The door at the top of the house hadn’t been opened in years. There’s a flappy thing — I think it’s called an ‘escutcheon’ — that covers the keyhole; sometimes I would move it aside and peer inside, imagining what might lie within, but I could see nothing.
I could smell something on the other side, though, through that hole. Something sweet, alluring; no matter the time of year, it always smelled like spring.
And then one day in the attic, in a box of old photographs, I found a note in an envelope. The note simply said ‘Search the birch by the church’. The very next day I went to examine the old tree in the churchyard. It had been hit by lightning before I was born and the trunk had been split. My fingers felt within and, to my surprise, I found a brass key hidden there.
Barely able to control my excitement, I raced back to the house, took the stairs two steps at a time to the top floor, ran across to the door and turned the key in the lock. The door creaked open, revealing a new world beyond. Taking a deep breath, I stepped through.