Doorway to Disaster. Marjorie Lacy, October 2016.
I don’t know about you, but I love my bed. It is my ‘special place’ and was tailor made. It is a single bed that I share with my Friend Bear. We love the pretty pink flowered duvet cover. I do sleep well, but in common with older people, I have to go downstairs to use the toilet.
This was why I was awake. I didn’t need to put the bedroom light on, the P.I.R., unit above the door, covers the room with a red glow. The LED on the clock/radio competes by casting a low orange light. As I go downstairs, the street lights shine in through the windows, There is the noise of cars passing on their way home.
Getting safely back in to be and reaching out for Friend Bear, I turn on my side and tuck him under my chin. As the P.I.R., unit fades, I catch sight of a door. A door, where my chest of drawers stands. I rub my eyes, yes it is still there. I sit up and look at the door. A door, my brain cannot comprehend it.
My eyes are now wide open, my breath and my heartbeat racing. The door, I now notice is a big old Oak one, with black iron hinges, and a big round handle, It’s gorgeous, just like you see in old Churches, the top is curved and nestling into a stone archway. But where has my chest of drawers gone? “Stay there, Bear,” I say to him as I feel around for my slippers, when I cannot locate them, I go padding barefoot across the bedroom, I touch the door. Well! It’s real enough
My hand takes on a will of its own, it reaches for the knob and turns it, the door swings open with a creak, it makes me and Friend Bear jump out of our skins, I feel him push me in the middle of my back, I edge forward and look down. It is an “Oh! My God” moment. A stone spiral staircase swirls its way downwards, Leading to where? Suddenly, a fluffy bear pushes past me, “come don’t just stand there! Come on! He is gone.
The staircase floods with light, my feet start moving towards the stone step, followed by the other foot, the stone feels warm and mellow, the centre of the step is hollowed suggesting generation of feet up and down it. When I get to the bottom, Friend Ber is patiently waiting for me in a Hall, it is a big space with wood panelled walls, and a black and white tiled floor, they are very cold to my feet.
In the distance, I can hear music, I don’t recognise the tune, which is flowing and lyrical. We walk along towards the music, coming from a State Room, hung with fine paintings, some of landscapes, family, dogs, People are sitting at long tables having a meal. More musicians and dancers begin to walk past us into the room. Serving girls are scattering flower petals on the floor, which is strewn with herbs. Their movements release the strongly perfumed oils in the herbs. The warm air in the room begins to shimmer. Court ladies, process along followed by Courtiers. At the end of the procession, how can it be? It is a life-size Friend Bear, he is like my bear, but not my bear. He is shackled and led by a man holding him on a chain.
There is genuine fear in his brown eyes. He is made to dance, to stand on his hind legs, how tall he is, towering above his handler. The bear makes eye contact with me, He is pleading to me, what does he want? What does he mean? He is led away before I can decide.
A gong sounds and a dancer is ushered in. There is something familiar about her. The music begins, I know this dancer, it is my young self, I used to see this face years ago, looking in the mirror to comb my hair or put lipstick on. I am watching myself dancing, twisting and turning, my movements hypnotic, my body so flexible and sinuous as a snake. As the dancer turns in my direction, I see again, abject misery in her eyes. The music quickens, wilder now, the beat more insistent. A gong rings out and again and again. I know I have to get out, fear and apprehension flood over me.
Which way did I come in? How do I get out? I try and retrace my steps. Rushing this way and that, suddenly I see the black and white tiles of the Hall, I can see the bottom of the stone stairs. In the distance, the gong is sounding again. My feet move of their own volition, up the spiral stairs. The thought of “Stairway to heaven,” goes through my mind.
When I get to the top, relief rushes over me, the door is still there and standing open. As I rush through into my bedroom, the P.I.R., unit floods the room with its red glow, my bed it there. I leap across the room, moving faster than I have for years! I feel a gust of wind and hear a door slamming. I look back to see the chest of drawers is back in its place. “Was that door ever there?” I sigh.
In an instant, I am snuggled under the duvet, I put my hand under the pillow to find Friend Bear waiting to be tucked under my chin so we can sleep. I think to myself “back to normal, then?” “Are you alright Bear”? I say to him. I am sure I heard “Go to sleep”. Cuddly bears can’t talk? Can they?