It was that time of year that Kensy would spend most weekends spring cleaning her house. Not only did this mean dusting, washing, and freshening things up, but it also meant a trip to Goodwill. Most of Kensy’s house didn’t need too much work done. She was already a pretty clean and organized person. The room that she dreaded the most was her master bedroom’s walk-in closet. She never really did any spring cleaning in that room. Especially after her mom passed ten years ago. Kensy had no choice but to take the boxes that were left in her mom’s attic and bring them home. The closet floor was crammed full and the shelving was stacked and packed full of a little bit of everything. But now that she had more time on her hands with switching jobs, she was up to the challenge.
Kensy started dragging everything out of her closet that was on the floor. She started three piles. One pile for things to be thrown away, one pile for keeping, and the third pile was for Goodwill. After the third box, Kensy was feeling pretty good about this. She was moving right along and all the decisions were easy. If she didn't need it, love it, or make her happy, away it went. She was feeling pretty proud. So far she had three bags for Goodwill, and one bag with garbage. Everything from candles, to picture frames, to clothes was for Goodwill. Kensy started to wish she had done this sooner. But she thought the stuff in the boxes were more heirlooms. But that didn't seem to be the case. Junk after junk, Kensy couldn’t imagine why her mom had all these boxes stored in the attic with Kensy’s name on them. She cleaned out the bottom of the box she was working on before deciding to be done as the evening started to set in. The final thing was a book. It was very worn and tattered. She tossed it towards the trash. But she missed. The book flipped open. Kensy got up and grabbed it to stick in the trash. That’s when she realized the inside has faded handwriting in it. She browsed it a bit to find it intriguing and to take it with her. The weather was beautiful. Kensy decided to pour herself a glass of wine and sit out on her patio. The view of the sherbert colored sunset was a perfect way to end the evening. On her way out the patio doors, she grabbed the book. After a few sips of wine and taking in the view, she opened the book. It had names in it that she didn’t recognize. She kept flipping through pages to see if she could make anything out that would be familiar. But she couldn’t. So she started reading word for word some of the writings. Kensy started to realize that this was someone’s journal. Dusk had set in and there was only a faint glow from the porch light helping Kensy read. By then, she could barely read anything given the faint writing. Kensy decided to call it a night. As Kensy turned in for bed, she placed the journal on the nightstand so she wouldn’t forget about it in the morning.
The morning sun crept across Kensy’s face waking her up. She brewed a pot of coffee and was excited to see what else she would find. She wasn’t sure what or who’s journal it was, but it was the best thing she had found yet. By afternoon, the good news was, just about all the boxes at the bottom of her closet had been sorted and ready for their new places. Which meant a cleaner closet floor. However, nothing more interesting came from them. After Kensy cleaned up the disaster that she had already made, and was able to clear her room out, she sat and stared at her top shelf that went all the way around inside her closet. At that point, she wasn’t sure which she dreaded more, the boxes on the floor, or the stuff on the shelves. Kensy grabbed her step stool and started pulling things down. She grabbed a big box and was carefully wiggling it close to the edge. That's when the box tipped and it all went spilling out. Kensy had her head turned and was squinting as it all happened. She turned around and looked at the floor. Lots of things had spilled out. Loose Pictures, binders, knitted items, knickknacks, and other random things. Kensy stepped off the stool carefully not to step on anything. She kneeled down and started placing things back in the box. She reached from where she was pulling everything further closer. She grabbed just the edge of a binder and pulled it to her. It wasn’t just a binder. It was a photo album. She flipped through a couple of pages and saw one picture labeled with a familiar name that was in the journal. Kensy knew this had to be something good. So she went and got a cup of coffee. When she came back, she grabbed the journal off her nightstand and sat in the small open space where she was before. She opened the journal and compared the name to that of what was on the photo. They both read: Eleanor Josephine Wicks. Kensy’s heart started to race. She finally found something interesting. Kensy flipped to the beginning of the photo album and studied each picture. She had never seen these before. The pictures were very fragile. Some were very worn to where you could barely make out the picture. Others were the most crisp black and white photos that Kensy had ever seen. Halfway through the album, Kensy took a break and decided to have lunch. And now that she had a picture to go with the journal, she wanted to try and read what was in it.
Kensy spent the rest of the day reading what she could from the journal. Tears of happiness, tears of sorrow, and moments of uncertainty overflowed Kensys eyes. Somehow, the words Eleanor wrote touched deep within Kensy. As she read more of the journal, more names started to appear through some of the writings. One name that stuck out instantly was Cora Eleanor Wicks. That was Kensy’s grandmothers name. Kensy got comfortable and pulled over the album to her. A couple of pages later, a photo popped up with Cora. That’s when Kensy realized this was more than just a photo album. This was her ancestry. She just couldn’t believe that she had never seen these before. Her mom had never told her stories or anything much about her past or her family. With each picture, and each passage in Eleanor’s journal, Kensy felt like she wasn’t alone anymore. Near the end of the photo album, there was a photo of an old victorian house. A family stood outside posing. It was such an odd picture though. If you looked at it just right, it looked as if it moved, like a hologram. Kensy ran her finger across the top of the picture. Kensy became worried when it looked like she was streeking it. Then all of a sudden her hand went into the picture. She quickly pulled back and shoved herself backward against her bed. She looked at her hand in a panic to see that everything was still there and nothing was wrong with her hand. Kensy pulled the photo album back towards her. She touched some of the other pictures, but nothing happened. Then, while holding her breath, Kensy touched the photo with her finger. Her finger went into the picture. Very slowly, Kensy pulled her finger back out. She couldn’t believe what was happening. So, she kept putting her hand in further, little by little. She started to find it slightly amusing. She had already reached her elbow when she decided to take a bigger reach. Kensy stuck her whole arm in, past her shoulder. Only this time, Kensy couldn’t pull it back out. She pulled and pulled, but nothing happened. Even when she stood up and tried to shake the photo album off, it didn’t let go. Kensy reached her arm up in the air in an attempt to throw it off her arm as hard as she could. Instead, the photo album fell to the ground.
