Stop. I remember that I am not supposed to go in this room. It’s just that I can’t remember why. My fingers loiter on the door handle. It’s locked. If only I had the key. I keep thinking about my father’s decanter in the drawing room. It’s a hazy memory but it’s the only one that I have.
Go. My father is asleep on the brown leather armchair; his newspaper has dropped to the floor. I tiptoe by and quietly search around the decanter. The key is behind it, on the silver tray. I glide back to the hallway.
Stop. The key almost burns in my hand, I don’t like the way it feels within my sweaty palm. I shouldn’t have it. I should go and put it back. I know that I should not enter the locked room. It’s just that I can’t remember why.
Go. I’m tired of being told what to do, of being an adult but still having my mother choose my clothes and brush my hair. I put the key inside and hold my breath. I close my eyes in case I see something bad, something that I don’t want to really see.
Stop. What could be in here? Why can’t I remember? I’m frightened and my hand hesitates now that the key has fully turned.
Go. I will only find out if I go inside. I poke the door open a little, wide enough for my left foot to fit inside but not far enough for me to see. I feel around for the light switch and flick it on.
Stop. I feel uneasy. I feel sick. I feel as though someone has their hands gripped around my neck and that I can’t breathe. My head hurts and I feel cold. I think I might be coming down with a bug.
Go. I walk into the room and gently close the door behind me. Maybe it is okay if I don’t open my eyes? How scary can this room really be?
Stop. It is scary; it’s full of terror and a huge palpable agonising pain. I shouldn’t be here. I just can’t remember why.
Go. I must do it. I must take a peek. Suddenly, I remember being a tiny girl; I’d got into trouble for sneaking into next door’s garden. My mother apologised to Mrs. Drabble with a red face and told her that I had always been an inquisitive child. Sometimes I feel that I will always be that little child, I don’t think that I am allowed to grow up. I can’t explain it.
Stop. I want to open my eyes but the churning mixture of half memories keeps them scrunched tightly shut. I want to open them. I want to open them. I want to open them.
Go. I’m in the purple room. I remember the purple room. The purple room is lovely and pretty. The walls are lilac and mauve and the curtains have tiny daisies on them. I think this was my room, when I was a little girl. Why am I not allowed in here? Why did I change rooms? There’s my rocking horse and my dolls. I pick up the floppy fabric doll with the smiling face and blonde woollen hair. I’m sure this was my favourite, but I have forgotten her name.
Stop. Something’s not right. Something is wrong with the purple room. It’s covered in dust and it smells funny. I don’t think anyone has been in here for a long time. I don’t understand what is going on. I’m breathing too quickly and I need to slow down. My heart is beating wildly.
Go. I glance at the book spines on the case, I remember all of them. I used to be such a bookworm. I wonder why I don’t read anymore.
Stop. My own reflection startles me. I see myself in the dusty old dressing table mirror.
Go. I have to laugh at my silliness. I am being ridiculous, I’m in the lovely purple room with teddy bears and other loves and precious things. I should be rejoicing the return of my childhood treasures. When did I become such a jittery jumpy girl?
Stop. My mother’s at the door and she looks cross with me. She asks me what I think I’m doing.
Go. I tell her that this is my purple room and that she can’t keep me from it anymore.
Stop. She shakes her head, her eyes look tired, and her face looks blotchy. She tells me that this is not my room, that it belongs to
Go. I laugh in her face. I tell her that nobody here is called
, she doesn’t exist. Lydia
Stop. My mother weeps into a sodden tissue full of holes. She tells me that
is dead; she whispers that I can’t remember. Lydia
Go. Who was
? Who was Lydia ? I scream out the words until my chest hurts. Lydia
Stop. Your twin sister, my mother says, shaking her head. We went through all this yesterday, when I came into the purple room.
Go. I tell her that I haven’t been in the purple room for years, nobody has, and I scrape a thick layer of dust from the shelves to show her. I tell her that these are my things.
Stop. She quietly informs me that I came here yesterday and that we had the same conversation.
was my twin sister; she died when we were seven years old. Lydia
Go. I sob. I tell her that I don’t remember.
Stop. She says that it’s because my brain won’t let me, it’s damaged, I’m sick, because I pushed
out of the window after a petty squabble. Lydia
Rewind. I see it. I see a little girl with the same face and honey blonde hair as I had. I see her at an awkward angle on the floor below. I remember peering out of the window and my mother’s scream that didn’t end until after that first year.
Go. But this is my doll, I say.
Stop. No, my mother says, it belonged to
; all of this belonged to Lydia . She says that it’s late and that I should take my pills and go to sleep. She says that she’s picked out a soft cotton nightgown for me and that she will brush my hair and sing my favourite song if I come now. Lydia
Go. I let my mother lead me out. She closes and locks the door behind us. I take my pills and feel weary. I long to place my head on the pillow and sleep. The soothing brush strokes make me feel warm. My mother tucks me into the bed sheets. She tells me not to go into the purple room again.
Stop. What purple room, I yawn.