Edge of town, near the sandy beach that stretches for miles. Here, in an area of wasteland frequented by alcoholics, wastrels, drug addicts, homeless people, rats and stray cats, stands an old door, propped up against bricks. A white door, almost-new door, what-is-it-doing here door.
Not a door, Tom says, a portal. To another world.
Eric laughs. Are you tripping, man?
NARNIA? Fuck Narnia.
Tom has a gift with the spray can. Artistic, his mum says. Teachers say he’s easily distracted. Not a bad boy at heart. But needs to focus.
Nothing but litter the other side of that door, Eric says. Used needles and condoms. A black thong. Winter wonderland, my arse. Someone will burn that soon. Bonfire night coming up.
Door’s still there. A hole kicked through it. N…IA.
Tom’s on a two-week exclusion. Insubordination. Eric excluded permanently. Setting off a firework during assembly.
Today a cold wind barrels in off the North Sea. Eric and Tom are sitting on an armchair close to the door. Smoking weed. Waiting.
What’s for us in this dump? Eric says. We gotta go to London.
Not London. I’m staying here, man.
Fucking Narnia, Eric says. I’m off.
Snowstorm. Eric at his uncle’s place watching snooker, drinking beer. No sign of Tom. Eric’s been calling since last night. No response. Fuck you, Tom. Go your own way.
Tom is perched on the armchair. Edge of town, close to the beach. The wasteland has turned white, the edges of things gone blurry. Even the used condoms look pretty. But it’s fucking freezing. He can hardly feel his feet.
Why don’t you step through that door, Tom? What are you afraid of? The Snow Queen and her evil heart? Got no guts?
Who is whispering in his ear? The wind, the snowflakes?
Only ten steps and he’s through. On the other side the sun is shining. Everything is white and beautiful. Dazzling. Perfect.
The original appeared in Fairlight Flash – the link to the published story is here, December 2019: