Sunday, October 7, 2012

Meeting Mrs. Langford

February 10, 2004

Dear diary,

 I had the strangest day today. It started off like every other day:

 I woke up to my alarm reminding me to exercise and hurried down the ladder on my bunk bed to turn it off before I woke up Savannah or Sierra in the next room. I found the page ripped from my Seventeen magazine on the table next to my alarm clock right where I left it. The glossy page showed a thin girl in athletic clothes doing a series of simple workouts. The title promised a Bikini- Ready Body in 6 short weeks. I gave up after a few crunches and studied my body in the full length mirror leaning up against my window. I looked like a marshmallow. Or rather, I looked like all I had eaten in the past 4 months were marshmallows. I pinched a roll of fat on my stomach and sighed with frustration at the weight I had gained since moving in with Darla. This was my life.

 Next I headed downstairs to find some breakfast and do my daily chore of unloading the dishwasher. Darla was already in the kitchen, getting breakfast ready for my two adorable little cousins sitting at the table.
"Good Morning," I said cheerily, wiping the sleep from my eyes.
"Jocie!" Savannah smiled from her booster seat and I walked over to give her a morning kiss.
Darla turned from the sink and smiled, "Morning Joce."

The big window in our kitchen showed another gloomy, snowy, England day. Which gave me exactly zero motivation to get out of my warm Hello Kitty pajamas. After breakfast I helped Dar get the girls ready for preschool. She told me that she had a doctor appointment after she dropped them off and I was welcome to come with her if I wanted. But obviously, as you can tell from my earlier statement, I declined.

I was determined that today would finally be the day I would catch up on all my homeschooling work up to this point. I made out a schedule so I could get everything done I needed to, even if I had to stay up all night. I was not going to be the only one of my friends that had to do 7th grade again. Well in my case it would actually just be for the first time because if I do have to stay back, it will be because I didn't do my homeschool stuff in the first place.

I headed back upstairs to my room, plopped down in the middle of the floor, and pulled out all of my school books. I checked the schedule I had created to get everything done. It was colorful with little drawings and bubble letters. It was the way I spent my 'homeschooling time' the day before. But obviously it had to be pretty or else I wouldn't look at it and therefore get nothing done. Obviously. I consulted my schedule:

8:00 am-9:00 am: Read ENTIRE Science textbook
 at complete assignments at end of each chapter.

It was already 10:30 am by this point, but no matter, starting a teensy bit late wouldn't make that much of a difference to the whole day. I picked up my Science textbook which I was already supposed to have read the majority of and opened to the first page. But then I got hungry. Well I wouldn't be able to get anything done with the grumbling in my stomach so I went back to the kitchen to find the perfect study snack. 

As I walked back up the stairs with my can of Sprite and three packages of Scooby Doo gummy snacks, I heard a strange knocking coming from the end of the hallway near my bedroom. The first thing that popped into my head was that someone was robbing us and stupidly started with my bedroom only to find that the most valuable thing in there was the DVD player that Darla bought me for 10 quid. But then the knocking continued. It sounded more as if someone was knocking on my door to be let in. I cautiously made my way down the hallway. My bedroom door was wide open, just the way I had left it. The knocking was coming from inside.

I do not consider myself a brave person. I will gladly admit that I'm afraid of the dark. I'm not sure what prompted me to step further into the room instead of running out of the house screaming, but there I was slowly but surely walking into my bedroom where the knocking got louder and louder. And then I realized where it was coming from: my closet. 

Someone or something was in my closet and wanted out. I mentioned that I'm afraid of the dark. Add the boogey man to that list. There are two places that the boogey man lives: under the bed or in the closet. This being the latter made me reconsider my choice to go towards the knocking. And then I heard something else, "Helloo?" It was a girls voice, coming from my closet. How in the world did a girl get herself locked in my closet?! I briefly considered that the boogey man had disguised his voice but pushed that thought away and decided to let the girl out.

