Exercise from a creative writing course I recently completed: Imagine a beach. On the beach is a door that leads to an attic. You go into the attic. Write about what you find there.

THE ATTIC BY THE SEA

       The attic was bare. The floorboards rough and uneven. As I walked across them I stumbled from side to side as they threatened to topple me over or collapse under my weight. Sunlight from the blue sky outside flooded in through a single skylight, illuminating one side of the room. In the shafts of light particles of dust and sand danced, blown by a gentle breeze that drifted in through the cracks in the roof tiles. Beyond the reach of the light rays, at the far end of the attic, it was murky and gloomy. The only object in the attic sat there, silhouetted as a dark rectangle against the rough white-washed wall. As I moved closer I could make out faded colours, once bright reds, yellows and blues, now pastel and meek. A toy box. Outside I could hear the seagulls and the gentle crash of the waves hitting the sun-kissed beach. Those noises faded away as I crept across the creaking floorboards towards the toy box.

            In the dancing, shifting dust and sand particles an image formed. Two small children, a boy and a girl, playing with each other. The boy slightly taller, broader, with wide blue eyes, blonde hair and a chubby face. The girl petite, lighter, dancing around, a free spirit with wild hair that flew in every direction as she moved. As the girl skipped around, the boy watched. A broad smile broke across his face and an infectious laugh drifted through the attic. The dancing girl smiled back at him and carried on, spinning round and round. Her laughter mixed with his and their innocent joy filled the deserted attic, bringing light to the dark spaces. She moved faster and faster, swirling the dust and sand around them until the breeze disappeared and the image faded as the dust settled on the bare floorboards.

            I moved forwards towards the far wall, where the old wooden toy box sat. Through the dusty gloom I reached out and felt the cool painted surface. The paint had flaked off in places, leaving rough edges across the smooth finish. I opened the box. One item lay at the bottom. I reached in and picked it up, it was feather-light in my hands, soft and grey. I stroked the surface and felt the plush material under a layer of collected dust. I brought it up to my face and rubbed it across my cheek. As I did so I caught a long forgotten scent. The hospital ward where we had spent so much time long before. I held the soft, cuddly, grey object to my cheek and tears began to run down my face. The laughter drifted through the attic again and I smiled. I put the object back in the toy box and closed the lid gently. I kissed my fingers and lay them on top of the toy box. I retreated across the uneven floorboards feeling light and at peace, no longer stumbling. I opened the door and returned to the sunlight, closing the attic door, shutting away the dusty room. I smiled at the families playing on the sand and walked towards the gentle blue sea.

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