On the other side of that door

Something slightly different today. I decided recently that I was going to use this blog as a platform upon which to explore my own creativity and, truly, creative writing is always where my passion has lain. So, using some creative writing prompts, I am going to attempt to get some words down onto “paper and – terrifyingly – share it on the Internet. So, prompt #1 (courtesy of this list): On the other side of that door.

It was only when she was cleaning up that she truly noticed what had been broken. The air escaped from her body like she had been forcibly tackled and she could have sworn that something tangible was lodged in her throat. Hands shaking, she rescued the worn image from the wreckage and held it closer.

The heavenly, crystal-clear sky. The lazy downpour of rose petals. The deluge of chiffon held effortlessly by an untouchable, porcelain hand.

This was her.

What struck her most was not the outer appearance of beauty, which time and circumstance had long ago robbed from her. It was not the gentle way that his hand rested at the base of her spine. Nor the carefree, genuine smiles that adorned both of their faces. It was the eyes that hurt her the most.

So open. So unashamed. So foolish.

“You idiot,” she muttered, viciously.

Losing all sense of hope, she gazed at the last terrifying vestiges of her life. In the dim light that surrounded, her mind was focussed on just one thing. The same question that plagued her mind every night.

What’s waiting on the other side of that door?

So many times before, she had found her hand reaching for the handle, only to falter. Sometimes, she swore that she heard whispers behind it. Some days, they were sinister. They inspired her to recede, heart racing and palms sweating, content to remain where everything was predictable, and known.

Other days, there were laughs. She would run over, filled with giddy anticipation, ready to join the fun before she paused. What are they laughing about? Am I welcome? Are they waiting for me? Then another voice. Why would they be waiting for you?

On the other side of that door, she imagined there would be sunshine. The gentle brush of a hand within her own, gazing down at her with eyes that made her feel warm and protected. An ice cream in a park, drinking in the companionable silence that they lived in. Able to communicate with just a look.

Some days, the other side of that door altered. Figures were crowding at her body, tearing at her flesh, pushing her closer and closer downwards.

Today was different. Today was going to be the day. Today was going to be when she escaped. Filled with a steely resolve, she staggered to her feet. Her palm crackled with electric anticipation as it reached out to clasp the steel doorknob. As soon as her fingers closed around it, she felt the magnetic attraction between herself and the world beyond.

Afraid to take a breath lest it steal her resolve, she squeezed her eyes tight and turned the handle.

Brilliant, white light pricked at her eyelids, flooding her entire existence with a wave of eerie stillness.

“Hello,” a voice reverberated in her ears. “We’ve been waiting for you.”

There we go. That will do for today. Not my best work, but I think that it’s important to be kind to oneself, especially when rediscovering a lost skill. In case you’re wondering “what the flip is going on?”, I envisioned the phrase “on the other side of that door” to represent multiple things at once. On the one hand, I treated it here as an allegory both for mental health as well as for death. Regardless of scenario, the emphasis is upon the journey for reaching towards the light, whether that be through escaping the cage that is mental illness (if only it were that simple), or through embracing and coming to terms with morbid thoughts. On a more literal, fantastical level, I almost interpreted this as taking place within a woman’s head either as an unreliable narrator in a “mind palace” situation, or as somebody in limbo before “opening the door” to the other side. The voice at the end can be interpreted more than one way in line with either. Either being a voice welcoming to the next plane of existence, or indeed the world welcoming back somebody who has been engaged in a dissociative episode and therefore receded from their friendships and life.

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