She could hear their voices raised from where she sat in the den. Her mother and aunt fighting once more, typical she thought, as she walked over to the shelf next to the window. Her aunt was known for her immense appetite for reading and she had often grabbed a bright colored volume when the adults left her to herself, leafing through the grown up words, slowly mouthing them out, never knowing if she was on the right track or not. Her aunt would sometimes let her take one home to finish, but not the old ones. The old ones were special according to Aunt Lizzie and they stayed right where they were, where they belonged, and were not, under any circumstances to be touched. Emma thought her aunt had eyes in the back of her head because once a year back, she had tried to reach for one of the “ancients” as she called them, only to hear a voice from the kitchen telling her to not even think about it. Emma always did as she was told, but this time, for some reason, a volume up in the top corner caught her eye and she found herself almost being pulled in the direction of it, as if it were overcoming her senses, whispering sweetly, “come my child, pick me up, I’m special” and she hesitated for only a moment, listening for the voice of her aunt to yell and in hearing only the same voices raised in irritation and adult drama, slowly pulled the old dusty book forward to rest in her hands.
The book smelled of mildew and an almost floral scent, which to her seemed a bit strange as old books usually just smelled like something from your grandparents basement, and she slowly opened it to see if perhaps there was an old pressed flower held somewhere within. The book cover was a bit tattered and the writing was barely present, but it looked on the spine as if it said The Portal. The book felt warm and welcoming in her hands and she glanced up to see if anyone was watching her act of defiance but the hall was empty and she looked back down as she opened the cover slowly. Within covers of the book was an opening. The pages were make-believe and it was like a secret hiding space, with a tunnel. A small glow, like a light down from somewhere within the book corridor began to glow and the book began to get warmer, Emma looked up one last time for her mother or aunt and then she slowly began to fade into a ghostly image, there one minute and gone the next. The book fell with a quiet thump to the floor and footsteps could be heard coming down the hall. The den stood empty and on the antique carpet sat the book that had been in Emma’s hands. Her mother called out for her and the Aunt just stared at the book slack-jawed. Lizzie picked up the book in her hand and opened it up and flipping through pages, watched as a faded rose fell from between the pages. Emma was nowhere to be found and never seen again.