Timelessness

You have discovered what appears to be an ordinary room. But as soon as you enter the room, time stops for you. When you leave the room, time resumes, picking up right where you left off. What do you use this room for?

Post your response in 500 words or fewer in the comments below.

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88 thoughts on “Timelessness

  1. Bren.Kyveli

    Hey everyone! This was a great writing prompt, I came across this and instantly had a story. 3K words actually, which I know is far more than a comment allows. However I’d still love to share it with you talented artists…

    “After a session in a TimeRoom causes a lower class working mother to lose large chunks of time, she uses drastic measures to end the time loss. But she discovers far more than she bargained for and must face a hard choice.”

    Here’s the link if you’d like to read more: https://thepolkadotcoffeecup.com/fiction/timelapse/

  2. Dot

    As I stepped inside, I realised that this was not the first time, in fact, that I had been there. Numerous times previously I had searched and found very easily a room like this one. One difference was that the room had never been a physical one.

    The room had no particular smell to it; at least, not one I could immediately recognise. Directly in front of me stood a ceiling-high bookcase as wide as the wall of the rectangular room – the kind I often wished I had, the kind you would find in an old mansion’s main library. The kind which would have seen many generations of readers quietly escape on one of the antique sofas scattered around the room. There was even a ladder attached to the left end of the bookcase, prepared for service to whoever desires to climb and reach a book from the higher shelves. It looked sturdy enough for safe use.

    I walked over to the ladder and tested if it would roll down the length of the bookcase and it did, gliding heavily but smoothly along. Promising.

    The room was bathed in sunlight, bright but not hot. Outside the bay window was a private courtyard but there was no one there. I paused to reconsider the smell of the place; I could not find words to describe it, other than peaceful and happy. These were not normal things you could smell, but in this room they were.

    I plopped down on the nearest antique sofa and hugged my knees. Resting my head sideways against the window, I appreciated the view, reassured that I was safe and alone. Spotting a small, round table with two chairs a short distance away, I told myself that I would spend some time sitting there soon, where I could feel the sun directly on my skin. I love sunlight, especially when it was like this. But that was outside, where the real world lived, without halt or reprieve. The sky could turn dark and stormy any minute.

    For now, I closed my eyes and rested. I finally realised that no one else would give me permission to do this. The decision was mine and mine alone.

    I don’t know how much later it was, but I was startled from my doze by footsteps crunching on the gravel outside. The sun was much lower now although there was still a lot of sun shining through into the room. Children laughing. It was a small family walking across the courtyard. They did not look familiar.

    Stretching my legs, I knew it was time to return. Breathing in deeply, I tried to inhale as much of the room as I could. I recognised reluctance when I felt it. Standing up, I told myself that I would be back.

  3. kingali

    I don’t Know where to begin this room has been both a blessing and a curse. After being diagnosed with stage four
    cancer it felt like being told your going to die soon in no time . So this room might just be my saving grace or its delaying the inevitable , and now with in its confines I work tirelessly to find a cure for this terrible disease for my wife and unborn sake .

  4. Witt.Stanton

    He never considered himself an addict. For Yusoff Müller, heroin was his cup of coffee in the morning; it woke him up. The constant shake in his hands he dismissed as fatigue and the burns on his fingers he attributed to sheer clumsiness. The horrible truth was that Yusoff found solace in the dissociation that heroin brought him, an escape from the incomprehensible reality he waded through in his office each and every day.

    Financially, the wake-up drug didn’t make a dent. His position as Co-Curator of the German Institute of Fine Arts gave him all the finds he needed to support his daily ritual. However, his wife did not approve. Whenever Frau Müller spotted fresh burns on his hands she threw him out of the house, leaving the neighbors to watch in amusement as Yusoff staggered into the street. The words Arschloch and Flachwichser frequently chased him out.

    He spent many of his nights on the sofa in his office at the Institute. His office was well-sized room and undeniably lived-in. Bookshelves were nestled elbow-to-elbow along the walls and several potted plants stood sentinel next to the doorway. The center of the room was dominated by his desk, a mahogany masterpiece perpetually covered in a week’s worth of paperwork. In fact, the desk was made by the preceding occupant of the office, Yusoff’s father. Even the flourishing potted plants were remnants from his father’s curatorship.

    The late Herr Müller was an enigma. Two decades ago the Herr abandoned his pregnant wife several months before she gave birth and disappeared without a trace. Landespolizei, the local police force, decided that the Herr had committed suicide. Fourteen years later the Herr’s son took his father’s position at the Institution under the tutelage of the youthful Co-Curator Herr Schmidt, the man who had built the Institution alongside his father.

    The nights Yusoff spent at the office always felt like an eternity. From the balcony outside his office, Yusoff would lean against the railing and watch the moon slowly creep into the night sky. What troubled the Yusoff was simple: whenever he returned to the inner office and lay himself on the couch, he would swear that the moon sat unmoving outside his window until he went back outside and stood once again on the balcony. It drove him mad.

    Herr Schmidt spent much of his time in the office room alongside Yusoff, kindly consoling the troubled man whenever Frau Müller threw him out of his house. Yet the Herr did nothing to dissuade the young man’s fixation with heroin — in fact, the Herr believed the drug was a necessary coping mechanism for Yusoff.

    No matter how friendly the two became over the years, Herr Schmidt was always reluctant to stand with Yusoff on the balcony, let alone meet his wife and family. Yusoff never understood the man. As the years passed, Yusoff returned to the office less and less frequently and eventually quit his job at the Institution, much to Herr Schmidt’s dismay.

    Yusoff’s personal life improved. Like a wine losing tartness with age, as time passed Frau Müller’s face began to show wrinkled lines mapping out her smiles. Even her threats lost their intensity as Yusoff removed himself from his acquaintance with the wake-up drug — oddly enough, he never needed it when he slept at home. Next to his wife in bed at home, listening to his children sleeping in the next room, Yusoff watched the moon rise outside his window and always fell asleep content.

    The years began to fly by and soon enough the family began to grow into three generations and Yusoff proudly took on the name of Opa. But the wake-up drug already had dug its claws into Yusoff and taken its toll on his health. Fifteen years after the death of his beloved wife, Yusoff died at the age of seventy-two with a handful of grandchildren.

    Leaving his office room in the Institute for the first time in nearly six decades, Herr Schmidt attended the funeral of Yusoff Müller. He remembered the drug-addled man who had staggered around the office at all hours of the night with pin-point eyes, bloody hands, and uncontrollable nausea. He remembered the reek of vomit and the long nights spent on the balcony, hands clenched on the railing and eyes fixed on the moon. Herr Schmidt’s mouth tightened into a line as he watched the coffin lower into the hard-packed dirt.

    The late Herr Müller killed himself out of madness, driven insane by the incomprehensibilities of the office room. Similarly, the late Herr’s son used heroin to escape these incomprehensibilities — the stillness of the moon, the plants that never grew a day older, watching his family age before his eyes — it drove him mad. Waiting for the world outside the office room to grow old was the cost of immortality and Yusoff had refused to pay the price.

    Smoothing back his hair with his own unwrinkled hands, Herr Schmidt approached the grandchildren of the late Herr Müller to find another replacement for his lost business partner.

