The Locked Door

Submitted into Contest #130 in response to: Write a story titled ‘The Locked Door.’... view prompt

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Drama Inspirational Fiction

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

Megan had no reason to believe she’d ever end up bloody and beaten in an ambulance speeding down the freeway. But here she was. Her head pounded and every slight bump of the vehicle only caused more pain to shoot through her battered body. She would cry but found the tears couldn’t escape through her swollen eyes. 

It’s not the first time he’d beaten her, but it was the first time he’d called the ambulance in a panic. He’d been afraid that he’d killed her. She wished he had. The embarrassment of allowing a man to hurt her like this almost outweighed the anger she’d felt. Somehow, she knew this wasn’t all her fault. Even if that’s what he’d say before, during, and after each beating. She was done this time. Next time, he would kill her. There was no doubt. 

************************************************************

The house was vast, too much for one person certainly, and almost a hundred years older than Megan herself. But the minute she’d seen the ad on the website, she knew that the house was meant to be her sanctuary from her past. The surface bruises had healed, but the ones inside were as fresh as the moment they’d been inflicted. 

“Megan?” The realtor tucked her hands into the pockets of her gray puff coat and smiled at Megan. “You ready to do the walk through?”

Megan nodded. “Yes, Ma’am.” She followed the realtor towards the stairs that lead onto a grand porch that wrapped around the entire building. They pulled open the ancient heavy front door, which only made Megan feel more secure---no one could break that down. 

The first floor had original wood floors that desperately needed refinishing. The flower wall paper that had to be from the eighties was yellow with age and left over smoke and peeling at the seams. There was an open concept so she could stand at the front door to see both the living room, stairs, and kitchen. No place for someone to hide. 

“Needs some repair, upkeep, and gentle love,” the realtor said as they made their way into the kitchen. 

Who doesn’t? Megan thought. 

The kitchen cabinets were missing doors here and there. The backsplash was older than Megan and stained with years of grease and life. The counters were formica and needed to be replaced, eventually. Basically, the kitchen begged to be gutted, but Megan refused to give up on the bones. She would restore this house to its former glory. She would heal it. 

Upstairs, there were three bedrooms of decent size and a bathroom with pink wall tile, toilet, and tub. It was as hideous as it was wonderful. The bedrooms still had soggy green shag carpeting and a slight smell, but she’d be able to clean that all out. They’d be feeling great again in no time. 

The realtor frowned at her. “You sure you want this house? I’ve got more that are decent sized but renovated. Easy for a single woman.” 

Megan nodded as she looked around. She said, “yep. Where do I sign? And when do I get the keys?” 

“Well, you paid cash and the sellers are fine with you getting the keys as soon as you sign the papers.” 

“Great.” Megan quickly signed the papers and walked the realtor to the front door. She touched the single lock on the door. “Is this the only lock?” 

“Ah. Yes, for this door, at least. There is one on the back door as well, and all the windows. Why?”

“I need more locks than this.” 

The realtor laughed and touched her on the shoulder. “Sweetie, you aren’t in the city anymore. This is the safest place.” 

Panic clawed at Megan. “No, really, where can I buy more locks or find someone to install them today?” 

“Well, okay, my son is a locksmith, and he owns the hardware store. I’ll send him out right away. How many do you want?”

“A man?” Megan twisted her hands together. “Alone?”

“He is a man, but he’s a sweet boy. Don’t fret, dear, you’ll give yourself wrinkles.” The realtor took out her phone and texted her son. “How many locks do you think you need?”

“Five.” 

“Oh, that many? Okay.” 

“For each door.” 

“For. Each. Door?” The realtor furrowed her brow. “Okay, then.” She quickly texted her son before leaving Megan alone, finally, in her brand new run-down house. 

************************************************************

“Benni, if you don’t stop bouncing in that seat and leave your seatbelt on, I’m going to tie you to the roof.” Griffin scolded. 

Benni smiled with her two missing teeth and asked, “after we do this chore for Grma can we get ice cream?”

Crisp, bright white snow coated the ground, and the trees were full of icicles making the road to the Old Hampton place look like a winter wonderland, and his insane daughter wanted ice cream. “Kid, it’s like ten degrees outside.” 

