“All rooms in the castle are unlocked, except the one at the top of the stairs. No one can go up to the top of stairs, let alone inside the room, except me. Do NOT even try. I’ll know if you do”, her new husband warned her.
To Alyce, he looked three times her size, both in height and width. He wasn’t at all what she would have picked for a husband, but she had no choice. Women were thought to be simple, and they had no rights. Their fathers picked a woman’s husband who was the most beneficial to the family. Though he was considered to be a clumsy oaf throughout the territory, he was a rich oaf, even though he came by his riches through someone else’s loss. Her father recognized the profit that the marriage would bring to the family. Father had the land, which was fallow for lack of tenants. Edward had both the money and connections to fill the land with farmers who would provide for her family. In return, Edward received Alyce.
Every day, Alyce would explore the castle. Her eyes were full of wonder at the beautiful things that her family could only dream of having. She especially was intrigued by a bejeweled dagger in a glass case.
Now, Alyce was highly curious in nature. Every time she walked by the stairs to the forbidden room, she could not help but to look up at the door and wonder, ‘what is behind that door’. She had never heard of Pandora,for if she did, she wouldn’t dream of giving into the temptation that the upper room brought.
One night, she had enough. So, Alyce, who was just as cunning as she was curious, formed a plan. She waited until she could hear her “lord and master” snoring loudly in the room next to hers. She eased herself from her bed, and tiptoed across to the door. She opened the door very slowly and cringed when she heard the creak of the rusted hinges. She stopped and, instinctively turned to look over her shoulder. She waited just a moment until she heard Edward exhale loudly, then Alyce quietly slipped from her room and down the stairs to Edward’s den.
Alyce hated this room; the heads of the poor animals that Edward and his friends hunted, were always looking at her as if she had shot them herself. Remembering what she came here for, Alyce tore her eyes from the accusing eyes, walked across the room timidly, watching over her shoulder as she did. She reached Edward’s desk and slowly slid the drawer open. She snatched the key from its hiding place and, as she was closing the heavy drawer, she heard something. Footsteps coming down the stairs.
“Alyce, where are you,” she heard him yell in his booming voice. Alyce quickly turned and retreated behind the heavy curtain and held her breath. She closed her eyes and willed him away. ‘What were you thinking’, she chastised herself.
Alyce heard the heavy door swing open with a bang, and she knew he was in the room. She could hear him breathe and smell his offensive odor. He looked in every corner of the room but, surprisingly, not behind the curtain. She heard him slam the door and retreat to another part of the castle.
Alyce knew that she should forget the plan to get into the forbidden room, go upstairs and get back into bed. She should; but her curiosity got the better of her. She had heard Edward go downstairs to the servants’ quarters. She often went down there to fix herself a cup of warm milk if she could not sleep, so he must be looking for her downstairs. The stairwell to the upper rooms, including the one on the third floor, were on the other side of a long hallway that led to both sets of stairs.
Alyce opened the door and peeked out to make sure that no one was there to see her. She ran silently down the hall and around the corner to the stairs. She knew that she had to fly like the wind up the stairs. If she turned left, she would be in the hallway to the bedrooms; if she turned right, she would be in front of the secret room.
Alyce reached the top floor and, turned right. With shaky hands, she retrieved the key from the pocket in her flimsy robe and unlocked the door. So intent was she on her task, she did not hear her husband sneak up behind her. Only when she felt his breath on the back, did she slowly turn around. Alyce looked in his face and saw hatred and a little sadness. She looked down at the dagger in his hand; the very one that she had admired; the one that had jewels of many colors in the hilt.
Looking into his eyes, she knew that no amount of pleading would prevent what was coming. She held her breath and watched the dagger as it plunged deep into her chest. Her body crumpled slowly to the ground and, as she lay there dying, she saw a tear running down Edward’s cheek.
“I’m sorry” was all that he said. With that, he opened the door and tenderly picked up her lifeless body. There, in the room were the remains of the many whose lives came to a similar end. “I really thought you were the one.”