  5. andvarietta

    There’s nothing but the sound of silence surrounding me. There was a lot of sound earlier, but it all vanished after I entered this room.
    This unassuming room…
    It looks quite ordinary…with the exception that sound seems to fade into silence here. I looked up, mounted on the wall at the other side of the room was a clock, its hands seemingly frozen in time. According to the clock, it was eternally noon…or midnight.
    Feeling confused, I turned round and walked towards the door, opened it and stepped out.
    The moment my body passes through the door, sound started to flood my ears.
    There was sound again.
    I could hear the sound of a kettle whistling downstairs followed by an elderly woman’s voice.
    “Would you like some sugar in your tea, dear?” The elderly woman’s voice floated to my ears.
    “Ah…yes please.” I replied, raising my voice so that the elderly woman could hear my voice over the incessant whistling of the kettle.
    “One cube or two?” Her voice reached my ears once again. It was a gentle voice, it exuded warmth.
    “One, please.” I replied.
    There was the sound of tinkering and activity downstairs. The kettle had stopped whistling and in the distance I could hear the faint sound of children laughing.
    I turned back to look at the room.
    The door was wide open, I could see almost everything inside. The old bookshelf in the left corner, the two weathered armchairs, the clock on the wall and part of the covered piano which was sitting quietly on the right side of the room.
    Slowly I walked towards the room again.
    My whole body was oddly enough tensing up as I got closer and closer.
    I stopped before the door and looked at my wristwatch. The second hand was ticking away. It was four in the afternoon. I took a deep breath and stepped in.
    Silence fell around me once more. I looked at my wristwatch. The second hand had stopped moving.
    “No way…” I heard myself gasp.

    Time had stopped.

    I’m utterly confused. I walked deeper into the room and started to properly explore it. Looking at every nook and cranny. I went to the bookshelf and started browsing through the books there.
    The bookshelf had a mix of history books and some literary novels. Nothing was particularly out of the norm…until I caught a glimpse of a small black book tucked between two thick Encyclopedia Britannica. Curious, I tried to pry out the book from between the thick hardcover books.
    “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
    Startled, I turned to face the source of the voice.
    It was a young man in a crisp gray suit. He seemed normal enough, thick brown hair combed neatly to one side, cool blue eyes observing me behind small-frame glasses. He was also tall, perhaps a few good inches past six feet. He looks normal enough…that is until I noticed his tie.
    The tie he wore was…pulsating, changing into different colors and occasionally turning pitch black before changing colors again. I stared at it, entranced.
    “Do you like my tie? I picked it myself.” He smiled as he smoothed it over with one hand. “It’s a bit hard to iron though.”
    I wanted to ask who he was. When I arrived earlier, there was no one else in this house. Just the elderly woman and her pet tabby cat.
    “I know I’m terribly good looking but if you continue to stare I’ll just feel awkward.” His deep voice was tinged with sarcasm.
    “Who…” was all I could muster before the young man let out a soft chuckle.
    “Wouldn’t you like to know?” He grinned as he approaches me.
    I couldn’t move, I just stood there in an odd daze, watching the young man’s every move.
    He placed a hand on my shoulder, it was gentle and warm. He then walked behind me and nudged me in the direction of the door.
    “It’s time for you to leave.” He placed both hands on my shoulders now. There was a little strength in his nudges. It was enough to make my body move forward and continue to move towards the door on its own. I wanted to stop and turn to face the young man. I wanted to talk to him, to ask him who his was, what he was doing there and what does he know about the room. But my body wouldn’t respond. It continued to walk towards the door.
    “Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.” He joked. And as if on cue, just as half of my body passed through the door frame, the wooden door behind me quickly closed, hitting my backside with a thump and pushing me slightly forward. Sound flooded back into my ears. I could hear the cluttering sound in the kitchen downstairs and the faint sound of children laughing in the distance.
    I stood still for a moment. I was in shock. What had just happened?
    I turned to face the now closed door of the room.
    Slowly my hand reaches out for the door knob…
    “Tea’s ready, dear!” The elderly woman’s voice snapped me out of my daze.
    I turned to face the stairs and called out, “Coming!”
    I looked at the door once more. Before heading downstairs I looked at my wristwatch again.
    It was still four in the afternoon.

  6. xiolagood

    Tick. Tick. Tick. Silence.
    I took a deep breath; I had made it. I bent over, hands on knees dragging in air as quick as my lungs would allow. The ticking of my watch had stopped the moment I entered the room, just as it always did. Was this cheating? Maybe, maybe not. But I needed this time. I needed time to think, time to decide what to do.
    Wife, daughter, sister, friend, employee, boss; it was all so overwhelming sometimes. The labels that were slapped on me the way price tags were slapped on the bread at the market. Why couldn’t I just be me? Moving into this house had been a life saver but a curse as well.
    It was two years now since I found “the room”. It magically appeared one day, or I was blind to the entry before. Either way, the first time I entered and exited I felt sure my family would have me committed. Exhausted and talking about the book I’d found in the hidden room had them looking at me like I’d grown a horn on my head. I rambled about burning dinner and being starving as I rushed into the kitchen, only to find the same pots and pans of food simmering with sauces I’d stirred hours before. Or so I thought it had been hours; I felt it had been hours. It was then I noticed the clock and my watch were only minutes from when I started dinner. But my body said it had been hours; I knew I read an entire book. I could remember the story, vibrant in my mind. As I looked around, it slowly became clear time had not passed for others the way it had passed for me.
    In the last few months, my trips to the room became a regular occurrence. Need to cool down in a fight…go to the room. Need to finish a report for work…go to the room. No time to work out…go to the room. But I was tired of keeping up with the “super” routine. Now, if I wanted to be myself, if I stopped, I would let everyone down. No one would want plain old me anymore, would they?
    And now, here I was, once again using the room to stop time. But this time was different. This time was life or death and the room was the only place I could survive. But the choice was unbearable, how could I make it? Stay in this room and live by myself endlessly…or leave, and live my final days with my family, dying of the cancer that consumed me? A cancer that had time to grow in a room with no time.

  7. Jennifer Park

    40. The Demonstration

    [Follows “39. The Battle”, under “All the Feels”.]

    Barbara’s dislike for the Development Envoy grew with each day of travel with her. She was not even that good in bed.

    Their next stop, Omo.

    At least Barbara mostly agreed with the Envoy as to the usefulness of the inventions these so-called inventors were touting. “So, in other words, this device allows the creation of life form equivalents by translating DNA code into equivalent RVM or Polyphosphoglycolate codes?”

    Presenter number 772 beamed. “Yes! Exactly! Which permits the creation of inter-species hybrids!“

    “And… how do you ensure the viability of the translations?”

    Presenter 772 blinked. “Viability?”

    “Yes… creation of a new life form… viability… You know, life.”

    Silence.

    “OK. Thank you. We’ll be in touch.”

    Presenter 772 was not even crestfallen as it left. It did not understand at all what this presentation was about: finding technology that could be immediately stolen and commercialized.

    Exasperated, the Envoy motioned to her lackey. Barbara gave her a sympathetic glance; this really was a thankless job.

    Presenter 773 was small statured by Omi standards, and spoke softly. “As you can see in my cover sheet, Your Eminence, I present to you, I have a time dilating chamber.”

