I stood staring ahead of me. Directly in front was three large doors. Each was set flush into the wall, the only thing making them stand out was a slight sliver light glowing from around the edges. Each had no other decoration but a black knob waiting for a hand to grasp its cool surface and give it a turn to reveal what was inside. Three doors that sat waiting for me to make a decision.
Only problem was, was what decision was I supposed to be making? I had literally no idea how I had gotten to where I was right now. One minute I was settling down for a nap, a nap that hopefully would rejuvenate my exhausted beyond comprehensible thought mind, and the next minute I was standing here confused beyond words.
I was dead. That was the only explanation. I had died in my sleep and now I had to choose my eternity. One was heaven, one was hell and one was purgatory. My choice could doom me, make me live in bliss forever or I could end up in no mans land with nothing. I didn’t move, this was all too much. I didn’t want to be dead and I absolutely didn’t want to suffer for eternity.
“Whoa, take a deep breath. If you pass out my jobs becomes kind of pointless. Hard to show you something when you are unconscious,” A voice called from somewhere high above me. My head snapped up, desperately searching for the source.
“I’m right here. Don’t strain your neck,” the speaker was no longer an echo, but now it was right beside me. A man’s voice, calm yet strong. I looked to my right and felt my mouth drop open and my breath catch in my throat. Standing beside me was the most handsome man I had ever set my two eyes upon. He had a face that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a greek god statue. He had a few strands of his chocolate brown hair hanging over his eyes, making him look playful. He was smiling showing a full set of bright white teeth. His eyes were wide as well but they didn’t match the rest of him. They are all business.
“You still with me?” the man asked.
“Uh…,” I tried to find my words. They were there, hovering on the edge of my brain. Right now though the only words my mouth wanted to say was “Pretty,” while drooling or “Huh?” while staring confused yet still entranced.
“Okay, let me start and you can jump in whenever you get your brain back in order,” he strode forward, trend his back to the doors and said. “Here we have three doors. Each holds a moment, a moment that means something to you. Behind these three doors you will find three meals. Three meals that define a part of you,” As I listened my brain restarted itself. I felt myself start to chuckle, he sounded like a game show host explaining the prizes.
“Okay kind of random but continue,” I said. His behavior had eased my initial reaction to his looks.
“Oh so she can actually articulate full sentences. Good to see,” He joked, giving me a smirk. I resisted the urge to flick him off. “Alright, we will continue on. Behind door number one we have Christmas dinner, the last one with your grandfather,” he walked over and opened the door farthest to the left.
Inside I glimpsed our family packed around the table. Not an extra inch to spare. Elbows, forks and plates kept hitting each other over and over. The danger of having half the meal on the floor was always hovering over the table. Getting up from your spot was a process. You placed you arms as close to you as possible, pushed out the chair as far as it would go and stood straight up. Careful not to take a step to the left or right. Then you turned around, giving the family a view none of them wanted while eating and got up onto your chair. Using all your hand-eye coordination you stepped over the back of the chair and hopped down to the floor. Fifteen years and no one had yet to end up back first onto of the table.
Despite the cramped space we were all smiling wide. Laughs and chatter filled the room. Smiles and laughs to an outsider that looked all happy and perfect, like some family off of a Hallmark movie. But if you looked closely and truly listened to the surroundings you would be able to see how fake it all was. Smiles fell seconds after they appeared and the laughter was hallow. None of us could keep the sadness from intruding this meal. It was tough rejoicing when you knew what was going to be coming soon.
The door slammed shut. I jumped, not prepared to lose the image so quickly.
“You could have warned me,” I huffed, wiping a single tear from my eye. “Okay so that was depressing. Thanks, I needed that. Next?” I asked. I was never good at keeping harsh sarcasm from my voice.
He rolled his eyes at me, as if he was used to my snarky remarks. I shrugged at him, what did he want from me? I had no idea what was the point of all this. I still didn’t even know if I was dead or not. Maybe I was in the process of slipping away?