Kensy, in a very drowsy state, was waking up to yelling. “Cora. Cora. Get up. You missed your morning chores. And you will not make us late for church.” Kensy grabbed her face as her curtains were being flung open. She peered between her fingers and looked around. That voice chimed in again. “I don’t know what has gotten into you child, but this is not the time for games. Now get up and put your best on.” The door shut and it was quiet in the room. Kensy stood up and looked around. Next to her bed was a deep bowl and a pitcher of water. Her bed was the most uncomfortable clump of filling. There was a beautiful wood-framed, body length mirror. Kensy slowly walked up to it. Staring back at her was a much younger girl. She had beautiful gold curly locks. She had on a long white nighty with delicate stitching. Kensy just looked at herself in awe. In the reflection, she saw clothes laying on the bed. She put on a pale pink shirt, followed by a stiff feeling white skirt with straps that went over her shoulders and bowed in the back. Next she put on her stockings and shoes. Kensy quietly made her way down the wooden steps. At the middle point of the staircase, hung a large family portrait. As she saw her reflection in the glass, she was speechless to see herself as her grandmother, Cora. “Come to the table at once Cora.” Kensy followed the voice to the kitchen. Kensy practically gasped as she whispered, “Eleanor”. Eleanor turned around a bit shocked. “By no means child, will you address me by my first name”. Kensy scrambled a bit as to what to say. “Yes ma’am.” Was the only thing she could think of. She faced her head down and sat at the table. “Much better.” Eleanor acknowledged. “Don’t just sit there and stare at the food. Eat it before it gets cold.” Kensy snickered to herself as she thought about how demanding her Great Grandmother could be.” Truth is, Kensy couldn’t remember the last time she had this much food for breakfast. She was always a light eater. There were eggs, ham, sausage, bread, milk, and orange juice. Plenty to go around. As Kensy downed her food as fast as she could before they left for church, Cora got a lecture on how when she gets home from church, what would be expected of her since she missed her morning chores.
It was a long day of chores, helping prepare meals, and cleaning after meals. Finally Kensy was able to go play in her room. Kensy sat on her bed and looked around. She couldn’t believe everything her Grandmother had to do for being so young. After some quiet time, Kensy decided to go look around the house. She really hadn’t had a chance since she had been busy all day. Kensy was just stunned at how well crafted the house was. All the small details, the beauty, and elegance just amazed her. Even the furniture had its own grace. Kensy soon found herself in a separate sitting room. She slowly stroked her hand across the couch. It was velvety red, lined with wood that had a wonderful design carved into it. Kensy walked up to the fireplace and stared at the painting above the fireplace. “Cora! Cora! There you are. What on earth are you doing in this room? You know better than to be in here”. Kensy briefly ignored her forgetting that she was Cora. “CORA, I’m speaking to you.” “Oh, sorry Gra---”, Kensy almost slipped. “Sorry mother. I just wanted to see how wonderful this room is. What can you tell me about this painting”. Eleanor seemed to be intrigued that Cora would ask such a question. Eleanor had a seat on the couch. She gave the space next to her a pat. “Come, have a seat.” Kensy hopped up and sat next to her great grandmother. She told me the story of her, and my great grandfather - John Williams Wicks, finding it at an open air market. Kensy remembered reading that story from the journal. Not only did she get to read it, but now, she got to sit here and live it with her grandmother. She was just taking it all in. After Eleanor’s story, it was time for Cora to go to bed. As Kensy gave her Grandmother a hug, she noticed the same odd holographic type look in the painting. Kensy went to bed knowing she would have to sneak back to the painting again. It was in the very early hours of the next day when Kensy woke up. She very quietly snuck downstairs and went to the painting. She still couldn’t believe how much the painting of the house looked like hers. With a deep breath, Kensy raised her hand and placed it gently on the paint. Her hand went right through. Making sure this was no mistake, Kensy did it again. This time her arm didn’t want to come out. "No, no, no, I’m not ready yet. I’m not ready yet!” Kensy struggled to whisper that to herself. Finally the portal let go and Kensy went flying back. She sat there for a moment hoping she wasn’t heard. Then she took off towards the stairs. “Cora? What are you doing down here”? Her grandfather demanded. “I….I…” “spit it out for peat sake Cora”. “I wanted a drink of water”, Kensy whispered. “You forgot to fill your pitcher, didn’t you”? Kensy nodded. They quietly went to the kitchen where John got her a small cup of water. “Now, up to bed. I don’t want to see you down here again”. “Yes Gra--, Yes father”. “Good night”.
Kensy refused to leave just yet. She had so much to learn and there was so much she wanted to know. For weeks, Kensy lived as her grandmother Cora. But soon, throughout the days, Kensy noticed some days the painting was a normal looking painting, and some days it had the hologram look. And the timings were getting further and further apart. Several weeks had gone by before the hologram look came back. Kensy knew at that moment she would have to leave before she would be trapped there. And then who knows what would happen. Kensy, took a final last look at the house, and went through the painting.
Kensy woke up pretty drowsy, but with a new appreciation of her house, and for her family. Kensy sat at her coffee table sipping her coffee and reading more of her Great Grandmother's journal. Kensy had a new appreciation for some of those stories as she got to experience a few. One of the last stories was about her Grandmother getting in trouble for a footprint on the seat next to the fireplace, where the painting hung. Kensy spit out her coffee laughing. That was the night Kensy left. Now, Kensy would have her own family memories, and stories from the journal to share with her kids someday.