Childhood. It's a veritable attic of memories. And like attics, they can be really scary and daunting. I spent the blossoming years of my childhood at my grandparents' house and remember much too vividly for comfort, the cavernous garret. It was a shadowy grey place and filled with countless spooks and mice. The spooky dark wooden stairway which lead to it was eerily tucked behind a doorway. Why would it be behind a locked doorway unless you wanted to censor what went up and came down those stairs. What if something that never went up the stairs came down them? The door put such ideas into my head and made me nearly pee in my frilly little girl's underpants. I could never get over the feeling that a hundred eyes were watching me, waiting for the moment to strike and eat me up. Back then, i probably thought i was one tasty little morsel, cause i honestly believed that a lot of things wanted to eat me up. Like the monster family under the bed, for instance. Aah! The monster family - papa monster, mama monster, baby monster and the giant cauldron to cook me in. But the monster family under the bed is a story for another time. Let's go back to the garret.
Spiderwebs hung thick like ghostly festoons - trapezing the length and breadth of the attic. They hung there, invisible yet grey as sadness. walking into one of them was like remembering a bad memory. You just could not get over it immediately. And left you feeling somewhat defiled. It stuck to my hands, my face and my hair, and despite my best efforts, I could never shake it off completely. No one liked admitting that the uncomfortable shadows and the corpses of once-useful household things gave them the jeepers. I was the cowardy-custard of the gang, so I was allowed to be scared. And god, I was!! But it more than a small mercy that pigeons hadn't discovered our roomy garret, which in our untrained 5-year-old opinions, extended right into the next universe. I can imagine what their spectral moaning and crackly wings would have done for my jumpy nerves. Like I said, no small mercy.
Old dolls with holes for eyes and scalped heads lay there with their ghoulish pink grins and grime-on-porcelain complexions. Sometimes an accidental nudge would make them wail out a guttural, dying-battery "mama" in that creepy horror-movie way. But through the garret was the only way to get to the terrace. And you know the kind of attraction sunshine in high places holds for bratty children who've got just too much time on their hands and too little supervision. Siesta time, that perfect time of the day when all the grown-ups were much too busy taking their naps to boss us around. When we could be up to any nefarious deed that crept into our heads. Siesta time was when we'd hurry across the length of the attic, which went on forever, ducking at the wooden beams that traversed its width every five yards or so, sometimes bumping our heads very painfully in our hurry, wrestle with the jammed latch till it gave way and opened our exit into the welcome arms of laughing sunshine.