Amelia, from entering the old room at the end of the hallway. But one night, she heard something strange and decided to investigate later when Mark was not home. However, he caught her and revealed the truth.
Mark grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, but he moved to New York for university and met Amelia during his senior year. They fell in love, got married, and worked in the city for several years. But Mark didn’t tell her that he owned his childhood home back in Baltimore until it was fully renovated.
“I’ve been renovating it for years. It was a lot of money because the whole house was insanely old, and so many people in my family lived in it for years. But it’s ready now, and I hope we can move there soon. What do you think?” he asked Amelia.
“Well…I don’t understand why you didn’t tell me sooner. You own it completely?” Amelia wondered.
“Yes. I bought it from my uncle when I graduated from college. He just wanted to get rid of it, honestly, because it was in such bad shape. It was a bargain. Then I started renovations. Remember my ‘business trips?’ I was actually in Baltimore, meeting with the contractor,” Mark explained. “I didn’t say anything because I wanted to surprise you with a big house for our family.”
“Ok. I’m not happy you lied about something so big. But I can’t look a gift horse in the mouth! We’ll have to start looking for jobs over there!” his wife chirped, and they both searched for jobs in the city. A few months later, they finally moved in. But then, Mark told her something strange.
“Amelia… hmmm… there’s something I forgot to tell you about this house,” he began.
“Oh my god, what now? You already lied about your business trips to fix this place up,” she interrupted sarcastically.
“Do you see the old door at the end of the upstairs hallway? I’m going to keep that room closed. It’s private. I hope you understand,” Mark finished.
“What’s inside it?”
“Again, it’s private. Please, trust me. It’s nothing bad, but I’m not ready for anyone to go inside,” her husband insisted.
“Alright. I respect that. But I hope you’ll tell me about it in the future. Anyway, this house has so many rooms that I don’t mind you having your secret ‘man cave,’” Amelia placated. Mark laughed because it was not that kind of room at all. However, he was not going to correct his wife’s misunderstanding for now.
They both started unpacking, and Amelia loved that Mark had already bought all the best modern appliances for the entire house. The design work was contemporary, and their home looked beautiful after they finished decorating.
“This will be the perfect place to raise a family in. Thank you for my surprise, honey,” Amelia told Mark when they were finally settled.
“I’m glad you love it, darling. I have a lot of memories in this house, but I want to make even more with you and our family,” he responded. Not all his recollections were great, but Mark didn’t want to tell her that yet. “Also, this neighborhood is so much better than ours back in New York. Our future kids can play outside, and the school district is top-notch.” Amelia agreed and got up to start dinner.
For months, they lived peacefully in the home. They settled into their new jobs in Baltimore and she never asked about the off-limits rooms he kept. But Mark spent a few hours in there every single night, hoping to find the courage to tell her about it.
He wanted to have a better relationship with her, but this memory was hard. It changed his entire life, and it was not easy for him to accept it even after all these years. However, Amelia was about to discover the truth.
One night, Mark was working in his office when his wife entered. “Honey, I’m going to bed. Are you coming soon?” she asked. Amelia did that every night. Sometimes, he turned off his computer immediately and followed her. Other days, he told her to go to bed before him. Tonight, he did the latter.
“I’m going to keep working for a while, darling. You go to sleep first,” Mark replied gently.
Amelia blew him a kiss and returned to her room. She fell asleep quickly. But something woke her up. Mark was not beside her in bed, and it was already 1 a.m. That’s strange, she thought and got up. She grabbed her nightrobe, put it on, and went to find him. Then she remembered that something woke her up.
It was a strange noise coming from Mark’s secret room. She moved closer and noticed that the door was slightly ajar. Oh my. Mark is inside. What’s in there? Amelia asked herself and decided to eavesdrop. She barely saw that Mark was sitting on a rocking chair, looking at something in his hands. Then she realized that what woke her up were his cries.
Amelia wanted to enter and comfort him, but she wasn’t sure. He doesn’t want me to know about this room yet, she hesitated. Why is he crying? It must be important. She was trying to decide what to do when she heard Mark getting up. So she ran back to their bedroom and pretended to be asleep. He came to bed a few minutes later.
The next day was Saturday, and Mark had planned a golf game with his co-worker, Julian. He told Amelia about it during breakfast. She could’ve complained because she wanted to go to the farmer’s market with her husband. But today was different. Today she wanted to know what was in that room.
“Ok, honey. Do you think you’ll be home for lunch?” Amelia asked him as they finished their morning pancakes.
“I don’t think so, babe. But I’ll be home for dinner for sure,” he replied.
