I found the secret room quite by accident. Six months after father’s death, while cleaning his home office, I noticed one side of one of the wall panels behind his desk stuck out slightly from the wall. I went over to it, shoved at the loose edge, and heard a click. The next panel slid aside to reveal a lighted room. I looked through the opening, and saw walls lined with pictures. Curious, I stepped into the room.
Each of the walls held a double row of pictures, which were in chronological order, beginning with me as a newborn and ending with me an adult. I moved over to the nearest wall and looked at the first picture.
"Nella: Newborn October 12 3103." She lay naked on a pure white surface, her eyes scrunched up and her hands in tiny fists, as if she were angry at having been pushed out into the world. Had I once been such a tiny mite? I looked up to the picture directly above, and reeled back a step.
The stench was remarkable. I inched closer and read the caption through watering eyes, "Nella, full diaper, July 7, 3104." Ah yes, 3104, the year scratch-and-sniff photos were all the rage.
Opening: Petronella.....Continuation: Ulysses