© Mary M. Cushnie-Mansour


            Linda had begun working as Mrs. Janson’s personal companion in 1995. Mrs. Janson had been frail then, to say the least, but Linda never dreamed the old woman would live ten years, and she would have such a fabulous time caring for her.

            There had only been one strict rule––Linda was never to enter the attic. In fact, even if she had wanted to, the door was locked, and if there were a key she was not privy to its location.

            Linda travelled the world with Mrs. Janson during the first five years. Mrs. Jansen loved to visit the beautiful flower gardens in different countries. In fact, she would bring seeds back, and Linda was instructed to plant them in the gardens that surrounded the old mansion.

            Linda laid her car keys on the kitchen counter and gazed at the emptiness. It was hard to believe Mrs. Jansen was gone, and she had no idea what to do now. She’d decide after she spoke with Mr. Kennings, Mrs. Janson’s lawyer. He had approached her after the funeral and said she was expected at the reading of the will at 10:00 tomorrow morning.

            Linda spent the evening packing her meagre possessions. The next morning she loaded her car and headed off to Mr. Kenning’s office.

            She was surprised to be the only person there. “Are there no others?”

            “No,” Mr. Kennings pulled a file from his drawer and set it on the desk. 

            “Strange, Mrs. Janson had numerous pictures of young women on the wall in her den. I just assumed they were nieces, or relatives of some sort.”

            What happened next was even more shocking. Linda was named the sole recipient of an estate greater than could ever be imagined. “Sign here, Miss,” Mr. Kennings directed. 

            Linda drove back to the house, returned the suitcases to her old room and then wandered around, revisiting all the places that she had sat and read to, or listened to music with, Mrs. Janson. She had been a peculiar old bird, though, very secretive about her past.

            “We should live only for the present,” she would say, “because that is a gift. The past is gone, and the future is uncertain.” She would smile, sip on her cup of tea and sit back in her old rocker, surrounded by the fragrance of fresh flower bouquets from her gardens.

            Linda stopped by the den and gazed at the pictures. An eerie sensation crept through her bones when she saw a framed picture of herself hanging on the wall. It had not been there yesterday. She wondered who had hung it up, because, for sure, Mrs. Janson could not have done it herself. And, to Linda’s knowledge, no one else had been by the house for weeks.

            She continued on, her steps leading to the previously forbidden attic. As Linda drew near she noticed the door was cracked open. She pushed it, and the creaking warned it probably had not been used for a long time. As the door swung open an ‘angle wing’ formed in the dust.  Linda stepped over it, not daring to walk on an angel’s wing.

            She proceeded slowly up the stairs, watching for broken boards or splinters or nails.  She noticed holes in the wall where once there must have been a railing.

            Finally, the last step. Did she dare? What treasure awaited her, or would she only uncover the ghosts of lives lived long ago? Linda jumped––she was not alone! She thought she noticed a figure at the far side of the room.  Silly fool––just a reflection in a mirror. Strange, though, how dust covered everything, yet not the mirror. She shuddered.  Had someone managed to clean the mirror, yet not disturb anything else?

            Linda meandered her way around the room, running her fingers along the dusty furniture, touching the soft, velvety clothing hanging in an antique armoire, eyeing the corner filled with old wooden toys––toys that had been meticulously crafted by someone’s loving fingers.

            What was that?––there––in the middle of the room––a flower garden? Linda knelt down beside the huge wooden barrels and touched the leaves of the plants. They were real enough. She dug her fingers into the earth and enjoyed the rich aroma that floated into her nostrils. Strange, the flowers seemed to have been freshly watered. The blooms appeared ready to be born. Linda observed the rich colours peeking from the buds.

            She heard the door at the bottom of the stairs creak shut. Linda looked back and noticed her footsteps on the dusty floor had vanished. She stared up at the mirror. Mrs. Janson smiled and reached out her arms.

            “Welcome Linda, we have been waiting for you. Our garden is complete once again. Unfortunately, our previous white rose came to a most bitter end.”

            The mirror’s reflection shimmered into the room. It stopped over the barrels of flowers and hovered there. Mrs. Jansan began to sing a sweet melody and the blooms began to grow and dance, drawing Linda into their loveliness. The last thing she heard was the gentle voice of Mrs. Janson: “Well done, Mr. Kennings.”

            “Likewise, Mrs. Janson,” he replied.


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