“Next,” his voice kept the thought from developing into anything. “We have a birthday. Not yours, you mothers. Just the five of you enjoying a nice Mexican dinner out. Calm and simple,” he grinned at me like he knew secret. He opened the middle door.
I knew what was coming before the knob had even been turned. On the other side sat anything but a simple and calm meal. My parents , my two brothers and me were laughing so hard tears were streaming down our cheeks. We were flapping our hands like seals. Speaking wasn’t an option right now. We just let out loud guffaws every few seconds when we got enough oxygen into our lungs. How the manager didn’t come over and ask us to settle down and stop acting like crazy people I would never know?
Why were we laughing so hard we were all in danger of passing out? Some random joke. A joke that no one would find nearly as funny as we did. It was one of those you had to be there moments. Something about throwing ice cream at the ceiling and escaping the angry restaurant owner.
The laughter brought smile to my face I felt the laugh bubbling up inside my stomach. A chuckle escape me just as the handsome yet irritating man slammed the door shut. My laughter died instantly replaced my annoyance.
“What are you doing?” I snapped. “What is the point of all of this?” I was getting anxious. If I was dead could he just say it already? Did we have to go through this weird ass process? I couldn’t do much more of this back and forth emotion thing.
“Last one,” he didn’t even attempt to explain. I waved him on, knowing that if I opened my mouth certain swear words would make their-selves present. One left, then this whole irritating thing would be over.
He opened the door to chaos. I felt my eyes squint as the assault of images and colors before me. Random snapshots of people. Some I knew, some I had never seen in my life. All laughing, crying or shouting at each other in anger around some dinner table. Not one image stayed long enough for me to get an understanding of what was happening. Just enough time for me to take in the emotion and faces before everything was swapped around again.
“Enough,” I shouted covering my eyes. He loved slamming that door shut and now he held it open? Really? I felt the point behind my eyes begin to throb while my stomach churned. I heard the click of the door and knew it was safe to look ahead of me again.
The mystery man, who I no longer wanted to get to know in anyway, was leaning on the last door, arms crossed.
“So?” I asked. I was waiting for him to break down the whole experience. Where was my explanation? How this was all about some grand design. Where was the call for my choice that could change my life? I was waiting for the existential part of all of this.
“So?” he shrugged.
“Am I dead?”
“Dead? I don’t know,” he shrugged again.
“You don’t know? How can you not know? You brought me here. Gave me this weird glimpse into my life and now I have to choose right? I have to make a decision about what path I want to take. Each of these moment means something,” I pointed at each door. “Choice of life of happiness, hidden sorrow or the unknown? Right!?”
“How the fuck should I know?” he shook his head and shrugged again. I wanted to snap those shoulder off of him. “I’m not real.”
“Seriously? That doesn’t actually tell me anything. You could be a dream or the last ditch efforts of my dying brain to make sense of the world and my life,” I said.
“I could be, yep,” he slid down the door, leaned his head back and closed his eyes. “That is up to you. Let me know when you have the answer.”
I walked over and sat down beside him. I leaned my head onto his shoulder. “What if I don’t feel like coming up with an answer?”
“That is up to you,” he said, his shoulder vibrating as he spoke.
“Good, cause I’m tired. I’ll figure this all out sometime later,” I closed my eyes. Maybe I was dying or maybe I was dreaming and I would wake up only able to grasp at pieces of this story. Then again maybe my mind had snapped finally and I was awake in some padded room living inside of hallucination. So many maybes to sort through. I felt my breath getting more even. It could wait until later.
The last thing I saw before “sleep,” over took me was five people laughing so hard they couldn’t even begin to speak.
The pages fluttered back and forth. I tried to hold them down with my hand and then my phone but they were not going to be contained. I sighed, letting them dance at their leisure. I knew what was coming, it had been long day, and the last thing I wanted was to have this argument. A minute later two women appeared before me. They both looked like they had just come out of a hurricane.
