Beryl Eichenberger

Corridor of dreams

Unhurried, she entered a long hallway, lit from a skylight above. Softly dancing shadows moved in front of her feet. 

Doors opened off the hallway. Painted in brilliant primary colours, like a child’s building block, they were alternately ajar or closed. A red door stood open, and she walked closer, drawn to it by a familiar smell.

Her mother stood at the stove, a bright red apron tied around her waist, prematurely white hair drawn back from her face.  The blackened frying pan she always used stood on the old gas ring. Crisply diced onions sizzled in bubbling chicken fat and her mouth watered. Next she knew would come carrots, bright and earthy, tomatoes, sweet and tender and finally the roughly diced liver that with its strong animal fragrance bound them all together.

Her eyes drifted upwards and she saw a young teenager struggling with homework in her upstairs bedroom as the smell of food drifted up the narrow stairs. Soon she would be called down to join her family for supper. Her mother, alive and sparkling with bright humour, her nuisance twin brother and sister dragged in from their outdoor games, her father jovial and attentive.

She softly drew the door closed and looked down the corridor to the next door.

This door beckoned bright yellow and the dust and sweat and hot African sun assaulted her as she stepped over the threshold.  It had rained and the five o’clock thunderstorm had left electricity sharp and pungent in the air. The streets were washed of dust and grime leaving them gleaming and bright ready for the familiar tramp of people – more and more people. She was tired, another all night Hillbrow party, and so she had spent her Sunday browsing in old record shops, picking up long forgotten LP’s, then wandering into Exclusive Books to spend a lazy morning soaking up words. Sometimes she felt as though words ignited her and sent her flying into the next adventure – the adventure to find who she really was …

She walked over the brow and on to the sedate tree-lined streets  – a suburban edge to the vibrant transient centre. This heavily populated flatland was her stamping ground, full of young immigrants and travellers making their way around the world She climbed the steps to her block of flats and travelled the five floors in the creaky old lift to her worn front door. She called hello to her flatmates, but as she opened the door, a quiver of green caught her eye and she turned back to look down the long corridor.

Green, the colour of vegetation in the lushness of the tropical. The door swung open  to the smell of spices – a potent and heady perfume. A cobbled street lay before her and beyond that she glimpsed the high wall that led on to the courtyard of the secret house. Secret only to her and her lover – their afternoons a tangle of sheets and sweating bodies as they grappled with their lust and then faded away into the soporific gentleness after lovemaking.  A secret that saved her sanity and reminded her she was still attractive and desirable. Time was edging her out of life and she needed to grasp hold of it.

At the far end of the long passageway a door gleamed blue, bright and precious like tanzanite or the azure of the sea.

She grasped the handle, pushed and rattled, but the door refused to budge. She stared at it, perplexed, intrigued. There must be a reason it won’t open, she thought. I’ll come back and try it again, tomorrow. 

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