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The Door That Shouldn't Have Been There by Corinna Edwards-Colledge


It was on the fifth night that The Door finally came back. I woke up from a disturbing dream, the details of which ran through my fingers like water as soon as my eyes opened. I lay on my back, heart pounding and the sweat cooling on my forehead. As had happened every time I was dragged nauseously from the world of sleep to find an empty bed beside me, the horror of Nella’s death came upon me afresh, crushing me under its merciless weight.

I sat up and hugged my knees, and a strange, shifting light caught my attention and made me turn. This time the Door was ajar, and a warm glow that seemed to tremble and pulse was spilling from it into the room. Adrenaline bloomed in my chest, giving me welcome relief from the unbearable burden of my feelings, and I got out of bed and went towards the light.


This time, the world on the other side of the door was very different: and I found myself looking out at a meadow. Its surface undulated as the wind passed over it in waves. Half of the sky was drenched in a blue so vibrant that it almost hurt to look at it, the other contained a low, bloody sun glowering behind an angry gash of thunderous cloud. The air was hot and oddly charged, and the grasses hissed and shivered.

I contemplated going back for my slippers, but thought better of it. I didn’t want to risk the door closing on me, so stepped out into this strange world. The ground was warm beneath my bare feet and as I went forwards, the grasses moved in an oddly conscious way, parting and eddying around me as if helping me pass. I surveyed the horizon. It took a while for my eyes to adjust to the light, but then, I saw Nella and my heart swelled with hope. She was standing beside some kind of monolith, a perfectly rectangular block of dark stone about ten feet high. Something about it tugged at a memory, but I couldn’t identify what exactly. This time, instead of her nightgown she was wearing jeans and one of her favourite t-shirts with Salvador Dali’s famous lips painting across the chest. I shouted her name until my throat hurt and ran towards her. At first, she didn’t seem to hear me, but then, she half-turned, raised her arm and waved briefly.

With a sob of relief, I picked up my pace. I was making good progress, but when I was only fifty yards away she disappeared behind the monolith. Finally, out of breath and sweating, I reached the monolith and ran around it, but to my despair, she wasn’t there. I leaned against the stone, defeated and winded, my mind spinning. Something struck me then, the coldness of the stone. Again, the tug of memory. I closed my eyes and searched for it. It came.

I opened my eyes and looked more closely at the monolith. Its surfaces were smooth and about half as deep as it was wide. When I looked upwards from its face towards the sky, it filled my line of vision like a dark, perfectly geometric horizon. It reminded me of the stones that made up the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin. Nella and I had visited it only the summer before, in the middle of a northern European heatwave. In thirty-eight-degree heat we had wandered the 200,000 square feet of concrete stelae, their looming shapes creating sharp corridors of alternating blazing sunlight and scalpel-sharp black shadows amidst a mounting sense of unease.

Nella had wandered on, and I’d found myself alone amongst the stones. Despite the incongruous happy shrieks of a group of young Spanish students, I had felt myself descend into a place where the shouts and laughter became tissue thin. I remember laying my hand on the stone in front of me and being shocked to find it cold against my skin, despite the blazing August sunshine. I’d held my breath, feeling a pulse somewhere deep inside the minerals of the monolith, a distant, stony heartbeat of spent horror and loss.

It was the same with this monolith. The surface was cold beneath the blazing sun. I laid my cheek against it and listened for the heartbeat, but there was none. I was about to pull away but then it came to me, a thin echo scratched through the stone – my name. ‘Nella! Nella!’ I called back. ‘Where are you?’ But there was no response. I stepped away from the monolith and looked around me desperately. After a few seconds scanning, I saw her ahead of me, the white of her t-shirt flashing through the golds of the shifting grasses. I started after her again.

I’m not sure how long I ran for, but as had happened in the world behind the door on the night of her death, however hard I tried she was always the same distance ahead of me. I started to feel a soreness and itchiness around my calves, and looked down to see that the bottom of my pyjamas were shredded, pinpricked with blood. I stopped, horrified, and pulled them up. My lower legs were crisscrossed with scratches. I looked more closely at the grasses and, tentatively, took one by its length. The edges were like tiny blades and I let go of it with a shudder.

The Door That Shouldn't Have Been There is available for purchase in hardback and ebook

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