The taller one, my “villainess”, let her midnight black hair fall into her face. She ran her fingers through the strands, untangling them as she went. Once it was to her satisfaction she swept it all back and put it into a ponytail. She ran her hands down her red velvet sleeves, straightening the creases and pulling down the bunched up places. She glanced to her left and let out an exasperated sigh.
My “heroine,” was completely absorbed in trying to untangle her necklaces from her hair. She kept putting one strand over another then back and forth again. One necklace would come free only to be swept back into the mess when she moved to the next one. Her movements were getting faster and I knew certain words would be escaping her mouth soon.
“Here,” the “vilainess,” said as she reached over and waved her hand. A moment later everything came free.
“Thanks,” the “heroine,” replied. She threw the mess of curls behind her head. She looked down and flattened out her outfit, a blue peasant dress.
“Can I help you?” I finally asked, now that they were situated.
“Yes, you can,” the “heroine” proclaimed. The two women walked around the counter and took the seats on my left and right.
“We have a problem” the heroine stated from my left.
“And that would be?” I asked. I knew exactly what they wanted but I figured I’d let this play out.
“We need to be rewritten” the “villainess,” said from my right.
“Nope,” I cut off her next words. “I have spent hours, days and months crafting you two. Making sure you match in power abilities. Honing in on your strengths and weaknesses. Making sure you have everything you need to play your parts perfectly. Starting over now is not an option.” I sat back crossing my arms. “You are evil and you are good. You win and you lose. End of story.”
“End of a very dull and overdone story. That isn’t how it works and you know it,” the “heroine” had her head rested on her arm that was laid flat on the counter. “No one is purely evil or purely good. We all are a mixture of both. Not all endings are happy with singing birds and a big celebration with smiling faces as far as the eye can see.”
I got up and walked around the counter and leaned on the counter so I could meet both of their eyes. “What is your point?” I asked.
“Why do you insist on writing that story? It’s been written,” the “heroine” stated.
“So I thought you wanted to be different, a new voice? Why are you using other voices?”
“Because you are scared,” the “villainess” said it in a whisper that I almost missed.
“Excuse me?” I demanded, looking her directly in her eyes. She didn’t blink. I dropped my gaze. “Say that again?” anger was coloring my vision and I could feel my defenses going up.
“You created us in the simplest terms because it is safe and it is easy. No one will argue with you. Who could? Good wins just like it should. Everyone goes home happy. It is safe. They feel like the world is okay again for a moment because evil was defeated. It is safe,” she just kept saying those words and I could feel my anger spike higher and higher every time they left her lips.
“Stop saying that!” I bit out at her. My hands itched to grab her shirt front and scream in her face but I restrained myself. “I write the story that is meant to be told. Your story calls for good to win. It calls for evil to be obvious and recognizable. For evil to strike out and make itself known. The reader knows what has to be done and is satisfied when it all plays out like it should. There is victory at the end for the heroine just like there should be. The reader is happy at the end not lost or disappointed or afraid,” My voice was steady but my hard tone got softer and softer with each word I let fall from my lips.
“There are a thousand stories like that. You need to tell our story. Our story where good and evil are so intertwined you can’t even being to untangle them and truthfully you don’t want to. It is a complicated mess but one that rings with a truth. The reader doesn’t care if it fits into the labels they grew up understanding. Our story is about the two of us fighting with everything we have to save our lives, those we love and each other. We might not both get a happy ending but that is okay because that is truth. You can’t always have a happy ending but you can have a hopeful ending,” She reached out and placed a hand over mine. “Rewrite the rules.”
I smiled and chuckled to myself. “Rewrite the rules, my motto.” I sighed, “I hate the rules.”
“We all do,” the “villainess,” chuckled. “So do we get our rewrite? Do we get to really live?”
