It was written in response to the National Flash Fiction Day anthology competition but as it was, unfortunately, not one of the fifty 500-word stories chosen for this year, I am able to share it here.
The theme was 'doors' and the fifty chosen stories, along with the names of their authors, are now listed on the NFFD website https://nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/index.php/news/ .
The Door at the End of the Landing
It was Rachel’s room now: beyond the door at the end of the landing. Her sanctum, the private space where she could sit and write in peace. She could shut the door, hang up that ‘DO NOT DISTURB UNLESS YOU’RE BRINGING COFFEE’ sign, ignore the domestic mess beyond, shutting out the overflowing linen-basket and piles of dirty dishes. She could lose herself in imagined worlds and virtual adventures, or just gaze, lost in thought, at the garden beyond the window.
Throughout her teenage years and early twenties, Rachel had nurtured an ambition to be a writer, but marriage and the novelty of life immediately afterwards had taken precedence over those dreams. She reflected on the thirty years since she and David had moved in, how life’s stages for the growing family were echoed in the changing uses of this tiny room.
At first, it had just been an extra space, a dumping ground for miscellaneous stuff they hadn’t known what to do with. When Adam and then Rosie arrived, it became a nursery – the guest bedroom being kept for visiting grandparents - decorated with the Winnie-the-Pooh wallpaper whose characters still smiled down at her, a preserved reminder of the time when the children were small.
During the confusion of everyday family life in the years that followed, dreams of seeing her name in print became obscured pale shadows. Now Rachel could see how the children’s youth had almost imperceptibly slipped past, leaving a hole in her life by their ever-nearing independence, a gap in the busyness for her long-repressed passion to be sparked to life again. She’d started scribbling in notebooks at every opportunity and was duly excited when her first story was accepted for publication. David’s suggestion that they declutter the box-room, turning it into a properly usable space, confirmed his unvoiced pride in her.
Now the sun streamed in. Rachel watched the birds pecking at the birdfeeder which swung from the silver-birch. She wondered at the bittersweet path her life had taken, the circles of change which her younger self could never have imagined. Experiences, inextricably part of her past, filled her mind with memories, emotions and thoughts that she needed to release in a kind of catharsis of writing. She’d finally arrived at a point where she had to take control of her uncertain future. She was ready to grasp this opportunity before it was taken from her by the insidious shadow that had so recently claimed her mother. She had this time for herself, behind the door at the end of the landing.
(p.s. I hope you like the door. It is indeed the door to the room at the end of our landing and looks far more interesting now than the plain white one we had previously.)