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A Book

By , Woodbrigde, VA
A Book

Do you remember, when you were a little kid, and you wanted something more than anything else in the whole wide world? Whether it was candy, your mom’s makeup, or anything else, just about everyone had that one irresistible thing in their lives. You can spend hours, or days, or weeks dreaming about it, until, finally you break down, and reach out for it. For me it wasn’t candy, or makeup, or anything interesting… it was a door.

The door in question, or as I call it-The Door- is quite impressive, a piece of art, really. Fifteen feet tall…black wood, with intricate carvings all over it, and a doorknob that looked like it might be pure silver. Like a moth drawn to a flame… or a little kid to candy, The Door had a magnetic pull on me. Whatever it was behind that door, I knew that it was incredible. Unfortunately for me, besides my unquenchable curiosity, I also had an unshakable obedience. I was cursed with the inability to say no to any authority figure. I once got an email that was supposedly from my school principal asking me to pay for damages I allegedly caused to my locker. Two days and two months allowance later, I ended up paying for Lindsey Benson’s thirteenth birthday party. Rebellion obviously isn’t my strong point, which was why I accepted my parent’s refusal to even acknowledge The Door’s existence, without a word. It was just second nature. The one time I turned my back on that obedience, it changed my view of life forever.

It actually started out as a pretty normal day…for me, anyway. I had school until three, magick lessons till four, where I had learned how to use magick to open portals, and I was heading upstairs to my room so I could practice using portals to go downstairs. So I made my way up to my room, which is the only one on the third floor except for whatever was behind The Door. Anyway, as I walked toward my room I glanced at The Door by habit, my sadly boring secret “Rebellion” against my parents. I looked at it, froze and closed my eyes. I slowly opened one eye; pretty sure the world had just ended. No, everything seemed normal except for one huge thing. The Door was OPEN.

Never, not in my wildest dreams, ever, did I even imagine that The Door would open. Sure, I had thought about unlocking it, I’ve even dreamed of what was behind it, but opening it? No, The Door wouldn’t open, it couldn’t. It was THE Door, and it was closed, that’s just how the universe worked. And now, The Door stood ajar, and the universe didn’t make sense anymore. At first, I stood still, my shock leaving me glued to the floor. Then, I did what any normal, rational person would have done in my position. I ran into my room and hid in the closet.

Now, I know that it seems that it would be weird for someone to be afraid of a door, but it makes perfect sense for someone to be afraid of The Door. After about a half hour in my closet, I decided to go and ask my mom what was going on. I was sure that she would have a logical explanation for The Door being open. Maybe she was just spring cleaning…in November.

Just as I opened my door to go and find my mom, I saw my little brother, Eric open The Door all the way. “No!” I tried to scream, but the sound got caught in my throat. I felt like I was watching a horror movie, and saw Eric’s chubby little hand as if it was in slow motion, reaching for The Doorknob, grabbing onto it, and opening The Door. Then, suddenly, he disappeared. There was no flash of light, no smoke, no noise. He was just… there one moment, and gone the next.

“Eric!” I cried, “Where did you go? Come on, I’m not kidding!” I was way beyond freaked out at this point; I was in a full blown panic. My not even four year old brother had disappeared into a freaky universe beyond a strange Door, and I was going to have to tell my mom. Great, this day just kept getting better and better.

Anxiously, I looked into The Door, and was surprised at what I saw. It was just a regular closet, holding only a shabby raincoat, some scarves, and an umbrella. Shaking my head, I looked closer, hoping against hope that Eric might be hiding in the corner. No such luck. I couldn’t see Eric anywhere in The Closet, but I did see something shiny and bright in the back of It. I hesitantly reached out to the back wall, holding my breath as my hand met what felt like a regular piece of wood. Surprised, I pushed against it, there was no give, but it didn’t feel totally solid either. Instead, I pushed the wood to the left. Yes! It slid, revealing a passageway. I had to squint my eyes at the enticing sunlight coming through it, I felt myself being involuntarily drawn to the brightness. It had an effect on me similar to that of The Door, only intensified.

Without giving it a second thought, I got down on my hands and knees, and crawled through the passageway. I winced at the feel of the splintery wood beneath my palms, wondering briefly if Eric had gotten hurt going through here. I sped up, seeing even more light ahead, I held my breath again, feeling slightly scared at going to the light, but the pull it gave off was too great to ignore. As I said before, it hypnotized me; I was going toward it like a zombie, unthinkingly and obediently. I pushed my head through the opening and the rest of me came tumbling down. Bewildered, I looked around; I could see the suddenly dark and dreary passage I had come through, it let out at the top of a long slide. I smiled, but then I immediately thought of my brother…What if something had happened to him on the way down? “Eric?” I called out, not expecting an answer.

“I’m here!” I heard him call, his voice cheerful like it was the time my mom used magick to make him fly around the house.

“Where?” I called back looking around. I couldn’t help but admire my surroundings, despite the circumstances. I was in a small clearing in what looked like a forest. There were tall, wide spaced trees around me, their leaves making a canopy above, through which the light

filtered down greenly. I could see a waterfall leading down into a sparkling river through one of the spaces between the trees. There was a narrow path next to the river; I decided to follow it until I saw Eric.

