In a Facebook group that I recently joined the picture below was posted with the question ‘what’s behind the door?’ – It wasn’t meant as a creative writing prompt but my writer’s head immediately saw it as that and I came up with the story that follows…
Emily had no idea what she was going to find behind the strange, but peculiarly enticing purple door. Number one hundred and eighty-eight had always been a subject of discussion in the village, although Emily didn’t think she actually knew anyone that had been inside.
Standing on the small step Emily rapped hard on the frosted and decorated glass. She had looked for a bell but couldn’t see one. While she was waiting she was sorely tempted to look in the old fashioned letter box fixed to the wall beside the door, so put her hands back in her pockets to stop herself giving in to the temptation.
Her best girlfriend, Susie, was having a birthday party this coming weekend and Emily wanted to get her something super-special. Her mum had suggested she visit the strange old craft shop where she said Emily would find the perfect thing. Emily wasn’t sure if her mum had been serious or not, but decided she would do just that.
Susie was into crystals, pendulums, herbs, essences and all those kinds of things and Emily felt sure that there would be something in the strange old shop that would delight her. There was talk that the woman who owned the shop was a talented witch and that nobody who went into the shop came out the same, but Emily dismissed all that as stuff-a-nonsense. Unlike Susie her feet were firmly placed on the ground.
Emily took her hand out of her pocket and was just about to knock on the glass again, imagining that no one had heard her first raps, but as she lifted her hand the door opened a little of its own accord.
Emily pushed the door gently. “Hello?” she called almost reverentially.
There was no answer.
Emily pushed the door open a little more and stepped over the threshold into a virtual Aladdin’s cave. Not only was it full to the rafters with a whole range of strange things the smell that assaulted Emily’s nostrils as she went in deeper was what she imagined a bazaar in the orient to smell like.
“Hello?” she called again, questioningly, looking around the room.
Suddenly the door behind her blew closed startling her somewhat. “Oh my,” she said as she turned to look back at the door.
“Hello, dearie,” a voice, now behind her, finally replied to her earlier calls.
Emily turned back round to see an oldish woman coming through a luminescent curtain. Had Emily had a fanciful mind she may have though that the curtain lead to magical realms in different realities, but Emily didn’t believe in such things.
“Oh, Hello there… Sorry .. I was …” Emily stuttered, which was most unlike her. She was never at a loss for words.
“Yes, dear, looking for a present for someone special are we?” the woman asked as she moved out from behind a tall chest of drawers that was adorned with what Emily guessed were supposedly magic symbols.
“Yes, I …” Emily began but then noticed a sign hanging on the dresser…
‘Everything in here has been touched…
But if you want to …. please ask”
For a moment she considered what the sign meant but realised she had started another sentence without finishing.
Before Emily could say anything the woman clarified the sign’s meaning, “Touched by magic, everything has been touched by magic, dear.”
” Er, OK, ” Emily replied then answered the woman’s previous question, “Yes, a special friend that’s into …” Emily wasn’t sure how to finish the sentence without causing offence so left it hanging.
“Righty-ho,” the woman said and glided across the floor to a glass cabinet. If Emily had been of a fanciful nature she would have said that the woman’s feet didn’t even touch the ground, but she dismissed that idea out-of-hand.
The woman opened the glass cabinet and took out a necklace. “This would match your friend’s green eyes, ” she said passing the necklace to Emily. “Green eyes are very special you know and hold a whole world of magic within them.”
Emily was confused. How did this woman know that Susie had green eyes? Then as she turned the necklace over she noticed that engraved on the back of one of the discs of silver were the initials S.D. Susie’s surname was Durrant. “It’s truly lovely, but how did you know that her eyes are green? And on the back here are her initials?”
“My dear that is what we call magic, real magic, not sleight of hand or anything like that, but the magic of real wonder.” The woman smiled.
Emily guessed that the initials must simply be a coincidence, albeit an incredible one, and that the green eyes thing must have been a lucky guess.
“There are no coincidences,” the shop-owner told Emily as if she had read her mind. “Close your eyes and really feel the life of the necklace you are holding.”
Feeling a little stupid Emily did as she was told. At first she felt nothing, then she had a sensation of falling and when that sensation ended she could see in her minds eye a whole different world. See was in a huge hall that was lavishly decorated with the brightest of colours and with portraits covering the walls. A huge picture window looked out over a landscape Emily could never have imagined. As she looked around at the portraits she was sure she recognised some of the faces. One of them was of Susie and as Emily stared at it Susie came down an elegant marble staircase toward her. She was the only thing unchanged in this imagining. She was in her usual jeans and sweatshirt with her long ginger hair loose and wild as always. “You found it,” Susie said in her mind. “The one piece that makes up the set, with this I shall be ready.”
Emily opened her eyes again and was relieved to see that she was still standing in the shop. “Well that was odd,” she said.
“Not as odd as you might imagine,” the shopkeeper told her. “It is the perfect gift, isn’t it? Something needed and something that will complete your friend’s, ahem… wardrobe.”
“Were you there?” Emily asked.
“Where, dear?” the woman replied with a smile and obvious twinkle in her eyes. “Yes, of course. We have all been there, but rarely remember or maybe simply forget.”
Emily didn’t understand what the woman meant and was afraid to ask so simply said, “I’ll take it, how much?”
When the woman told her the price Emily was more than surprised as she thought it was going to cost a lot more. “That’s a …” She began to say. Why was it so hard to finish her sentences today she wondered.
“Bargain?” the old woman ended her sentence for her, but with a question. “Not at all. If someone is meant to have it I cannot charge more for that would be against everything. It is a nominal sum that is all, to confirm change of ownership”
“OK, ” Emily said not quite sure what the woman meant. She handed over the money as the necklace was boxed up and wrapped in delicate wrapping paper.
The woman handed the box over to Emily. “It was perfect that you came in today,” she told her.
“Wasn’t it just,” Emily replied. She took the box and headed for the door. “Thank, you I know Susie will love this.”
“Indeed,” the old woman simply said.
Opening the door Emily stepped back out into the fresh autumn day. As she closed it behind her she realised that she really couldn’t remember much of what was behind the door, but she was happy she had found such a lovely gift for her friend.
And, like everyone else who had ever entered through that door, Emily’s life was also forever changed.