Part One

My aunt and uncle's house always scared me. It was so big. There were four floors, and nobody was allowed past the second. What lay on the top two, I didn't know, and I was certain that I was never to find out, for the doors which led to the staircases remained looked permanently.

My parents were both dead, and my relations had taken me in to live with them and their children, though I hated it. I knew no different, though, because I could not remember what it had been like when my parents were still alive. They had both died in an auto accident, a head-on collision, and I had only survived because I had been in the back seat, not the front. I was almost three years old at the time. I have one vague memory of my father, and none of my mother. If I close my eyes, and concentrate really hard, I can picture my father pushing me on a swing, and me screaming for him to push me higher, higher. There's laughter, a woman's laugher, which I assume came from my mother. Sometimes I fear that this memory is simply something my mind has created because of my desperate longing for my parents.

I know that my aunt and uncle didn't really want me around. They let me know of this frequently, and they had their own children, three of them, all of whom hated me. I don't know why, because I did everything I could to be liked by them, but they still told me I shouldn't be living with them because I 'wasn't one of the family.' My aunt would occasionally stick up for me, saying;

"She is a member of our family, and that's why we're stuck with her." although this was all he support I ever got, it still wasn't much to go by. I know that my aunt resented my mother- her sister- because she had been the more beautiful one, the one that all the men had fallen for when they had both been young. My aunt was a sour woman, and my uncle not much more friendly. Two of my cousins were older than me, and one younger. The younger was named Cassie, and she was a truly nasty child. She was just eight years old, and she knew she could get away with absolutely anything by placing the blame onto me. Her brother and sister would back her up, whatever she had done, and I would be slapped, yelled at, or sent to my bedroom. Sometimes all three. I would never cry. There was no point. Instead, I would lie on my bed, and stare at the blank, white ceiling, composing tunes and songs in my head. I often thought that I might have musical talent, but I never got the chance to try and do anything about it.

I would sing softly to myself sometimes, as I wandered the large grounds of my aunt and uncle's house. There was a small forest at the bottom of one of the fields which they owned, and I would spent hours sitting in a tree, reading books. I would forget the time, lost in another world, and when I got in Aunt Susan would shout at me, or sometimes slap me, and Uncle Henry would tell me I was too different to ever belong anywhere. I knew that this was true. And sometimes, I liked it. I would daydream all the time. Once, I might pretend I was a gypsy, living with an exciting array of people, and putting curses on those who harmed me. another time, I might imagine I was a mermaid, and lived in the ocean, swimming amongst the coral reefs, surrounded by bright colours.

It was on a rainy day, when I was unable to go outside, that I found myself in Aunt Susan's suite of rooms, searching for a key to get further up in the house. What could be up there? Was anything there at all? About a year ago, late at night, I thought I could hear piano music coming from above me, but I put that down to my overactive imagination. In my aunt's room, I quickly came across a box of jewellery, each with precious gems in, and I wondered how many of them were real. With my aunt as the person in question, I guessed that all of them probably were. I looked around me, briefly, realising that the many pictures on the walls depicted my uncle, my cousins and even my parents. But there was not one picture of me, and this hurt. I was only twelve years old, and I still needed to feel that love and acceptance that I felt had always been denied me. turning back to the box again, I lifted out some of the necklaces, bracelets and brooches, and there, at the bottom, like I knew it would be, lay a large, silver key. I took it out, and pushed everything roughly back into the box again. It was time for me to find out the answer to something which had plagued me for almost ten years.