• Paula Brandao

Arabelle - The basement

The house was peculiar, and the vintage decoration revealed a genuine taste, perceived in most of the furniture. A mosaic on top of a side table depicted a woman holding a rose. It was a present given to Arabelle’s mother when she had moved to the house many years earlier even before her children were born.

Arabelle went upstairs to help her sisters and while talking about their hopes and remembering of the fortunate past they had had the three of them began to recall a special date when they were in their early twenties.

It was a special and remarkable evening. Some friends had come over to celebrate Arabelle’s youngest sister birthday. Kate was a beautiful girl whose blonde hair and eager eyes were shine and bright. It was the first time that she had decided to invite her other sisters’ friends for a reunion. The winter was severe that night and everyone had agreed to stay inside the house dancing and having fun. Outside, snow and a strong wind was coming from the shore. There were only a few houses in the neighborhood at that time and no noise could be heard from them. The road was empty and sometimes a car would cross it very slowly, being careful not to crash or stop in the middle of the street. The ice had gotten slick and slippery and, in that lane, it was common to see the snow abound.

Arabelle was sitting next to her best friend John. They had met at school and had hit it off immediately. John was very fond of Arabelle who considered him a dear friend and partner.

There was something about this house. Something that no one was never able to reach. A secret kept by Arabelle’s father who would wake up every morning before 5 AM and go down the stairs to a special place where he would inevitably stay for about half an hour. The children were not allowed to follow him, although they had tried many times without being noticed.

Arabelle and John, then, started talking about what it might have inside, why her father would do have that ritual every early morning and why it might be a secrecy. Kate approached them and joined the conversation. She was a naughty girl and for many times she had gone down the stairs chasing her father, trying to be of a service or carry something for him, but he would just tell her to go back to sleep. And after wondering about their father’s behavior, they considered the idea to open a white door, right next to the stairs.

The buzz about the secrecy spread throughout the house and after some minutes of suspicious theories and bewilderment everybody was talking about Arabelle’s father and his enigmatic morning routine. Some thought he would go to do his morning prayers, others suggested that he would have a strange pet such as a tiger or so, and even a friend of Arabelle, who was a very discrete guy and would have never been involved in gossips, said that maybe her father would have a hidden music studio and would go there to sing alone and fulfill his dream of being a popstar, but only by singing to himself.

Kate observed the controversial conversations, and all of a sudden went to a small room on the second floor and came back, holding a screwdriver in her left hand. She tried to unlock the white door. After not being able to unlock it, she started forcing the door lock. Her father was the only person who had the key and would carry it hanging around his neck everywhere. While trying to release the door, a car headlight lit up the living room. Some friends immediately dispersed and Arabelle and John told Kate to hurry up. A short conversation could be heard outside and, after breaking the lock, Kate pulled the door until it touched the wall. The people outside approached the entrance door and, at the same time, Kate, Arabelle, John and their friends went down the stairs, after John pressed the switch light on the right wall.

There it was. The secret room. The basement. The hidden place. The front door was opened. A mysterious feeling caught everyone on a nail down while the young people, who were invited to the party, stared stupefied.

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