I only once dared to sneak toward the door. I took my slippers off and left them in my bedroom so my parents wouldn’t hear my movements. I knew my brother was a asleep, all he ever did then was eat and sleep. The only light behind me was the television’s glare bouncing off the walls. The hideous cackling of laughter echoed out of the speakers in the distance. I turned, feeling semi-confident and alone, and snuck my way toward the end of the hallway.
I swallowed the desperate pleading of my chest to gasp for air. My heartbeat pounded in my ears. I reached the door handle on my tiptoes and pressed a finger out to push the door open. I gulped down the last moment of panic building inside me and readied my arm to silence my dash into the room. The door snapped open. A gleam of light blasted out for a second before snapping suddenly back to black. I screamed. He shouted back.
The fright and swearing from my dad made me fear the door and what was behind it. That never-shut door engrained itself into my nightmares until mid-high school. Even as adults my brother and I refuse to pass an invisible line in the hallway that has guarded us from what beast hides behind the door. Mum was more fearless. She would tease us, a devious smirk perched on her face as she struts up to the monster sleeping in the room beyond the door. She reminded us that the creature would never attack adults, only children. I’d pray for mum and dad to return each time they disappeared to the other side.
‘Are you ready?’ my brothers asks as he hands me a bin liner.
‘I guess we have to be. Have you ever been inside?’ I reply, glaring at the door.
‘Never. But we can’t avoid it now. There’s no one else to do the job. Mum said it is too heavy for her.’
He smacks me on the back and leads the way to the door. I follow, forcing the desire to run to the back of my mind. The doors sits slightly open, wedged into the thick carpet, refusing to fit with its intended lock. The wooden frame groans menacingly. We tap the door expecting it to slide open. It doesn’t budge. We shove harder, making it scrape open across the plush carpet.
We fall into a perfume cloud that fills the room. Light twinkles around the room, engulfing us in bejewelled majesty. Dresses of every colour sway from mannequins and hang from rows of racks. Feathers shimmer with glitter and flow off the gowns. A shrine of wigs is set on the dresser next to a box of facial products.
‘What the fuck is this?’ my brother mutters.
‘Language dear,’ mum says as she hobbles into the room, leaning heavily on her walking stick. ‘I told you that they were too hefty for me to carry. Those dresses weigh a ridiculous amount. Make sure you’re careful with them. A lifetime went into them.’
‘What the hell mum?’ I snap, my body trembling from shock. ‘Why is this all here? We were petrified of this room. Why did you scare us from dress ups?’
‘It was never dress ups,’ mum calmly responds. A tear slithers out from mum’s eyes as she strokes a silk sleeve of a turquoise gown. ‘It was your father.’
‘Dad’s? But it’s all girl’s stuff?’
‘You should have seen her,’ mum sniffles. ‘She was beautiful.’