October was almost always the worst month of the year. At least that was the opinion of eighteen-year-old Krystina Smith. Sure there was the celebration of the age-old pagan holiday that in modern times became known as Halloween; that was a plus. Although it had become a day when one could dress him or herself in garish costumes and pretends to be anything they dreamed; all the while parading around the town's darkened streets asking for candy from perfect strangers. However, the fact remained that the entire month was just pretty much a bust. During this time, everything was fading away and dying. It was a season where the trees would lose their leaves in cascading waves of red, orange and gold. The grass would soon become stiff stalks as the frost came by night and froze the thin blades from within.
The drops of morning dew settled on the ground and it seemed as though they were the stars themselves.Some evenings it was a time of unseasonable warmth and other times it was damned near unbearable cold. All of which depended on the particular day and the weatherman's predictions. Often times, one could sit at the window and watch as the storm clouds rolled silently across the dark and dreary skies, obstructing the glow of the evening sun. One would only have to sit still and listen with an attentive ear for the clouds to erupt into a grand natural symphony and chorus that was known by all as thunder.Tonight was such a night. Krystina sat hunched over her solid oak desk as the first crack of lightning flashed outside the large French doors of her bedroom. She had been furiously scribbling away in her diary, recounting one by one her beloved thoughts and precious memories. She listened keenly for the clash of thunder to sound, soon enough it pounded loudly against her eardrum and the world outside. Beyond the French doors held a small, yet modest, balcony that overlooked the vast and beautiful gardens of her parent's estate. She had often found herself sitting out there on one of the granite benches in the warm sunshine, pondering the mysteries of life and being lost within her thoughts. During the long summer hours, she'd sit on her balcony when she wanted a change of scenery and enjoy the feel of the wind rustling through her hair as she wrote down her private thoughts, emotions and desires within the blank pages of her diary. The leather bound text coveted everything that encompassed her and that she wished to convey, if only to herself.
Tonight, however, was different than most nights that had passed away into the darkness of time long before it. Krystina sat at her desk, speedily writing as the storm loomed above her home. She continued to write about the previous day's events when her hand finally screamed in protest over the onslaught of written language. Before the cramp encapsulated her hand, she had been describing the lovemaking she had experienced with her long time boyfriend DevonA clash of thunder brought her out of her reverie as the rain began to pour outside onto her balcony. She walked over to the doors, stretching her tired and cramped limbs along the way and pulled back the sheer off-white drapes. She watched the rain momentarily and thought of how miserable the weather was. It was as if the weather was coinciding with how she felt. She was stuck in her room in the first place, barred from any activities or school, because of a sudden case of the flu.
She awoke that morning expecting to feel euphoric from the night before, instead she had a clogged nose, a horrendous cough and full body aches.After seeing how she felt, Krystina's mother decided that school and friends were off limits until she was feeling better. For most of the day, she was unable to keep any foods down, not even crackers. It wasn't until dinner time when Rosalina, their maid, brought her a hot bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup that she was finally able to eat. Her stomach growled loudly as she ate her soup and crackers greedily. After drinking a cold class of raspberry ginger ale, she finally started feeling a little bit better.She missed going to school today, mostly because she desperately wanted to see Devon. She also wanted to gossip to Emily, her best friend, about what happened the night before. She knew that Emily had already had sex with Greg on more than one occasion and she wanted to brag about her own sexual experience. She also knew Emily would have wanted all the gory details and, of course, she'd have to dutifully oblige. After all, what were best friends for?She sniffled a bit as she looked outside, her clogged nose made her feel like her head was going to explode. She thought about how she had missed her Chemistry mid-term today.
Mr. Donavan was a hard-ass when it came to students missing classes; fortunately, her mother called the school receptionist and explained her daughter's absence. Luckily for her, she was a straight A student and Mr. Donavan was willing to wait until she was back in school to give her the exam.Emily called her earlier in the day to relay onto her the current assignments. "Okay, Krys. For math, you need to complete problems two through seventy-four on page 137. For history, you have to read chapter eight and answer the questions at the end, English class you have to read the short story on page 286 and for Chemistry, you just have to study for the mid-term. Got all that?""Sure, Em. Thanks a lot for helping me out. I really appreciate it." she told her best friend."Not a problem, Krys. Hope you feel better soon." and with that, she hung up the phone. She was not looking forward to catching up on her homework but she knew that it had to be done. She really didn't want to fail any classes because she was working hard to get into an upscale college. Her grades were more than good enough, but she still felt the need to keep striving to be the best that she could be. She laughed aloud when she thought about this notion; it was like she was advertising for the United States Army.Another flash of lightning ripped across the sky and a crack of thunder sounded outdoors. With each flash of light, Krystina could see the gardens below. Tiger lilies, roses and dahlias arose from the plush green grass like shadowed figures ready to jump out of the darkness and snatch an unsuspecting victim. When this kind of weather ran rampant, the flowers and wildlife were the intruders on her easy-going existence.