    The Envoy was intrigued. Even Barbara was intrigued. “Time dilation?” The theories that had been developed to prove the impossibility of time travel had turned out to have many other practical applications.

    “Yes… Honored guests… as Diagram 3 shows…”

    Barbara and the Envoy looked at the document.

    “It looks like an ordinary room. And when you enter it, time will stop… I mean, the time will stop on the outside… not on you… and give you time to…”

    “Huh.” The Envoy was very impressed. Localized time dilation, if successful, could have some interesting applications. Military, for instance.

    “So, you can continue to do things, while… So, say, you have a deadline, and you need to get some work done, you enter the room, and…”

    That sounded a bit too banal. What about developing military capability spanning centuries while time stopped on the battlefield?

    “Unfortunately, I have not been able to fit more than two hundred kilograms into the chamber. The energy expenditure grows exponentially after fifty kilograms…”

    Well, there goes the military application.

    Also, Barbara noted, “So, while you are in there, do you age normally?”

    “Pardon?”

    “It seem to me that you’ve invented a chamber that allows you to age while no one else does.”

    The Envoy chuckled discreetly.

    “This reminds me of the Eiaieiau Space Dilator. Bigger on the inside, so you can cram a lot of things into a small space, but that does not reduce the mass or anything. Might as well build a large building.”

    “Ummmm…”

    “Keep working on it,” the Envoy said encouragingly, and motioned for Presenter 773 to be removed.

    “But, Barbara, think how much sex you can have in that thing,” the Envoy quipped.

    Barbara smiled. “I have plenty of time for sex, thank you very much.”

  8. FantasticMelon

    The Way Home

    “I’ve had the worst day – same old deadlines and awful colleagues. Even better, my bus home was cancelled. Pay day isn’t til the end of the week, so I don’t have the money in my account to pay for a taxi.

    “Yeah, the walk feels longer in this awful weather we’re having. I was so cold, I decided to take a shortcut through the graveyard. Yes, I know. I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry. I’ll be more careful next time, okay?

    “So I’m heading through the graveyard when I pass a doorway built into the side of a hill. I thought it must be the entrance to a crypt or something, but the door was open, and giving off light.

    “It stood out like a beacon cause its usually pitch black in there. I felt compelled to go and at least see if there was someone I could ask what was going on.

    “As I get to the door I could feel the warmth from inside the building and felt myself shiver. All I wanted was to dry off. I wasn’t far from home but damn it my feet hurt, and I figured the weather might clear up while I was inside. I know – I’m irresponsible. It felt like something I should do at the time.

    “So I walk through the door, having to duck my head slightly as I do, and make my way down the stone stairs into a brightly lit room. It wasn’t what I expected, with clinical, white decor. I looked back to the worn stone steps I had descended and wondered what I had stumbled upon.

    “The only thing disturbing the emptiness of the room were stairs; the ones I had used and a set opposite me; and a wooden lectern, which stood in the centre of the room. Driven by the same impulsiveness that made me go into the room, I found myself heading towards the lectern. There was a book on it, sat open, and I began reading it without even thinking.

    “This is going to sound crazy, but it said that I had found a ‘pathway’, and I had to make a decision. Should I go through the door at the other side of the room, which would take me to a new world where I would live free of all responsibility for eternity, or leave the way I had come and go back to my life as though nothing had happened.

    “It told me I could stay in the room as long as I needed to make my decision, and that time wouldn’t pass while I was there, but as soon as I left either way the pathway would close.

    “I left the room in less than five minutes.”

    “You gave up an eternal life with no responsibility to come back here?” He mused, kissing the top of my head. “But why?”

    I looked up into his eyes with a smile.

    “What use is eternity when it isn’t with you?”

    Word count – 498.
    I know this is a bit off the original prompt, but it’s the first bit of creative writing I’ve done in over a year!

    1. Kerry Charlton

      You swept me off my feet with the last line. So romance reigns supreme? As it should. Nice theme and nice writing. One thing and it’s a nit pick, changing tense from present to past, It is very difficult to write first person present without once in a while, one of my problems also. It did not change the enjoyment of reading ii. We sure could use you here on the web site. Looking forward to your next story. Kerry

  9. A. J. Kidding

    The Place

    I remember how it began when I first found “the place”. I had to perform my own experiments, before actually confirming that I wasn’t dreaming or being delusional. The thing still fascinates me to this day. This room… it’s a place that gave me so much but didn’t hesitate to take from me as well; when I am out of it, I feel like every passing second is costing me hundreds of billions of dollars, but this statement doesn’t even begin to describe the sensation of “feeling time flying by”.

    It took me a full reality-year to realize how the place functioned. It was pretty simple, but the need to re-confirm facts for myself took longer than I would care to admit. God, I still feel bad that it took me so long; I could have done so much on the outside. No time to feel sad though. It was not only the fact that time outside of the place stopped; It had also stopped for me. When I realized that this room gives me perpetual immortality… I taught myself everything.

    Every musical instrument, every scientific subject, every language… I’ve learned everything humanity had on record and even made my own discoveries. I sent the cure for cancer anonymously to every country in the world. I’ve solved physical equations that have baffled scientist for decades. I developed psychological mechanisms that helped people resolve conflicts and so much more… I literally did everything, and it took me only three hundred forty-nine years, two days, eleven hours, twenty-five minutes, and fifteen, sixteen, seventeen… seconds. One of the beauties of the place is that it doesn’t make you tired, hungry, or in need to go to the bathroom.

    My first long stay in the room took about a week of measured time. I understood what opportunity I had been given by god knows what, but I wanted to make sure that my wife and six-year-old daughter had the husband and father they needed. Probably to this day, my wife wonders why I insist on living in this house, especially when recently I turned to be quite a skillful “poker player” and win quite the large fortune… My family still thinks I just got good at learning things fast.

    Downside? The world’s the same. Although I sent the most valuable knowledge that can benefit mankind to every single country in the world, the governments stole from society and locked it up in their private vaults and labeled every solution as Illegal. Figures. To this day though, I continue sending my discoveries, because it does make a difference! For now, I fight them with knowledge; but in exactly three years and two days sharp, my “physical infinity” pill will be synthesized, and I will take the fight to the corrupt, the greedy, and the evil. I’ve finally found a way to take a piece of the room with me – to the outside.

      1. A. J. Kidding

        In the second part of this, he actually does, but to spoil the ending for everyone, he gets bored and starts to engineer better engines for a space ship. He does it; however, he is corrupted by the presence of “the place” and can’t bring himself to actually go out in space and explore stuff.

        His daughter finds out in the end about the room, and sets fire to the house. The room is destroyed, and on the last page of the “book” (lol), you can see how he dies of old age while holding his grandson in his hands. Turns out that when entrance to the room is destroyed, the effects of the immortality pill disappear as well.

      1. kimcatwil

        Thanks so much everyone! I went over word count and I cut it down a lot from the original. I think it could definitely do more with it without the limit!

    1. snuzcook

      Your story has a wonderful sense of personal power and hope for the future, like a dream of flying. I couldn’t help wondering, though, why the narrator did not share it with his wife and child, rather than keeping them on reality-time.

      1. A. J. Kidding

        I believe that the reason he decided to keep his family out of it, was because they would worry, and eventually create difficulty; it’s the type of personal secret that if even shared with one person, can be dangerous.