He was in another clearing in the forest, in a playground. It was admittedly the most awesome playground I had ever been in, with a slide that must’ve been fifty feet high, an absolutely huge trampoline and what seemed to be a candy machine with about two hundred kinds of sweets.

“Look at me Beth’ny!” Eric called from the top of the slide, messing up my name like always. I thought that I would faint with relief from seeing him. Eric gleefully went down the slide and landed triumphantly on his feet at the bottom. I ran to him, and checked for broken bones or bruises. Once I was convinced that he was okay, I felt my irritation at him return.

“What were you thinking!?” I demanded, “Do you have any idea how worried I was?” I was vaguely aware that I sounded like my mother. That freaked me out a million times more than this world inside The Closet. I also realized that the light coming from the closet must have had the same effect on him as it did on me. “Are you okay?” I asked in a softer tone.

“I’m great!” Eric exclaimed excitedly. “Look at the trampoline!”

I did. It was pretty amazing, but I remembered that we weren’t supposed to be here. “Yeah the trampoline is cool, but we have to go home now, Eric.”

“Aren’t we at home?” Eric pointed out. I paused for a second. He was technically right.

“Okay,” I said after thinking a few moments. I took my phone out of my pocket and was surprised to see I had only been in this world for about fifteen minutes. “We can stay for a half hour.”

“Yes!” Eric cried. He ran off to the trampoline. Meanwhile, I walked through the web of pathways that sprawled across the woods. I noticed that the world seemed to be made up of different outdoor rooms that all had a different purpose… or no real purpose if you thought about it. There was an ice skating rink, a rock wall, and the most amazing pool I had ever seen. I could stay in this place forever, I thought. As soon as the thought entered my head, I pushed it away. We would be going home soon, right after I checked out the outdoor media room…

“Beth’ny!” I heard Eric calling.

“What?” I yelled in reply, and then lay back down lazily. I had been lounging on the hammock conveniently placed next to the pool. Eric and I had been in The Closet world for what could have been a couple of hours or a couple of years. It was always sunny, so there was no real measure of time. Just when it seemed you had done everything there was to do, something else appeared. I had spent hours and hours in what Eric called the “Flying Room.” It was a clearing that didn’t seem to have any gravity, so we floated around, bumping into trees and hanging upside down in the air. I felt like I was Eric’s age again and I was loving the carefree life of The Closet world. Any thought of going home was all but forgotten.

“I don’t feel so good,” Eric said walking clumsily into the Pool Room. He looked pale. I sat up and squinted. It was as if I was seeing clearly for the first time, like I was underwater, and now I was resurfacing. Eric didn’t look that good either. His baby chubbiness had fallen away, he was thin, frail-looking and there were dark circles under his brown eyes. He looked as if…as if the life had been sucked out of him. I looked around the Pool Room; I could suddenly see how artificial and unreal it was, like a painting of a pool, and not a very good one. I suddenly glanced down at my wrist, and I was appalled to see the bone sticking out. I got up and noticed for the first time that I felt weak and sick. I ran unsteadily to the pool and looked into the water. My reflection stared back up at me, and I was shocked at what I saw. My complexion had taken on a grayish tint, my eyes looked just like Eric’s and my face was too angular. We both looked like zombies. I briefly remembered that, as I headed into The Closet world, I had compared myself to a zombie, and now I looked the part. I looked up and saw Eric’s scared eyes looking into mine.

“Beth’ny?” Eric’s voice was small and fearful. “Will we be okay?”

“Of course we will,” I replied faintly. “I just think-I just think that we should go home now.”

Eric nodded, looking way too old. “Back to Mommy and Daddy,”

“That’s right, I said, memories of my parents flooding my mind. I suddenly couldn’t remember my mom’s crazy scariness; I could only remember how proud she was when I did my first magick, making a bunny disappear, and how she wasn’t mad at me when I got an C- on a test, she just got me a tutor and told me she was happy that I had tried my best. I got straight A’s every test after that. At first I had credited the tutor for my progress, but now I realized that I had wanted to be worthy of my mother’s pride in me. “We need to go back. Come on.”

Eric slipped his thin little hand into mine, and we walked through the forest that had been our home for… who knows how long. We stopped at the slide that we had come down on. I craned my neck up to see the passageway that I had come out of.

It was gone. The passageway wasn’t there. There was just a smooth side of a boulder. We were trapped.

“Beth’ny?” Eric’s voice was scared again. “Where’s the tunnel?”

“I don’t-“I started to say, but then stopped. No sense in scaring the poor kid any more. “It’ll come back in a few minutes, Eric, why don’t you go get some candy while we wait?” I suggested, trying to keep my voice light and unworried. Eric’s eyes narrowed, I could tell that he wasn’t buying it. “Well, if you don’t want any candy, could you get me some? I love those chocolate coin things…” I stopped talking, just let the bait sit there. Finally, he took it.