I nodded at the pair. “Yeah let’s give the world a tale they will never forget,” the two women cheered.
The got up and came around the counter to wrap me in a big hug. They let me go, joined hands and walked over to the notebook. They gave me one more grin before disappearing into the paper.
“See you soon,” I said as the last page fluttered and fell to rest on a blank page.
A/N: Day six’s prompt was to write about someone we had met this last year. The twist was to make it a character study. I tried the twist but not entirely sure I did it right, found myself concentrating on me, the I, a lot as well.
I parked my car in a spot in the very front of the building, to the right of the main door. I turned the car off, the music still quietly playing in the background and would continue to play until I opened the door. The door remained locked in place while I sat staring at the building before me.
I hadn’t come to the this decision lightly. I was at the very end of my list of options. There was no one else that could possibly help me. I had tried everything from talking to family and friends to doing research alone on the internet. I had tried to just force myself to walk out there and talk to those I didn’t know. It worked for half of a second, the door I stood behind opening a crack and then slamming shut again.
I had no idea what waited for me inside that building, behind her office door. I had seen the television romanticized version of talking to someone. The long leather couch with the buttons in the fabric that you laid on while spilling everything. Her sitting in a chair beside me, scribbling notes and giving out suggestions with long complicated words and theories attached. I grew up with technology and I knew that what you saw on TV was nowhere close to an accurate representation of what real life looked like. I didn’t know what was waiting but I knew I had to find out.
I didn’t know what her reaction would be to my issue. What she would ask. What she would suggest. I could tell her everything, explain my whole social anxiety issue and she could just shake her head at me, scoffing at my “problem.” She could say that I didn’t actually have a real problem, that I was just being over sensitive. Tell me that there was nothing she could do to help me in anyway. I imagined hearing her say those words with disdain in her voice, and then feeling the door slam shut permanently, locked forever, trapping me inside my dark hole.
I opened the door and made it past the entrance door. I knew that if I drove away that that was it, I was going to live inside these shadows forever. I found her name on a list inside the door and headed up the steps to her office door. It was a shared space. I walked towards the back where a small waiting room was set up and waiting for me. I sat down, knowing that this was my one chance to creak open that door again, let in a slice of light and see how it felt. I knew it would feel great and then I could push the door wider and wider until it stood completely open.
I sat on the couch and fiddled with my phone in my lap. I hit the top button over and over again, the screen brightening and dimming like a dying flashlight. I crossed my legs and two-seconds later uncrossed them. I tapped the arm of the couch beside me, a hesitant rhythm, stopped and put my hands intertwined in my lap.
After what felt like 20 minutes I checked my phone, it had only been two. Two more minutes passed before she walked into the doorway.
“Brittney?” she asked, voice low. I looked up. An older woman, probably late 50’s, with short brown curly hair was standing looking down at me. Her mouth was creased in a small welcoming smile.
“Yeah,” I said as I stood up. She offered a hand that I shook. Her palms were lined with age, cold but her grip was sturdy. She let go after a beat and ushered me towards her office.
“Take a seat anywhere,” she pointed out the three choices, a desk chair, an arm chair and a couch. She remained standing beside the door as I choose. I sat on the couch and she choose the arm chair in front of me.
“So what brings you here?” she asked, perching a legal pad on her knee. She rested a pen between two of her fingers, not poised to write but ready should she need it. She looked over at me, waiting for me to speak.
Her eyes were gentle, almost expectant looking. She held me gaze with the small smile still on her face. She looked as if she was ready to hear a tale, interested and eager. She didn’t say anything as the seconds went by, just sat patiently waited for me to speak.
I opened my mouth and told her everything. I explained that I had ended up here after a moment of rejection that had broken my spirit for a moment. I had tried to deal on my own, forcing myself into situations hoping that would fix something. I told her I was tired of just dealing and pretending I was okay with living inside of the shadows, scared to let the world hear the voice I knew I had.
