Behind the Glass By Christine Swiderski

Behind the Glass

Every fall we go to a Lodge in the utmost Northern part of our state. My parents chose this destination and the time of year to see the fall colors and see less of humanity. In the summer the Lodge would be swarming with families trying to get away from it all. Now that I am in my teens, my choice would be to stay home or at least bring a friend. I even try to concoct excuses to bring a friend or stay home. I always lose that game.

The road is lined with trees which seem to spiral its way around nature. I stare out my window hoping to catch a glimpse of wildlife which enjoyed the freedom I do not have. I was deep in thought when we pulled into the driveway of the Lodge. Slowly I glance up and notice peering out at me from a window was a girl who looked to be my age. I waved with enthusiasm figuring I just might be able to make a new friend.

After unpacking I set out to find the room the girl behind the glass may be staying in. The hallways are long, lit only by sconces on the walls. As I approached the door, I felt a cold chill. I shrugged it off thinking it was because I am out of my comfort zone. Normally I do not extend myself to strangers; I was determined to have a good time this year with someone my own age.

I knocked at the door there was no answer.  I soon gave up and went out to get some air. I walked around the front of the Lodge thinking maybe I missed judged where the room would be. Looking up to the window I noticed a shadow just beyond my view. There was no doubt in my mind someone was standing there not wanting to be seen. I wondered why she did not answer the door.

Just before I walked away a gentleman walked up to me and said: “Hi I am Mr. Sullivan my wife and I own this lodge. That window you are looking up at used to be our daughter's room. She disappeared about 10 years ago. We keep the door locked not wanting to disturb anything in the room just in case she might come back to us. She was about your age when she disappeared.”

I said: “Mr. Sullivan? I saw a girl in the window when we pulled in. Maybe someone found a way into the room.”

He said: “That is not possible I am the only one with a key. But I will go check, just to be sure.”

I was not convinced when Mr. Sullivan told me in front of my parents that he had checked the room and no one was in there nor had they been for some time. 

My dad asked what Mr. Sullivan was talking about and I told my dad what I had seen.  My dad said to leave it be and find something else to do other than snooping around the Lodge.  I went to the dining room poured myself a cup of coffee and decided on a cheese Danish. I sat down, still pondering what I saw. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a tall, lanky guy walk in, he glanced over at me and gave me a chin-up nod saying hello. I nodded back and continued to eat my Danish.  He walked over and asked if he could sit with me. I shrugged and pointed to the empty chair across from me. I noticed he had chosen the cheese Danish as well.

Once we shared a little about ourselves I found out he was there against his will as well. We both laughed at how we tried to get out of coming, especially how futile it was to even try. I told Brian about what I saw in the window.

 He said: “There is a rumor that the Sullivan’s had a daughter who was kidnapped. There is another rumor that Mr. Sullivan locked her in her room so she would not go out with boys.”

I said: “Mr. Sullivan did not seem that creepy. He was genuinely worried that someone may have breached the locked door.”

Brian asked me if I would like to meet him after dinner. I said sure. He told me of a spot that had an abandoned cabin we could hang out at. We could build a fire and he would see to the refreshments. It sounds like heaven compared to hanging with the boring adults around the campfire making Smores and singing stupid songs.

After dinner, I told my parents I did not feel well and I wanted to go into our room to watch TV. My dad asked if I was sure and said I would be missing a huge bonfire and plenty of singing, dancing and telling of ghost stories. Gawd, that sounds awful. I went to our room, showered, and changed into jeans and a sweatshirt. I grabbed a flashlight, matches, my cell phone, pepper spray because a girl cannot be sure when it comes to guys.

When I arrived at the abandoned cabin Brian was inside and there was smoke coming out of the chimney. When he said fire I really thought it would be a campfire. I went in Brian had a blanket and pillows laid out in front of an old stone fireplace.

I asked: “Brian, are you sure it is safe to burn in that fireplace? It’s so old. I am wondering if the chimney can take the heat.”

Brian shrugged and said: “I have come every year to this spot and never had an issue. Come over here I have cold beer and whiskey.”

I walked over, while I was sitting down Brian handed me a beer. I then asked Brian: “Did you know Sullivan’s daughter?”

“Yes, I met her once or twice my family comes up here every year in the fall,” Brian said

I said: “Really? So does my family. Mr. Sullivan said his daughter disappeared 10 years ago. How old were you?”

“I was 9 years old; my parents paid Melissa to babysit while they went to the bonfire.” He answered.

We sat for a while staring into the fire sipping beer and whiskey. All the while I was wondering if Brian knows something of Melissa’s disappearance.

After opening my second beer I asked: “Brian do you know anything about Melissa’s disappearance?”

“I was 9 years old when it happened. I had a crush on Melissa. The police asked me if I had seen anyone unusual that night, I told them no. It is true I never saw anything unusual. There were two other families with boys Melissa’s age that came up every year at the same time. My parents would pay Melissa to babysit me. Melissa would give me junk food and $2 so I wouldn’t tell anyone that she was not with me the entire night. She would sneak off with the other boys. She always came back smelling like cigarettes and beer. I told the police that but never told my parents. I guess the police asked them questions so I never thought anything about it.” Brian said

I started to wonder about Brian. I wonder if I am not asking the right question. I waited till we finished our 3rd beer before I asked: “Brian did you have anything to do with Melissa’s disappearance?”

“No, but the last time I saw her I told her I had a crush on her. She laughed at me and said she would give me a gift. She took her clothes off and let me do anything I wanted. I was on 9 years old I did not know what I wanted to do. She laughed at me because my body knew what it wanted to do but I was too young to know what to do. She showed me. I was angry that she laughed at me. I was humiliated.” He said

Brian turned to me and smiled: “I was only 9. I can laugh about it now.”

 I nodded and I was glad I brought the pepper spray. I got up and said: “Excuse me I need to do my business. The beer is going through me.”

I went outside carrying my purse. I had no intention of going back inside. Something did not seem right. I found a log I could lean against, I really did need to take a piss. My pants were down, from the corner of my eye I could see Brian come up around a tree in front of me. He said: “I know what I want now and I know what to do about it.”

I could not stop peeing my bladder would not shut down. I started to scream. At that very moment, I saw another person come in from the dark. I shined my flashlight just in time to see my dad walk up and hit Brian on the side of his head with his fist.  I was never so glad to see my dad.

Brian was on the ground my dad standing over him cursing at him and threatening to do grave bodily harm if even so much as looked at me again.

I started to walk towards my dad he looked at me with a mixture of relief and pissed off. I thanked him and apologized.

He said: “Come on let’s go. Next time your mom and I come up here you can stay at your cousin's.”

I nodded my head and apologized again. I told my dad about the conversation I had with Brian. My dad said he would speak with Mr. Sullivan. I did not find out till we were home that Brian was arrested for the disappearance and murder of Melissa. They found her remains in the crawls space of the abandoned cabin.

The girl behind the glass was trying to tell me she did not run away.