August 10, 1954

Lucy Zeit told me the room was used for punishment.

I found her when I found the room, although I could not see her. She told me it was for the best as she had been left in the room to die and was, “Not pretty anymore.”

I took the child at her word and didn’t argue the point.

Lucy told me she was thirteen when they locked her in the room, and the last date she remembered was April 3, 1901. She didn’t know how long she lived there, without light or anything else. They fed her occasionally, enough to keep her alive, though only just. I asked her what she had done wrong, and her reply was simple and direct.

“The Dean fancied me. I bit him. They put me here.”

I did not ask where she bit him, but I did congratulate her. I could hear the pride in her voice when she thanked me.

We spoke for a long time. Nearly all the day and well into the night. I asked her if she would like to come with me when I left, and she answered that she would. She told me they had removed her body and burned it to make certain she didn’t return. I asked her how she had managed to remain, she laughed and told me to reach up into the ceiling where the slats were exposed. I did so and was rewarded a moment later when I pulled down a chipped and broken tooth.

I took my wallet out and placed the tooth within it and told her she would come home with me.

She sighed and bestowed a cold and chaste kiss upon my cheek, a simple act which freed my tears.

 

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Published by

Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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