After Mark cleaned his dish, changed clothes, grabbed his clubs, and drove off to the country club for his game, Amelia took action immediately. She searched the key bowl for the one to the old door, but none of those worked. So she sneaked into Mark’s office.
There was an old key in his drawer. If it’s right here, then it’s not that big of a secret, right? Amelia thought, trying to convince herself that she was not breaking her husband’s trust. She only wanted to help him after seeing him in pain. But despite her assurances, Amelia hesitated in front of the door.
“I can do this. It’ll be fine,” she whispered and fit the key in the doorknob. It opened easily. Her hands searched the wall for a light switch because everything was so dark. After turning the light on, she noticed thick black curtains that blocked out all sunshine. But Amelia focused on the rest of the room.
“Oh my…” she breathed. Mark had renovated the entire house, except this room. Everything inside looked old and worn. The rocking chair she noticed last night was in one corner. On the other side, there were two twin beds with simple white sheets.
There was an antique wooden wardrobe, and Amelia decided to open it. It housed a bunch of old shirts and pants. A few items were stained and covered in dust. “Maybe I could clean this up and surprise him,” she told herself.
After closing the wardrobe, she approached the rocking chair. There was a portrait face-down on the seat. She grabbed and turned it, discovering a picture of a man and a cute little boy in shorts. They were fishing. “This must be Mark. Could that be his father?” Amelia wondered. Mark never talked about his childhood, and Amelia never pushed him.
But she was curious now. The house had belonged to his family, and his parents died when he was a little boy. There’s the mysterious uncle who sold him this place, but Amelia didn’t know much else about her husband’s past. Before she could ponder further, she heard Mark’s car on the driveway. “What’s he doing back here so soon?!” she panicked.
Amelia rushed out of the room, but Mark appeared in the hallway before she could close the door. “Amelia, what were you doing in there?” he asked, too calmly.
“Honey, I… I just wanted to clean up a little,” she hedged.
“I asked you to stay away from there, Amelia. I thought I could trust you.”
“Yes… yes, you did. I’m sorry, honey. I heard you crying last night. I wanted to know what was going on. Please, I’m your wife. We shouldn’t have secrets between us. What does this room mean?” Amelia asked, wringing her hands in shame for breaking his trust.
Mark sighed slowly. “You’re right. Let’s go in,” he suggested and they both entered the old room. Amelia sat down on one bed, while Mark sat on the other, facing her. “This was my room. I shared it with my father for years after my mother died. This house belonged to my grandparents. We lived here because my mother took care of them.”
“What happened?” Amelia encouraged him to go on.
“Well, when my grandparents died, my two uncles decided to move in with us due to financial problems. At first, I had that old room for myself, and my parents had the master bedroom we use. But then my mother got sick and died unexpectedly. Since my uncles were married and had children too, they asked my father to stay in my room with me,” Mark explained.
“Oh wow. But that wasn’t fair when this house is so big, and your mother was part owner. So, your dad had rights even when she passed,” Amelia chimed in.
“In my family, there’s a tradition that the house goes to the firstborn son. That would be my uncle, Henry. So my father didn’t have a right to complain because he didn’t own any part of it. There were two other couples and six more kids here. It’s a lot of people in one place. But it was fine. I loved sharing a room with my dad,” Mark continued. “He took me fishing at North Point State Park often. That’s where we took that picture.”
“I thought your parents died around the same time. You said you were a kid,” Amelia added.
“Well, no. My mother died when I was six years old. But my dad died when I was 12. We were driving back from that fishing trip when we had a flat tire. He got out of the car to change it, and a truck ran him over right in front of me. It was the worst moment of my life,” Mark revealed, tearing up.
“NO!” Amelia exclaimed and her eyes watered too. She got up, sat down beside her husband, and hugged him.
“Yes. Uncle Henry had the film from dad’s camera developed after the funeral and gave me that portrait. At first, I couldn’t look at it. I kept it in the wardrobe for a long time. But then, seeing it was the only thing that brought me peace. And when I left for college, I missed this house, so I asked Uncle Henry to save it for me. The rest of the family, including him, had moved out by then, and his kids didn’t want it,” Mark continued.
“So he agreed,” Amelia stated.
“Yes, and I worked like crazy to save up. He sold it to me for way less than the market price. Then I saw that it needed so many renovations. However, I couldn’t bring myself to change this room. I shouldn’t have hidden this from you. I had a good childhood, honestly. It’s just this memory that pains me. I’m sorry,” Mark apologized.
“No, I’m so sorry for not waiting! But now that I know, I hope that we will never hide something that big from each other.” Amelia hugged him tightly once more. Mark decided to cancel his golf game and stayed behind, telling her more stories of his father and childhood. They never lied to each other again.