Here’s my entry to round one of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. I had so much fun writing this! It features Susan Flynn.
Susan had never seen the store before. She was positive it hadn’t been there yesterday. It had a winding banner done in purple with bright gold lettering that said: Oddities and Conundrums. She watched other people walking along and they didn’t give the store a second glance.
She was compelled to go inside, as if some subtle force wanted to pull her through its doors. Susan reached out for the door handle and was surprised to find it warm underneath her touch, pulsing as if the door were alive. Pulling it open, she stepped over the threshold. When she did, she was momentarily blinded by a bright golden light.
“You’re here! Excellent! And you’re on time. I do so hate tardiness.”
When her eyes cleared, Susan saw a small man making his way towards her carefully walking through a maze of furniture. He was just over four feet tall with a bald head that shone and a very handsome goatee.
“You were expecting me?” Susan asked. “But you couldn’t have possibly known I’d come.”
“Oh, I knew. The heart always knows and the soul confirms it. Come, come, Susan, I have just the piece for you! I just got it in. I’ve been saving it for you especially.”
Looking down at him, Susan felt only warmth and kindness from him. He gave another chuckle and smiled at her. “I have neglected to introduce myself. I am Orion. Come, Susan! Oh, wait till you see it. It’s just gorgeous!”
As Susan followed him into the maze, she said “How do you know my name? We’ve never met before.”
“Oh, we have. Many times now, the first time in Ireland in the year 1206. Then there was that unfortunate time in 1693 in Salem. You were just a girl and wise beyond your years. That ended badly, I’m afraid. They’re always afraid of the ones that have real magic inside them.”
He stopped in front of a wardrobe. It was large, over seven feet tall and five feet wide. There was a tree carved into the front of the wardrobe, its branches stretching to cover the entire front. Susan approached it and ran her fingers along the branches. Wherever her fingers touched, leaves sprouted to life within the wood.
The only odd thing about it was that there was a dog leash wrapped around one of the handles. The leash was thick and so long it could be wrapped around her waist, not just her hand. The handles themselves were more suited to a heavy metal cabinet, not just a wooden wardrobe.
“Why does it have a dog leash on the handle?”
Orion smiled and said: “Because sometimes, we find a place that, while lovely and wonderful, it is difficult to find our way home.”
It was a moment before Orion answered. “Susan, do you often feel that there is more to the world that we can’t see? Another layer underneath everything that you find yourself questing for, trying to grasp at to see through the veil?”
“Yes.” Susan didn’t have to think before she responded. She spent her life trying to see into the mysteries of it.
“This wardrobe is an entrance beyond that thin veil. Tie the dog leash around your waist, like a belt. You can use it to pull yourself back when you want to return.”
Nodding and feeling like she was more inside a dream, Susan tied the dog leash around her waist, making sure it was tightly secured. When it was, Susan went to pull the doors open, but Orion stopped her. “These doors open by pushing them inwards. The door to the soul does not open outwards, does it?”
Taking a deep breath, Susan pushed the doors inward. What she saw took her breath away.
At first, it was but a smattering of stars in the darkness, each star blinking like a light. The stars grew brighter, until she could see planets too, each of them glowing like bright jewels on velvet.
She felt a pull at her navel and in one moment, she was outside the wardrobe looking in and then she was swimming amongst the stars. Susan could see deep into the sea of stars, the galaxy of dreams made reality. There were more planets than she could count, each pulsing as if alive. It was a moment before Susan realized the planets were pulsing in tune to her own heartbeat.
Susan could see shooting stars, comets and other galaxies beyond the one in front of her. There was a calm serenity to the place that soothed her and the majesty of what she was looking at moved her as nothing else had before.
Feeling a gentle tug on the dog leash around her waist, Susan turned to look behind her and was actually shocked to see Orion standing in the doorway to the wardrobe; she had forgotten that he was there. Taking hold of the leash, she pulled herself back to the doorway. Orion held out a hand when she got to the doorway and he helped her step through back into the store.
Once her feet were back on the ground, the doors closed softly behind her. She stood there for a moment, breathing in the memory of what was inside the wardrobe. Susan looked at Orion and tried to find her voice. “What was that? Why was there a galaxy inside the wardrobe?”
“That is a reflection of what is inside of you, the living embodiment of what your soul contains.”
She stroked the doors softly, running her fingers along the branches again. “How much is it? Is it for sale?”
“It’s already yours, my dear. It’s always been yours.”
“Thank you. What will I do with it?”
“I should have thought that would be obvious. Every time you feel lost, the wardrobe will remind you that we’re all just made of stardust.”
Orion took her hand. “You carry magic inside you, Susan. Remember, life is magic.”