“So, I have gloves and a coat. Plus, my mouth is hot.” She fanned the mouth in question. “It needs ice cream to cool off.” 

“Fine. If you behave while I do this job, then we will stop for ice cream on the way home. Deal, Kid?”

“Deal, Pops.” She continued to bounce to the rhythm of the music. Benni Hampton was never one who sat still. “Why does this lady need so many locks, anyhow?”

“I haven’t a clue. Maybe because she’s afraid to live alone in the woods?” Griffin shrugged. He’d asked his mother that exact question, but she’d blown him off. Her normal reaction whenever he asked her anything. 

“If she was afraid, why’d she move to the woods?”

“No idea.” He pulled into the long driveway.

The new owner’s car, a beat-up sedan, sat in the driveway and the new owner stood watching him pull in with her hands in the pockets of loose black pants. When his mother had told him that a woman had paid cash for the rundown house, he’d thought she must be an older, wealthy house flipper. But the woman in front of him was no older than thirty, a pretty little thing, and clearly not rich. The way she watched him with weary, haunted eyes told him that she’d been through some shit. 

He looked at Benni as she scrambled out of the truck. Who hadn’t been through some shit? 

“I’m Griffin. You talked to my mother about locks?” he called to her. 

“I did. I’m Megan. Thank you for coming out so quickly.” She twisted her hands in front of her and took a deep breath. 

He slammed the truck door, and she jumped. He frowned at the reaction. “No problem. It's on our way home. This, here, is Benni, the wild lady. Benni, this is Ms. Megan.” Griffin slowed his pace when he saw Megan practically crash into the railing to get away from him. He cleared his throat. “You need locks?” 

She took a deep breath. “Yes. The front and the back.”

“A certain kind?”

“Strong.” 

He smiled. “Done. I brought the best. Mom said you were jumpy.” Griffin set the tool bag down and opened the door. 

“I’m not jumpy. I am cautious,” Megan retorted. 

Griffin shrugged. “This is a safe place.” 

“So your mother said. Still…”

“No worries. I will take care of it.” Griffin set about to drill the holes needed in the door. 

************************************************************

Megan stood as far from the man as she could possibly get, but the child was friendly and nonthreatening. 

Benni skipped towards Megan, her sandy blonde intricately braided pigtails bouncing and her smile flashing dimples. “Hey, I’m Benni. Who are you?” 

“I’m Megan. Nice to meet you, Benni. I love your pigtails.” 

Benni’s smile widened, and she tugged on her hair. “Thanks, my daddy does it.” 

“Does he?” Megan stared at the rough man with shaggy blond hair and matching full beard. And tried to imagine his huge, workman's hands doing detailed pigtail braids. “Well, he does a marvelous job.” 

“Thanks,” Griffin said as he pulled the first lock out of his bag. “I’ve had to watch endless videos to learn how.” 

“Yeah. And he bought one of those hair heads to practice on.” Benni pretended to whisper to Megan and laughed when her dad scowled at her. “He doesn’t like when I tell people that.” 

Megan stared at Griffin’s angry face and pulled Benni closer to her. “She meant no harm. No reason to be upset with her.” Her voice shook as she refused to meet Griffin’s eyes. 

His brow furrowed. “No worries, lady. I’m not mad. She tells everyone. It’s cool.” Griffin went back to the locks. 

Benni smiled at Megan. “So this was my great-grandpa’s house.”  

“Was it? I am going to heal it.” 

“Heal it? That sounds nice.” Benni ran her hand over her face. “My great-grandpa is in heaven with my mama.” 

“Oh.” Megan glanced at Griffin. He only faltered for a moment before finishing the locks on the door. 

He stood and cleared his throat. “These are done.” He went to step towards her to hand her keys, but she cringed away.

“Right. Okay. I’ll leave the keys on your kitchen counter. And go do the back door. Come on, Benni, with me.” He picked up the bag and left the scared rabbit on the porch as he walked through his childhood home towards the back door. 

**********************************************************

“This is my business card.” Griffin set it next to the keys. “Benni and I live about five minutes up the road if you need anything, anytime. Call me. I run the hardware store and do most handyman jobs around here. I'll send a bill at the end of the month."  

