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Whisper Me This
Author:Kerry Anne King

Whisper Me This

Kerry Anne King

Whisper me this, my darling, my love The song of the moonlight, of stars up above.

Whisper me truth, love, and whisper me lies, Warm days of winter, cold summer skies.

Whisper me anger, whisper me rain,

Whisper me flowers, then whisper me pain.

When I come to die, love, then whisper me this The shape of a memory, the truth of a kiss.

Whisper me, whisper me, whisper me this

A lifetime of memories, and one final kiss.



Chapter One

My parents’ bedroom has always been off-limits.

Not that anybody has ever said to me, “Do not enter this room without permission.” There’s no Keep Out sign on the door. The list of rules my mother wrote out and stuck on the refrigerator with a magnet does not say Stay out of my bedroom.

The bedroom rule is both unwritten and unspoken, but I know it as surely as I know the sky is blue and grass is green. It’s one of those things I shouldn’t need to be told.

Marley knows the rule as well as I do, but Marley doesn’t care about the rules. “It’s the Forbidden Kingdom,” she says, squeezing my hand. “We must be brave.”

Today we are playing explorers, willing to risk cannibals, lions, and even our mother in our quest for hidden treasure. Marley says we are fearless adventurers, but I’m scared. My knees feel funny, and I hear my heart beating in my ears. When I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror hung above the long, low dresser, I look like a little kid, not a bold warrior princess in disguise.

“Maybe we should conquer some other land,” I whisper, but Marley is braver.

“I wonder what’s in there?” She waves toward the two big white doors that take up nearly one whole wall of the room.

I gasp. “We can’t go in there.”

“Sure we can. We just need the right magic words to say to break the sealing spell. And don’t you even think about abracadabra or bibbidi-bobbidi-boo.”

“Not a good idea, Marley.”

I look over my shoulder. The bedroom door is firmly closed, but is not much of a barrier between us and parental wrath. I hold my breath. Listen for footsteps. I hear the hum of the electric heater out in the hall. Wind in the trees outside the window. The sound of the television, muted by distance.

Marley, unafraid, lays a hand on the closet door. Nothing happens. No electric zing. No lightning. No earthquakes.

“Behind these doors lies the Cavern of Secrets,” she intones. “Treasures await, stored long ago by dragons. All we must do is speak the word of opening and the treasure is ours.”

Curiosity builds in me. All my life I’ve caught only glimpses of this room, usually through the half-open door. It reminds me of the place in church where the minister stands, spotless and sacred and off-limits to kids.

The dark wooden furniture. The giant bed with its perfectly smooth bedspread. The curtains, always closed and blocking out the light. My own small self, reflected in the mirror, is the only thing out of place.

As for that closet, it could contain anything.

“Well, open it, then,” I say, all my caution evaporating in a rush of need. Whatever lies behind those doors is important and necessary to my survival. I’m sure of it.

“You have to do it,” Marley says, stepping back.

This is the annoying thing about Marley. She has all the best ideas, but once she’s talked me into trouble, she always makes me take the necessary action. That way, I’m the one who gets in trouble while she is—poof!—nowhere to be seen. Certainly nowhere to be punished.

“I don’t know the magic word.”

“Yes, you do,” Marley says.

And then, all at once, I do know. I leave my spot by the door, my feet sinking into the carpet with every step, little tufts of cream and gray fibers tickling the spaces between my toes. Raising both arms in the air, like the picture in my Bible storybook of Moses making a path in the Red Sea, I proclaim, “Adventure! Adventure’s the word.”

Again, it seems like nothing happens, but the incantation works. When I lay my hand against the closet door, it glides open with only the whisper of a sound, revealing a secret room that looks to my eyes more like a store than a mysterious kingdom full of treasure.

Rows of clothes hang neatly on hangers, all lined up by color. On one side, shirts and suit jackets. On the other, dresses and blouses. On the floor, shoes. Boxes, neatly stacked, all sealed shut with packing tape. More items are arranged on shelves above the clothes racks, too high for me to reach or even see clearly for the most part, but I recognize a badminton racket. And there’s a stack of gifts, brightly wrapped in Christmas paper.

A spicy fragrance tickles my nose.

Marley is on her knees in the back corner of the dress side of the closet, in front of a suitcase.

It’s just an old brown suitcase, but it makes my insides feel jiggly. All at once I don’t want to play anymore. I want to run back to the safety of my own room and crawl under the covers. But I’m a brave explorer, so I slide the door closed and tiptoe over to join her.

“Open it,” Marley says.

The jiggling in my middle spreads to my hands. I clasp them behind my back and shake my head. “It’s an evil suitcase. We should leave it alone.”

Marley gives me a withering glare. “Don’t be chicken.”

So I take a big breath and drop to my knees beside her. My hands are shaking, but I manage to press the buttons on both latches.

Click. Click.

I lift the lid.

Nothing jumps out to bite me. On top is a layer of blue tissue paper that crinkles as I set it carefully aside.

Beneath it, neatly folded, is a white dress. It’s made of shiny, slippery fabric and is covered over with lace.

“Silk,” Marley says. She knows all the words, even though she’s only seven minutes older than me. “Or maybe satin.”

These are words we learned from reading time with Mom.

At school they are teaching us reading, but only easy words and boring stories about mice and cats. We already know all the letters and the way they fit together to make words. We don’t say this. If Mom finds out, maybe she’ll stop reading stories at bedtime and tell us to read our own.

Bedtime is my favorite Mom time. She’s not too busy to hug me then. She doesn’t have a list of chores for me to do, and she doesn’t quiz me about the names of countries I’m supposed to be memorizing or make me count to a hundred or recite Bible verses.

She snuggles up with me in my bed, both of us holding the book, and reads me stories by the light of my bedside lamp. She never reads to Marley, but it’s still Marley who remembers all the words, even the hardest ones.

Last night Mom read “Cinderella,” the one from a big, fat book with Grimm on the spine, not the one from the glossy picture book, where the stepsisters have pointy noses and Cinderella looks so light on her feet she might drift up into the sky.

I can only pick out some of the words in that book. Marley says grim means dark, and for sure, there are lots of dark words on those pages.

Silk and satin are there, but also hideous. And orphaned.

“What if we were orphaned?” she asked me, the night Mom read “Hansel and Gretel.”

“They weren’t orphaned,” I told her. “Their father was still alive.”

“Maybe they would have been better off orphaned,” she says, “since he wanted to kill them and all.”

Her words made me feel like I feel now, shivery and shaky. It’s not the witch in the gingerbread house that scares me; it’s the idea of my parents not wanting me anymore. When I wake screaming from nightmares and Mom comes to soothe me with hugs and soft words, it’s always from the same dream. Always she asks, “What were you dreaming, little one? Tell me.”

And always I tell her, “I don’t remember.”

And always it’s a lie.