I stood there shocked. There was absolutely no mistaking that the woman in that 1930’s sketch was me. I had on what I could only describe as a Hollywood starlet gown, silky looking and slimming on my stout figure. My hair was long, and obviously brown due to the dark tones. The dress was a beautiful green and it looking stunning against the cascades of curls that fell down my back. I was posed at an angle similar to when you turn around slightly to talk to someone in a line. Clasped in my hands was a book. It was different looking and caught my eye. The gold etching on what looked to be a real leather binding and cover was beautiful. In fact every aspect of this sketched portrait was beautiful.
I must have spent hours up there just staring at my likeness in an obviously old portrait from the 30’s. It was eerily familiar to me. Almost like finding something you lost, only I couldn’t recall ever losing it. I don’t remember what jarred me back to reality honestly. I just remember looking around and realizing it was dark but for the light of dusk coming through the windows, and even that was fading fast. I looked at my watch and saw that it was 7:58 pm. About that time I heard the doors downstairs close and I knew I had managed to get myself locked in the damned library.
My first emotion was aggravation, then frustration, then panic set in. I figured if I was locked in, there was probably an alarm system in place and I certainly didn’t have any intentions on any run ins with the cops about trespassing in the library after hours. My parents would flip. Of coarse the were gonna flip anyways because I wasn’t gonna be home. Good luck explaining my way out of this one, I thought to myself. A movement out of the corner of my eye brought me back to reality. A mouse scuttled across the floor. Now I’m not normally skittish but in that dark ancient attic at night, small mice become master splinter sized rats and I ran without thought or reason down the steps and through the hall and down the steps again.
I didn’t stop til I got to the door and realized it wasn’t opening without a key. Then I realized if there was an alarm, I had surely tripped it by now and the police were on their way. I was residing myself to my fate and making myself some what comfortable at the computer table to wait for the officers. Seconds turned into minutes and minutes into an hour. So the idea of an alarm system was out of the question. I decided that if I was going to be stuck in the library all night, I was gonna utilize their internet. After a quick call to my parents to assure them I was fine and at a slumber party (who even has those anymore?) I booted up the computer and logged into my blog. Typical amount of hits. A few comments, some trolling. So off to my space I went. I logged in and went to browse around and I got a message. I sat completely still… I was stunned. I knew who it was before I even checked it.
It seemed like an eternity before I got the nerve to click on the message tab. It was Finn. Two words. That was all the message said. “you came”. I jumped up. I began racing through the library, searing all over. I didn’t feel the need to search the attic, I had been there already. When my search turned up empty, I ran back to the computer and unleashed a fury I hadn’t know I possessed over this situation.
“So this is funny to you Finn? It’s funny to make me fall in love with you, lead me on, become my world then disappear? Then come back to toy with me some more and leave tiny clues like I’m a damn detective and I track you to a library only to get stuck here overnight and scared out of my head by King Kong sized rats and weird portraits of me in the damned attic!!!!!”
So, I had maybe went to far. I was harsh. But I really needed to be harsh in that moment. This man, or whatever or whoever he or she was, was playing with me like a puppet master and I was simply flopping around on strings for their amusement. Well, it stopped now and I was going to make sure of it. While I was busy collecting my thoughts another message came through. I didn’t hesitate this time. I clicked it and it read ” You love me?”. I was not in the mood for Finn’s games so I just shut down the computer and walked to the oversized chair in the comfort section built for folks to read and relax in. I slumped into the chair like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. Lost in thought I didn’t even realize how sleepy I was becoming til I lost consciousness.
The dream was so vivid. It was the thirties. It was dark outside and I was in my room dressing for a party down stairs. It was the library, but it wasn’t a library then. I knew somehow that it was my home. My maid was combing my curls and applying my rouge and lipstick. My mind was somewhere else. I was staring off very melancholy. The maid spoke up in her heavily accented Irish tongue, “Now Miss Nellie, don’t ya be thinking on boys that aren’t yer station. Yer da will see ya married to the finest man money can buy and nothing less.” Nellie loved Katie. She was the closest thing to a friend that Nellie had. Growing up rich and the only child to a wealthy widower was a cross to bare because you were always alone. No one was ever good enough to associate with Nellie according to Mr. Milton Latter. Nellie Latter was to marry Willoby Morgan. He was of the upstate Morgans and he had a face like a rat. He was a slimy sleazeball and took every chance he had to remind Nellie that, though she may resist now, he would have her the night of their wedding. She was dreading the day. Tonight was the pre-wedding party. She was to be married to the swine in 2 days.
The only two people in the world who knew she detested Willoby Morgan were Katie Murphy and her brother Finn Murphy, Nellie’s one true love. She had appealed to her dad the previous summer when they fell in love, but he wouldn’t have it. Mr. Latter threatened to disown her, disinherit her and throw her to the streets and have Finn killed if she wed him. Nellies love for Finn is what pushed her to go through with the engagement and in two days, the wedding. She would have died for Finn, and he for her. But he respected her wishes to apart and had went off to join the war effort as talks of another war with Germany were brewing. He never even said good bye. Which should be fine, because Her fate was sealed.
“Ah Miss Nellie, If yer looking that way on yer wedding day, Mister Morgan may change his mind then yer da will blame Finnegan and have him hunted ya know.” She was right of coarse, as Nellie glanced in the mirror she saw that she was crying, and looking like a widow weeping. She dried her eyes and pleaded with God to let her see Finn one more time before her life became desolate. Katie, Her wonderful Katie, had vowed to stay on as her maid. Katie was beautiful. Long auburn hair and big blue eyes. She was about 19 and a buxom beauty. She would have given Nellie a definite run for her money in society had she had the means. But the Murphys’ were poor. Their parents passed 3 years ago of consumption so they made their way to the south to find work on farms and plantations. Mister Milton Latter had only the best for Nellie, so he hired them on and had Finn attending the stables and Katie as Nellie’s maid.
“It time my deary, and you look lovely” said Katie as Nellie caught her eyes in the mirror. “you share your brothers eyes Katie…” and Nellie lost it again. She cried as Katie held her tight.
The bells from the church down the road chimed and I awoke with a start. I could see the light shining in, it was day. I checked my watch and it was 7 am. I gathered myself up to hide in a room til they unlocked the place and I could sneak out. On my way up the staircase I noticed a book lying on the floor that wasn’t there before….
I made my way to it and picked it up. It was old, and worn. But I knew the leather binding and the gold lettering instantly. I opened up the first page. The Diary of Nellie Latter. I started to leaf through it but I heard the doors unlocking at the front, so I bolted up the staircase and hid for about an hour then strolled out casually to my car covered in morning dew. I brought the book with me along with so much to ponder about Nellie, and Katie, and Finn. The man I loved who lived apparently so very long ago, who loved me too, so very long ago…
to be continued…