She just listened. She didn’t interrupt. Didn’t comment or ask questions. She just let me spill out every word and concern. She wrote something occasionally, always keeping one eye on me. Her expression remained neutral. No scowls of annoyance or disbelief, no cocked eyebrows asking, “Really?” No looks of anger or resentment. She just let me talk and she just listened.
I finished and waited. She finished writing her final note and put her pen down. She surveyed me for a moment, her expression still completely neutral.
“This we can fix. I’ve seen this before and you are already ahead. You came in here and were able to easily talk to me. That is a good start,” I felt my chest lighten as she asked when I would like to make another appointment.
She didn’t tell me I was being dumb. She didn’t tell me there was nothing wrong and that this was how I was so I should learn to live with it. We set up another date and she told me to have a good day.
Each appointment I went back feeling more and more comfortable. She greeted me at the same doorway with the same warm smile and welcoming attitude. She always asked how I was and even let me just chat with her for a moment. Each time I shared a fear or habit I knew needed to be broken she would hand out suggestions or advice. Never demanding I to do anything, always asking me if I felt like I could do the suggested idea. When I talked about how crazy I knew the fears I had were she laughed with me, not at me. She confirmed what I knew but never reprimanded me.
Most importantly though she listened without bias. Never did she let her opinion intrude. We talk about what I could do to help myself. Not how she could help me and help herself at the same time. My friends and family wanted to help but they couldn’t have the detached listening ability that this woman had. She had no personal investment in my success or failure, she wanted me to succeed because I wanted myself to succeed. She praised my progress and only questioned how to help me through my set-backs. Never angry or disappointed, just curios how to help and ready with a suggestion.
Each time was progress. I was leaning with my shoulder upon the door, using my whole strength to push it inch by inch outward. She was standing, on the door jamb beside me, giving me ideas and thoughts about how to let even more of the light inside. Pointing out where there were jambs or items blocking the path. She never laid her hands on the door itself, never got beside me and pushed, just told me how to move the door in the most effective way; where to lay my weight, where the weak points were. It was slow, but this immovable block was moving inch by inch each day. Soon it would be open, maybe not completely, but enough where I could wash myself in the light and revel in the warmth.
A/N: This is the assignment for day 3 (I did day 2 but it was not publish worthy…needs work.) It was to free write about three songs that are important to you. I wrote about Brad Paisley’s “The Man He Didn’t Have to Be,” “Zero to Hero” and “I Was Here,” by Lady Antebellum. The other two got a bit too personal to post but I liked how this one came out. I especially like the imagery that popped up and I think I will try to refine it and use it again somewhere later.
I slid down the wall in my apartment legs stretched out directly in front of me. Crying was not an option. I would not let this frustrate me yet again. This mess was mine alone and I could figure out how to move forward.
It was like staring at a wall of flames in front of me. High waves of flames, just kept crashing down one after another, continually coming at me. It was like I was crouched on the edge of the ocean, the water just barely licking at my toes. These flames crashed toward me, the beach in front of me full of broken glass pieces that kept inching toward me, but I always kept just a few inches in front of them. Soon I would stumble or get distracted and get burned or sliced open. Blood would run down and then I would have to decide if I was going quench the flow or just let it go and let myself completely deflate. I could stat over then and that would be good. Right?
As I sat staring ahead my phone started to buzz in my pocket. I pulled it out, in my slide down the wall I had hit a few buttons and turned on my music app. Lady Antebellum’s “I was Here,” was playing. I could hear the words clearly now that it was free from the confines of my pocket. Instantly my body relaxed as the piano played. “You will notice me. I will be leaving my mark like initials carved on an old oak tree. Wait and see… Cause I know in my heart I wanna do something that matters, say something different… I wanna try to touch a few hearts in this life,” I sing along and I feel a smile cross my face.