  10. ReathaThomasOakley

    (We’re on our way home from Dubois and Wyoming Writers Conference where I did a presentation on dialogue and received first place awards for adult fiction and flash fiction, plus second place awards for flash fiction and traditional poetry. William Kent Krueger was keynote speaker and held three breakout sessions. He took time to say nice things on two of the winning pieces I was able to read. I now call him Kent. I also spent time with an agent and a publisher who want to see my Annie book. It was a great time, but I’m exhausted and ready to be home. This piece is really rough, but I’m going to focus on Marie while I edit Annie, so I wanted to get something that was inspired by the prompt that I flipped. I encouraged those in the dialogue session to visit here, that they will find a welcoming and encouraging group.)

    Marie stood in front of the door, trying to decide, the key forgotten until pain in her hand caused her to realize she was clutching it tighter and tighter. Granny must have left it in her rush to finish dressing, Marie’d thought when she saw it on the dresser. Her Aunt Florence, the family ride, had come too early, and now Marie was holding the key to the forbidden door. Only after Marie visited frlends’ homes did she realize other houses didn’t have a door at the back of bathroom linen closets, a door always locked and never talked about.

    She seemed to recall slipping into the room when she was very young, when the door had been left open. She thought that adventure ended with a spanking.

    Finally, decision made, she fitted the key into the lock and opened the door. The room was large. As she walked across the bare floor, stirred up dust shimmered in the weak light entering the room through long rips in yellow shades covering the unopened windows. The heat closed around her like the old Army blanket she used when Granny decided they didn’t need the oil heater lit at night.

    The door that must lead to the outside sagging and broken wooden stairs was boarded up. An iron bedstead with bare mattress was pushed against a wall and Marie shivered as she remembered whispered words about an aunt or a cousin and a baby.

    She clutched her swelling belly as she hurried back out of the room and locked the door. She was surprised to see that the bathroom looked the same as when she unlocked the door. She felt as if she’d moved beyond childhood into a future she didn’t want. She held back a sob as she hurried to replace the key.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Reatha, so happy for your success. Were it not for ten years or so, I might be standing with you. I hope you’re not afraid of heights, for you’re getting ready to fly. About your story, the build up of suspense is key on and the close is remarkable. In other words, Gad, you’re good.

    2. snuzcook

      Congratulation on your awards! It is wonderful to have your talent recognized and valiated!
      Your story has a very intimate feel, though the protagonist’s unease is not really identified, like being in a strange place and just knowing it is not right. We feel that unease without knowing exactly why the room has such power to evoke it, and the relief when she escapes it.

  11. JRSimmang

    I NEEDED NO DOOR

    I needed no door. I liked to peer directly inside.

    ***
    It was a Tuesday. I remember because that’s the day Mr Newhouse leaves with his dog to the corner mart and picks up a gallon of milk. It’s comforting knowing that by Monday evening Mr Newhouse has used all his milk. I wondered out loud if he parceled it up, pouring exactly one-seventh of a gallon into little plastic containers and stored them alongside his prepackaged cereals or oatmeals or if he had little tiny butter churners that he would use every morning. What a simple life, knowing that everything is pre-planned and exact. Mr Newhouse was exact.

    His moustache hung on his lip like a deflated balloon. I found him beautiful like this. An aging man, complete with stories carried on his hunched shoulders. It was what we strive to be.

    Complete.

    Mrs Berrywine had the same sadness.

    I tried to find the right colors for their faded fingers and faces, yet the closest I could achieve was a ratio of red and white, a barely-hue of orange and each stroke of my brush was laden with a heaviness I wished would innervate the canvas. Mr Newhouse and Mrs Berrywine were perfect in texture, but with them I felt an amateur.

    My paintings were incomplete, perhaps because my muses were as well.

    I had used my room before with a young pair of pigeons. While I moved about freely, the organisms I brought in were left suspended in artistic splendor. I took one in my hands, fragile as a vase, and bent it to see if I could make it fly. I turned its wings outward, ever so outward, then I placed it in the air. The other, I placed below, upside down, wings spread, and they danced.

    I painted.

    But, when I removed them from the room, only then did I realize that I had damaged the wings of the first. It flopped ceaselessly on the floor, and I chased it back into the room.

    It was compulsion, at first, then anger. I painted the spray of blood from its neck. In death, we are truly revealed for pretense is removed and our rawness is laid bare. Nothing has been so beautiful as those two birds since.

    Across from my easel, the two gathered around their dining room table, the single point of light radiated above them, and inside, it was silent and still. Mr Newhouse, as I positioned him, was holding his fork out to Mrs Berrywine, who sat waiting for the pie he was offering. In this room, I was able to create the beauty of my own paintings.

    My first paintings of people shall be a series. Love, life, then death. As I pondered how Mr Newhouse and Mrs Berrywine would be placed in their final poses, I jotted down a note to myself.

    As I paint, I age, but they will remain forever youthful. Isn’t that the message of Dorian Grey? If not, I must reread.

    -JR Simmang

    1. Kerry Charlton

      The picture of Dorian Gray was perfect for an ending. Andb i’m not sure your MC painter doesn’t belong in the Looney bin. Lovely thought that once painted, there is no deterioration to the the human race. Mona Lisa is exactly the same, century after century while human flash beces dry, then rots and crumbles to dust
      Quite a nice fitting to the prompt

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Great descriptions of the Mr. and the Mrs. After the pigeons, however, I hope he never finishes painting the two. Lovely piece. Wonderful writing, as usual.

  12. kimcatwil

    I went way over. Sorry. Bare with me on this one.

    Lana was never meant to be a mother. She knew this from an early age. However, when she found herself pregnant, she tried to tell herself this was for the best. That all women, deep down, wanted to be mothers. As Lana lay in the hospital bed, holding newborn Matthew in her arms, she stared up at the ceiling, thinking to herself “How the hell am I going to do this?”

    Days turned to weeks. Weeks turned to months. Feed him. Change him. Sooth his tears. Day after day after day.

    Matthew was 8 months old when Lana found the room. He was napping, and she was using the much needed quiet time to do some laundry. Although their home was old, with lots of nooks and crannies, she and her husband had lived there for years. How had she missed it? A small room, no larger than a walk in closet, seemed to beckon her. She stepped inside. Although it was dingy and dusty, it somehow felt right. Like she was meant to be there. So she grabbed some cleaning supplies and came back to the room to tidy it up. It had been an hour, maybe two, when she realized Matthew was usually long done his nap by now. Concerned, she ran upstairs, only to find the clock had barely moved one minute.

    The room was Lana’s saving grace. In here, she could shake off the responsibilities of her son, who she loved, but also of the motherhood she never wanted. In the following days, she secretly furnished the room, finding secondhand furniture and rugs, turning it into a cozy little nook. She filled the room with books, paperwork to catch up on- all the adult things she had to neglect since Matthew’s arrival.

    It began harmlessly enough- half an hour here and there, to catch up on work that needed to be done and simply to relax, free from burdens, if only for a short time. But the room beckoned her. She found herself thinking about it constantly. And with no repercussions for staying an hour, or two, or five, it became more and more tempting to slip away. Strangely, she never seemed to grow hungry or tired while in the room. A warm feeling of solitude embraced her whenever she opened that small wooden door and entered her new world. She never seemed to know how much time passed, and she didn’t really care. Why would she?

