A New World
Miss Ann Thrope rushed into her house and bolted the front door. She slid down against the door and sat on the floor. Pulling her knees to her chest and wrapping her arms around them, she buried her face in her limber legs, weeping.
So much noise in the outside world!
In search of her old friend Armistice, she had walked to the street corner—once flanked by a deep forest—that had led towards the town center. It was now a busy intersection with four-way stoplights. The cars zooming past her at breakneck speed frightened her as memories of the automobile accident that had crippled her for life rushed through her agitated brain. Fear crept over her and she ran back inside the safety of her house, that mausoleum that had buried her for a century, and still bore the musty odor of time standing still.
Miss Ann Thrope felt the thinness of her new body, its agility and flexibility, and wondered what the Angel that had returned her youth to her would think of her fear. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and contemplated its youthful smoothness. The pearl-white fingers, long and slender, moved as if on their own.
“No,” she said, “If the world won’t let me out, I will let the world in.”
She sprung up with the lightness of the twenty-year-old body she now inhabited and sped through the house, opening all the windows. Many were stuck, but with the willpower and superhuman strength of a young girl, she pried them open. The fragrance of her mother’s roses wafted in and permeated the musty walls with their sweet aroma. A soft breeze blew through the rooms and swirled the dust devils as they danced in the sunlight. The outside world oozed through the first floor of the house, and soon filled it with the sound of passing cars, merry children, and barking dogs.
Miss Ann Thrope sat down on a wooden chair; she would throw out the old high-backed chair that had been her home and her prison these many years. She sat with hands folded on her lap until she became accustomed to the noisy world beyond her windows and her fear subsided.
With a deep breath, she stood up and on her way to the door, caught sight of her reflection in her grandmother’s ancient and tarnished hall mirror; her heart fell with a thud. A youthful body peered out from oversized old-lady clothes. Unflattering and shabby, her secondhand slacks and shirt made her look frumpy. Her hair was still in its long braid, though now a vibrant and shiny black instead of a wispy white. The brown shirt muted the radiance of her youthful skin and she looked like a washed-out banshee. Before the accident, she would never have worn brown. Disgusted, she tore at the clothes and stopped short of removing them.
Miss Ann Thrope stood at the foot of the stairs, gazing upward. Confined to the main level of her house for decades, she placed her foot on the first step. Rolling her weight onto it and feeling no pain, she put her other foot on the second step. Laughing, Miss Ann Thrope climbed to the top, then skipped down the stairs and ran back up them. At the top, checking the sturdiness of the banister, she placed her bum on it, and slid down yelling “wee!” all the way to the bottom landing.
Giggling like a child, she repeated the game several times before entering the darkened upstairs. Shuttered for decades, the second floor of the house was dusty and smelled of loneliness.
Miss Ann Thrope opened the bedroom doors, and once again forced the stubborn windows. It seemed Death did not want to give up its hold on this house, but in the end, Life defeated the musty silence and gusted through the open windows.
Miss Ann Thrope contemplated each room. She ran her hand over the furniture left untouched for eons and gazed at the knickknacks and pictures she had forgotten long ago.
When she opened the door to her old bedroom—her sanctuary—she gasped as the light hit it. It had remained as she had left it on that fateful day when the horrible car crash had forced her into the small parlor her parents had equipped as her sick room for the rest of her life.
Miss Ann Thrope ran her fingertips over the flowered bedspread as she walked to the old armoire. She flung open its doors and gasped with delight while happy tears sprung to her eyes. Her dresses, her beautiful dresses, still hung there in perfect condition; their bright colors radiant in the dusty sunshine.
Miss Ann Thrope placed a purple silk gown against her slender body. Yes, now she was ready for the new world.