The old house was designed to make you look up. Old Judge MacDonald had a way of looking down on Marlborough. When I moved in a century later I thought the place was haunted.
There was a pair of closed shutters by the chimney, complementing the open ones on the other side. I told my friends there were secrets behind those shutters. I would lie awake and dream of what I'd discover there. A grimy window, maybe, or a door with no handle, rough and painted shut. Inside would be a closet, a tiny room hidden behind the linen cupboard. The walls would be dusty, the high ceiling draped with cobwebs.
I imagined a child imprisoned there, deformed, mute, lonely. I would hide in the space between the rooms, and looking through the peepholes, I would see the past, the Judge and his three daughters. Did he know the malformed child could see its sisters being beaten? The drinking? The scandals? It made me wonder how the Judge disappeared all those years ago. Perhaps he was there with me, under the loose floorboards...
I tried to crawl onto the roof one day to open the shutters, but Dad stopped me just in time. He went out there himself and looked through. Nothing but the side of the house . He told me the shutters were only there to make the chimney look symmetrical.
I'm still disappointed.
1 August 2016