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Adventure Fiction Mystery

For all my life I have had a special gift. Every person makes endless choices a day, from what time to get their first drink of water for the day to what to spend their money on. For me, my choices come to me in some vision-like state… or at least I feel like I’m having a vision. But they also are very real. My hands touch real knobs and my face feels the real change in the environment; I experience real consequences to every choice I make. Always my choices appear as two doors, and I can only ever choose one.

Nobody can see me staring at doors. But nobody ever truly knows me.

Some might find my situation...power… gift...exciting and awe-inspiring, but I almost feel hindered because while I face extraordinary situations with each choice, everyone else has more than two choices in almost anything they get to choose.

And nobody knows I experience this.

Nobody can get close to me.

Some choices reveal to me my future.

Some choices reveal my past.

Some just throw me into wild present day happenings.

And it’s always a first-person phenomena… It’s not some bird’s eye view. I do actual things and meet actual people in actual places… but I often don’t stay in the same time era let alone the same place. 

My own parents feel like a dream. I think this started when I was a child, but I had time with my parents. I just don’t know how long ago that was anymore nor do I know why this happens to me.

I’m lonely but surrounded by wonder. 

As I stand here now, my two doors (as usual) give me no information. I have only the texture, color, and size of the doors to inform me. They never translate well. A door with cobwebs and scratches may not lead me to a decrepit abandoned house, and a pristine door may not mean it’s the better option. One door now is black and smooth, with a crystal-esque knob. The other is a red hue of wood, with a rustic handle.

I feel misled and curious with every set, and I’ve learned to listen to my gut… I cannot take too long to choose. The doors remain but my sanity seems to slip as I prolong it. Even when it feels like a mistake after I’ve chosen, I cannot undo it. I must endure the consequences and finish each set. 

When I enter a door, I must collect clues from surroundings, and one of my first goals is always to find my reflection in a window or mirror so I can gather my age range and quality of life in that scenario.

I can still sleep and eat… usually. Some doors have led me to busy city streets where I am, for that day, a homeless beggar or helpless child. The upside is it’s only my situation for that time, and my sleepless naps on brick walls next to dumpsters, with hunger compelling me to eat a half-eaten discarded sandwich, is temporary. 

Currently and temporarily I am 32, and it is, I’ve gathered, 2025, and I have only to pick a door: the black one or the red one.  I’ve been able to see myself with a wife and kids here. My kids are 10 and 6. I don’t want to leave, but when I avoid these doors too long, good situations like this get sabotaged by whatever force has me stuck with door decisions, and bad situations never seem to improve. One time I was married like this, and on the simple day I tried avoiding the doors, my only child got lost and my wife blamed me. I was compelled to go through the door.

I’ve learned that I can’t risk the security and happiness of others. This is my cross to bear. I went for a walk since my kids are at school, and everything in me wants my wife to know I’ll be gone in mere moments, but she might believe I’ve chosen a sort of death if I tell her anything... when truly, death seems to choose me in every choice. I shouldn’t even call them mine since I know I won’t remain here. They are like a phantom, just like my life, even though they seem to be my future too.

One life ends when another begins.

It’s better this way, even though all options are horrible.

...and I’m picking the black door with a crystal knob. *turns knob*

What are my senses telling me?

I smell baked bread.

I feel a cool breeze.

I hear feet walking on cobblestone and the noise of traffic.

Nobody sees me leave this life and nobody sees me enter the other until the door is closed and both doors vanish like a mirage.

I must find my reflection…

There’s a car… I’ll peek in the window. 

I thought I’d be pleased with this, but I’m gray and physically slower… I am very old. I’ve missed so much life here, yet somehow have lived more years than most people…

I see a cane and almost feel like I have friendship with it as I let it help me move.

I am accustomed to relying on any possessions I own in each scenario. I feel less out of place. 

The bustle of this city is paired with a foreign language I don’t know. Whatever force has me here doesn’t equip me to thrive usually… I must slowly make my way somewhere to lay my head or find food.

I see a pub with rooms I can stay in above it.

*touches pocket and feels for a wallet*

Thankfully this time I have money in my pocket. As an old man I assuredly have lived long enough to not be working and to have resources to live. 

Too bad this isn’t enough for me to feel joy to share. I never know when my doors will appear. I can only be sure it will be a day or less after arriving somewhere. I might be here long enough for a meal, and I might live a full day and after a sleep awake to the doors awaiting my response.

The door I choose always is found in the place I end up. 

When I ended up homeless one day, the door I chose was the door of the restaurant I laid near for discarded food. I can never clue myself into the destination before I choose; I can only use hindsight to appreciate my door choice once I am through, even if it’s an uncomfortable choice.

I see the black door with crystal knob leading to the pub, so I must follow my instinct and my hunger for some food.

I cannot speak the language, but I can do my best to pronounce from the menu.

The smell of flaky pastry wrapped around lamb and mint accompanied with the warm house potatoes bring comfort to my belly and soul. 