    After one particularly stressful day, Lana got home from work to a fussy toddler and a husband distracted with work. She sighed heavily, knowing she would have to deal with it eventually. But not now. “I’m going to throw in some laundry, I’ll be up in a minute!” she called to her husband, as she descended the stairs into the one quiet place that was hers alone.

    Time passed. But how much? As usual, she didn’t really care. But this was definitely her longest visit. It had been at least a day, maybe a week, she thought to herself. But the more time she spent in the room, the more intoxicating it became. It soothed her, asking her to stay just a little longer. Eventually, somehow, she snapped out of her spell, deciding it was time to face the chaos back in the real world. With a heavy sigh, she left the room.

    The stairs up from the basement seemed harder to scale than usual, her knees aching with every step. ‘I must have been curled up in that chair reading for far too long,’ she thought to herself as she ascended. As she reached the top and entered Matthew’s playroom, he looked at her inquisitively, than burst into tears.

    “Hey buddy!” Lana said, “What’s the matter?” She leaned down to give him a hug, but to her surprise, he cowered away. His language skills weren’t really developed yet, but he managed to get out “who… you?” through his sobs.

    “What?” asked Lana. Before she had time to fully process what he had asked, she could hear her husband coming down the hall from his office.

    “Hey buddy, what’s going-” as he entered the room, however, he halted. “Woah- um… ma’am. Can I help you? What are you doing here?”

    “Connor… What are you talking about?” Lana asked. Chills ran through her body. Something was very, very wrong.

    “Look, ma’am, I don’t know how you know my name, or what you’re doing in my house, but you need to leave. Now.”

    It was at that moment that Lana understood. Because as Connor was talking, she caught a glimpse of herself in the large mirror on the wall. A person she didn’t recognize. An elderly woman stared back at her.

    From the basement, she swore she heard a quiet laugh.

    1. writer_sk

      So well done, kim. I liked how you hinted the room could be bad but eased your MC into staying longer. Such a simple concept that she’d age while in the room — but executed so exactly that I never saw it coming.

      This could be expanded.

    2. JRSimmang

      I’ll have to echo Sarah’s thoughts. This story could be expanded into a larger one, developing Lana’s two worlds, the one in which she has responsibilities and the one where she struggles against them.

    3. kimcatwil

      Thanks so much everyone! I went over word count and I cut it down a lot from the original. I think it could definitely do more with it without the limit!

  13. csweet

    I open the door to the room. The children are outside. The oldest is screaming at her brother who created into her, timing her off the swing set. He’s running oblivious, loudly demanding a drink or a snack, or both. The smallest is on the ground, vehemently protesting my insistence that bricks are not indeed suitable playthings for a child of his age (or any age for that matter). As I cross the threshold, I look back, considering the chaos, frozen in time. They say I will someday miss it, and I suspect it is true, but for now, I’ll take five frozen minute, to silently come myself, before returning to the fray.

  14. Teatimeprose

    Days without pain, without nausea, without extreme fatigue felt like a distant past-life. Each morning I would get up, slowly. Some mornings after the treatments I might not get up at all but lay on the bathroom floor feeling the cool tiles against my sullen face. I would stare at my nails that had all but withered against my grotesque flesh.
    The doctors explained to me that the treatments hadn’t worked at all. That all the pain was for naught and that each day “is a blessing”. I can still see the awkwardness in the doctor’s face as he reached for my hand and decided against. When he explained to me that there was an experimental treatment, because of course there is. The pain in his eyes when I told him I would like my last days to not be excruciating, thank you very much.
    This doctor also didn’t know what I knew. That within the basement of my new house lay a secret room. This room was barren, its walls an ugly off-shade of white, the carpeting just barely contrasting against it. However, what made this room wonderful was its effect on time. Each visit to this room, I would stay for hours but my phone would say the same time until I exited the room.
    In here, while my pain never subsided, my pain never worsened. I moved furniture in, some books, some art work and art supplies. I did all the things I had been meaning to do but had always excused because I had been too busy or too sick. Eventually, I even brought my husband here. It became an addiction for us both. In here, we could spend all the time we could ever want together. We laid in each other’s arms as we read, played board games with the music blaring, and watched sappy movies. And, like an addiction I could no longer wanted my normal life. We had made an agreement that I was not to leave the room, that my husband would take care of all the provisions for me. In here I would never age, I would stay as sick as I was the day I had entered the room and more importantly, I would never die.
    Months dragged into wonderful years. We had so much time to spend with each other but I could see the pain on my husband’s face as he slowly realized I could never take that trip to Bora Bora we had planned nor could I go to the pier and hold his hand as we inhaled the salty ocean breeze. I, like this room, was stuck in limbo. So, one day, with tears streaming down our faces, my husband carried me through the threshold and into the bedroom. He lay me lovingly as my body was overtaken with agonizing pain. He held my hand as I drifted into infinite sleep, blessed to have had those few extra years.

  15. Hiba Gardezi

    Forgive me. I’m rusty after a long, long break.

    Please make me a room
    That
    Sings to my songs

    And if I don’t feel like breathing the country air in my city lungs on a certain day in the 18th month please make me a room
    That talks to me

    Like

    I

    Talk to you.
    Please get me into the pretty place
    Where
    Time is nothing.

    Not too long
    I don’t like waiting. Did I ever tell you that
    I don’t like waiting?
    For wouldn’t-be friends
    Or… expected events
    I don’t like longing for a reward
    But… I don’t like sudden

    Jerks
    I don’t want
    Immediate replies

    I want
    A languid
    Soothing walk in the world
    That is
    As fast or slow as me
    I don’t want you to run
    But
    Please don’t take any breaks without me either
    I need a place
    Where there is no time
    Please build me a room
    With bricks or love and reassurance
    A balm of timelessness
    So I may love or learn
    In peace

    1. JRSimmang

      I couldn’t tell you’d taken a break, Hiba. You’ve filled this with such great images (my favorite being “balm of timelessness) and meaning that it warrants a second – or third, or fourth – read.

  16. snuzcook

    ***Struggled with this one. This is the 4th plot I came up with. The others were maybe better written, but I thought this might be the most fun to share.***

    The end was fast approaching. It was speeding toward earth, showering bits of ice and debris as it went. Beautiful as it was terrible, a goddess in all her wrathful splendor, the comet dubbed “Jadis” after CS Lewis’ Ice Queen, would strike earth in three days somewhere in the southern hemisphere. It would be a glancing blow, maybe even rip through the atmosphere without contacting the surface. It wouldn’t matter. The immense forces pulling at the southern oceans and plowing through the layers of the earth’s invisible atmospheric skin doomed us all to oblivion.

    Our team set up our observation platform at the site of an abandoned research facility near the Arctic Circle. We would record the earth’s final hours, possibly surviving those first catastrophic floods and tremors. Was it basic human arrogance that suggested some sentient life form would eventually find and appreciate this record of humanity’s demise? Or was it the hope against hope that survival was actually possible? Each of us had our own personal reasons for volunteering for this desperate mission. The one thing we all knew was that there was not enough time to do anything but observe. If we’d had a week, a month, or better yet a couple of years, we could come up with a way to counter this threat.

