I t wasn’t simple to get to the loft.

You had to climb up to it via a ladder that descended from the sky, gently maneuvering it through a trap door in the second-floor ceiling with a long stick.

We didn’t get to go up there too often. To my parents, it must have been a slightly inconvenient, rather hazardous storage space — but to my siblings and me, it was pure adventure.

It was a world of wood and plaster and brick, covered in a thick layer of choking dust and lit by a single dangling lightbulb. It housed endless boxes, suitcases — the old-fashioned flat, rectangular kind — and the kind of furniture you don’t throw away even when you’re not using it anymore. We explored every nook and cranny of the low-roofed space above our home, certain that hidden in the walls we’d find ancient treasure or mysterious discoveries.

The pink coat was both a legend and a lie, born, perhaps, of our rapture with the endless unknown possessions stowed halfway to the sky. We convinced our younger sisters and ourselves that way back when, our parents had bought us princess-style, baby-pink fur coats — and stored them away in the loft. Why they never made an appearance was a question that forced us to stretch our imagination time and again.

As we got older, we were allowed to climb the rickety ladder and “help out” with passing down suitcases before summer vacation, or boxes of kosher l’Pesach toys and books before Pesach. Overjoyed at the opportunity, and oblivious to our parents’ calls from below, we would prance among the piles, touching and moving and exploring each part of the magical, sepia-toned world.

When we had examined every single box, bag, and case, it was time to search the rafters for long-lost notes and hidden treasure. My brother and I would make our ways along the perimeter of the loft, armed with flashlights and a notebook, ready to take on whatever mysteries we’d find.

And one day, we really did.

A light in the corner of the loft. A hole in the wall that went slightly too deep. What could be behind there?

We crouched beside the child-sized hole in the wall and looked at each other. This was the moment we’d been waiting for. Heedless of the black dust coating our hands and clothes, I followed my brother into the wall.

And farther.

And farther.

It’s getting lighter… there’s carpet here!

The hole was too small to climb through without breaking some of the aged wood and crumbling brick structure. We looked out the other end, amazed to find ourselves viewing a clean, carpeted room. A secret room?

Footsteps sounded. Our next-door neighbor, a boy my brother’s age, appeared. Realization dawned: This was not a secret addition to our own house; it was simply a sneak peek into our neighbor’s home. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 563)