And after the relief of handing cash for the meal (a luxury I do not always have) I work out a room to catch some sleep.

Food and sleep are the safest way to navigate my lack of permanence. It’s the most rewarding part of life with nobody to continue life with.

I open my eyes unaware I’ve already been sleeping in the room I booked… this happens so much. My mind is taxed by changes and I fall asleep so quickly I feel as if I am awaking to a dream. But it’s not a dream. It’s my curse, and I have two doors in front of me already… I guess my time is up here.

One door is blue and dented with rocket stickers covering it. It reminds me of the one my son had last time I travelled. It already feels like decades even though it was hours ago. The other door is a deep brown wood, and it’s got very pronounced carvings.

My eyes like the decorative door, but my gut says this blue door is my next place.

Always follow your gut.

It creaks as I open it, and I smell faint macaroni and cheese aroma through the bedroom I enter. I hear muffled words from two adults, and I see a teddy bear with a lot of obvious wear and tear. The smudges on its eyes and the clipped ear seems to indicate it being a favorite. That will likely be the toy I befriend in my time here. And I see the blue door on the other side of the room…

“Time for dinner, sweetheart!”

My heart bounces as I hear footsteps approach.

Quick, look in the full length mirror!

I run to see that I am maybe 10. I know this room. A reflection of a superhero comic laying on the nightstand has “2003” on it. I turn my head to it to take in its design, then I look back to my appearance and I am in comfy black basketball shorts and a t-shirt with Spiderman on it. 

The door I came through is gone and the same door in this bedroom starts to open. I see both adults have come to summon me for dinner…

My heart swells with grief and joy, and a tear forms in the corner of my eye...

“...Mommy? ...Dad?” They seem not to notice my shock and sadness from missing them.

I immediately hug my mom, and dad ruffles my hair as he always used to do. It’s one of the only things I remember. And for once since my super-abilities manifested, I feel home.

After instinctively washing my hands in the hall restroom, I silently pray that no more doors appear. As I walk to the dinner table, I see I was right about the mac and cheese. I decide no matter the cost, if doors appear, I’m ignoring them. I want to stay here.

I am tired and want to enjoy the fact that my long lost parents perhaps never were lost and have no idea I’ve lived a lifetime already.

I start to realize my traveling through scenarios only affected me. It’s almost as if I never left. Only memories from my powers and the places I went remain when I travel… But I default to my fear that this is temporary and I only feel like nothing ever happened.

In shock and growing relief, I see the sunrise, and sunset, and repeatedly enjoy a life of reading my comic, eating homey meals, snuggling on the couch to cartoons before school, and get to somehow be in this scenario longer than any other.

But no doors come for a week.

...a month.

...and almost a year. 

And on what I realize is my birthday, I get presented with a cake and one huge candle that says “11”. A feeling of doubt arises as I think what if I got a year here and I’m about to see doors again? I close my eyes and wish so hard that I won’t open my eyes to doors before me.

“MAKE A WISH!” mom shouts.

I breathe in, and blow the flame… poof!

I breathe in the smell of a freshly blown candle as I slowly open my eyes, and with no doors before me, I think… I don’t have to leave here ever again, unless I choose it. That won’t be for a long time. Maybe what I’ve seen will be my future. Maybe it’s a glimpse into someone else’s story. But for whatever reason (maybe because I found what I had once lost), I can own my choices now. Even the closed doors were part of every choice.

May 21, 2021 18:38

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7 comments

Mohamed Sarfan
21:54 Jun 17, 2021

Dear Writer, I consider this story to be an innovative journey. Man’s life is like a novel of rules full of twists and suspense. Life moves towards the realities of the shadows as if it were a magical belief, mysteriously searching for something beyond the window. In the process of exploring what are the secrets hidden in the darkness a few grammars explore the rules as man dreams every night carrying snowdrops as a weapon and waging war. The breaths that move like slaves at the feet of the clock thorns demonstrate the skepticism that man ...

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Sarah Martyn
15:59 Jun 04, 2023

I only just saw this comment, way too late! But had to share my thanks.

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Zatoichi Mifune
07:23 Jun 04, 2023

Wow. Okay - one question: HOW DID THIS NOT WIN. This story is really powerful and just so good! I don't know what to say. I really don't. When he got back to his childhood I was anxious because I thought he would have to leave after a day. One of the best happy endings I've ever read!

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Sarah Martyn
15:54 Jun 04, 2023

Just reading that you believe it's a winner affirms and encourages me! Hoping to win one day! But thankful for this outlet regardless.

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Sarah Martyn
16:20 May 31, 2021

Thank you to all who have read this! If you liked it, would you send it to someone to read as well? Much love to you all!

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Simran Hirani
18:36 May 30, 2021

I really loved your story..The story line is quite powerful. I would really love if you would read my story and give a genuine feedback.

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Sarah Martyn
16:16 May 31, 2021

THANK YOU, SIMRAN! I will now!

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