There was no light inside the mansion.
I thought I could make out shapes inside the darkness, but that only managed to bring fear into my mind. I could notice little things, like the edges of frames on the walls and the faint patterns of the wooden floor. I allowed my mind to wonder and to make sense of the darkness. For a moment, I thought I could see the figure of a monster akin to those in my bestiary. My uncle had gifted me the old, leather-bound tome several years before. It hadn't been the best of gifts for a child with a wild imagination. Back in those days, I would be visited in my dreams by the visions of multi-headed serpents, men with the heads of fish, and worse. As I grew older, though, I sheltered myself around the light of reason.
"Monsters don't exist," I told myself many times in the past, and I repeated those words as I stood at the doorway to the mansion. I kept telling myself that I was safe, and yet, I looked at the darkness, expecting it to reach out and grab me.
The darkness is the greatest enemy of children. It clouds all thought and reason because in the darkness, anything is possible; anything could be hiding in that which cannot be seen.
But I was old enough to know that there were ways to banish the darkness.
I reached into my bag and pulled out a box of long matches. I opened it and struck one of the sickly-thin sticks.
The darkness stepped back.
To either side, I could see walls of hard, brown wood with frames hanging from them. There was almost no space of open wall amongst the countless paintings and photographs. I took a step closer, but I didn't recognize anybody. As far as I could tell, my uncle Phillip was not in any of the pictures either.
Maybe he had many friends after all. I thought to myself.
I turned around, set my bag on the floor, put the matchbox in my pocket, and closed the door behind me. I held on to the light of the match. There was no going back.
I took a few steps towards the inside of the mansion. The match in my fingers began to fade, but I managed to catch a glimpse of something in the distance: stairs.
I felt a sharp sting of pain as the flame bit my fingertips. I flinched, pulling my hand away and allowing the dying match to fall on the hardwood floor. I didn't linger on the pain. I was too curious. I reached into my pocket and lit another match.
The room I was in, which didn't seem much like a living room anymore, had two large sets of stairs rising from either side. Up above, on the second level, I could see a balcony that overlooked the floor I was standing on.
This is too fancy. I told myself, shaking my head. I never thought my uncle would be the sort of man to have so much wealth.
I was beginning to question how my uncle had managed to buy such a thing, or even worse- how was it that he would rather travel the world on foot than stay in such a beautiful home? I'd only taken a dozen steps, and had only seen it through the light of a match, but the mansion was gorgeous. For all I could see, there were no imperfections on the walls or on the floor. Everything looked pristine... timeless, and yet, apparently it had been built by the founder of Jaycetown two centuries before.
It all seemed too much, too fancy, for a man who'd always carried with him the same sun-bleached old suitcase.
I walked deeper into the mansion, the match on my fingers burning down the length of the thin wooden stick. The flame was faint, but the light was strong. Step by step, the details of the mansion were revealed to me, like the waves of the ocean parting sand and showing what laid buried below.
YOU ARE READING
A Secret Named Sophie (Sophie Spencer, Book 1)Fantasy
“To my dearest Niece…” Sophie’s uncle is dead. The letter informed her that Philip Spencer, the man who’d been both friend and guardian, died and left her everything he had. She doesn’t want to believe that her uncle is dead. Hoping to find the trut...