She tucked her arms around her waist and smiled. “Okay. Thank you.” Megan watched them drive away before she locked all the new locks. 

************************************************************

The sound was coming from outside. She was sure of it. She sat in the bathtub with a baseball bat, gun, and her cell phone. When the sound came again, she yelped, and dialed the new number she’d put in the phone. “Hello?” she whispered. 

“Hello? Who is this?”

“Megan.”

There was the sound of shifting and a yawn. “Megan? What’s wrong?” 

“This is crazy, but I think someone is outside. The police are twenty minutes out.” 

“Alright,” Griffin said. “It’s alright, Megan. I’ll come look.” 

“No. I just wanted someone on the phone until the police arrive.” 

“I’ll be there in five minutes, but I’ll stay on the line too.” Griffin climbed out of bed and pulled on a shirt. His mother was sitting up, watching TV still. “Hey, Megan is having a problem. I’ll be back in a bit.” 

She rolled her eyes. “Fine. But that girl’s five shades of crazy.” She huffed. “I was heading to bed, but I’ll stay up in case the sprout wakes up and looks for you.” 

“Thanks, Mom. I’m on my way, Megan.” He shook his head as he jumped into his truck.

He loved his mother, but sometimes she wasn’t the kindest person he’d ever known. When his girlfriend had died of postpartum depression, she had made awful comments about his choice in women. But then she’d taken both him and Benni in and helped him raise a baby on his own. You had to take the good with the bad with Sue Ann Hampton. 

He pulled into the driveway of the Old Hampton house and, using his flashlight, he scoped out the entire perimeter of the house and saw nothing. “Megan? I don’t see anything out here.” He said into his Bluetooth. “Where did you hear the noise?” 

 He heard her moving around before she said, “it was outside my window.” 

Griffin walked around the entire house again, but still saw nothing. “The only tracks are mine and what looks like a raccoon. I think everything is good. Want me to check the house?”

After a long pause, she said, “when the cops get here I’ll let you in but you can’t come in now.” 

He frowned and checked his phone for the time. Midnight. He could just go home and not have to deal with whatever was happening inside Megan’s head. But she sounded terrified. “Okay. I’ll wait on the porch for the cops.” 

“Thank you.” They sat on the phone together in silence for another ten minutes before the cops showed. 

Officer Brandon was an old man with snow white hair, handlebar mustache, and an enormous pot belly. His new partner was Officer Latisha. She was fresh out of the academy and opposite Brandon in every way, with her dark hair and toned physique. And as far as Griffin had heard, they were great friends. 

“What's got you here this late, Griff?” Officer Brandon waddled over. 

“The owner was worried and called me. I walked around twice and saw nothing. She wouldn’t let me in till you got here,” he replied. 

Officer Brandon nodded. “New girl here. City girl. Probably jumping at the critters.” He knocked on the door and waited for Megan to answer. “Officer Brandon Muck, Ma’am. You called?”

Megan held her arms around her waist as if she could hold all her anxiety into her body. “Yes, I thought I heard someone out here.” 

“Okay. Me and Officer Latisha are going to look around. Griffin is out here as well.” 

Megan nodded. She’d heard everything that was said about her from the moment Griffin answered the phone. She knew they thought her ridiculous and crazy. Maybe she was. 

Griffin stood. “Want me to run through the house, Megan?”

“Sure. Thanks.” She let him in and went to stand in the kitchen. 

**********************************************************

Griffin searched every closet, every dark corner, and even looked under the bed. The only thing he found were the bat and a 9MM in the bathtub. Deciding not to comment on that interesting discovery, he walked into the kitchen. She was peering out the kitchen window and jumped when his sneaker made a noise on the wood. 

“Sorry, didn’t mean to spook you.” He murmured. 

She put her hand to her heart. “Seems everything spooks me.” 

“I see that. Uh. I checked everything. There isn’t anyone here.” 

“Thank you. I appreciate it.” She brushed her hair out of her face. “How much do I owe you for this service?”

“Nothing. It’s free. I’d never charge for shadow hunting.”

