This was a for a writing exercise. We were given the title of the story and the first line, and we were shown a line drawing that had curtains blowing in the breeze and a bird-pattern wallpaper with one bird seeming to come to life. So, here’s my take, using the clues we were given.
The Third Floor Bedroom
It all began when someone left the window open. Everyone knew to close the windows and lock the doors, but not everyone remembered to do it, not every time. Clarice was nine years old and sometimes she just didn’t see the need. After all, nothing had happened at their house, had it? Sure, there were whisperings about strange noises on rooftops, skittering noises inside chimneys, that sort of thing, rumors of strange things when the wind blew from the Enchanted Forest. But, these things happened at other people’s houses, not hers.
The house was quiet, all souls asleep, even their old cat, Pyewacket. Mother and Father were snoring in their lovable way, brother Pip was curled up at the foot of his crib, sucking on his thumb while he dreamt and smiled. Clarice was nestled in her four-poster, frilly and safe.
Her eyes suddenly opened; had she heard something? Yes, there it came again – a soft tapping at her window. Her bedroom was on the second floor, so it couldn’t be someone standing on the lawn. There was a large tree with branches spreading near her window; maybe the wind was causing a small branch to scrape back and forth.
She sat up, tried to see through the gloom of the dark bedroom. There was a half-moon casting its light into her window, but she couldn’t make out the source of the noise. She crept out of bed and went fearfully to look out.
As she reached the window she realized that the sound was actually coming from outside her bedroom door, not the window at all. She went to the closed door and listened. Yes, something was making a tapping sound somewhere outside the door, maybe in the hall. She carefully opened the door and listened again. There it was again, this time it seemed to be coming down the stairs from the third floor. There was one bedroom up there, but no one used it. No one but Clarice, who often went there to play house or just to daydream.
She thought about waking her parents, but decided against it. First, she’d find out what was going on. She tip-toed up to the lone bedroom on the third floor and found the door closed. She listened there, heard it again, somewhat louder. She eased the door open and slipped inside the room. She sat with her back against the wall near the door and let her eyes adjust; the moonlight was streaming in better here and things were somewhat easier to see.
The curtains blew in and out as the wind rose and fell; the night breeze made the room feel cool and pleasant. Clarice noticed a small movement against the wall. One of the birds in the patterned wallpaper was flapping one of its wings as if to come unstuck from the paper. At the same time, there was movement on the bedspread – was that a teddy bear coming to its feet? In the corner, her hobbyhorse started rocking slowly, all of its own accord.
Clarice thought, “It’s the night breeze, it’s the cause of this.” She ran to the window, closed it sharply and ran out of the room, pulling the door shut behind her. She stopped just outside the door and listened; all was quiet again.
She exhaled slowly with relief, then started for the stairs. After about two steps, the door behind her was suddenly jerked open and something grabbed her from behind and dragged her back into the room.
The curtains blew slowly in and out with the night breeze.