The landlady had been clear, her stiff tone definite. No attic visit.
And ever since, she had wondered what was up there. She’d miss out on the delights of a week of crisp sea air and grilled fish, consumed by her assumptions – Gold? Ghosts? Unspeakable war paraphernalia? – and her childish curiosity.
She could hear noises during her sleepless nights, remote rhythmical clanking – the boiler? And a soft, occasional fife her husband attributed to wildlife. There was sometimes the ineffable feeling of another presence that she didn’t like thinking about.
On the sixth night she finally caved, and climbed up the wonky ladder, exhilaration and terror leaping in her throat.
The attic was warm and brightly lit. The old man didn’t see her. He exhaled two sharp blows of the wooden whistle, and the small green locomotive slowly started again its eternal 8-shaped journey.
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