Kickoff written by Joanna Michal Hoyt

The Attic Window

and the world outside

I kept my misery about the move as quiet as I could. That wasn't as quiet as it ought to have been, but I was eleven and a half, which is a misery of its own, perhaps especially for a girl. I understood why we had to move. Great-aunt Liesl had taken care of my mother after my Uncle Ernest was born and my grandmother had post-partum depression which she never got over. So when Aunt Liesl fell and broke her hip and needed someone to live with her and take care of her it had to be my mother, I could see that.

The place wasn't bad. Outside I explored the woods and almost forgot to be miserable. Inside I spent too much
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time thinking about the neighbors I'd left behind, especially Derek, who was twelve, and whom I wanted alternately to hit very hard and to melt passionately into if only I could figure out what people were supposed to do with their noses when they kissed and if only I wasn't concentrating on not losing the chess game. I wrote self-pitying things in my journal, and I read a lot of novels, and one rainy afternoon six weeks after we moved I decided to explore the attic.

I could have explored it as soon as we moved in, probably, but I told myself first that I’d have to ask permission, that I’d have to get Aunt Liesl to trust
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me. Really I just wanted to have something saved for later. I got permission as soon as I asked.

I climbed the narrow stairs from the back bedroom on the second floor, shoved the trapdoor open, hauled myself through and sneezed explosively. Clearly nobody had bothered to clean the attic for a very long time. Constellations of dust motes danced in the sunlight…

In the sunlight. That was odd. It had been raining when I came up. I could still hear the rain drumming on the metal roof above my head, but sunlight poured in through the window at the far end of the attic.

I pushed my way through the attic, past dusty boxes
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and cabinets, to the window, which was oddly dust-free. I looked out. Blinked. Shut my eyes. Opened them again.

The window faced east, which meant I should have been looking out over the back lawn to the road and the knoll with the beech-trees on the other side. The knoll was in the right place, but there was no road, only the beech trees growing right up to the walls of the house, their silky green leaves bright in the sun. Only the beech trees, and the figure perched on a branch just below the window, looking in at me.
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