Young, rambunctious Rose lives with her father and two sisters in a world of magnificence and splendor, maids and servants at their beck and call. On the dawn of the Great War, when the world is still innocent and clean, Rose is taught to inhibit her natural instincts of curiosity and inquisitiveness. She is trained to be quiet and lady-like by a governess who expects nothing less than perfection and a father whose love reminds her daily that she can have anything her heart desires. Only one thing is forbidden. The Door. The secrets that lay beyond it, she is told, are so unfathomable that to gaze upon them will cause only death. Unfortunately, Rose must know. She must find out what those secrets are and whether The Door is an exit to the freedom she craves or an entrance to a hell from which she’d never find escape.
“Do you want to know a secret?” she said in a whisper.
“Yes, of course.”
She took Anastasia by the hand and explained to Miss Pigeon they were going to the water closet. Through a labyrinth of vestibules and foyers, they went, Rose glancing over her shoulder on occasion lest they be followed.
“What is it?” Anastasia said. Her face flushed. “We should join all others, I’m to get very nervous.”
“Don’t be nervous,” Rose said. “This is an adventure.”
They stopped before entering an immense, dark hallway.
“This is it?”
“What?” Anastasia asked.
“Where the door is.”
“We really will go back now,” Anastasia said, concern dripping from each word.
“We’re not allowed to open it. Actually,” Rose glanced about, “we aren’t even allowed in this wing of the house.” Trancelike, she stared down the long hall until Anastasia grabbed her arm.
“Come, let’s go back. I do not like this…it feels to be wrong.”
Rose continued to stare. “Papa said if we open it, there is death on the other side.” She licked her lips, her gaze intent.
Anastasia pulled Rose away. “You must to stop this silliness.”
“I have to tell someone or I’ll lose my mind,” Rose said. She floated back to reality, but wasn’t quite on solid ground…just yet. “I have a secret.”
“If you promise me we head back after telling to me, I’ll listen patiently,” Anastasia said.
Rose spoke softly. “I used to have another sister.”
“Yes, she was a year older than Flora and beautiful. The most beautiful of us all with red hair just like me, and I hear, a very fiery temper.”
Anastasia looked right and then left. “Okay, you told me, now let us to go back to the others.”
“Please, listen,” Rose begged. “No one else will. I saw her. I followed her the day she opened the door. She told me to go back, but I hesitated. I saw her go through but she never came out again. I ran away as fast as I could, down the hall, back to my room. After that, we were forbidden to even mention her name. It’s as if she never existed. My sisters are terrified to talk of her, and Miss Pigeon has punished me if I even look like I’m thinking of her.”
Anastasia grabbed her by the arm. “I no longer will suffer listening to such nonsense as this. If you do not stop such talk, I shall leave to my Russia tomorrow. You are frightening me.”
“Oh, no! Don’t go. I’m so sorry, Anastasia. I needed a friend to hear me. I didn’t mean to upset you so.”
They walked back in silence. Rose, upset about disturbing her friend, she could tell Anastasia was now frightened and anxious, all because of her.