Yes, this dream is too strong. Yes, the waves of fire made up of rejection and destruction may be licking their way towards me. The beach might be polluted with the cutting glass of harsh words and disbelief but I don’t care. I’ll put on my thickest shoes and fireproof suit and I’ll keep moving forward.
Instead of just standing just out of reach of all of these harsh things I am going to dive in and see what happens. I might be shredded and end up as ash or I might come through this wall to find an oasis on the other side. Either way, the world will know “I was Here.”
A/N:I am doing the Writing 101- Blogging University through Daily Post and this Day 1. I will place the pic on each piece that has to do with this challenge just to separate them out. This was just writing a stream of consciousness for 20 minutes.
It is only the beginning. Those were the words carved above the doors, on the sidewalk and all around the house. It is only the beginning were words I had heard for half of my life. Half of my life where I could remember words and put them together into some conscious thought.
I always heard the words and felt a wave of excitement explode through me. Even when the words didn’t actually have any real effect on me personally. A new band would pronounce it was only the beginning after their first major public appearance. A political group would shout the slogan as they waved their banners after they won their first major fight.
I heard the words and got so excited for them. I got antsy and wanted to know what was coming next. When nothing happened it sucked but I walked away with a shrug. It wasn’t meant to be, I always thought.
Now those words are mine and I’m not sure what to do with them. Now they seem like so much more than words. They are glaring and bright and I find myself trying to figure out how to shield my eyes. Where are my sunglasses? My hat? A wall or cloud or tree to block out that glaring spotlight.
The path stretches out and I can’t move. This is the beginning but it also could be the very end. What if it is everything at once? Then what? What am I supposed to do if my beginning is nothing, like so many that have gone before me.
My feet inch forward and a shove to my back almost makes me fall to my knees. I look behind me but there is no one there. I inch forward and feel another heavy push. This time I hit the ground with a cry. What is going on?
I brush off and get back to my feet. I try to inch backwards but I can’t. It is like I hit a wall. I can’t push past whatever is standing there.
I don’t move, terror inching up my neck and stealing its way through my veins. My breath comes in short bursts and I try to not cry but the tears have a will all their own. I sob and clutch my chest. I shake and find myself on the ground once again.
I can’t go back and don’t know how to go forward. Maybe I can just sit here and the world will let me alone. I will waste away and be gone but that is fine, it is safe. Safe is good. Safe is comfortable. Safe is safe.
But as I sit and shake and rock I feel that shove on my back again. I tilt forward but don’t move very much. It pushed harder the next time, almost tipping me over.
“No,” I cry out. “Please no. Leave me alone.”
“Can’t,” the voice is a whisper in my ear. One I have heard before. One I’ve taken comfort in and screamed at the top of my lungs at in an argument. One I can trust.
I get up, arms still wrapped around myself. Trying to hold myself together as best as I can. The shove is not a shove this time, it is more a gentle nudge.
My feet move slowly, one sliding in front of the other. Inch by inch I move forward, that soft push always at my back. Slowly my pace increases form a shuffle to a walk, to a speed-walk. My arms uncurl from my body and swing swiftly at my sides.
My eyes remain trained on my path, watching the ground to avoid any stones or pitfalls. Never looking around, just moving.
I stumble over nothing and slam into the pavement. The touch isn’t there. There is no voice, no help. I lay on the ground, trying to decide if getting up is worth it. I pull my eyes from the path and look to my right. The grass is so green, green from pictures and paintings. This is the grass of Eden.
I sit up and look up. Not a cloud to be mar the sky. Just blue that stretches for ages and ages. I find myself lost in its grandeur. I look down, flowers bloom in clusters. Drops of color over the ground. Like drops of paint falling to the ground. I giggle as I imagine a giant painting this picture.
I get up without looking ahead. Now I walk without looking at the ground. I walk without watching my feet. Sure I’ll probably end up on my face again but then I can see the vibrant beautiful grass up close again. I can see the lines and marks that make them up and I will smile.