MHI: PATIENTLY AWAITING THE DOOR by A.R. Clayton
Trigger Warning: This piece addresses mental health
The HWA is pleased to launch its Mental Health Initiative, a coordinated roll-out of events, resources, and activities intended to promote positive mental health, foster the concept of hope, and challenge the stigma of mental illness in the horror genre. The initiative, run by the organization’s Wellness Committee, launches in June, and includes the following blog posts from Of Horror and Hope, a downloadable anthology of poems, flash fiction, and personal reflections on mental health by HWA members.
PATIENTLY AWAITING THE DOOR
I stand at the edge of the well,
a hole with no barrier, descending, descending below.
A purple light glows from its depth, washing my eyes.
I see a shape waving, inviting me in.
They are crouched on a ledge, watching me closely, their head resting against the dirt wall.
I wonder if they are waiting for me to feel the wind.
It’s not too deep, I hear them promise as I try to find the bottom again.
I shift forward, my shoe skidding over gravel as I kneel.
The fog flows in around me, muting the light.
Dare I go in and follow?
I bounce my pencil eraser, watching the rivulets run down my windowpane.
What would happen if I stepped into this abyss?
This thing where I wake myself before the nightmare continues;
where I scatter my thoughts like fireflies before I see them too clearly.
It’s like a symphony beckoning me to dance, to come forward and taste.
To seek what is hidden, to unlock another door.
I turn to the figure and watch as they lean forward, arms spread in anticipation.
The light plays on their fluttering hair, and they’re gone.
I sit at the edge of the well, my heels kicking into the dirt.
A dog appears in the fog and lays beside me.
We wait, quietly defiant.
A metal arm shoots out from the well, cracking the air above our heads.
It falls, twisting and circling, forming balustrades and rails.
It sinks into the earthen and stone walls, finding recesses to fasten onto.
The metal groans as it coalesces, echoing within the well.
It is crying out against our treachery,
I set my pencil down as we descend,
lantern in hand.
The dog leads the way.