“Shadow hunting?”

“Yeah. That’s what I call it when I hunt for monsters in Benni’s room. It’s the shadow’s that scare us, not the darkness. The shadows of the past or the shadows in the tricks of light. Either way, I’m always here to hunt them down.” 

She gave him a soft smile. “That is sweet of you.” 

He inclined his head. “I’ll handle the cops. Go get some rest. And make sure to lock the door.” Griffin winked at her as he waltzed out. 

**********************************************************

As the dawn broke, Megan stepped out on her porch with her coffee to listen to the world come alive and found a battered book, a bundle of lavender, and a journal with a lock. She set her coffee down on the railing and picked up the package.

There was a note attached that read: Megan, I don’t know what you need healing from, but I recognize the need. This book got me through a few tough times. Lavender is for healing, plus it smells good. And it always helps to write your feelings. It might seem safer to stay behind all those locks, but eventually, you miss out on all the great things that life has to offer. Plus, by hiding away, the past wins. Maybe you can heal here and slowly unlock a lock. If you need me, call. I’m not afraid of shadows. Griffin. 

Tears glistened in her eyes as she held the worn copy of The Art of Healing in her hands and thought maybe tonight she’d unlock one of the locks. 

January 22, 2022 20:04

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21 comments

Chris Campbell
03:36 Feb 09, 2022

Fear is a very strong emotion that uncontrolled, will eat away at you little by little. Understandably, Megan's fear is a valid reaction to the domestic violence she experienced. I like how you found a way to help her at the end. Very well told and written. Well done!

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Andrea Magee
12:11 Feb 05, 2022

Excellent story...great writing!!

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Lyndsey La Van
14:51 Feb 06, 2022

Thank you!

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W.D. Pierce
00:32 Feb 03, 2022

I wanted this to be a full length book! I really loved your descriptions of the house, especially the pink bathroom from the 60s. I could picture it in my mind, as well as Megan hiding in the bathtub, gun & bat in hand. Can't wait to read more of your work!

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Lyndsey La Van
14:59 Feb 06, 2022

Oh my goodness! Thank you so much! I appreciate that you enjoyed it

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Christine Mann
21:07 Jan 31, 2022

Great story! I love the details in describing the house, I felt like I was there.

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Lyndsey La Van
23:59 Jan 31, 2022

Thank you so much!

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Anna Coon
19:10 Jan 30, 2022

Love this story so much. Griffin's note at the end gave me chills. I especially loved the development and description of the characters!

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Lyndsey La Van
23:59 Jan 31, 2022

Thank you so much!

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Kate Winchester
18:14 Jan 29, 2022

I loved this! The characters are awesome, and you do a fantastic job of developing them in a short span. Great job!

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Lyndsey La Van
15:37 Jan 30, 2022

Thank you so much!

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Kate Winchester
16:52 Jan 30, 2022

You’re welcome!

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Olivia Jackson
11:17 Jan 29, 2022

Great story, L! You did it again. You are certainly a novel writer because it feels like this can be a whole book length story! I love these characters too. You did it again; you created something amazing! Absolutely loved it.

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Lyndsey La Van
15:37 Jan 30, 2022

Thank you! You seriously make my entire week! You're the best.

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Shaylynn Skinner
11:11 Jan 29, 2022

This story is well authorized and feels real as if it were. I know it says fiction, but did this come from anything you have been through? If not, then you really are a great writer, and it all comes together very nicely like weaving. If you have time to spare, I also wrote a story with this prompt and would love for you to read it. I would love any critiquing that you have! -Shaylynn Skinner

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Lyndsey La Van
15:36 Jan 30, 2022

There is some truth in all my fiction but thank you so much for the compliments. <3

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Shaylynn Skinner
01:49 Jan 31, 2022

You're very welcome! Nicely done. =) <3

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22:17 Jan 26, 2022

I love that you gave three characters some depth over such a short space!

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Lyndsey La Van
00:14 Jan 27, 2022

Thank you!

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Boutat Driss
13:00 Jan 23, 2022

nice tale! I love it

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Lyndsey La Van
15:06 Jan 24, 2022

Thank you!!!

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