'Her Doors Unlocked' by Catherine Connolly
Gentry glances briefly at his notes as he enters the room, pen in hand. “Ellie?” he says. “How are you feeling today?”
“Door's open,” the woman responds.
“I’m glad you remember our last conversation,” Gentry replies. “Do you want to sit on the chair whilst we speak? It might be more comfortable? Your feet look cold too. I found your slippers by the door,” he adds, flourishing the pair; standard white issue. He shivers inadvertently, though Patient 3234 seems unaffected – calloused feet displayed carelessly below the pyjama bottoms; toenails needing cutting. The soles of her feet are grime covered.
“Door is me – free – you see?” Ellie sing-songs; tuneless.
“The door is you. Yes, I see,” Gentry says. “The one behind us is unlocked too – well observed.” The man pauses. “Do you recall we unlocked some of your own doors last time we met, Ellie? That we talked about why you might have closed them? I’d like to discuss that, if I might? More specifically, we talked about Chloe. What happened to her.”
“Dead,” says Ellie.
“Yes. Unfortunately, she is. I’m sorry,” Gentry says. “I know you miss her. She was very young.”
“Taken,” Ellie says.
“Yes,” Gentry says. “Her life was taken. That’s right. We discussed how we might try to open the door to discover how that happened today given time ran short last time. I’m glad you remember. Do you want to try that lock now, together? To see what we might find, Ellie? If you’re ready?”
“Ready, steady,” Ellie says. “He came,” she adds.
“Can you see his face, Ellie?” Gentry asks. “Or is he still shadowed? Don’t worry. He might be until you’re ready. Can you see yet?”
“Door – claw. No more,” Ellie says, voice catching.
“It’s all right,” Gentry says. “We don’t have to talk about him if you don’t want to. Only when you’re ready.”
“Here – clear,” Ellie says, tone urgent.
“I think that’s enough,” Gentry says quickly. “We’ll leave it there.”
Ellie laughs harshly; a mocking peal. “Date. Late. Fate,” she adds. Somewhere distantly a door slams shut – loud; reverberating. “Here. Near,” Ellie says.
Behind Gentry, the door is opening on its hinges.
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