The day went by in a blur. I found it tremendously difficult to concentrate in classes, my mind reeling over what had happened last night. Though Claudia and I didn’t get an opportunity to discuss what happened until the evening, my mood no doubt sent a trigger warning to her that something was up.
“What happened? You’ve been really quiet all day long.” We were in the common room, Emily, Rebecca, Olivia and Sophie sitting on the sofas by the television laughing and joking whilst Claudia and I made the tea.
“Something happened last night. I saw her, the girl from the attic, outside on the field. I could see her from my bedroom window holding the doll.”
“What girl?” Claudia asked, as she poured the water into the school green coloured mugs.
“The girl who was locked in the attic. The one who owned that doll.” I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion, surely she knew who I meant.
Claudia was silent for some time before she spoke again, stirring in the milk. “There was no girl locked in the attic, Josy.”
“What do you mean? You showed me the attic and I found that doll and book, they had to belong to someone.”
“You’re making assumptions. I never mentioned a girl being locked in the attic when I took you up there.”
I could feel myself getting frustrated. I had hoped telling Claudia would reveal some other truth I’d yet to discover, but it had just caused further confusion.
Claudia was silent again, as if choosing her words very carefully before speaking. “Yes, they belonged to a child, but the girl wasn’t locked in the attic, nor does she roam the school as a ghost. Mrs Jeffrey is the only ghost at this school.”
I didn’t know how to respond. I hadn’t dreamt what happened last night, it was so real I could still feel the chill down my spine at the thought of seeing her. She was real, alright, or as real as a ghost could be. “How can you be sure there are no other ghosts? Maybe you’ve just not seen them. I’ve not even seen Mrs Jeffrey, but I did see this girl. I want to see the attic again.” I said defiantly.
Claudia sighed in exasperation, clearly disbelieving my encounter. “I’m not taking you up there tonight, Josy,” and just like that, she picked up three mugs and headed over to the sofa to sit with the other girls. That was the end of that conversation.
As we headed back to our bedrooms I had a sneaky suspicion Claudia wasn’t telling me the whole truth and it bothered me. I’d already made a decision that if she wouldn’t take me to the attic, then I’d take matters in to my own hands. Getting in there without a key wouldn’t be easy, but I was willing to try. I waited until Emily was sound asleep in bed, before sneaking out into the corridor with my slippers on, tiptoeing to the bottom of the attic stairwell as quietly as possible. Just as I was about to ascend, a thought came over me. I’d seen the girl in the field, but not in the attic.
I looked at my watch, the time was 11.05pm. I’d have roughly forty minutes until the ghost of Mrs Jeffrey did her usual rounds but it was also after 3am when I’d seen the girl last night. As much as I wanted to search the attic and find out more about its mysteries, I really didn’t have a clue how I’d get in without the key, let alone how to pick a lock. I stood there for a good few minutes contemplating whether to go up and try to get in, but something didn’t feel right about it, and I was compelled to follow my instincts.
I turned around, heading down the full length of the corridor back past mine and Emily’s bedroom towards the rear stairwell. I opened the door slowly, stepping through and shutting it behind me without a sound. The stairwell was cold and dark but for the small ray of moonlight shining through the tiny window. I didn’t dare turn on the light. I descended the stairs as quickly and silently as my feet would allow, before I finally made it to the exit. I unlocked it from the inside and walked out. It seemed larger now that I was down here, but as I scanned the field from left to right, my eyes finally landed on the spot where I originally saw the girl. I walked around the side of the building and then upwards toward the far right corner of the field. Upon reaching it I noticed there was a gap at the bottom, just big enough for a small child to squeeze through with little difficulty. I debated whether to try and crawl through it myself, but instead opting to climb over the fence instead.
As I was about to climb, that same instinct which drove me out into the field sent alarm bells through me. I wasn’t alone. I slowly turned around, half expecting to see either the girl ghost or a teacher right behind me. I was running through excuses in my mind in preparation, but as I turned no one was there. I walked forward, giving myself a better view of my surroundings. From what I could see I was all alone, though I was unable to shake off the feeling that someone was there watching my every move, and it was then that my eyes darted toward the dormitory building.
From one of the bedroom windows, someone was looking down at me. I walked forward, straight through the middle of the field before coming to a halt. The situation felt very reminiscent to the previous night, only this time the role was reversed; I was out on the field and the girl up in the window, but as I looked closer, I could see she was not the same girl as from last night. This girl staring down at me, with dark hair tied into a pony tail, was none other than my roommate, Emily.