I’m back in this place again. Except this time, I am already past the black rosebushes outside, the enormous entrance, that red velvet couch and matted floor, to the base of the stairs. It’s almost pitch black outside and I’m staring up into what I already know is going to be a journey that I never fully finish… and never enjoy.
As I lift the inevitable dress I’m wearing to take my first step upward, I can’t help but notice my bare feet. Always having been bare in this place before, this time something is wrong; my toes and joints look aged and twisted, and it horrified me more than this place.
My bare foot touches what feels like years of dust, dirt, and forgotten times on top of dried and almost rotted wood. The step creaks a heavy moan as I place my full body weight on top. I find myself almost willing to not make it to the top. This is a strange feeling as usually when I am here, I’m filled with curiosity and fear. Now I only feel a willing openess to what I know is about to come in the next few moments of this repeating story.
After each step up the long staircase in this rickety old story, each one threatening to snap under my bare skin, I’m standing once again in that long hallway of doors. Why do they always have to be closed? There’s never enough light for me to see – or nor can I ever remember – which way the hallways turns at the end, but I can tell you that never remembering is one of the worst feelings about halfway into this story.
Again, I can feel the years and layers of dust, crumbles of broken things like picture frames and pieces of wood, mixed with the crunch of dead leaves blown in, but I could never tell you from where. The first door I reach has a small crystal doorknob – the kind you would find in a Victorian house. I try to open it already knowing it’s locked. The next has no doorknob at all, just a hold that I can never bring myself to touch or look through.
I always decide to skip the next three as I’m drawn to some sort of sound that I can only recognize as crying. I take careful steps as not to splinter my feet on the already dried out wood and debris on the hallways floor. I go from lightly touching my fingertips along the walls for guidence, to feeling paint chips start to rip off and get stuck under my nails as I start to dig in.
I’m now at the end of the hallway and something stops me. I remember that I don’t know which way to turn, and I know I’m going to turn the wrong way, because this is the only way. So I take a deep breath, this time I slowly turn to my right, and can’t help but still feel my heart stop and my nerves light on fire as I see a pale figure standing, barely visible but completely real. I calm myself reminding myself that it is only my reflection; I have been here enough times to know now. So I turn around and walk the opposite way. As always.
The hallway is darker now. I have one hand on the wall to stay steady and the other out in front of me, reaching for anything I can’t see… even if I’m scared to death. The sound is louder now, so I continue. But even with the sound of the crying growing as I got closer, the sound of my heartbeat and breathing inside my head is so loud I swear the world could hear it
Finally, I reach the final door. The hand I have stretched out touches a surface like any other in this place; glossy and smooth. Almost like fresh paint. This is not the usual door. I reach down for the usual rusted feeling door knob, and instead it’s smooth and sphirical, like glass. But the minute I try to turn the handle, that scream comes. The one that makes my blood curdle and my skin crawl. So loud it sounds like it’s right behind me or all around me.
That’s I usually the point I wake up.