Light on the Mantle
It had taken ingenuity and the use of a couple stools, but Jessica had climbed up the mantle. She wanted to see what the green light was all about and nothing would stand in her way this time. Nanny had stepped out on an errand and she had left Jessica all alone. Mother wouldn’t approve but Nanny and Jessica had an understanding (nudge, nudge).
The climb hadn’t been easy, took her the better part of twenty minutes and she had sat on the edge of the mantle a few minutes to catch her breath when she finally reached the top.
She looked out and surveyed the room. In her haste she had knocked over her mother’s prized begonia pot. Jessica made a mental note to blame the cat after she did her best to clean it all up, dirt and a few leaves had scattered across the floor. No matter, she had the green light to study and explore and so little time left to do it.
To her child’s feet the mantle felt wide with plenty of room to move around, though it was another matter to move around the clock and knick knacks her mother loved to decorate with. The trouble all began when she realized she had been mistaken to which side the light had come from. She gingerly stepped around the maze of doo-dads on her way to the other side.
As she approached the far side of the mantle the light had disappeared. She must have missed it, she thought as she continued forward. But the truth stung her as she did not find it anywhere on that side. She looked and looked, picked up and spun around the few trinkets that might have hidden it. And still it had gone. She could find no trace of the light.
From the corner of her eye, she spied it again on the other side. This time she didn’t waste a moment and she pushed bric-a-brac out of her way in her haste to catch it.
The greenish wisp of light cut its way through a crack between the wall and the mantle. It beckoned to her, a nudge to reach out and touch it.
As her fingers swept into the light a cold tingle pulsed up her arm, a dizzying numbness followed that pulled her hand closer and closer to the crack. Jessica fought to pull her hand free but the grip and the tug were stronger than her small frame.
As it swallowed her hand and then her arm, she heard a gasp behind her. Her fright filled eyes chased after the sounds and she caught Nanny rushing toward the fireplace and the mantle.
She thought that nanny might save her, pull her free of the evil grip, until she felt the soft, warm hands push at her bottom and send her further into the crack.
Nanny spoke the last words she ever heard. “Little girls should know better than to pry.”
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