The Attic

A short story about a visit to an old attic.

By Deborah Martin

The Attic

By Deborah Carter Martin

Shivering from the touch of cold metal, I grasped the side rails of the wobbly staircase with hesitation and started to climb slowly; each wooden step groaned under my feet as I inched my way toward the attic. I paused at the top of the stairs and listened for a moment, for even one sound would have sent me running. As I disappeared into the cold blackness, a faint musty odor filled my nostrils.

With the silent darkness all around me, I stirred up the stale air as I scrambled for the single light bulb which hung from the ceiling. Monstrous shadows sprang up all around me as I pulled the cord, and I noticed how dreary this unfinished room was. The small high windows at each end were smeared with dirt and allowed only a few rays of light to filter through. Under the eaves, insulation protruded from the walls and the floor was only partially covered with boards. I hurriedly picked my way through the maze of empty boxes, forgotten toys, Christmas decorations, and broken gadgets waiting to be fixed to find what I was looking for.

As I ventured deeper into the attic and further away from the light, the ceiling lowered and my heartbeat quickened. I had to step carefully around the “old treasures,” for there was no clear path to follow. I shuddered as I brushed up against a dangling cobweb. In the dimness, another object caught my eye. I barely was able to make it out — my rocking horse.

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Deathly still and covered with dust, Goldie stood there, a monument to memories of years past. Once a flashy golden palomino with four white stockings and a white mane and tail, my early childhood friend’s brilliant colors had faded and yellowed with time. The rusty metal springs creaked loudly as I bounced him once more. I gently stroked his neck, leaving a streak in the dust. I looked into his big brown eyes and thought about the exciting rides and adventures we had shared. Sadness overwhelmed me for a moment as I thought about how my rocking horse waited patiently for me still, enduring the years of extreme heat and cold in this desolate and forgotten place. Some day, though, he would live again, bouncing to the yells and “giddy ups” of my own little one. In the meantime, he would have to remain here in the quiet darkness, suspended in time.

After finding what I was searching for, I quickly made my way back to the light and took one last look around. The monstrous shadows lay motionless against the walls; I turned them off with a yank of the light cord, groped my way to the stairs and backed slowly down to the bright and living world below.