Age: 13, Grade: 8
School Name: Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn, NY
Educator: Alex Darrow
Category: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Wonder filled the hall, mystery in each and every one of our eyes. The rooms approached us as we continued further, all empty and a re-creation of the previous, so we scoured them for clues. In one there was an old worn chesterfield of a brown colour with its natural uneven state making it uncomfortable. In that room behind the cupboard there was a rain napper. It was stuck in pretty well so we sent the smallest kid in.
His eyes glittered when he heard, the ear to ear smile enlarging unnaturally. His little hands trembling as he grasped it, sparks of joy radiating in his eyes. The rain napper fell onto the floor followed with a quick scramble to inspect it, to find each of its hidden secrets. It opened its wings, a sight to behold. The wings were lined yellow ducks mirroring each other perfectly.
Then the little boy disappeared again under the cupboard eagerly searching for something more. A golden glow erupted from a hidden lamp in the corner. We picked up the lamp cautiously and excited, it was placed on the cupboard top, its light shadowing the rain napper.
The magical feeling of youth submerged the room as the shadows and bonded with the light. Its captivating glare of joy apparent in all of us. The hold that it took on us was everlasting, a grasping hand on our souls.
The light continued to wane as we grew used to the glow and a need for something more spurt out of us. We emerged out of the room dancing and pretend fighting in the hall ecstatically.
There was a new energy distilled in us, almost a reminder to be kids. The words of mystery novels ringing in our ears, a likable suspense holding us hostage.
As we entered the next room smells of home infiltrated our senses. The little boy immediately ran to the table were there were many automa toys. He cranked the handle with fascination, for he did not have one at home. A feeling of commitment was intertwined in him now, he must know how it works. He studied it intently and the rest of us lot played with zoetropes and marbles.
None of us had ever had the opportunity to play with a zoetrope so we were quick to find a match. We watched it for what felt like hours, the hoses and trapeze artists spinning around the room in seconds. Some switched to marbles, building and rebuilding runs with utter enjoyment.
I turned my head at one point to the tall boy. He had glossy short black hair and a kind aura surrounding him. His eyes were a pale black and soft. He was the oldest, you could tell by his stature. There was something different about him, something remarkable. He felt apart from the rest of us. Not a natural born leader, but self-reliant. I admired that, it was respectable.
Slowly my eyes drifted from him and around the room. It was strange. There was no sense of time while you were here. I left the room quietly careful not to disturb anyone and begun to venture down the halls. There were many rooms here, but the doors were locked. I found an open one and stepped inside. Immediately I was filled with an unexplainable passion for life.
The room was bright and filled with orchestras playing sweet harmonies. There was food and drink and an endless garden of trees. I dared not to go into the forest but enjoy the music. Soon the room was filled with people saying that they had heard the music and were eager to go the the opera. Every wish was granted.
I made my way over to the tall boy and sat beside him. I couldn’t read him and quiet nature seemed to engulf him. I told him that this was my dream room. A place that I dreamed but could never reach.
He put out his hand and softly asked if I would like to see his dream room. I took his hand slowly, unsure if I did. I followed him down the hallway a great silence corrupting the previous feeling of joy. I was filled with the feeling of loneliness and a need for escape. We reached the room his soft eyes led me to a light switch. As he flipped it I could see snow. It had begun its dusting where the winds were sweeping. The snow with its ephemeral glow radiating off the black and blood red skies. As the mist of white parted ways, it left its mark with the deafening silence. None of the usual screams of joy or cries of laughter in the streets. Empty meaning filled the ice broken roads.
The opera from a woman’s house invaded the silence. Italian falsettos glossing the streets, a symphony of strings grazing the sidewalks. A lagato line of warmth erupted from the sky touching the earth with its soft gaze. Cold gas lamps watched the streets with a errie crimson light never seeming to let go. They went out, one by one, eventually. A blue haze rested on the floor of Merton Street, chapel bells ringing in the lonely cobblestones.
Frozen grass crunched underneath a lightkeepers wheels creating the uneven pit-pat. Flickering lights evolved in the college, whispers of students filling the courtyard. Then the order of the day was established. Warm blues submerged the morning yellows their power falling. I saw a boy walking down the street alone and cold, but at peace. He seemed to like it here in this state. I looked up to the boy inquisitively, a smile crossing his face unknowingly. It was strange, unlikeable.
A sudden urgency of escape was instilled in me as I ran towards the door only to find it locked. I pushed and pulled at the steel until my body was too weak to even stand straight and I crumpled. I crumpled slowly until my back was against the cold plain door and my head in my knees. Hurls of tears spilled from my eyes mixed with phlegm. The tall boy was nowhere to be seen. Soon as my quiet cries became the last sound of the night I heard a faint rumbling and a lock click. I gradually made my way to my feet and pulled at the cold steel once again. It moved ever so slightly and scraped and scratched against the floor as I slid past it. I crawled through the thick air and clouds of darkness painfully, constantly gasping for air. I felt blood trickle down the nape of my neck and I edged further and further down the hallway. I passed room after room, just hoping to find my dream room. I continued desperately.
Dread filled my head and as I started to hear my footsteps rattling behind me I reach the dream room. The door is open but I didn’t hear music. As I entered the emptiness surrounded me, the sounds of joy gone. There is no one, nothing, only faint memories of what used to be.