“Okay.” Eric said and toddled off to the Playground Room, leaving me alone to think. Okay, obviously we were in a freaky world that existed in our super-secret Closet that trapped people in this awesome forest that would actually suck the life out of them-literally. We had to get out. I racked my brain, thinking of ways to get out of this place. I transported myself back to my last magick lesson. I had some trouble remembering my mom’s face and voice, and that scared me, but eventually it came to me vaguely and I remembered that she was talking about portals, and how in an emergency, they could get you out of a dangerous situation, much like the one I was in right now. I also remembered, however, that they took up a tremendous amount of energy and often left you too weak to move. But I had to try.

I took a deep breath. All of a sudden, I was very aware of the energy around me. It was different in this Closet world…it was like the energy was fighting with some giant vacuum in an invisible tug of war. I had to battle with an unseen force to get enough visible magick. I stared at its comforting red glow. I remembered how my mom always said how four was the most magickally powerful number. We had four elements, and they all represented harmony; four was the number of balance. I counted to four, slowly in my head trying to find the perfect, peaceful arrangement of the magick I held. Next, I remembered I had to truly envision the place I wanted to go. I thought of the hallway outside The Closet, its long, , dark wood floors, its plain white walls with some of Eric’s pictures on them. I thought of the smell and the sounds of the hallway, remembering that the more specific I was the better. I was painfully aware of my exhaustion at this point but I pushed on. I remembered the scent of pine (from the floors) and the sounds the floorboards made when I walked down the hallway. I remembered my room and all of its details. I could feel the magick changing, trying to find the vision in my head. Finally, the portal left from my hands and spread across the ground. It wasn’t that big, and it would probably only be around for a few minutes. Eric and I should leave right away, I thought, looking around. Wait a minute…where was Eric?

Oh… I sent him to get candy. I groaned inwardly, I barely had any strength left, but I called for him weakly.

“Eric! Come on! It’s time to go! Eric?” I coughed. I felt my last trace of energy slipping away. I stared longingly into the portal. I could see the hallway through the glimmer of magick, I would have to get him, and the portal was getting smaller by the minute. I jogged slowly over to the playground. “Eric!” I called hoarsely. I looked around tiredly. My eyes found the candy machine where I had sent him. There was a crumpled form lying next to it. Oh no! I was suddenly just a little less exhausted. I ran over to my baby brother. There were gold wrapped coins pouring out of his clenched fist. I felt a stab of guilt.

“Eric?” I shook him roughly. “Eric, wake up!” He lay there, unresponsive. I lifted him up; he was far too light, even to me and my negative amounts of energy. I was going to have to run.

Feeling like I was about to pass out, I ran, my feet tripping over dirt and rocks. I could see the portal. It was shrinking faster and faster, I tripped and slid across the ground. I was going to make it! I fell headfirst through the portal, throwing Eric in ahead of me. I almost cried in relief as I slid through, even though I cut the edge of my ankle, going through because it came in too late. But we made it! We were going to be okay!

I opened my eyes. Eric and I lay in pitiful heaps on the hard, pine floor of the hallway. My parents stood over us, crying. I slowly felt the life returning to me. I forced my tired eyes to look at my wrist again. It was getting close to its normal size. I looked over at Eric. He wasn’t exactly back to normal either, but he was getting there. My Dad was lifting him up, saying something about a hospital. My mom shook her head and told him to put Eric back on the floor. She kneeled next to him, murmuring the magick phrases I was supposed to learn next year, pulling the darkness out of him. I was shocked to see what looked like black, black smoke coming out of Eric’s heart, my mom furrowed her brow in concentration and the dark clouds turned white and floated away. I looked back to Eric. His color seemed to have returned and his eyes lost that zombie look. My mom smiled wearily, and then she moved on to me.

A couple of days later, when both Eric and I had regained our strength, I asked my mom about The Closet. She looked at me as if wondering if I needed to know. After deliberating for a few seconds she said: “It was a curse that you’re Grandma put on a regular coat closet.”

I was stunned. Grandma? The sweet old lady who brought us homemade cookies whenever she came to visit? Mom saw my look and smiled wryly.

“Hard to believe isn’t it? She was trying to teach me a lesson.”

“By trying to kill you?” I blurted out, wondering what was in those chocolate chip cookies Grandma had brought over for Thanksgiving.

Mom laughed. “No, she was going to open a portal for me, it was just that…I was seventeen and I couldn’t really understand the world. I was impressed by the material things in life, and was really a very shallow person. You might have noticed that although that world seemed perfect at first glance, but it was really just a death trap once you looked closer. I learned my lesson, and I think you did too. Never look at something just on the surface. It will ultimately be the death of you.” She smiled, “As cliché as it might sound, I guess you really never can judge a book by its cover.”

I looked at my mom with newfound respect. I never thought of her as being anything other than someone who was there to yell at me, but now, I could see the wisdom and knowledge that she had. It really all came back to what I learned in The Closet world: To never be impressed by something just because it’s shiny and beautiful, reality is always better…but I had a pretty strange reality.

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