    Ironically, this research facility was the ideal location to do that work. It had been used for years as a storage depot and dumping place for pipeline projects, weather observation stations and outdated military test facilities. Given sufficient imagination and know-how, the right team could build just about anything here. There just wasn’t enough time to even take proper inventory.

    Nonetheless, I was attempting to do exactly that with the help of one of the corpsmen. “What time is it?” I asked him.

    “11:15, Doctor.”

    “Let’s finish this storage bay and break for lunch.”

    “Boyd! Boyd!” Dr. Philipa Reynolds came running. She was hysterical, running through the frigid air with her hood down, face red and tears hardening into ice on her cheeks. “I found it! It’s true! It’s all true!”

    “What?”

    “The elves! The workshop! My God! It was all true!” Rather than explain, she ran back inside. We all followed, threading our way around stacks of pipe and fittings and motor parts. In the deep recesses of the warren of corridors and rooms, in a section that had originally been built of wood, we burst through a double doorway into something right out of a child’s dream.

    Toys and toy parts lay everywhere, amid conveyor belts, crates and packing materials work tables with tools and assembly bits and bobs.

    “You wait outside,” I ordered, turning back one of the corpsmen at the door. Dazed, the man slipped back outside while the rest of us slowly spread throughout the enormous workroom.

    Reynolds was right. The only thing missing was Santa’s sleigh and a flock of elves loading it up for the Christmas Eve flight. Rumors came back to me from several decades ago that a craft resembling the legendary Santa’s sleigh had been shot down over south central Europe during a period of civil war. Of course it was dismissed as cruel propaganda, happening as it did while Christian children all over the world awaited a visit from St. Nick. Could it possibly have been true? Had this workshop, this entire secret complex have been abandoned when its namesake didn’t return from his rounds?

    It took us hours to investigate the vast workshop, examining equipment that was deceptively complex and sophisticated, looking through stockpiles of fuel and raw materials. The older members of the team were caught up in their own personal battles between childhood memories, myth and reality. I was hit once again by the cruel irony that not only was one of the age old mysteries of the world solved when it didn’t matter anymore, but we finally had the perfect facility to do the work that we needed to do to save the world, and there wouldn’t be enough time to accomplish it.

    Wearily, we filed out of the workshop. The corpsman was still waiting outside the door right where we left him. It must be close to time to transmit our 3:00 p.m. progress report. Besides, I was starving.

    “What time is it?”

    “Uh, it’s 11:25.”

    “It can’t be. No way we were in there for 12 hours.”

    “Huh? No, I mean of course not. You just went inside like a minute ago. It’s 11:25 a.m.”

    The research team was gathering around as they filed out into the corridor, and murmurs quickly spread among them. Then like a shockwave the truth struck all of us a staggering jolt. We had been inside the workshop for hours but no time had passed outside.

    Everyone started talking at once, the contagion of hope overcame our exhaustion and confusion.

    I took control. “Everyone, we can do this. I don’t know how and I don’t know why, but we’ve just been given the one thing we didn’t have to give our world one more chance. Get your equipment and let’s get back inside. It’s time to pull off a miracle!”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Fascinating idea to bombard space with Santa’s weapons. Thirty three million candy canes laid in orbit could slow it some while Raggity Ann and Andy could chip the ice away and steer it toward Congress.

        1. snuzcook

          My other plots started out okay, but lost momentum:
          • Teenager discovers the room, and uses it to age himself after falling hopelessly in love with a girl three years ahead
          • A young girl discovers the secret room while playing hide-and-seek, but is accidentally trapped inside. When she finally gets out she is an adult, but only moments have elapsed outside. She finds her family searching desperately for their lost child and she cannot convince them of her true identity.
          • The Pooka Harvey uses the room for time travel, taking Dr. Chumley at last to visit the grove of maple trees near Akron for two weeks of beer, unburdening his soul, and the company of a beautiful young woman who croons ‘poor poor thing’—all while not a moment has passed in real life.
          • Woman with forbidden pregnancy uses room to experience the gestation and birth in secrecy and safety, then escapes when the child is healthy enough to travel.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Snuz, I loved this, even now I still hope it’s not all myth. I’m also impressed with the first part. Did you write from personal knowledge?

  17. ShamelessHack

    “When ya gotta go, ya gotta go.”
    “No sweat, Karl. I’ll watch the fork lift for you.”
    “Thanks, Eddie.”
    Karl walked to the far end of the construction site, knocked once on door of the portable outdoor restroom booth, and stepped inside.
    “Jeez, what a stench,” he muttered.
    Karl finished quickly, zipped up his jeans, and turned in the tight space to leave, but the door wouldn’t open. He pushed hard, but to no avail.
    “C’mon, guys!” he yelled. “I’m not in the mood for your retarded practical jokes.”
    No response from outside.
    “Let’s go! Lemme outta here!”
    An ethereal voice from the low ceiling intoned: “You are now free to step out of the time-freezing portal Earthman.”
    “Whaaa?”
    “Exit the portal please.”
    Karl hesitated for a moment, then pushed open the door and stepped outside.
    The construction site was gone.
    In its place, a vast forest of toilet booths stretched to infinity. The stench intensified.
    Another voice, this time from the yellow and green polka dot sky above: “Welcome to Portapotooine, Earthman.”
    Karl looked around in a panic. “Oh, am I in a world of sh*t!”
    “Exactly, Earthman. Exactly.”

  18. Bushkill

    Out of time,
    (I struggled meeting the word count on this one. I made it, but I left a lot on the edit floor)

    I was a king, ruling the world until my stocks crashed. My career charged after the market. I settled on a mountain pilgrimage.

    My guide left me up here two days ago and I drank lasciviously.

    Now, stumbling drunken and bitter, I fell, tumbling into a mountain crevice. I landed hard and slid a short distance to an etched, antiquated, doorway.

    It was the first sign of civilization I had seen. When I entered the room, I noticed its pristine nature. A wall of shelves held rolled parchments, another, a collection of fine glass and pottery. Artwork and strange contraptions littered a different shelf.

    A dresser sat next to the door and boxed a suit of exquisite armor into the corner. When I opened a dresser drawer, stacks of felt-lined boxes held coins of different styles.

    None were worn or tattered.

    Truthfully, I could see no rust or time-ravage anywhere in the room. Everything appeared as if it had been crafted yesterday. The shelves, carved into the stone of the cavern complemented the hand-carved oriental dresser.

    When I examined the parchment, I could read the strange script. The symbols made sense and their meaning bloomed in my mind as if magiked there. I found literature from Babylon and Jerusalem. Papyrus from Egypt, upper and lower kingdoms, dominated a whole shelf. The entire collected works of Euclid, several I had never known of, sat well-read but in perfect condition just above the papyrus.

    A noise startled me and I spun, “Who the heck are you?” I asked.

    The strange man with arms too long and eyes too big blinked. “This time capsule is mine. Who are you?”

    “Capsule? What? What is this place?”

    “Relics of the past to share with the future. There is no time here. No way for age to cause decay.”

    “A bubble in time? And only you know about it?”

    “Mostly a bubble, yes. I am alone in this task. Others don’t think it’s worthy.” His language was slow. Dusty.

    “This stuff is worth a fortune! You know how much you could make selling one of the coins in that dresser?” I waggled my finger at the dresser.

