Her mind felt clear. She had an idea.

Perhaps it was the incomprehensible weight of death, bewildering in its finality, that led Teddy's mind to wander back to that little old house she hadn't had a conscious thought about in seven years. Maybe it was an escape, a distraction from the cold reality of her situation. Or maybe... Maybe it was a door, locked in the deepest corner of her mind, that sprung open at just the right time.

She flung out of bed and rushed to the closet. She opened the door and tugged at the string extending from the ceiling, illuminating the small, cluttered space in shocking brightness. She yanked a box of old notebooks and binders from school and tossed it behind her. What she was looking for, she knew, would be buried deep inside the closet.

She shoved past smaller boxes of junk. Her heart raced in excitement and exertion and her brain was happy to let it take the lead. When she spotted a green plastic crate, she paused. It was covered in dust—it must've been buried in the back of the closet for years. She grasped its grimy edges, felt the tickle of—her breath caught—spiderwebs between her fingers. A brief spell of deja vu gripped her, but it left as quickly as it had arrived. She dragged the crate out of the closet and wiped her hands on her plaid pajama pants. She crouched on the floor for a closer look.

The crate was full of old junk from a lost time: her "unsolvable" rubik's cube, which she had ruined by peeling and rearranging the colored stickers; a few tattered copies of Goosebumps books (her favorite, "Stay Out of the Basement," was especially worse-for-wear); a purple plastic compass from a McDonald's kids meal, which she could vaguely remember using to pretend to speak with ghosts. She picked through these lost treasures until she came upon a leather notebook, laying patiently at the bottom.

Had she known what she was looking for? She supposed she did, or else how had she known that she found it? In the last eight years, Theodora White's mind had slowly, but effectively, erased all conscious memory of what transpired that one strange weekend at grandma's house. Not because it was traumatizing, though it surely was. No, Teddy's mind had to let go of the memory... the knowledge of impossible power, the witness of magic, of life after death.

Once you've seen it, there's no turning back. No going back to reality.

So when Teddy's dad picked her up that day eight years ago, when she went back to school, when her parents lost each other and then lost themselves before her eyes, her child's mind responded in the only way it could: It forgot. And then, she grew up.

The leather felt warm, soft and alive in her hands. She opened it up, flipped through a few pages, scanned for meaning. From what she could tell, the journal was full of seemingly senseless handwritten notes and diagrams. Her brow furrowed. As she lifted the journal closer to inspect further, an envelope dropped from its hold and landed on her lap. "Theodora" was written in beautiful cursive on its face. She turned the envelope in her hands. The flap of the opening came up easily, and she knew it had been opened before. A shiver ran up her spine. She pulled out the letter inside.

My sweet Teddy,

Your stay meant the world to me. To all of us. I'm sorry you were frightened, but now you know something about the world that most will never know. You must have many questions, and I'm sorry I won't be around to answer them. Keep this journal in a safe place until you're older—it should help tide you over until you're ready to come back.

All my love,
Grandma Rose

Teddy closed her eyes. She remembered the warmth of Grandma Rose, the quirky, shy way she carried herself. She had always assumed her memory was false because it was so unlike the descriptions her parents gave her: hoarder, loner, not-right-in-the-head. This note validated her memory, but it conflicted with it, too. Something had happened that weekend she stayed with Grandma Rose, something bizarre... but she couldn't remember it.

Frustrated, she set the letter aside and examined the journal. She flipped through its pages, watched the black ink dance like an old cartoonist's flip book, before landing naturally on a page in the middle. Something else was pressed inside the book. She removed a crinkly piece of paper, folded once down the middle. It was a document.

Her brow furrowed as she read the words, took in what they meant in careful disbelief. It was the deed to the house, signed over to her upon her 18th birthday.

Grandma's house was hers.

She exhaled in an incredulous whoosh. She got to her feet and caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror hung on the back of the bedroom door. Her tall, thin frame looked frail where it usually looked strong. Her short brown hair clung close to her face, darker than usual and in desperate need of a wash. Her pale skin had a grey undertone, making her look more like a corpse than her dad had that final day in the hospital. But her face was alive, eyes red and puffy, lips swollen from crying. A soft smile stretched across her face, lifted her cheeks and brightened her dark green eyes.

The memory of Grandma's house, of the strange animals, the ghostly girl, the brooding butler and the spiders, wasn't erased from her memory forever. Like a corpse, it had simply been buried, deep within the soil of her mind. Some corpses, however, don't stay dead. Some trickle back to life, like ghosts and poltergeists. Some, like the corpses she had known and since forgotten, come back better than before.

Energy coursed through her veins. She had calls to make, meetings to schedule, medical bills to pay. Suddenly, the crushing weight of death and responsibility didn't feel so crushing.

She started to pack. 

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