Behind the Door

door bench and clock sketch

If I walk through that door, everything changes. It changes for the better and for the worse.

I suppose I need to decide if the better is worth the worse. That’s why I’ve been standing here for several minutes, my hand hovering over the door’s handle, heart hammering in my chest and nerves bubbling in my stomach.

Accepting the job was easy. I barely had to think about it. I needed money, someone gave me a job – an easy job, too – and it would be cash in hand. Who would turn that down? I have rent to pay, bills to shell out for, a kid to feed.

But those are all reasons why I shouldn’t have taken this job.

The thing that lies behind that door is dangerous. Who will pay the rent or cover the bills or feed the kid if I’m locked up, or even worse, if I’m killed? Nobody. If I open this door, I’m opening up my entire life to danger. I’m putting everything at risk. All for a bit of cash here and now.

But the bit of cash now could lead to a lot of cash later if I prove I’m trustworthy.

If I do this right, my kid and I could enjoy a life of luxury one day. We could buy a house – a place without mould on the walls and mice under the floorboards – and never have to worry about paying the bills again. We could eat lobster and caviar every night if we wanted to.

But I suppose a life isn’t all that luxurious if you’re operating outside of the law and in association with people who do depraved things to scared people.

I tap on the metal door gently with my fingernail. I look at the patches of bubbled paint, the areas where the lacquer has peeled off and left the metal susceptible to rust. It appears so benign. Behind that door could be anything trivial. It could easily be a caretaker’s cupboard, packed full of mops and buckets and cleaning products and old tins of paint. It might be used for sports equipment storage and be stacked up with tennis rackets and basketballs and fusty old gym gear. This door blends in with the world so effortlessly that you’d never know that the thing that lays behind it could either put me in prison or put an end to my poverty. Or both. Or worse.

Deep breath.

I’d put the key in the lock minutes ago. Perhaps that already made me guilty in one way or another?

I turn it, press down the handle, and then I’m in.

The cash is stacked waist-high. I knew what to expect but it still takes my breath away. It’s beautiful. Not necessarily aesthetically beautiful, but what it represents is a pretty thing. Opportunity. Escape. Hope. A new life.

I’ve seen it now. I’m part of the crime. I suppose there’s only one thing to do – complete the job, take my cut, and pay the rent.

Easy, right?

Or I could just take it all. Take it away and start over. It’s so beautiful, after all.


Inspired by prompt no. 27 from ThinkWritten.com

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Author: Ellie Scott

Ellie Scott is a freelance copywriter and author from Sheffield, England. She has published two short story collections - 'Merry Bloody Christmas' and 'Come What May Day'. Her short fiction has appeared in 'Adler’s Writing', 'One Minute Wit', 'Invisible Illness' and 'VSS365 Anthology: Volume One'. In 2018 she was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize Short Story Award. You can connect with her on Twitter (@itsemscott), Instagram (@tinysillystories) and Medium (@elliemaryscott).

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