Rose Million Healey Finalist

24 Sep

This week, we honor five very talented young writers, all from our summer camp workshops. These five young ladies were selected as the winner and finalists of our 2010 Rose Million Healey Award in Short Fiction, which was founded by Patrick Million to honor of his Aunt Rose Million Healey, the woman who most inspired him to pursue writing.

Today, we showcase the work of finalist Faith.

The Door

“Who are you?”

“That’s not important. What is important is who you are.”

“I’m Mary Margaret. Who are you?”

“That’s not important. What is is what you’ve done.”

“I haven’t done anything.”

“As your kind is so inclined to think.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“That’s not important. What is is what you’ve done.”

“Get out of my house.”

“We’re not in your house, Mary Margaret.”

Mary Margaret looks up and around and sees this is true. Her cozy home has disappeared, and now there is nothing. Everything is void—empty and white. The man in black leans on a rusty-looking scythe she didn’t remember him having a moment ago.

A dream. This is all a bad dream, she thinks.

“Do you really believe that, Mary Margaret?” the figure speaks aloud. Mary Margaret looks at it with wide eyes.

“Who are you?”

“That’s not important. What is is what you’ve done.”

“What are you getting at?” she snaps.

“That’s not important. What is—“

“It is important, mister?”

A hollow sigh, like a wind through bare branches.

“Your kind is all the same.”

“What—”

“Turn around, Mary Margaret.”

Mary Margaret turns around slowly, a wind from nowhere buffeting the hem of her night gown to and fro around her ankles. For a moment, she sees the same empty space, and then she blinks. When she opens her eyes, there is a door, wider and taller than any skyscraper she’d ever seen. The wood looks ancient; it’s covered in scars from conflicts past.

“Open the door, Mary Margaret.”

“What will I see?”

“The answer to your questions.” The figure in black is suddenly behind her, whispering in her ear. It lays a skeletal hand on her shoulder.

She gulps, trepidation rising like bile in her throat. Mary Margaret looks at the door now, really looks at it. She sees there are no knockers. Regardless, she reaches out a hand. A wicked knocker in the shape of some long-forgotten fairytale monster materializes like smoke before her. She grips the handle and pulls.

Despite its gargantuan size, the door slides open easily, like the automatic doors at her favorite super market. Within the doors is a swirling blackness, wisps of some otherworldly smoke or mist floating on the surface of a great dark lake. She tries to step back, to do anything, but she finds herself riveted by the black. As she peers into the depths, an image begins to dissolve into place.

The images flit from one scene to another, like someone flipping through channels on a television.

Her first birthday.

The time she pushed little Annie Nelson down in the sandbox.

The time she threw her mother’s vase at a wall out of anger.

When she flirted with a boy so her friend could steal his wallet.

All the snide comments she slipped to the girls who weren’t as pretty as she.

The time she cheated on a college exam.

All the bums she ignored on the street.

The lies she’d told her husband.

Her mouth hangs open in a perfect O, brows furrowed sharply downward in an accusatory manner. Mechanically, she turns, face to face with the figure’s empty hood. Two pin pricks of light gleam like shards of diamond where, if it had a face, eyes would be.

“Who are you?!” she shrieks, voice shrill.

“You are all the same, and because you are all the same,” the figure rises, towering above her, hoisting the scythe high, “you will all pay for your sins in the same way.”

Mary Margaret howls and screams, blubbers like a little girl. She squeezes her eyes shut tightly, and never opens them again.

Faith, eleventh grade, Northeast Magnet High School

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