents, or me as a child. No picture books, either. I walked around the house, incase I missed something, and came across a large wooden door that had never stood out to me before. I tried to pull it open, but no matter what I did, it wouldn't budge. I could see a strangely shaped key hole above the door knob, but no key. I thought for a second, and then decided to try and use the key that I still had around my neck from the strange boy, and surprisingly, it worked.

Opening it created a large creaking sound that echoed throughout my home. The door lead to a large spiral staircase that, for some reason, I had never seen before. There was obviously a reason that this door had been locked so carefully. All I could help to think was why did the boy have a key to the door in my house?

I tip-toed up the stairs, slowly and quietly, again recreating a horror movie scene. As soon as I reached the top, I began sneezing. It was as if no one had been up here in ages, literally. There were two large couches, hundreds of years old, covered in tarp to protect the beautiful patterns lying under them. There was also a mirror, three dressers, and, in the corner of the room, a large trunk. It was a very dark wood, with engravings all over it, one of them having my initials.

I inched closer and closer to the trunk, until I discovered a note hanging out of one of the corners. I shook the dust off and ripped it open carefully. It said…

Dear Eleanor,

If you are reading this, then you have found the trunk. Well done. Do not be scared, as this trunk contains a large amount of information that you may not be able to handle all at once. The boy you met, before finding this letter, was Daniel. He gave you the key. Daniel is your second brother. He is here to help you and keep you safe. He is also going to take you home, where you can learn more about who you are. I hope you understand.

Love, Mom and Dad

There are tears streaming down my eyes as I read the letter left by my parents. My whole life has been a lie. They are alive, and I have a second brother. Does Caleb know about this? Who am I? I am beginning to question everything. I searched around the room for more answers until I found one large mirror in the corner. It had been recently uncovered. I approached it, and the headache that I still had began to fade.

Slowly, I closed my eyes tight and put my hand gently forward to touch the soft glass. I reached and reached, until I opened my eyes and saw that I wasn't touching the mirror. My hand was flowing smoothly, right through it, into what seemed to be a whole other world. There was a room on the other side that looked exactly like the one I was in right now, but no reflection.

I couldn't decide what to do. Do I go through it and see what I find? Or get Caleb to come with me. I waited a few minutes until it was clear that Caleb had found me on his own, and he didn't look happy.

I jumped forward saying, “Caleb! Look what I found!”

He just stood there, hands by his side.

“Caleb, are you okay?” I asked, sounding worried.

He moved forward, close enough to see that he had a rock in his right hand.

He began to pick up speed, now holding the rock over his head. He planned to smash the mirror. I reached my arm out to his chest to stop him.

“Caleb,” I said forcefully, “What are you doing?”

“They left us,” He said, his eyes filling with tears, “They don't deserve us coming back.”

“You don't understand, Caleb, we have been waiting our whole lives for this.”

I was trying to convince him, but it wasn't working. I had no choice. I let go of his shirt and jumped through the mirror. I could see him through the other side. He was amazed and terrified. It seemed as though he was unable to come through the glass. He started to freak out, hitting the mirror with his fists at first, and remembering he has a rock in his hand. Before I knew it, the mirror was smashed and the room was dark. I turned around and saw three people—my mother, my father, and Daniel. All waiting for me.

“Welcome,” Said Daniel, “We have missed you…Oh, and, Happy birthday, sis.”

fiction
Read next: Run Necromancer