One week down of eight and the Faber Academy online writing course I’ve started has my brain buzzing.
The first week’s exercise was to write 500 words based on a selection of given ideas and for others in the virtual classroom to critique it. I have to say I’ve learned a lot already. Probably the main thing being – you’ll never please everyone.
I chose the title The Doorway. An image appeared in my head, instantly. All who read my words and left feedback said they really enjoyed it. However, opinions on the piece were divided. Some said they liked the mystery of not knowing exactly what it was about to begin with, while others said they wanted, needed, to know more detail much earlier on. One wondered if it was a memoir (it’s not), and two really didn’t like the last line. One thought it broke the barrier with the reader, the other that it broke the spell. Personally I like it.
Here follows those 500 words for you to decide.
As I stood in the doorway, images of our life together tore through my mind. Our first date. Our wedding day. The birth of our daughter. The death of our son. A lifetime of memories; some treasured, others best buried. Literally.
If I crossed the threshold my life would change again, forever. And yet there was no other option. The urge to turn and run pulled at my insides like a dog on a bone. But run to where? There was nowhere to hide. Nowhere left for me to go, but through that doorway. And yet my feet were stuck fast to the cold white floor beneath them.
“There’s no turning back,” the voice in my head whispered. “But you know that, right?” Yes I knew that, I’d just said that, hadn’t I? Sorry, thought that. “Okay, so go on then, go through the doorway.”
My heart did a swift backflip before crash landing against the inside of my chest. I squeezed my teeth tight shut. Worried that if I opened my mouth even an inch my heart would seize the opportunity to leave, and gallop off down the never ending corridor of lights behind me.
“You can do this,” the voice continued. I shook my head. “Yes you can. You’ve done worse before.” A picture of our child’s tiny blue coffin flashed in to my head.
Raising myself to full height I sucked in a long deep breath, drawing it all the way up from the pit of my stomach, and slowly let it out again. My right foot moved first, just a little. But it was enough to make a start. Enough to begin the journey though the doorway and in to the stark white room beyond.
The nurse realised I was there at that point and stopped fiddling with the machine. No words were spoken. None were needed. She nodded at me whilst clasping her hands together in front of her. I nodded back, and for some bizarre, unknown reason, smiled.
My heart performed a double somersault and made a last attempt at escape. I clamped my teeth together even harder, just in case.
“Look at him, you must look at him,” the voice said. But I didn’t want to. I wanted to continue staring at the kind nurse stood in front of me, instead. “It’s time now. You have to look.”
Like my feet had started to move on their own, my eyes now began to do the same. Slowly downwards and sideways they shifted before coming to rest on the face of my husband lying motionless in the hospital bed.
The machine was keeping him alive. He wasn’t him anymore. He was gone and yet he was still here. That was until I pressed the button.
Which finger would I use to end my husband’s life, I wondered, as I looked down at my hands.
Which finger would you chose?