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Beyond the Door

He rolled along an infinite conveyer belt, following orbs. At the end of eternity, he didn’t know. A door? That felt right. Beyond? Somewhere new. Paradise. A place other than the void. What was before this? A bubbly face with chubby cheeks and wide, tired Bette Davis eyes. A sunshine smile even a child saw as effortful. But still, he needed to squish, pinch, and pull. That beautiful face needed a baby’s hands all over it.

An ear-piercing screech echoed as a man marked his wife black and purple. A swollen cheek and lips. A nose bloody and bent out of place and an eye sown shut. No “Sorry” or “I didn’t mean to”. Only a clenched fist and move on. She cried sometimes. Sat cross-legged on her bed and sobbed hard enough for tears to leak through her fingers. If only he was big enough to defend mommy.

Fake frowns were worn at his funeral. The eight-year-old held his mother’s hand and saw comfort as the coffin was lowered into the ground. His father deserved to go lower. It was a silent ride home with unrestrained happiness and the return of her sweet, sunshine smile. “It’s over. We’re free.” She reassured her son.

 

Tough teens used threats to shred confidence from innocent kids with plentiful hearts. Revolt and you’d limp home. Tell and you’d know hell. Say hi to dad. Who was their next victim? New girl with the pullable ponytail and deep eyes you could get lost in. A honey-sweet smile. Stubbornness enough to… Love. Extinguish his neglected hatred and peel away the burns his father left behind. “You’re not him. Don’t be.”

Tears marked a map to escape his leftover misery. Wonders adorned the World. Life was bigger than undeserved pain and a childhood clouded in shadows. After school, she’d show him things could be good. If only.

People can get so drunk at parties. Too drunk to care about rules. They drift around corners of quiet streets. Rev to see how much smoke their wheels produce. No one’s around to get hurt. He heard wheels screech as he came around the bend, but before he knew what happened, he was on the ground, too shocked to feel pain. Bleeding out on the footpath with a heavy crocked breath. Mumbled commotion didn’t help the confusion. Featureless faceless in darkness looked down at him, but everything was black. Faded. Gone. So was he.

A door stood before him, waiting to be opened. This was it. He grabbed the golden doorknob, twisted it, and pushed it open. It was everything he dreamed. His mother with the sunshine smile, the girl too good for him and a world awaiting exploration. Eternity was good.

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