Short Stories

Second door to the left and straight on till morning

The daily prompt asked for a story based on the possibility of a door to anywhere, a time machine of some other gadget. I didn’t know that it would make me write this but it has. The story below is an un-edited idea for a children’s book. It is just an idea so there are holes, but you’ll get the general gist of it.

 

Willow hated her name, ever since she’d realised that it was a tree. “Yes,” she’d asked Mum. “But what tree?”

“A willow, silly.”

“What does it look like?” Her Mum had looked at her then as if she were strange.

“The one with branches that droop. Does the school not teach you about trees?”

Willow shrugged. “Maybe. I think we were shown pictures once.”

Her Mum shook her head and mumbled something about living in a city. In truth though Willow loved living in the city. She had been able to walk home since she was ten and she knew all the ways to get back. There were ten. She could go through the gardens or cut through the disused building site, and yesterday she had found an alley that could be another way. She just needed to explore. It was at the back of the school, down an alley that none of the children used, mainly because the entrance could hardly be seen. It was flanked by two trees, their branches sweeping the ground.

Yesterday Bret had screamed at Willow. “Oi! Tree Girl, don’t go down there… It’s haunted!”

He’d then run off laughing. Which is why Willow had asked her mother what tree she was named after. Why else had Bret called her tree-girl.

“Why the Willow?” she’d asked.

“It was on a show once.”

“What show?”

“Mum?”

But her Mum had gone into the pantry looking for something for dinner and there was no way she would answer, not when she was distracted. Willow wandered out of the kitchen and into the dining room. She knew that her Dad was in because of the thump of music. The twang of county western made her smile. Every holiday the compilation CD would go on and they would have to listen to Dolly Parton and Dr Hook. They all moaned, but secretly Willow liked the music, it reminded her of home.

“Dad?”

He looked over his paper at her.

“Do you mind if I go play?”

“What did Mum say?”

“She’s in the pantry,” Willow said trying to look innocent and needy. She’s found that people let her get away with all sorts if she gave the puppy look.

Dad frowned and then nodded. “Only an hour.”

Willow grinned and then ran out. Past the pantry she heard her mum yell, “Where are you going?”

She yelled from the garden, “Out”.

Mum watched her leave the garden and hoped that she was going to meet someone. Willow was a great kid but she didn’t have any real friends. Perhaps this meant she was making new ones.

Running past the playground at the bottom of the street, Willow would have been able to tell her Mum that it wasn’t. She got on with the kids in school, but they never seemed to want her to meet them after. She’d hang around as they talked, laughing in the right places, but they never included her and if she said anything they would all look at her as if they hadn’t realised that she was there until that moment.

No, Willow wanted to see where that alley went. Luckily she only lived ten minutes away.

Willow stood in front of the trees. “I’m named after you,” she told them. They didn’t say anything but she felt a little braver, as if talking had shown her that there was no need to be scared.

Pushing past the branches she stepped into the cool dark. The trees made a sort of dark house in the middle and as Willow walked through it she decided to remember. That way she could spend her lunch time here, reading. Willow loved to read. Pushing past another wall of branches she came out on an alley. It was squeezed between two buildings and she had to twist slightly to stop her shoulders from rubbing the brick. At the end she could see a light.

Willow’s pace quicdoorkened. She told herself that it was because the shadowy alley made her feel cold, but the truth was that she felt a little scared. Maybe it was because she could hear anything, not even the birds, and it was really creepy.
She burst out into an opening and stopped. There in front of her was a shop. It looked old. There was nothing else and there was no way out except the alley she had come down. Above the big picture window was a sign. The lettering was mostly missing but Willow could make out a few letters.

MA   EM     UM

Willow stared but couldn’t see what it said. It made no sense. She did notice that the door was slightly open and the sign said agored.

“That means open,” Willow told herself, and as if in answer the door opened a little wider. Maybe she ought to have been run away but instead she found herself stepping into the shop. Except it wasn’t a shop. It looked more like a corridor. A corridor full of doors.

This story is copyrighted to Kate Murray 2014. 

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