    “This is history and it’s not for sale. It’s for preservation.”

    I jumped him, hammering him with fists several seconds past when he stopped moving. To no one in particular, “I am gonna get it back. All of it.” I thought of my lost penthouse and sports cars.

    I picked up the papyrus to make sure I had the right one but I could no longer make out the hieroglyphics. I tried another and then another. All the same.

    When I looked back at the alien, he had turned to dust. A crash in the corner indicated the collapse of still more as time rushed in to reclaim its lost treasures.

    I stared, horrorstruck as uncounted riches disintegrated in front of me.

    No king, I. Perhaps a coward, though, afraid of the future and trapped by his past.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Beautiful, Bushkill, funny, I heard the rhythm with which you wrote and thought about what a great opera this would make. There are so many parts to this story to ponder about, all centered around greed. Fascinating to those who are simple like myself.

  19. RafTriesToWrite

    Inner Thoughts
    —-
    If I ever knew of such a room, I’d make that room as comfortable as possible, put a lock on it and never tell anyone its secret powers.
    It’ll be my safe haven, my desires, my hopes, my escape.
    I want that room to be a place I can feel relaxed, safe and not worry about the world.
    I’d put the most comfortable bed in that room, bunch of snacks, a love sack, a desk with a chair and exercise equipment.
    I’d use that room for sleeping, so I’d be awake 24/7 in the real world, I’d use the frozen time as well to get in shape so that I’d be wasting no time in the real world as well.
    I’d use that room to escape stress, especially if I want the world to pause for a moment – literally.
    I’d use that room to write as well and of course, eat.
    Though I see some flaws in this room, which I’m totally okay with. Since time would be frozen, there would be no water flowing into the room, no electricity, and no internet. But I hope air is not frozen.
    I can make up time by going in that room. Perhaps make projects or bring a lover inside and we can do whatever makes us happy.
    I see that room as a paradise of harmless fun. I also hope we don’t age while we’re in there, if not, then I’d never set a foot in that room. Ever.
    At least, that’s what I’d do.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      You were on such a roll and then toward the end, you mentioned bringing a lover in and I understand completely. Without love nothing exists. Without love these is no feeling. Without love, we are nothing. so I choose not to enter. I’d rather have a broken world such as we live in, if I had love to fortify myself. And lucky me, I have it.

    2. Bushkill

      You went a different direction than I did, using the room as the “Time out” room where I used it as a room immune to the ravages of time passing on the outside.

      I liked your monologue approach. A lot.

  20. Kerry Charlton

    TIME STOPS FOR NO ONE, WELL, I BEG TO DIFFER

    Brent Windstill had seen nothing like it ever. His company had purchased a run down hotel in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen to pursue a new market center to be known as the Brewery. Several million were involved and unfortunately all was financed by Brent. A secret room in the hotel’s sub basement had been re- engineered with material no one could fathom or cut through or drill into. No doors were found and yet soft sounds of classical music occasionally wandered from it.

    Brent put a clamp on the project despite the loss of investment. One late afternoon he ventured over to the old hotel, through the sub level to the old hallway and placed his ear on the wall. A Brahms lullaby could be heard softly, ‘Wiegenlied: Guten Abend,.. He tapped the wall lightly to the sound and suddenly a door opened in the wall.

    He stepped in without hesitation for some reason he didn’t recognize and the door closed behind him. But what appeared before him, stunned his mind.

    “Welcome.” she said.”lullabies help pass the time, don’t you think.”

    He had never seen such beauty and stood there speechless.She smiled and his heart flew away toward her. She realized his dilemma.

    “I am Princess Pneuma, from the planet Aries Tosada. My Father realized our world was lost to a rebellion and arranged to have me hidden on earth for safety.”

    “How many years ago did this happen and what makes you think I believe all this?”

    “In your time, nineteen ten. In our time , yesterday. “

    “Okay I’ll play along. In our time that was 108 hears ago. You look to be about twenty three.” .

    “I was twenty six when I was transported and from your time that would make me 134. Come closer Brent, look at my face unless you are afraid to.”

    “I do not fear you Princess.However, you have captured my soul and I think you realize it, don’t you.”

    “If it makes you feel better, I’ve never met anyone I have wanted more than you. Come closer so I can hold your hand in mine.”

    “Come walk with me,” she said.

    And with that, they entered a roomy capsule and closed the door.

    “Where would you like to go?”

    “You pick it Princess.”.

    A few seconds went by, as Brent heard a whisper of wind outside the capsule, then it stopped. Part of the wall peeled back and the inky black of space filled the frame.

    “Look up Brent, what do you see in the sky?”

    “It’s earth, .we’re in orbit but it looks one hundred thousand miles away.”

    “It is more than that. Close your eyes for a moment.”

    He did so and felt her gentle kiss as she wrapped her arms around him. When bis eyes opened, they stood in the room of the old hotel.

    “I don’t understand at all,” he said.

    “I know, but if you stepped back in the hall of the hotel, you would be there at the same time you left. This room does not recognize time and never will.

    “So that explains your youth.”

    “Yes, one more thing. If you like I will open the door to the hall if you fear.”

    “Can I ask you a question?”

    “Yes.”

    “Will you kiss me again?”

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Kerry, you can find romance, and a beautiful story, in Hell’s Kitchen or orbiting in space. And, you transport us there week after week. Please don’t ever stop.

  21. gingerkim

    whenever I felt overly stressed and overwhelmed I’d reach for my phone. I’d pick out the MYRoom app and put in the code #137. Whatever happened stops for a while. I’d close my eyes and wake up to a white room with fluffy pillows in blue, lots of windows with birds chirping. The sounds of Mozart pealing out from my Echo Dot. There would be plenty of sharpened pencils and at least 5 drawing pads. I could draw, think about, cry, and angst till I got it out of my system. When I am finished, I would reach for phone and dial #188 in the code to be brought back to the same situation, just with a better mood. Thanks, Dr. Nye for hooking me up.

  22. Denise G. Monello

    Hidden beneath the church were many rooms to choose. My eyes searched to find the right one–the one with the large, wooden door.

    “Over here,” my husband Bill shouted.

    My head snapped in the direction of his voice. I cautiously approached and placed my hands on the surface, studying every scratch, chip, and dent–picturing the anguish faced by each person who entered before me. I felt the warmth nestled between the grains of wood–absorbed from the anxious bodies of its visitors.

    I turned to Bill. “I’m going in.”

    “You’re ridiculous. What’s a “Remembering Room” going to do? Have you got amnesia or something?”

    Tears filled my eyes. Bill didn’t understand my desperation. He didn’t get it. He never would. Life was different for him. I wanted to go back to remember what the busyness of life stole from me–the good memories. I wanted to remember what I missed from being overwhelmed, exhausted from yelling–always on the go. I needed to see my three little children again. My three little kids that I rushed through their lives so I could selfishly have normalcy in my life. I don’t want to recall bits and pieces or smile aimlessly when the kids reminisce. It must be forefront in my mind, so it’s always there to see.

    “Deb, the kids are adults, have lives of their own. We have grandchildren–and we’re still young enough to enjoy them. Deb–be happy with that. You were a good mother, and there were plenty of good days with them. There had to be. Look how great the kids turned out.”