It was more troubling to me that a girl was stuck in my closet, because my closet does not have a lock. The doors don't even really close all the way. In any case, I slowly slid one of the doors open and peered inside. There was nothing there. "Is someone here?" I asked. Then I heard the knocking again and the voice, "Hello??" The voice sounded so strangely familiar, but I couldn't place it. "Don't worry, I'm coming," I replied. I pushed my clothes to the side and still couldn't see anyone. And that's when I noticed something I hadn't seen before.

There was some sort of door at the far end of my closet. I don't usually open that side of the closet and there are a lot of clothes hanging there. But still, you'd think I would have noticed a door. It was very small. Someone could only fit in there if they were crouched down. This brought up the question again of how someone got into my closet. To quote a favorite childhood movie, this was getting curiouser and curiouser. The door didn't have a handle, but I was able to get my fingers around the edges and pry it out of the wall. 

The first thing I saw was a mess of blond hair as she crawled out of the cubby space. "How did you get in there?" I started to ask as she pushed herself to her feet and stood up. "I don't know," she started to say, but stopped abruptly when she saw my face. For a moment, neither of us said anything. We just stood in my small bedroom and stared at each other. 

We had the same blue eyes, the same button nose, the same full lips. We both had a face full of freckles. She was my height, with blond hair, like mine. Her dark roots showed that it was obviously dyed, also like mine, but the color was less brassy and had more dimension with highlights and lowlights. Her hair was straight, just past her shoulders. She didn't have on much make up, but she was pretty. She wore a bright green short sleeve summer dress with grey horizontal stripes and a tie around her waist that came down to her knee. She had on strappy sandles and a big diamond ring on her finger. She was obviously not dressed for an England winter.

 We looked so much alike it was uncanny. But she was obviously older. And thinner. Much thinner. I suddenly felt very self conscious in my Hello Kitty pajamas, and mussed hair, and let's face it she was pretty and I was ugly. My first thought was that she was my long lost sister come to find me. But the whole closet thing still didn't add up.

The look on her face was shock. She couldn't stop staring at me. It's like she knew me, but I didn't know her. For some reason neither of us said anything. I suppose we were both shocked. She reached out and grabbed my shoulder, a little harder than I expected. "Ow!" I exclaimed, "What're you..." I was cut off when she reached up and touched my face almost in disbelief. "I don't believe it," she half whispered. When she finally looked away she gazed around my room. I have to say, my room is not much to look at, but she looked at it as if it was her favorite, secret place. She walked along the window, past my mirror, and touched my small knick knacks on the window sill. She picked up my Little Mermaid Christmas ornament and stroked Ariel's velvety dress. She walked over and touched my Series of Unfortunate Events calendar where I had taped up a picture of Jeremy Sumpter and she smiled.

Suddenly she turned and jumped onto the bottom bunk and pulled herself up to the top bunk of my bed. I was so shocked I couldn't say a word. She carefully picked up each stuffed animal and doll, looked at them longingly and placed them back exactly where they were. She climbed off the bed, using the ladder this time, and walked out into the hall. She went into Savannah's and Sierra's room, the loo, down the hall to the family room the bathroom, the office and Darla and Darryl's room. All I could do was follow her as she gave herself a tour of our house. The weirdest part of the whole thing was that she seemed to know where she was going. 

Walking down the stairs, she stopped suddenly and I bumped into her. She stepped back and forward on the steps with the loudest creaks and giggled. The same steps that I always noted when going down the stairs, in hopes of someday finding the perfect spot to step and miss the creak all together. It was at that moment that something snapped in my brain and I realized that this was weird.

"OKAY, Who are you and where did you come from and why were you in my closet and what are you doing here and why do you look like me????" The questions were shooting out faster than I could control them. She turned and smiled at me, "Let's go sit in the living room and we can talk, okay?" she said as she continued down the stairs. "How do you know where they living room is?!" I called after her.

