The Locked Door

Written in response to: Write a story titled ‘The Locked Door.’... view prompt


Coming of Age Teens & Young Adult Drama

This story contains themes or mentions of mental health issues.

At seven years and four months, Sadie watched Snow White.

She’d watched it at five, too. But it had scared her and she’d had to turn it off. But now she was seven. She was a big girl, and she was brave. Nothing could bother her.

Despite Sadie’s protests, her mom stopped the movie an hour in when the cat jumped on the table and Sadie screamed. She didn’t sleep that night.

The lock held.

At ten years and six months, Sadie read Pride and Prejudice.

It was not that she was an impossibly genius ten-year-old or anything - it was that this was a thing that she should know about. She could talk about it with adults and they’d be impressed by her. Everyone would think she was smart. Her mother could tell people, “she read Pride and Prejudice, you know,” and Sadie could use the word ‘prejudice’ that only adults used.

She carried the book around for months. She would not admit defeat, even though she couldn’t understand why they all needed husbands so badly or what was even going on at all - it was about accomplishment. Even though she was bored and what she really wanted to do was listen to The Beatles. But at least she could show it off at school.

Then one night, her mother found her asleep on the couch, still clutching the book. She put a blanket over Sadie and hid the book underneath her bed. They never spoke of it again.

The lock held.

At thirteen years, Sadie began to daydream about romance.

She was a teenager now. Teenagers have crushes (the real, grown-up kind) and go on dates and have first kisses. Maybe she was still young, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t happen to her. What a wild thing to think about. She even made up a crush on some guy she didn’t even like that much. But it was in her head. It was what she wanted so badly, she made it up.

The lock held.

At thirteen years and eleven months, she started high school.

It was a whole new place. This was where her life would begin - it had to be. In high school, people dated and had best friends and went on adventures. This would be her time.

She realized, slowly, that high school just wasn’t so shiny as it was in the movies.

The lock held.

At fourteen years and five months, Sadie decided to change her style.

She went online and ordered three crop-tops and some ill-fitting bras. That’s what everyone wore. When they arrived, she saw someone different in the mirror. Sadie wore a crop-top to school the next day. She didn’t feel pretty and grown-up, like she’d expected. All day, she felt exposed and self-conscious. She felt nothing like herself.

It wasn’t that she had anything against tiny clothes. People could wear whatever they wanted. But so could Sadie. And that’s not what she wanted.

She buried the new outfits in the back of her closet and never touched them again.

The lock held.

At sixteen years and eight months, Sadie got a boyfriend.

It wasn’t the kind of romance she’d imagined when she was younger, but what had she really known at thirteen? They had fun together. Ryan was a nice guy - charming, good-looking, all-around pleasant. They went out a few times and made out in the back stairwell. She felt like she’d reached a new level, somehow, in this crucial stage of maturity.

And then one day, Sadie looked at him, and she simply didn’t see anything. She realized she didn’t really feel anything for him anyway, so what was the point? Maybe it was naive, but she wanted a relationship like she saw on TV, where they thought about each other all day and then kissed in the rain. And that wasn’t this. Ryan just didn’t make her better.

The lock held.

At seventeen years and one month, Sadie toured a university.

Her and her mother drove a couple hours north to a small-town campus and spent the day touring. They saw the residences, the classrooms, the trees. But it wasn’t the place that excited Sadie so much as the look of the people around her. They were adults. They lived here, in this place that wasn’t home, and they did what they wanted. They were independent. And the prospect of that was irresistible.

But on the drive home, the images of the place didn’t seem so colourful. It was a long drive, and Sadie and her mother spent it singing at the tops of their lungs and making up stories about the foreign license plates they spot. And somehow, that was enough. 

How much did she really want to be away? What did it really mean to be independent and grown-up if you didn’t like where you were as much as where you used to be? Suddenly, the school felt so impossibly far away from home. Why did she have to grow up, anyway?

The lock held.

At seventeen years and four months, Sadie became clinically depressed.

It came out of nowhere, really. She would’ve liked to say it was because of change, or schoolwork, or something like that. But it wasn’t. The world just changed, somehow. It wasn’t colourful anymore. She could no longer see the beauty in anything, because she couldn’t forget the ugliness it contained. It felt hopeless.

Her mother noticed, of course. After a couple months of pushing, she convinced Sadie to ask for help from a professional. It was the scariest thing she’d ever had to do to explain it to a stranger. But she did. As per their advice, she started exercising every day. It was a small thing, but it worked. 

And over time, she began to recognize the signs in herself, to isolate the singular sentiments and rushes that led to depression. She learned what new thoughts could bring her back, and the things that she needed to remember to keep from drowning. It was long and slow, but in time, she survived.

The lock held.

At eighteen years, Sadie watched her birthday tick away.

Now, she recalled her younger years in pieces. Memories of the embarrassing, frightening, and joyful sort. The moments she distinctly remembered trying to be an adult, the thing she couldn’t believe she was now. All the times she’d fallen on her face in the name of maturity. When she’d had no idea how small she really was.

Sadie felt it all. The coldness of the Adirondack chair on her skin. The gentle spray on her bare feet. The rain on every inch of every building of her city. The rush of the cars in front of her little porch, her corner of the world. The view she knew like the back of her hand. The cold whisper of a breeze on her cheek.

Eyes closed, it was all laid out before her. Her childhood, all-engulfing, and her adulthood that was only beginning. All those times she tried to get here, to this place of being a grown-up, or whatever that meant, and she’d never felt more grown-up than now. How that worked, she didn’t know. Because all of a sudden the feeling she’d been racing toward was just there. It wasn’t as shiny as she’d expected. But just being here was an accomplishment. Breathing this air. Nothing, past or present, could take this air out of her lungs at this very moment. Maybe later, but she didn’t really care.

That’s when the lock clicked. The door was before her, and this time she hadn’t had to seek it out. Sadie saw it clearly, more clearly than she ever had before. She knew it would open before she tried.

And then she was falling. Suddenly, uncontrollably. It was a great, blank abyss, that she knew she was meant to fill. But there was nothing to do.

Nothing to hold onto.

January 29, 2022 00:36

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Anne Zubrick
19:43 Dec 01, 2022

the lock held is interesting way to move the story from one event to another and I do believe we think things should just come and when they dont we are sad. hard topic to write about but I think there is a little sadness in all of us and we are looking to fly but the smart ones carry the most because you think. I enjoyed this because growing up is hard to do this story tells it.


Susannah Webster
13:36 Feb 15, 2023

Thanks so much! I was definitely trying to explore the theme of growing up here and I'm glad you were able to connect with it


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