Under the Sitka Tree

A Novel by T.L. Alton

One of the splendid additions to the cabin was a loft, which had been added long before Lily was born. The wooden stairs leading up to it always creaked with each step taken, reminding Lily that her presence in the upper room was strictly forbidden.

"It was musty," her grandfather said, "full of cobwebs and old junk." He had redone the bedroom downstairs so that when Lily came to visit she could spend the night.

She adored the beauty of dragonflies and was pleasantly surprised when she opened the guestroom for the first time. A marvelous display of delicate pastel colors filled the room. The oak bed was covered in a queen-size quilt, unveiling patterns of dragonflies brushed across in an array of soft shades, that blended in with the pine logs to create a spiritual surrounding. Lily's favourite accessory was a wind chime, complementing the fluttering creatures that seemed to dance in the morning sunlight, filling the room with ambience. Although Lily was blessed to have such a charming room, the mystery surrounding the loft attracted her upstairs. Over time, she had tried on many occasions to obtain entry into it. However, each attempt brought dismay as Lily found the entrance was locked.

Today, though, Lily was determined to find the key to unlock the door to the secret room, bound to find out what hidden treasures lay within and more importantly why her grandfather kept it from her.

Lily remembered seeing Christian placing a key into a lace-trimmed handkerchief, then bundling it with a piece of twine and setting it on the bottom shelf of a cabinet outside the doorway. In spite of her recollection, she was disheartened when she did not see anything laying around. Once again defeated, Lily was about to walk back down the stairs when something caught her attention. On the cabinet's lower shelf, tucked inside a watering can was a piece of lace. One small corner of the handkerchief was protruding from the top. She knelt and gently picked up the tarnished antique. Lily reached inside for the item she desperately had searched for many times. Pulling out the laced cloth, she placed it on her knees and delicately undid the weathered twine. Her palms were sweaty while her heart began to beat like a hummingbird's wings, pounding so fast, Lily felt she was about to faint.

The skeleton key, was silver and unique, with a heart at the top enclosing a cross in the middle. She felt the weight of it in her palm. It was heavy and the word "
FAITH" was inscribed on one side. Turning it over, she read the word "PIPER". Slowly, her fingertips felt every inch of the key and holding it in her hands, realized it had been specifically made for the lock on the door. Puzzled as to why her grandfather had made it so difficult for anyone to enter the loft, she grabbed the top cabinet for leverage and pulled herself off the hardwood floor.

Stepping towards the door, Lily's hands began to shake. She knew she was disobeying her grandfather and struggled with her conscience about what she should do. Lily convinced herself that she had a right to know what existed behind the door. Inserting the key into the keyhole, she turned it to the left and then right, until Lily heard the click of the lock being opened. She paused, nervously listening for any signs of life from downstairs. Satisfied she was safe to continue, Lily opened the massive pine door.