the short story project


Eoin Wall



He set eyes upon the dust filled door. Unkept, yet often visited, the door handle rusted from use. It’s been two years, and every week like clockwork, he stares at the door and moves to go inside. He does not think anymore, he only acts on impulse. His hands stray from his body and move for the handle, leading him from his dim lit hallway with its portraits hanging proudly into a small room, untouched since that day, though smeared with regret. He opens the door, knowing fully well what is to become of him. The door creaks with anticipation, it a witness to it all. The hinges bolt up and the door lets out a bellowing roar. The man, un-phased by the cries proceeds further into the dark room. His hand reaches out for a blue stained light switch, with little fingerprints caking its shell. He flicks the switch and with a simple thud of the box the lights begrudgingly come alight, showing a light blue room, with a small bed in the corner. White, fluffy clouds marking the walls and handmade drawings plastered upon them. A fuzzy rug and a light pink desk, both forgotten in time stand proudly amongst their peers. The movie pile featuring “classics” stands out like a sore thumb though, bringing the man back to a simpler time, a time before sorrow, a time before regret.

He staggered into the room; half blind though never misplaces his footing. He knows this room too well by now. He stares upon the hand-coloured rainbow beside the little bed. Its colours faded from its texture, “I told her she should have painted the wall, not use crayon” he murmured. Though the centrepiece of the room was the little bed. A simple white, high gloss painted bed with a tiara painted on the backboard. His mind disobeys him, as he remembers the happier times, the bedtime stories of princesses and dragons just to roll her up in her blankets before bed. “The fairest sushi-roll princess of them all” he said aloud. He stood back, straightened his posture, as a single wet tear rolled from his eyes and caressed his cheek. He does not wipe it away however, he accepts it, and allows it passage onto his stain-ridden t-shirt. Abhorrent stains of drunken happiness plague his once favourite shirt, though he does not wash it, as it is his only link back to them.

He, blurry eyed from contemplative tears makes his way to the cloud covered wall. He slumps over and sits upon the dust covered ground, its fibres dancing around him, taunting him. He dismisses their chants and puts his hands on his head. He rests his aching back upon the wall and allows himself one moan of sorrow, his voice croaky and worn. He covers his eyes, abstaining from showing the empty room his femininity. He knows a good father would never let his daughter see the worst in him. He reaches for the mouldy cardboard box laying upon the desktop and wraps his fingers upon his prize. He slowly moves the mouldy box from its position to lay with him upon the floor. The box and him acquainted through deceit and betrayal, the man still proceeds and lifts the small picture from its grasp. “A day to remember” he states, as he flips over the picture to see faces lost only in time, though forever stained upon his memory. His eyes become misty yet again, his hands possessing the picture, clammy. He knows that there is no turning back, he must see them again.

He lifts the picture with his left hand, squints to see his abhorrent face upon the masterpiece and scowls at it. “It should have been you” he bellows, “It… should have…been you”. His lament cuts off his slandering. A call known only by the room, and by the needle in the box. He removes it and the old black belt, its leather cackling at his weakness as he places it upon his right arm. He tightens it with a crack, thinking of it as penance as he whimpered from its grip. He looks upon the needle in his left hand, primed from his preparation last night, he squeezes a bit of its toxin out of its sharp point. It’s enough, he ponders. He stares at its contents, the little bubbles from its boiling piercing into his soul. His mind trys to reject him further, filling him with doubtF though he does not care anymore. He does not know what he is injecting into him, its countless toxins proving dastardly, but ineffective of its purpose. “Maybe this time” he remarks. He held the needle towards his pulsating arm, now in dire need of oxygen. He braces himself for the pinch as he pushes the needle into his body, puncturing the skin and making fast pursuit for a vein. He knows well enough now not to hit an artery with this deadly concoction. He injects the contents of the needle into his body, a cry echoes out as he squints his eyes, preparing to see them again.

Once he is finished, he removes the needle and the belt and slumps his back yet again upon the wall. He rolls his head around in circles, hoping to speed up the process. He begins to sob uncontrollably, stating: “Daddy is running a little late from work…. I’ll be home soon Darling”. He points his head towards the ceiling and states an all too familiar line. “Forgive me”.

Darkness takes over the room, as his pupils dilate to take in whatever light they can. Like the man, the light bulb has finally given up, and is far beyond repairing. He begins to fidget to himself, his finger tapping, tapping against the ground in expectation. He feels his serum taking effect, his medicine beginning to kick in. He holds his hands away from his body and sees the colourful wavy lines. His hands involuntarily shaking, he knows that he must be close. He twinkles his fingers, forming shapes with its fantail of sparks. This is not his goal though. He shakes his head and begins to prepare himself; he wipes what drool came from his drooping lip on his scaggly beard and brushed the fibres off his t-shirt. He dries the tears from his eyes and repeats a chant he can not forget: “I need to see them one more time”. With that, the room shakes, and he notices a twitch at the door. Black mist begins to creep in from the old worn door, its presence being made aware of, its intent being unknown. A smile creeps upon the mans broken face, his tears replaced with a crooked smile stretching from one ear to the other. His eyes bloodshot and pink, he knows his time to meet them is near. “I’m Home” he croaks with laughter and sorrow. “I’m…home princess”. With that the door opens with a creak as two shadowy figures emerge from its abyss. A mother and a child.

Their faces white, though plastered with grins. The girl calls for him, beckons him. The woman only smiles as she holds the girls’ cold hand, rubbing her thumb upon the back of it in circles, circles, circles. The girl calls again for her father. “Don’t you wanna come home daddy?”. Her voice filled with confusion. “Don’t you wanna go home?”. He replies to the spirits, pleads with them. He shrieks out a response as he tries to lift himself from the cold hard wooden floor. He propels himself forward and uses the wall to aid him. He looks at them yet again, their faces begin to be filled with delight. “Come on Daddy, you’re almost there”, the porcelain white girl states. He edges himself towards them, moving slowly toward his goal. His determination allowing him to gain speed, he pounces upon the opportunity to be with them. The door closes with a thud however, though the girls voice can still be heard, echoing in the dark room. He struggles to reach the door, praying he is not too late. He notices the black mist retreating under the door, “I will not lose them” he states with a lump growing in his throat. “Not again”.

He places his clammy hand upon the cold rusted handle and pulls upon the door once more. With a creak from the hinges and a bellow from the door once more, the man is greeted by a blinding light. Has he finally done it? Can he see her once more?

Yet when the light seizes, and his pupils adjust, he is greeted by the dim-lit hallway, and the family portraits hanging proudly upon the wall. He stares upon his hands yet again, and sees the colour fade away. “Not yet” he cries. “Please… not yet”. “I was so close”. He averts his eyes to the centre portrait upon the wall, the biggest one of three, and he is shown none other, then his wife and daughter Clara, hand in hand, beside the old sycamore tree. The same sycamore tree they were buried under, the same tree they visited every weekend for picnics, and the same tree they were returning home from which Daddy crashed the car and killed the only people worth living for.

Maybe next time, he says to the pictures on the wall. “Maybe next time I’ll make it home to you”.

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