Short Story: The Room

The Room made everyone feel safe. The warmth from the fire swept out and covered us like a thick mink; completely separating us from the winter outside. Occasionally the fire would become too much and someone would crack a window or door, the chill breeze brought a collective sigh of relief and immense gratitude for the one who was finally motivated to leave their seat. But soon, even that became too much, and the cycle would repeat itself indefinitely. No one wanted to leave the Room; yet people would always come and go, and when they came they were always welcome, and when they left they were never scorned.

Only the fireplace illuminated the Room, always with two dogs, one big and one small, flickering in the firelight, somehow bearing the brunt of the heat. The Room seemed to fit as little or as many people that appreciated its dark, warm, and womb-like safety. Most who visit fail to truly grasp what it is, but all who leave miss it terribly. We all know the Room once we leave it.

I left the Room, and I do miss it terribly. I didn’t leave because I wanted to move on, or because it was simply my time. I left because I wanted more, I was promised more, and I was given more; at least momentarily.

One night after a long stay in the Room a friend joined me. We talked contentedly for some time, about anything and everything, until we fell on the topic of the Room. We talked about how great it was, how warm it was, and how safe it was. My friend told me of other rooms, bigger rooms, warmer rooms, and safer rooms. And later, he handed me a small clear bag with nothing but a key inside and said, “Step outside the Room and close the door behind you, then unlock the door with this key, I will meet you in that Room.”

I was anxious, in an excited way, when I turned the key and opened the door. At first the room seemed no different, in fact, it seemed to be getting worse. The air was barely luke warm, like covering yourself with a sheet on an autumn night. The door to the bitter winter seemed to be permanently ajar, and the Room was empty, except for one other person, my friend. I went to ask him what was going on when suddenly the fire became ablaze. I looked down at the four dogs that suddenly materialised in front of the epic fire, and when I looked back we were all here. Everyone I cared about and everyone I loved were all here, and we were all safe! We told each other how grateful we were that we were all warm, and that in this Room it felt as if we were invincible. We talked, loved and laughed for what felt like forever, but were actually only moments, until we all fell asleep in the comfort and warmth of the Room. My friend, he had kept his promise, and when I closed my eyes, I silently thanked him.

When I awoke I was freezing and clutching nothing but my skin. I looked to the fire and there weren’t even embers, it actually looked damp. The doors and windows to the bitter winter were all open, and flecks of snow even made their way several feet inside. I looked around and the Room was empty, save for myself, and somehow it seemed smaller, much smaller. At first, I cried out for help, and no one answered. Then I tried to leave the Room, but the door had lost its handles and the key was missing. But the bag remained, isolated in the middle of the floor, a solemn reminder of what I had given it all up for.

I am still here in this cold, damp and lonely Room. I have managed to close the windows and doors to the bitter winter, but it’s still no better without the fire. Every now and then the paper manages to light, filling me with hope and images of the first Room; before I can put anything dry enough to light on top, a breeze carries the paper away and out to the bitter winter through the newly opened window…

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