She let the drapes fall back into place and tried to think of something she could do to make her imprisonment seem more bearable. She had read all of her books previously and the magazines she had she knew almost by heart. Also writing more in her diary was out of the question until her hand wanted to cooperate again. Therefore, she was inclined to find something to entertain her.After several moments of thought, she remembered that there were some old books in the attic that she had not yet read. According to her parents, there were things up there that were several years old, if not possibly decades or even centuries. There were heirlooms and trinkets that stretched back centuries that could keep her fully occupied.Now invigorated for the thrill of an adventure, albeit a small one, she slowly opened the door of her bedroom and peeked outside. She had to make sure the coast was clear, otherwise she'd get ushered right back into bed. Her mother warned her that not under any circumstances, save for a bathroom trip, was she to leave her bedroom. Surely even if she was caught, her mother would understand her boredom.Another peek outside revealed an empty hallway. She drew in a deep breath and stepped out the door, listening for any signs of life. Downstairs she could hear the television blaring loudly as her father watched a Red Sox game. From her place next to the banister upstairs, she could hear the commentators announcing Kevin Youkillis to the plate. After a few moments, she heard her father yell a roar of approval; she assumed that Good Ol' Youk got another homerun. She grinned; after all, Boston was her favorite team as well.Krystina listened for other signs of life, she could hear Rosalina vacuuming her father's office and her mother was washing the dinner dishes. From the lingering aroma, she could smell pot roast: her favorite meal. She scowled as she thought of the meal she had missed. She listened for a few moments longer, just to make sure that no one would venture upstairs and discover her out of bed.She crept toward the attic door at the end of the hallway.
The plush beige carpet muffled her footsteps and she knew she would avoid detection. Her hand settled on the knob and she gave it a slow twist, she felt the door unlatch and she opened it. In front of her loomed a steep staircase made of wooden planks and off to the right was a dingy white light-switch. She flipped it up and down a couple of times and figured that the bulb blew out or the wiring had become faulty over the years. She pulled her hand away and wiped the dust from her fingertips."Guess I'll just have to leave the door open for some light." she muttered to herself. She took a deep breath and began to climb the steep steps. With her hands pressed against the walls beside her, she carefully placed one bare foot in front of the other. She used her hands to help guide her through the dark stairwell. She now regretted not going back to her bedroom for a flashlight and a pair of sandals. Oh well, it's too late now. she thought to herself. She just hoped that she wouldn't step on something and injure herself.Despite having the attic door open, Krystina could barely see. She could make out vague black outlines of foreign objects but very little else. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she began to see objects clearer in front of her. Fortunately for her, she noticed a lamp on a nearby box. Before getting her hopes up too high, she wanted to make sure that it worked first. She examined it quickly and was relieved that it was a battery powered lantern. With a turn of the switch, the attic darkness burst into an aura of halogen light and it briefly stung her eyes. All around her she could see boxes, crates and other various attic knick-knacks. On top of all of these things was a thick layer of dust. Like most attics, hers was a place of storage, mostly for things her family accumulated over the years. She saw some boxes labeled "Krystina" and figured that inside were old clothes, toys and miscellaneous trinkets from when she was a child. As the years passed by, she outgrew many of her things and phases, and her mother packed them all away up here. Her mother was a pack-rat and she couldn't bear to throw anything away or even to try and sell it for that matter.Krystina lifted the lantern to get a better look at what lay around her. Off to her right, in a far distant corner, she saw an old mannequin used for making dresses. Behind it, there was a large antique mirror that once belonged to her great-great grandmother. Despite its age, the mirror was in excellent condition and could very well fetch a pretty penny from the right buyer. Continuing her attic excursion, she passed by several non-descript boxes. She walked around searching for something of interest, all the while being mindful that she was barefoot. In a room like this, she knew that it could be very easy to step on a sharp metal object and end up with tetanus. That was something she did not want to happen. She was beginning to think that she wasn't going to find anything that would entertain her until she saw a faint glint in the lantern's light. Directing the lamp towards the glint of gold she noticed, Krystina could make out the edge of an old steamer trunk that had been previously forgotten. Making her way toward it, she could see that it was made out of mahogany wood. It had gold trimming along the edges and it accentuated the mysteriousness of the trunk. Back in its hay-day, she was almost positive that the wood exhibited a high luster and the musky scent of felled trees. She could also bet that the gold trimming sparkled like diamonds on the sea.