SHORT STORIES: ‘Slam the Door’

Slam the Door

The door slams shut behind me. Even though the sound is quick, short, sharp, it echoes in my head. Over and over, each time I blink, every time I rest my head on my pillow at night.

Slam. Slam. Slam.

In my cell, sometimes the sound seems warped. It twists into a shriek of metal or the crash of boulders falling from a height.

Slam. Slam. Slam.

Slam on my freedom. Slam on my family. Slam on my friends. Slam on my education.

My room is small. A square. Four identical brick walls-identical being no exaggeration. One day I walk around and check each wall one by one. They’re all the same. Furniture wise all I have is my bed. Bed? Cot? Cold steel frame with a square mattress on top? Whatever.

The door doesn’t stay shut. It opens a lot.

But it always closes again. Slams.

Slam when the doctor leaves. Slam when the nurse takes out the empty cup, the taste of pills and drugs bitter and clinging to the back of my throat.


Sometimes I get let out. The rest of the ward is the same, a long corridor of doors with different girls locked behind each. One room with a TV. Another square. Square chairs sit around it with square cushions placed neatly on the square seats.

Sometimes the other girls come out too. I don’t like them. They’re strange. I don’t belong here.
But I have no choice.

The nurse comes every night with her little cup of round, oval, bitter drugs; out of place in my square world.

I have to put them in my mouth and swallow. My throat closes up behind them like a door on a room. Slam. Now they’re locked in my chest.

They hit my stomach. Slam.
The nurse leaves and the door shuts. Slam.
I put my head on the pillow and shut my eyes.
Slam. Slam. Slam.

The doctor tells me why I’m here. Apparently it’s the start of something new. He says that we’re going to take my past and slam it shut behind a door. He says we’re going to do it together.

I don’t think he gets it. There isn’t a door for the past. You can’t just go slam on something that big.

He leaves again and shuts the door, but he does it quietly. It doesn’t help. The slam is supposed to be there.

I shut my eyes and again the slam starts up, but this time it’s the warped version, the wrong version. Not a slam, a shriek, a scream.

I can’t remember how long I’ve been here. It’s been a long time.

When I first came in- slam! – I wanted out. To leave. Go back.

Now I don’t quite know what I’d do if I was out. I don’t remember how to be back outside. I think it’s safer in here. With the squares.

When I do go outside my little room I find the other girls. They sit around the TV. I wonder why they don’t use the chairs. But when I go over I don’t want to either. The chairs are squares. Don’t want to ruin it. I get a few strange looks but one girl shifts and makes room. I sit next to her.

The TV has a show on I think I should know, do know, but it’s from when I was a child. I start to panic a little. What if the doctor’s words are working? What if there’s a door? I don’t want one there. I don’t want to shove my childhood behind some door.

I’m starting to struggle to breathe, trying to remember the show, but that slam keeps getting in the way as I try; like I’m banging against a shut door. Slam! Slam! Slam!

The girl who moved for me leans over and whispers. Somehow her voice is louder than my brain, and it filters through.

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