I followed her into the living room and she closed the door and sat down on the couch across from the fireplace and pulled her feet up under her. She looked comfortable on that plaid couch, as if she belonged there.
 "NOW will you answer my questions?" I asked, frustrated at the fact that she seemed to be enjoying my annoyance.
"Is Darla home, or the girls, or Darryl?"
"How do you know..."
"ARE they home?"
"No, no one is home."
"What day is it today?"
"February 4th."
"What year is it?"
"2004. Are you okay? Did you hit your head or something?"
"This is truly unbelievable," she said in a half whisper again.
"You still haven't answered any of my questions."
"You're right. I guess I owe you an explanation. First of all, I have no idea how I got here or why I was in your closet. My name is ... you can call me Mrs. Langford."

She looked way to young to be Mrs. anything but I figured I'd oblige. "Alright Mrs. Langford how did you know your way around the house? And why do we look so much alike?"

"Well...I used to live here, a long time ago. As for our similarities...I don't really think we look alike at all. Listen, you can't tell anyone I was here. And honestly, you should probably forget all about this."

"Really lady? You think I'm going to forget that I random chick appeared in my closet, looking like she could be my long lost sister and started caressing my face? You've gotta do better than that."

"Okay. The truth is, I'm not from here. I live in Hawaii with my husband."

"That's it? That's all you have to say?"

"I'm afraid, bad things would happen if I said anything else."

"Of course they would. Well you should probably go back to wherever you came from, as long as it doesn't include you living in my closet. I have a lot of school work to do and Darla is going to be home any minute." I was lying about both these facts. I had no idea when Darla would get home and obviously I would be getting no school work done today. But I had read in my Seventeen magazine that playing hard to get works for getting boys to want to talk to you. I figured it wouldn't hurt to try it out on this perfect stranger.

"School work?" she laughed, "Listen Jocelyn, if there is one thing I'm going to say it's, don't worry about your school work. Or boys, or your looks for that matter. I promise it will all work out. Just don't stress."

"I know I shouldn't stress, I'm just really behind and...wait, I never told you my name."

Mrs. Langford looked startled and suddenly stood up, nervously brushed off her dress and headed towards the door. "I really should go. Just, be happy okay?"

"Wait a second, you can't just leave!" I chased her out of the room and assumed she had gone back upstairs to the closet. I started to run up the stairs when I heard the front door slam. I ran back down the stairs and threw open the door. There was no sign of her anywhere. I started outside, running through the snow in my bare feet, across the front garden and around the hedges where I was sure to see her down the street. But no one was there.

"Mrs. Langford!" I called, " MRS. LANGFORD!" and then on a whim, "Jocelyn? JOCELYN!"

"Jocelyn! Jocelyn! JOCELYN, WAKE UP!"

I opened my eyes to see Darla standing over me holding Sierra. "Jocelyn did you get anything done today?"

I looked around and saw my Science text book open to page one, a can of Sprite, three empty packages of Scooby Doo gummies and my colorful school schedule with none of the assignments crossed off.

"Uhm...I guess I just fell asleep," I replied. 

Darla sighed, "Well can you watch Sierra, I need to get dinner ready."

"Sure," I said and took Sierra from her, set her on the floor, pulled a stuffed bear down from my bunk bed and handed it to her. 

I started to clean up my books and my snack mess when I looked over and saw and little piece of paper stuck in the bow of the the stuffed bear I had just handed Sierra. I pulled it out and unfolded it. It was a note with two simple words in a familiar handwriting:

Be Happy.

It was my handwriting.

"I knew it!" I screamed, and ran to the closet and slid open the door so fast that it made a crash when it hit the other side of the frame. The loud sound made Sierra begin to cry, but I took no notice. I threw the clothes to the side and searched the wall for the hidden door. But nothing was there. Just wall.

I have my suspicions about my "dream" of Mrs. Langford. That note came from somewhere, and I don't remember writing it. And if my suspicions are correct, there is only one thing I know for certain: My life is going to be good.

Well diary, I'm off to sleep. I HAVE to do my schoolwork tomorrow!

Love always,

"Imagination often carries us to worlds that never were, but without it, we go nowhere."
 - Carl Sagan

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