Behind the Stone Door
By: M.A Gonzales
Behind the Stone Door
By: M.A Gonzales
Dedicated to my beautiful daughter Ruby. Believe in magic with all your might and always keep your childhood imagination and wonder. I love you baby to the moon and back.
It was a cold and isolated place. She was scared even though she tried desperately to be brave. She wanted her mother but knew she had gone heaven just a short time ago and even though she wasn’t present she would always be watching over her. Two weeks after her seventeenth birthday and she had lost both of her parents in that freak plane explosion that had happened over the Atlantic Ocean. Missing them had only gotten worse as the dark, cold days passed slowly reminding her that she would never feel whole again.
Taking a deep breath, she glanced at the driver of the black spacious limo. He was a quiet man who only looked back at her in the rearview mirror from time to time. He had only introduced himself as Mason when he picked her up at the airport and that her grandmother had instructed him to pick her up and drive her to Aliamon, the place that would be her home from now on.
He was as unfriendly as a person could possibly be and his long deeply wrinkled face seemed worn out and leathered by life. He was cold and distant dressed in his black uniform and matching hat. She wondered if he had any children and if he did she knew he wasn’t the playful, imaginative father hers had been. Even the other kids at school had envied her parents because they always willing to play with her and indulge in the imaginative lands of fairies, elves, and unicorns. When other adults had tried to beat imagination from her saying she was too old to indulge in such ridiculous things, her parents had encouraged it claiming that one was never too old to believe in the magic of imagination. Now without them imagination was something she would never again be able to indulge in freely.
Snow cascaded from the sky dusting the old arthritic branches of the large oak trees that lined the vacant road leading to the old mansion. She had never met her grandmother before the funeral and her mother scarcely spoke of her claiming they had never gotten along but now, as her only surviving relative she had become her guardian. A perfect stranger now had complete control over her life.
She lifted up the blue jean book bag with the large rainbow peace sign her mother had given her for her birthday. It contained all her favorite books, Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Labyrinth: A Novel. There was one book, which was more special to her then the other and that was Where the Wild Things Are. For as long as she could remember, no matter how busy she was, her mother would always take time out to read to her any book she chose. Her mother’s favorite had always been that particular book. She used to say her favorite part of the story was how the little boy wanted to be some place else, some place magical where imagination was real. When he got to that place it was fun at first but as the hours passed he missed his mother more and more. Finally, he returned home and much like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz he realized even if magical lands existed and one got to go there they would eventually become homesick because there truly was no place like home.
Her vision blurred as her eyes filled with tears as a sharp, desperate pain stabbed her heart. She closed her eyes tightly, trying to push back the intense emotions threatening to swallow her whole. No matter what, from this point forward, her life would never be the same.
“We have arrived.” Came Mason’s deep voice as the large limo came slowly to a stop.
Looking out the window, she drew in a deep breath at the sight of the formidable mansion in front of her. A powerful shiver racked her slender frame as she stepped from the car staring up the stone stairs to the front door. She was frightened and wasn’t sure if she had the courage to actually open the door and step inside. The setting, the gloomy weather and even the ancient mansion itself looked like something out of a creepy horror movie. If a deep howl sounded from the woods then she would officially be completely freaked out.
Tightening her hand on the thick strap of her book bag, she took a deep breath and walked up the steps. With each step she brought herself closer and closer to the new reality her life had suddenly switched to. The only family she had left was a reclusive grandmother she never met, worse yet she hadn’t even known for the longest time that she even had a grandmother. Standing in front of the heavy, solid oak door she raised her hand to grasp the brass knocker hanging in the center. Before she could do just that, the door slowly opened with a loud creak. A short, very old and wrinkled woman with short salt and peppered colored hair stood next to the door. She looked skinny and fragile dressed in her black and white maid uniform and white apron.
“Welcome. Please come in.” She stated simply as she stepped to the side.
“Thank you.” Eliza gave her best smile and crossed the threshold into the mansion that was her new home. The soles of her shoes were completely silent as she made her way across the cold marble floor. A large crystal chandelier hung above her. To the left of the entrance was a large winding staircase that led up to the second and third floors.
“Your grandmother is awaiting you in the Library.” Croaked the old maid as she led the way down the dark, silent corridor. She stopped suddenly and pointed to the dim lit room to the right with a crooked, discolored finger.
Eliza swallowed hard as she entered the room to meet her elusive grandmother. The Library stayed true to its name. Quiet, warmed by the fire blazing in the fireplace, and full of books. Shelves upon shelves of books stretching from floor to ceiling.
A soft voice echoed from behind her and she spun around to face one of the most regal women she had ever seen in her life. Her hair was completely white and seemed to almost sparkle in the firelight. She had been blessed with good skin with only subtle hints of wrinkles here and there subtracting a few years from the sixty years she had lived but it was her eyes that hit a cord within Eliza. Those same eyes looked at her lovingly every day for fifteen years. It was a trait that mother and daughter shared and they sent precious memories flooding through Eliza’s mind. Her heart clenched at the bittersweet and painful memories.
Smoothing her hands down her gray pencil skirt, her gaze traveled over Eliza slowly. Her chin tilted up much the same way that Eliza’s teachers used to when someone was in trouble. “You’re just as I expected you to be. Young and slightly disheveled, just like your mother when she was your age.” Crinkling her nose, she motioned to Eliza’s hair. “What’s this?”
“What?” She reached up smoothing her hair with her left hand.
“What’s wrong with your hair?”
“There’s nothing wrong with it.”
“Well, you’re hair is clearly black and I dare say pink strips is not a desired hair color option for most people.”
Straightening her spin, she lifted her chin in defiance. “It is for me and my mother helped me pick out the colors and the style.”
Sniffing as though the very site of her was distasteful she smirked. “Yes, well my daughter never was responsible and clearly she didn’t develop that in her parenting either.
“My mother and father were the best parents and any child would have been lucky that have them.”
“Indeed.” She shook her head, turning back to her desk. “Cora will show you to your room. Dinner will be in the dinning hall at six.” Looking over her shoulder her eyes were narrow and stern. “In this house I expect prompt punctuality is that understood?”
She nodded. “Yes.”
“Yes Grandmother.” Without another word she turned and followed Cora.
As they followed the path they had previously taken, Eliza felt tears burn her eyes but she refused to allow them to fall. She wouldn’t allow anyone to see the fear and pain burrowing deep inside her, threatening to swallow her whole. She had to be tough, she had to be strong and from the moment her life shattered she swore no one would ever see her true pain again. She’d keep it hidden; she’d keep her true self-hidden from everyone and everything.