    “I don’t see good days. All I see is havoc. I want to see the happy days when the kids were enjoying life–when our parents were there, young and healthy. I need to see I did a good job–understand?”

    “I’m trying, Deb, really trying. No one sees the past like you. You showed love to the kids. You made them happy. You can’t have a do-over, but look, you have a second chance with the grandkids–you’re a terrific grandma.”

    “I feel guilty I have patience and show love for my grandkids, but did I have it for my kids? Do they think I’m better with their kids than I was with them? I need to know. I want to see.”

    Bill kissed my forehead. He lifted my chin and searched my eyes. “Say hi to everyone for me,” he laughed.

    I set my hands on the door, closed my eyes and whispered, “Show me the good days, please–when my children were little.”

    My fingers nervously grasped the latch. I slowly pressed down and carefully pulled open the door. I could sense Bill behind me trying to catch a glimpse of the room. I remained motionless in the doorway, captivated by the brightness. There were no light fixtures. Some unseen source illuminated the room. A glass table stood in the middle of the room. It held a box of tissues, a mug and a pitcher of water– a single upholstered chair placed at the head. Nothing adorned the walls. No other furniture kept the table and chair company–just a warming glow filling each corner. I turned to Bill and blew him a kiss as I carefully closed the door behind me.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This is so heart wrenching to feel as Deb does. I place myself in her position and the doubts.anout being a good father follow. A provocative response
      I wish to tell you to let up a little we we’re not born to be perfect

      1. Denise G. Monello

        So true, Kerry. We have to accept and love who we are with all our flaws and quirks–unfortunately, sometimes easier said than done.

  23. Semolinah

    Sleeping, mostly. It seems like such a waste of time but it is so very demanding.

    Also, like the character in that movie, reading, and like @FinnMacCoul22 above, writing.

  24. jlewbee

    He laid there on the hospital bed with an indistinguishable expression on his face. His wrinkles made it hard to decipher if he was happy or not. The windows were pulled to the side and as the sun was about to rest, it gave a soft warm glow to the room. He closed his eyes and saw a special friend. “Grover!” he yelled out with a gravelly voice. Grover only looked at him with the happiest look anyone ever had, his usual expression upon seeing his master. “Grover!” he yelled again, “Come here, boy!” a little louder this time.

    A soft knock woke him from his dream. “Jim?” the nurse who always smelled like cucumber came in holding a tray of medicine. Her hands were shaking a little and she dropped the tray with a heavier thud than usual. “I saw the room you wanted me to find,” she said. “There was nothing in there, Jim. I know you miss Grover terribly, but he’s been missing for 35 years. You know he couldn’t be here anymore. He’s just a dog, you should talk to your family instead. You don’t have a lot of time–” “He is family,” Jim said sharply. “More family than you’d ever know” He said as he recalled the last moment he had with Grover.

    “I’m sorry bud. Looks like it’s the streets for us again.” The homeless shelters couldn’t take them in because they didn’t allow pets. They were sleeping under by a convenience store when he was abruptly woken up by a sharp howl. Grover was laying a few steps from him, completely silent. “What is it boy?” he got up as fast as he could. There was blood everywhere, but Grover’s tail kept on wagging. Close by, a lifeless snake was sprawled across the street. “No..” Jim almost whispered. He carried Grover’s body. He was so proud of Grover’s golden mane. Now, it had unsightly blood and tangles all over. He didn’t know where to go, or who to talk to. It has always been just the two of them. He wanted it to stay that way, but Grover was slipping with every moment that passed. He yelled in frustration and laid Grover down. He was kissing his head and kept apologizing over and over. “I’ll take him,” suddenly a small girl joined them as they were saying their final good byes. “Come on,” she tugged at his shirt. There was something so appealing about that little girl. She lifted Grover as if he wasn’t a golden retriever twice her size. “If you want him to live, you shouldn’t follow us,” the tiny frame commanded. Now, he felt very confused, but he was desperate. “Where are you taking him?,” asked Jim. “Heaven. All good dogs go to heaven. Duh,” Her front teeth were missing which made her say dogth. “818,” she sang in a childish tune. eiiight-oooone-eiiiiight.

    It took Jim many many years to figure out that “Heaven” was an old and abandoned apartment building somewhere around the city. He was old and frail and was paralyzed from the waist under. He no longer had strength to look for Grover. “Well, let me tell you what? Grover sure was a god damn good dog.” The nurse said, reeling him from his momentary flashback. “The god damn best.” Jim agreed. The nurse left and Jim was left to sleep, but he couldn’t.

    He heard a soft shuffle and looked at the door. He couldn’t believe his eyes. It was Grover. Just like the night he lost him, but only this time he was cleaned up but limped a little. He jumped over the bed and started licking Jim’s face slowly. Grover had a soft expression on his face. “I know, bud. It’s your time to say good bye now.” Grover laid his head on Jim’s chest and together they breathed in and out until they were in sync, and until they didn’t.

  25. rlk67

    “Muriel! Get out already!” I couldn’t believe how much time she spent in that little closet.

    “No way, Sol! One more hour means one less wrinkle! What will they say at our party next week? Sol, this room is wonderful!” I still don’t know how we overlooked this niche in the basement, but she was right. It was quite incredible. It’s just that it reminded me of growing up in the tenements with eight siblings and one bathroom.

    “You can’t stay in there forever, Muriel. There are other people still alive.”

    She opened the door and peeked out. “Oh, you’re right, Sol. It does get stuffy in there. But what a gift! I think that we–” The doorbell rang upstairs. Muriel quickly shut the room as if the KGB were coming.

    I opened the door. “Hey, pal, Deli Delights. Your party delivery is in my van. Where do you want it?”

    I froze. No way. “But…but our party isn’t until next Sunday!” Mr. Deli glanced at his clipboard.

    “Mmmm…you said June 3rd. Well, that would be today.” What? No, I said June 10th…oh, no, wait, what did I say? Oh, no.

    “Who is it Sol?” Muriel will now precede to faint.

    “It’s the food order for the party, dear.” Muriel fainted.

    “Look, pal, I got other deliveries to make. What do you want with your two-hundred bagels, ten pounds of tuna salad, twelve…”

    “Ok, ok. I…uh, just bring it in…”

    “S..Sol?”

    “It’s ok, Muriel.”

    “B-but we don’t have any freezer spaaaace…” She was about to lose consciousness again.”

    Wait. “Actually, all the food goes to the basement. We have a perfect room for it.”

    Muriel bounced up, quite high. “NO! YOU CAN’T, SOL! I NEED THAT ROOM! Ohhhhh….”

    “Don’t worry, dear. We’ll make room. So you’ll get some cream cheese in your hair.” I smiled. She sighed and laughed.

    ******
    “Sol. Muriel. This is the best party The food is so delicious!”

    “Yeah, amazing! And so fresh!”

    I glanced at Muriel. “And you…are so beautiful.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        What is so unusual is my wife and I have been through this. One New Year’s Eve morning , we had nothing to do New Year’s. So we called a host of people over for celebration. Some gave lame excuses. Others said they would try. Food for forty or so and one couple showed up who were close friends. The four of us had a wonderful time walking among great piles of and champayne. One unusual but charming time
        I enjoyed every word of this.and I too want to meet Murial

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