THE OTHER SIDE
By Danielle Richardson
I watch as Lucy stops in front of me like she does every day, her little ten-year-old head cocking to the left in curiosity. But her curiosity will not be sated. She knows better than to open me. I am the one thing her parents will not give her. I am the one thing that seems easily within her grasp, yet I am farther away than she could ever possibly reach.
I am The Door at the End of the Hall.
Her hand stretches tentatively toward my ornate silver knob, but she lowers it quickly with a shake of her head. She dashes away from me now, and I hear the echo of her small feet marching eagerly down the stairs, no doubt about to eat a brief breakfast before her parents take her to school. It’s become a sort of game for us now, Lucy and me. Every morning, before school, she stops to look at me as though she will ever have the courage to open me, but she is never able to vanquish her inexplicable fear.
I can’t say that I blame her for looking. I truly am quite a thing to behold. Never has so much intricate effort been put into a simple door, if I do say so myself. I am made of walnut wood, dark as the bark on the tree that I came from. My face is carved with subtle geometric designs, but it is my knob that is my greatest asset. At once both antiquated and pristine, the design of my knob looks as though it came out of a Jane Austen novel, and yet its silver is as radiant as though it were created yesterday. The designs on my knob—though far more intricate and swirled than those on my face—do not seem at all out-of-place and only add to my overall splendor.
I hear the front door shut and know that my humans have left for the day. Being alone, I decide to take a peek at the other side of my door. Shifting my perspective, I look into the place Lucy is not yet ready to enter.
It is breathtaking. It is a world full of endless possibilities and opportunities, the only limit being those that your mind conjures up. I look around at what others have left behind in this world, the creations and dreams that could only ever be possible here. There is a man living happily in his household with his wife, who I know is dead in the real world. I see a young woman singing her heart out in front of an adoring crowd, but I know that on the real side, she works in a cubicle every day. A teenage boy sits at a restaurant, having a romantic date with his boyfriend, but in reality, I know that he would never reveal his sexuality for fear of being punished by his homophobic parents.
Whatever a person could ever deeply desire, things that are not frivolous that may add greatly to their happiness, this is the place where it is made a reality. But it may only ever exist here, and each person’s time here is limited. You may only be here for a temporary moment, but you must always remember that your reality is on the other side. Those that begin to lose themselves here will find that they may never return.
Lucy’s parents were already given the key long ago, but she is too young to know what true longing is. Until the day that she understands what it is to have a necessary desire, I will remain locked to her. But when that day comes, she will find that she already has the key, and I will be unlocked to her for the first time. And so, I wait, just like I have for everyone else.
The sound of the front door clanging shut startles me out of my reverie, and I switch perspectives back to reality. The humans are home. I hear their feet against the ground downstairs, but something is different. There is less noise than there usually is. One pair of feet is missing. I feel a sudden absence on the other side, someone’s desires vanishing as though they were never there. Something has happened.
The steps creak with the sound of two sets of feet, one smaller and lighter than the other, before Lucy and her father round the corner on the other end of the hallway. Her mother is nowhere to be seen. The father says nothing in his husky voice, ignoring Lucy and heading straight for the master bedroom, the lock on the door clicking shut behind him. It is out of the ordinary for him to ignore her like this. He has left Lucy alone with me, a melancholy sensation hanging in the air around us.
Her head turns towards me now, her bright brown eyes filled with tears from the sadness she cannot quell. She takes her time coming to me, but I don’t mind. I know that she will reach me before the end. She stops in front of me, her feet in the same spot they have been every day on the well-worn carpet. But today is different. Today I feel her longing, feel it as though it were my own, bleeding within the splinters of my walnut. Her age is one too tender to have lost a mother at, a mother she still had up to this very morning. One so young should not know the loss I feel radiating off her.
She is ready.
She reaches towards my knob with her childlike hands once again, but today she does not stop until her fingers are wrapped around my orb. Today she twists my knob slowly. Today it is not locked. She has the key. When I am open, her little face is bathed in the brightest kind of light that only exists on the other side, making the tears in her eyes glisten like the sun-kissed surface of the ocean. She takes a step closer, ready to enter the other side.
I let her in.
About the Author:
Danielle Richardson is from the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten. She is twenty years old and currently resides in Florida to further her education.