Not many things puzzled Clover Jane. But the open door perplexed her. It seemed silly to have such an emotional ambivalence about a slightly ajar door. Yet, she struggled with it as if her life depended on it. In many ways, it did. In all the time she’d been there, the door had never been inadvertently left open. There had never been a slip-up that would allow for her escape. That open door sent her mind reeling, unable to keep one thought or the other for long — bouncing dozens of theories around as she processed the probabilities of that open door, particularly under her dire circumstances. Yet, she never once discarded the possibility that she was having another hallucination.
Nonetheless, the unguarded open door perplexed her. A ray of light passed through the aperture spilling into the small angle of space it managed to penetrate. She sat erect on the well-worn cot, her legs over its side with her bare feet pressed onto the floor. Her immediate thought was to make a run for it, but her second thought held more cynicism. What if it were a trap? What if that open door served as her death sentence rather than her freedom?
Staring at the open door, she deliberated as best she could, though she struggled with her lucidity. The open door tortured her, whispering temptations to lure her into the sunlit corridor. She wanted to answer its calling. She wanted to feel the sunlight upon her pallid skin. But she feared her doom, no matter how badly she wanted to run. She remained frozen in place, paralyzed and terrified. It was a cruel trick to tempt her like that.
Clover Jane wasn’t sure how long she’d been there in the basement, but she knew it must’ve been months. Several months, actually. The exact number escaped her. She lost count when night and day were no longer decipherable and the hallucinations had begun to take hold of her mind. She wasn’t sure what they used to drug her, but after a while, her body had become dependent on it. Nice Guy, the one with the soft voice and gentle words, kept her oriented to the date and time when he brought her food, but as time lingered on, he stopped. He had often allowed her to shower upstairs when the others were gone. That had helped to reorient her to day and night. Nice Guy had also bought her feminine products as the need arose. Eventually, she had lost track of that, too. Her menstrual cycle had completely stopped, probably due to her untreated miscarriage and the psychological and physical abuse she endured.
She stood, unsteadily at first, weaving with slightly raised arms until she caught her balance. The room had spun and seemed to narrow. The door appeared to tunnel further into the distance. She toddled toward the light. With each wobbly step, she braced for the worst. All of her previous attempts at freedom had proven tenuous. As she reached the threshold, leaning slightly forward to peek into the corridor, the question shaped judiciously in her brain, “Do I walk through that door?”
[(c) 2015 Michele Kimbrough]