I pushed back the curtain and an empty doorway stood gaping. Glancing once back over my shoulder to be sure that they hadn't followed me, I ventured in. The lady in the mirror had been right. There was the stairway. The steps led up through darkness, until, somewhere far above, there was a light. Carefully, I let the shimmery blue velvet fall over the door that would take me back to the cold silent library on the second floor.
I was only three steps up when I stopped. I looked down at my feet. Trickling down the stairs was the most ethereal little stream of silky white mist. I reached down and touched the curling rivulet. It curled around my finger, but I couldn't feel it.
From somewhere up there, I thought I heard a child laughing. A strange but familiar sound in such an empty house. I kept climbing until I came upon a dimly lit room with a peaked ceiling. I looked around, listening to the wind. The wooden floor creaked under my bare feet. There was a little box on the windowsill at the far end. I had come to open it. The hinges squeaked softly, and I looked down into it. A bird.
I reached my finger down and stroked the soft gray feathers. I had expected the body to be cold. But then, it stirred. I started back. The finch started up and began to circle the room. The window. I had to get it open.