For a moment or two, the cozy feeling of the room encouraged Maddy to linger, but after running her hand across the back of one of the chairs, for the first time something like hope, or at least interest stirred in Maddy’s breast. The feeling may have been faint, but it was resilient. Even the darkness in the hallway beyond the far arch could not dampen it.
Just beyond the arch, the hallway took an abrupt right turn. A wooden door stood ajar in the middle of the short stretch of wall on the left. Maddy glanced in to see a water closet, with the facilities themselves tucked into a smaller room with a door and another window on the far side. Warm wood and cream colored fixtures filled the room, with pale yellow accents, matching the kitchen curtains.
At the end of the hallway, Maddy could see the front door standing open. Father hovered half in and half out of the van as he pulled boxes out of an awkward corner, while Mum worked at the back. Their voices came only dimly into the hall, so that Maddy made it halfway through the shadows before she recognised the show tune they were singing. She scurried back into the living room to the base of the stairs without being seen, smothering a giggle. Mum and Father had switched parts, so that he sang the girls’ part as deep as he could, while Mum did the boys’ part in a controlled soprano as they encouraged each other to, “Hurry up! Can’t waste time!” The tune chased Maddy up the staircase.
Rather than coming out through a door into a hallway, the stairs rose up through the floor, surrounded on three sides with a carved wooden railing, with a gate of similar make at the end, so no one could stumble into the gap by accident, but still leaving an open place, maybe even an extra room in the middle of the five open doors, one set diagonally in each corner of the open space, with the fifth behind anyone walking up the stairs.
Maddy barely glanced into the first door on her left, since Mum already claimed that one already. She got the impression of what she would have called a big, empty place before she saw the living room downstairs, with another fireplace in one wall, and more shuttered windows.
The next door opened into a bathroom, nearly as big as Maddy’s old bedroom, with a half open closet full of shelves, another little cubby for the toilet, double sinks, a shower stall, and a claw-footed bathtub that looked almost big enough for swimming in.
Compared to most of the other rooms in the house, Maddy would have called the third room a storage closet, if it didn’t have a window in the wall across from the door, and a clothes closet in one of the longer walls. No, definitely not, Maddy decided after almost no thought at all. My desk and bed might fit in this room, but if they did, there would be no room left over for my chair.