Jill’s feet thumped down the stairs the next morning. Sunlight streamed through the kitchen windows reminding her of the late hour. Jill was surprised. She had expected her grandmother to wake her up much earlier.
The table in the kitchen was set with a bowl, some cereal boxes and a pitcher of orange juice. A handwritten note stuck out from underneath the cereal boxes.
I left early for some urgent business. I should return this evening, but if not…Trust that I am well and will be returning shortly.
With all my love,
Urgent business? Should return in the evening? And what was with the cryptic message? But if not…Trust that I am well. This was not okay. Not only was Jill not flying across the world at this point with her dad, now she was stranded in the strange house of a strange grandmother she had never met before in the middle of the woods with nothing to do and no one to hang out with. Her summer was officially ruined.
Instantly grumpy, Jill sat down and started to pour out way too much cereal into her bowl. Until she remembered the glowing light from last night. If her grandmother wasn’t going to come back till the evening then she wouldn’t have to worry about getting caught in the room.
Jill got up from the chair and moved over to look down the hall. Sure enough, the door was slightly ajar, and a dim light appeared on the door before fading away over and over again. Too curious to stop herself, Jill started down the hall. Even though she knew she was alone she looked back over her shoulder before going inside.
Just like the night before, the door creaked loudly as it opened. Jill didn’t know what she’d been expecting, but the room seemed pretty normal. A desk stood in the corner and a bed squatted in the middle of the room. The large hope chest still sat at the foot of the bed, glowing from the inside.
Jill sat down on the floor in front of the hope chest. Three latches hung from the sides and the front. The latch on the front said “Hopes” while the latches on the sides read “Wishes” and “Dreams.” The outside of the chest was covered with other words written on it in a flowing cursive. Jill noticed “Friendship,” “Kindness,” “Laughter,” “Understanding,” and many others. Working with the latches, she cracked open the lid.
A myriad of keepsakes filled the chest. In particular, Jill noticed a red coat bundled to the side, two matching mirrors, the arm of what looked like a puppet, and at the top of the pile a wand about six inches in length with a star at one end.
The star was glowing.
She didn’t know why her grandmother kept a box with old Halloween costumes, or why the batteries on this odd wand had been left on. Jill lifted the wand out of the chest and looked for the off switch, except she had a problem. The wooden handle wasn’t really thick enough for the batteries to fit there. She didn’t see any lids or any movable parts on the star. Was she supposed to unscrew the handle? No, that didn’t work.
Frustrated, Jill shoved the star end of the wand under the red coat and was about to slam the lid down for good when she spotted a folded piece of parchment paper. One corner of the paper stuck up just enough for Jill to see her own name. Unable to resist, Jill grabbed the piece of paper and opened it. She could easily tell it was her grandmother’s handwriting.
My Dearest Jill,
If you’re reading this letter, it means that I am dead.