By Jess Baldini (Sun Valley High School, West Chester, PA)
I could feel the inside of my stomach growing in guilt.
“It’s a small wooden door,” I said.
“Can you tell me anything else? What happened, Haley?”
She gently rested her cold hand onto my knee, and gazed into my teary eyes.
“No. That’s all I remember,” I lied.
“Are you sure?”
I looked down at my feet and nodded.
She got up and handed me a box of tissues. She took my hand, and I got up off the couch so she could pull me in for a hug. “Everything will be all right,” she softly whispered into my ear.
But I didn’t believe it.
My father came to pick me up around 4p.m. I stayed in the waiting room, eager to hear what they had to say about me. I brushed my ear up against the door.
“Her next appointment is this following Tuesday at 2p.m,” Dr. Hart said to my father. “She is going through a rough time and she isn’t taking it very well.”
“I know. I’m worried about her constantly. She hasn’t eaten for days.”
I rolled my eyes as I listened into the conversation.
“Were she and her mother close?” Dr. Hart asked.
“Very,” Dad said, “But so were my other two kids.”
“Everyone copes with things differently. It just takes time to heal.”
“If you say so,” He replied, “Thank you for everything.”
I opened up the door to Dr. Hart’s office and said, “Dad, let’s go.”
He unlocked the car door, and I hopped in the front seat. I plugged in my headphones, blasted the music, trying to forget about the rest of the world for at least a little while. I tried to ignore my father’s presence but he kept interfering. “Haley, what’s gotten into you?”
“Nothing. Just leave me alone.”
I didn’t want to remember that night but it kept coming back to me, over and over again like a new single on the radio. It scared me half to death. The memories of that night were starting to make my heart pound like crazy. I felt the sudden urge to jump out of the speeding car onto the highway…just to get away and never come back. Thinking about her laying on her death bed, an innocent woman who just made a mistake, was breaking my heart… I could have saved her.
Her screaming voice, crying for help, blasting in the back of my mind causing me to gain the worst headache anyone could ever imagine. It was slowly shattering my heart into a million tiny pieces, but only she has the ability to put them back together like the pieces of a puzzle.
I sat there in a daze, my mind wandering in all directions. She looked at me as I spoke the words, “I’ve been to Hell and back.”
“I know, sweetie. These past few weeks have been hard on all you guys. I-“
“No…” I butted in, “Literally.”
She cocked her head, and stared into my eyes. I stared back, waiting for her reply.
“Tell me more about this door,” Dr. Hart said. “Be as detailed as possible.”
“I really shouldn’t.” I murmured, looking up at her anxious eyes, “They’d get mad.”
“Who would get mad?”
I looked down at her notepad and pen. I hesitated. “Th…The…” I stuttered, “The people who live there.”
“Go to this place.” She said, “Tell me about it.”
“Oh no,” I went on, “I can’t…not anymore.”
“Why is that?” She asked.
I closed my eyes, and drifted off into that Sunday night dream of a few weeks ago.
“Come. Come. Come,” the luring voices of whispers led me to a wooden door as it creaked open. I saw a layer of unattractive stairs. Thorns painting the walls, dust covering the steps, and blood splattered on the ceiling…the stairway, leading to a place of misfortunate and utter terror.
I walked through, holding onto my bare shivering elbows, and my chattering teeth woke up the abandoned sleeping men and women hidden behind the calmly swaying trees.
“Don’t let them see you.” A teenage girl’s voice called out.
I turned around, and in the doorway of a small bridge, stood a girl around my age.
“Hey!” She whispered, “Get in here before they take you away!”
I walked over and walked through the doorway under the bridge. I sat down on the cold hard floor.
“What is this place?” I asked her.
“This is the land of the living, and the once living.” She said in a shy, timid voice, “I sent myself here…”
I nervously walked backwards. Quite frightened to hear her response, I asked, “Why? Did you…did you kill someone?”
She looked down at the cuts on her wrists and scars on her legs, and then looked back at me. She pulled out a picture of her family. Tears poured from her eyes as she said “I gave up. That’s why I’m here…it was a mistake.”
I looked out of the small window and I noticed as the people walked by, every single one of them had purple and black scars either on their neck, or on their wrists. It was a terrible, frightening sight.
“They’re just dreams…they mean nothing.” I lied, “Dr. Hart, it’s no big deal.”
“But it doesn’t seem like it,” she went on, “What is this place? And why can’t you go back there?”
The awful, disturbing sound of a woman crying for help woke me up.
What is that?
I opened my eyes to pitch black darkness. I lifted up the sheets and got out of bed. I felt my way down the hall to my parents’ bedroom, and opened up the door. I stomped my hands onto the sheets only to find a half-empty bed. “Mom?!” I yelled.
I walked vigorously, pacing back and forth. I couldn’t see a thing. The awful, awful noise was growing louder every minute. “I’m coming!” I shouted out, hoping she could hear me.
The innocent voice of a desperate mother in need of help, crying at the top of her lungs, was breaking my heart. I looked all around but there was nothing to be found. The screeching yells were coming from all directions, echoing back and forth. I was losing my mind.
“God, please help me!”
But out of the midst of the growing darkness, I saw a light. A bright, shiny light, almost blinding my vision. I slowly walked towards it, covering my squinting eyes. “I’m coming, Mom!”
I slowly reached the light; the darkness grew dim once more. I felt the sudden rush of my heart sinking, as the shadow of the brown wooden door appeared before my blinded eyes. I turned the knob.
I shivered; getting out of my zone. “What?”
She grabbed a tissue and wiped away the tears falling down my cheeks.
“Why can’t you go back to that place?” She asked once more.
I thought back to the last moment I could hear my mother…I was holding the knob.
I took Dr. Hart’s hand, with tears in my stained glass eyes, as I softly spoke, “The door is locked.”