By Kaylie Hunt (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)
DO NOT ENTER. This is what the sign said that my mother put on the slanting door in my backyard when we moved in a few months ago. In addition to the sign, there was a chain with a lock on it. I asked her again why I’m not allowed to open the door. She gave me an irritated look and the same old answer: “Because I said so.” I never understood what the big deal was, it was just a door, right? It always felt like she was hiding something from me. Whatever it was, I wasn’t going to let her get away with it. After she gave me that same repeated answer, I turned away and stormed up the steps. I was going to get inside that door.
My mother drove off to work that evening in her beat up Jeep. This was my chance; I just had to find the key. The first place I checked was the bowl of keys we kept on the kitchen table. All I found were misplaced keys that had no use. Then, after no luck in the kitchen, I went upstairs to my mother’s room.
It was sitting there in the top drawer of her jewelry box. It looked brand new. I grabbed it and rushed out to the backyard. Finally, this was my chance. After months of waiting, the mystery behind this door would be unraveled.
Slowly, I put it into the lock that was dangling from the handle of the door. My already-sweaty hands were getting shaky and my heart was beating fast. I had to go through with it; I turned the key. The lock fell off the chain and onto the ground, and the door creaked open. I only saw darkness. That couldn’t be right. She was hiding me from darkness? Walking through the door, each step I took got smaller and smaller. I had to push through. I had to see what was in there.
After a few more steps, I spotted a bright, orange light further ahead. It looked like a way out of this long, eerie path. I started to pick up the pace. The light seemed to get closer and closer within every step. I finally reached the light. I looked around. In front of me, there was a giant tree with little windows and doors. Out of the blue, I got smacked in the leg. I glanced down. There was a gnome peering up at me.
“Where am I?” I asked the gnome.
“Well, right now it appears that you’ve stepped right on top of my house”.
I lifted up my foot to see that I crushed one of the tiny buildings on the ground. I carefully took a few steps forward, making sure I didn’t step on anything else. The gnome-like creature began to grow. When he stopped, he was much taller than me, with sharp teeth and claws for hands. My heartbeat increased; I had to get back home.
The gnome began to chase after me with a look of pure vengeance in his eyes. I wanted to get back home, where I was safe, but the gnome was chasing me away from the door. The further we got, the less I saw it. I needed to figure out a way to turn the chase around. I jumped behind a tree and started to run the opposite way, I was getting closer. Then, I felt claws tug on my arm.
“Let me GO!” I screamed loud enough for the whole forest to hear me. He picked me up and wrapped his hand around my whole body. His grip was tight; it felt like my circulation was being cut off.
“Now you’re mine,” he declared.
* * *
Three years have passed. I am now a prisoner of the gnome, tied to a railing in his basement. I haven’t seen my mother since she left for work that evening. I should have listened to her. I never should have opened that door.