The winter had come in jumps and spurts with snowfall followed by melting. The wind blew from rage to gentle, mostly biting cold. I only watched the weather as an excuse to zone out or fall asleep for an hour. Who cares what a storm is named? Why name them? They are the same. They are different. Who cares besides meteorologist and people flying?
Dullness and throbbing sinuses bring me to a desire for stillness and quiet. Cal didn’t leave his recliner or the coach much except when we had to take the kids to endless events. Our Saturdays sucked up in sports, scouts, and well-meaning service projects. Talent shows, church activities and so many other things filled our weeknights. Cal and I wanted to play hookie but we had no relatives near by to babysit and hiring a sitter was costly.
The door in the basement laundry room floor hadn’t appeared for over a month–almost two months or was it longer? I had lost track of time.
The last week had been a muddled mess of getting up at night with feverish children, taking temperatures, trips to the doctor, a trip to the ER–unnecessarily, of course. The flu comes in many packages and sometimes disguised as a cold or a nuisance. So I not only had the weekly laundry to do but piles of blankets, quilts and sheets virally contaminated. In between loads I sanitized the house from the latest epidemic in hopes of no one else getting sick. The kids were so exposed at school and Cal at work it was a wonder they weren’t all sick all the time. The amazing immune system.
After lunch I came down to empty the dryer and put another load in when I heard a crack from the direction of the furnace. I hoped it was the door appearing. Yea, it was there! I ran back to the dryer and finished unloading it into the basket. I refilled the dryer with the wet clothes out of another basket. Door still there. Filled washer with next load and hung up a few items. Then I wrapped my wool sweater around me tight and stood over the door in the basement floor.
Lifting the door by its pull handle a waft of moldy air reached my nostrils as I carefully descended down the mossy stone steps and grabbed the flashlight in a bucket we now kept next to the door we called the den. I proceeded to the stairs that went up to my cottage floor. It had no knob. It was shut tight! Why would the basement floor door open for me but not the cottage hatch? Cal and I had never questioned why this appeared or why the cottage only opened for me and the den for him. “Please, please open!”
I wanted to build a fire and sit reading a book. The book that came with our house was my favorite. Hid in a metal box under a loose floor board under the sofa in the cottage, the book was a mixture of fairytale and history. I’d already met some of the people like Ree, but mostly Ihad the cottage to myself. I started down the stone step and across the den landing, back up to the laundry door. I thought. . . I was sure I had left it open. It was closed. I couldn’t open it. Who will pick up the kids from school? I didn’t have my cell phone on me. I screamed; it only echoed in my ears. Pounding only hurt my hands. Crying made me tired and thirsty. I schlumped down the steps to check the den door–Cal’s den door. This was his place not mine.
The door opened.
Useless are my minds many inquiries of “why?”
The fire lit itself. This was unnerving but at least I could get a drink and lay on the leather sofa. The t.v. remote seemed to glide into my hand for the first time and I found that this t.v. had more than sports and news. With the keyboard on the remote I could type in a movie to watch on a movie site. An old black and white musical with Glen Ford. Wrapping the nice blanket around me I curled up on the coach. Almost asleep the screen changed to the C logo and secret panel on the side wall opened to reveal the spy office.
“I do not want any adventures. Quiet please. No missions. I am too tired.” I covered my head with the blanket and fell into a dream of dancing with cowboys.
“Mommy! Mom!” What? I woke to another movie playing. I turned off the t.v. The kids! The door swung open and in walked Ord,my six year old, his face red from cold. “Mom I never saw this before.” He looked around amazed. I didn’t know what to say and desperatly needed chocolate.
“Let’s go get some cocoa. Is your brother and sister home?”
“Yea. . . Mom how did you build this secret hideout? It’s what I’ve always wanted.” I folded the blanket, and washed my glass while Ord walked around the room knocking on walls and touching things in his way. “Does this wall slide open?” I pushed him gently out the door and up the stone steps where two wide-eyed faces peered over the opening in the basement floor. Vity, eight, and Reas, eleven, gasped, “I want to go down.’
“Let me see.”
“No fair . . . he got to see.”
With three kids in tow I resigned to see what this hideout had in store. It was supposed to be for Cal and me. Now the kids were in? What force controlled the workings I didn’t know. I gave into the fates and let go of the why’s. The den door opened again for me. As each child bounded in I heard a crack above and saw the cottage door knob appear in the ceiling door.