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“Sandy, come quick,” Andy yelled from our bedroom.
“What? I'm busy!” I yelled back. I'm always busy, I thought, cleaning up the last of a gallon of milk my youngest had been sure he was strong enough to pour.
“J--- me--- r,” he persisted.
“Be Quiet!” I yelled at the kids. Everyday the same fighting and crying from the three of them. It was enough to drive a person crazy, if this house didn't do the job first.
“Just come here,” Andy yelled again.
Just come here, I mimicked in my head. Wouldn't do to make fun out loud with three little sets of ears listening.
“Fine,” I yelled throwing the towel in the sink. Yes, this house had taken its toll on my patience. One year. One year of being mired in repairs, replacements, renovation, dust, noise, debt...
I'd wanted this house. I swear I did. In the beginning. It had potential, that was clear to both of us. But six months in, over budget, overwrought, three small children. What had we been thinking?
But, with no other choice, we kept going. And now, finally, we were at the end. The last room, our own bedroom.
Come quick. What had he found now? My heart sank at the thought of another unexpected disaster.
I climbed the stairs with legs of lead, the stairwell only echoing the sound of crying below, and headed to the bedroom where Andy was waiting.
“What!?” I said. “Oh.”
Andy had broken through the back wall of the bedroom. Something had always felt wrong about the hallway, but it wasn't until we started plans for remodeling the bedroom it became clear; the hallway was longer than our adjacent bedroom wall. It met up with the bathroom and the end of the hall, which was also smaller than it should have been. That's why it had been so hard to spot at first. That and the exhaustion of the whole moving/renovating process. I figured there was some sort of old storage space there, though why they would wall it up was beyond me.
Andy was standing with a sledgehammer hanging loosely from his hand. In front of him was a large opening in the wall, and just behind that, a small door. Big enough for one person to squeeze through, if they ducked.
“Well, open it,” I said. “What are you waiting for?”
“”It locks from the outside,” he said, pointing to the key sitting in the lock.
“And?” I said, walking towards him.
“So, it's supposed to keep someone in, not out.”
“Somone? What are you talking about?” I laughed. “It's to keep something in, everyone else out. What's wrong with you?”
“I just...have a bad feeling about this.”
“Well, not opening the door won't change that. Try a little optimism. Maybe the old owner was a miser and it's full of money,” I smiled.
He shrugged and set the sledgehammer down. Then turned the key and pushed open the door.
“It's too dark. I can't see anything.”
“Here,” I said, looking around the door, “there's a lightswitch.”
“Why is it outside the door?”
“Lots of closets have switches outside the door.”
“And a lock on the outside?”
“Let's just get this over with,” I said, flipping the switch.
“What? What is it?” I asked peeking around him.
The room was small, as expected, but the ceiling was the same height as our room, which made the space seem bigger. The walls were padded and the floor linoleum. But what had Andy speechless, I'm sure, were the handcuffs hanging from a chain mounted at the top of the far wall. And the bucket. Yeah, probably the bucket sitting on the floor beneath the handcuffs had really done him in.
I stepped into the room and spun around slowly. Padded walls, no visible ventilation, thick foam filled door.
“”It's soundproof,” Andy said softly.
“And hidden. You could be in here for days and no one would know, if that wall was back up,” I said smiling.
“Why are you smiling. Do you know what this means?” Andy asked.
“Yes,” I said. “We finally have a place we can hide from the kids.”