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Drama Fiction Teens & Young Adult

(CW: Mental illness, allusions to abuse and suicide)


She didn’t hear the small pop that sounded a few inches from her face. Her muffled sadness covered it up. A few minutes passed before she lifted her eyes enough to even see it, the top of her head brushing the clothes above her. 


At first, she thought it was a trick of the light. When she was young, she used to play with the wetness in her eyes. She would stare up at the ceiling, squinting and opening. Squinting and opening. Watching the rays from her ceiling light distort, lengthen, and disappear. 


She didn’t do that now, though. It was night, and her light was not on. Her closet was supposed to be dark. She quickly wiped the tears from her eyes, cleaning away the fuzziness of her vision. What she saw would have made her scream if she had anything left in her. 


4 inches away from her face was a glowing circular something. It sat hanging in the air, about the size of a backpack. It stayed silent as the girl stared with wide red eyes. 


Slowly, she backed away until her spine pressed against the far side of her closet. She reminded herself to breathe as she curled into a ball there, shaking her head. It was fine. Everything was fine. She just needed to get away. She could get around it if she stepped over it. She could get out if she stood up and walked over. She rose slowly, keeping her eyes on the glowing circle. 


It was a nice glow, she thought. It was terrifying, but it was a nice glow. There was something warm and comforting about it. It didn’t look threatening. It was just sitting there, waiting. Understandably distracted by its shine, the girl didn’t pay attention to what was above her. Thud. Her head hit the wooden closet rod. It wasn’t hard, but it was enough to jolt a precariously hung shirt off of its hanger. And right onto the glowing circle.


She gaped. Half of the shirt was now gone. The other half sat illuminated and fading into the golden light. Well, now getting close to it didn’t seem like such a good idea. She slid back down to the floor and reshielded herself, hugging her knees to her chest.


It was 3 minutes before she worked up the courage to reach out and pinch the shirt. She grabbed the tip and carefully pulled it out of the circle. She let out a sigh of relief. Nothing was damaged. The shirt looked exactly the same as before. It looked the same, but as the girl held it closer to inspect, she noticed that it was now warm. Not only warm, but it smelled wonderful. It smelled like warm fires and good food and fluffy pillows. It was more than that, though. Radiating from it was a sense of calm greater than she had felt in a long time. The half that remained on the closet floor was old and worn, but the piece that had gone to, wherever was inside there, was smooth and silky. A nearly imperceptible smile pulled at her lips as she held the shirt close. 


She enjoyed the shirt for a few minutes before reaching up and grabbing a dress that hung down close to her shoulder. Making sure to keep a piece of the skirt held tightly in her left hand, she balled and threw the rest into the circular portal with her right. As she pulled it out, her brow loosened and chest unclenched. It was lovely. The dress’ muted colors had become vibrant under the portal’s glowing influence. The feeling emanating from it was pure peaceful bliss. She buried her face in the fabric. Inhaling the calm sureness of the silk. 


Next went a skirt, then a pair of shoes, then a stuffed animal she had hidden away in here instead of giving away like the others. Each one went in rough, stressed, and frayed, and each came out beaming with an indescribable sense of well-being and safety.


Tears glinted again at her eyes, but these were happy ones. This was what she needed. She inhaled, immersing herself in this serenity, this everlasting peace. 


But it wasn’t everlasting. A crash and barrage of slurred swear words shot through her like a knife. She lifted her head from the mass of items, her eyes suddenly dry. She would have to go back. She would have to leave this place. This wonderful glowing, peaceful, serene paradise. She would have to leave. She would. Would she?


She fumbled in the corner of her closet and brought out a cardboard box. Her hands shook as she rifled through the old birthday cards, souvenirs, and mementos. In here was her life. In here was her childhood and her happiness. But looking inside it now only made her mourn the past. Her hand closed around a small necklace. It was green and pink and had half a heart dangling from the end. Somewhere, its other half sat unaware as the green and pink necklace was swallowed by glowing light. Into thin air. Leaving nothing behind but its jagged metal counterpart 3 states away. The box was empty within two minutes. It’s easier to say goodbye to things a second time.


The girl gritted her teeth. Slowly, carefully, she reached out her arm to the inviting glow. It felt like liquid starlight. The 4 red crescents on her palm, the aches she didn’t even know existed, vanished to nothingness. She reached her arm farther in. Up to her wrist, then her elbow. It was an effort to stop herself from going all the way to her shoulder. She pulled her senses and her arm back from the glorious place they had just been. Her skin was glowing. Her hand, moving smoothly and gracefully, felt as light as a feather. Shifting, she put her leg in. When she pulled it out, the dozens of bruises were gone. She hadn’t realized how hurt she was until it finally went away. 


Another smash came from outside. The girl shuddered. Tears fell from her face for the third time that night. Not from despair or pain like the first, not from relief or happiness like the second, but from the fear of what she knew she had to do. Her vision blurred, but she did not reach to wipe the tears away. She looked at the glowing circular portal and squinted her eyes. The soft glow splintered and fractured into a warm snowflake, then a setting sun, then an open, inviting door. 


More banging came from outside her room. 


The shining door was opening wider, willing her to step inside.


A yell of her name in a deep voice filled with rage.


Someone was standing in the glowing doorway. They were smiling at her, gesturing for her to come inside. She knew the face and reached out to touch it. It was warm and soft and peaceful and everlasting. 


A bang on her dark bedroom door that she had barricaded with a slanted chair.


She took one last deep breath. The wooden floor beneath her was slippery with tears. She was done. She was ready. The girl closed her eyes tight and plunged into the warm serene nothingness ahead of her. 


SLAM! The bedroom door burst open. If he hadn’t been yelling, he might have heard the small pop that sounded from the closet. If he hadn’t shoved in, he might have seen the light leaking from under the door. But he did yell. He did shove. And that night there was nothing to find but an empty box of memories and a salty closet floor. 


August 26, 2021 03:56

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2 comments

Ben Rounds
01:32 Sep 02, 2021

Hello. Critique Circle. Great title, great concept. I have to say, I preferred the first half of the story, where you were just alluding to the issues, and was sort of hoping you would keep it just that vague. Interestingly, this is not the first closet/ abuse story I have read on here. It must be a common occurrence, or at least, a common fear. I liked that it was, open ended, sort of, Pan's Labyrinthy. How did you see it? What happened to her in your mind? No major flaws and obviously well polished. I would say, a solid submission, ...

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Dell Bell
03:15 Sep 02, 2021

Hi Ben, thanks for the feedback! When I first wrote this story I had it end with a pill bottle on the floor, basically saying that the whole portal was a hallucination and that she was dying. I decided to change it and have her “disappear” so it would connect more back to the prompt. I like the fact that it’s a more hopeful and ambiguous ending, but in my mind I think she is still dying at the end.

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