Follow the sign

In one of my numerous fits of nostalgia, I rencently pictured my life as a long corridor.

All along the corridor were doors. Behind each door was a room. Each room was a portion of my life.

Walking along, reviewing the first rooms, I felt all smitten. Pure, uncontrollable, overwhelming, nostalgic thoughts towards that 70s & 80s era. The first room was very badly lit and I could only identify the orange flowery wall paper which was standing out and the dozens of soft baby dolls and Barbies everywhere. In the second room there were a pair of wings, a desk with blank school worksheets, and notebooks filled with stories. I grabbed the walkman lying on the floor and chose one of the cassettes next to it. A mixtape with Madonna, Michael Jackson, Culture Club and a French singer who was very popular at the time. I felt slightly disturbed by a constant draught which made me scared and lonely. Outside the window, the horizon seemed infinite. Many roads were starting right in front of the building but strangely, many of them seem to have a do-not-enter sign…

The next room had a pink and grey wall paper. It was larger and much different from what I had expected. Posters of Whitney Houston and NYC had replaced the children mayhem. There were boxes of never-sent love letters and diaries full of fantasies. A small tv was in a corner with hundreds of magazines piled next to it. Again by the window you could see many roads and some of the signs had been taken away. It smelled of beauty creams, cheap perfume and hair products. It also smelled of independence, anxiety, and frustration.

Once I reached the end of the corridor I realised there was a staircase leading to a second floor. It was an overloaded baroque piece. Slightly dangerous and slippery with its uneven steps and absence of a secured banister. But so much fun and exciting with ropes hanging, a sledge, and an odd swing on the side. On the last step, there lay some cash, a key, and a “freedom pass”.

Once on the second floor I realised there was no doubt. I was actually inside a whole building and there seemed to be quite a lot to discover. Again a long corridor, doors and rooms. The first one was very small but bright, facing South. This time it was filled with young adult mayhem! Wrinkled clothes were lying everywhere on the floor. There was a big computer placed on a homemade floor desk (a few books on each side and a wood board) and dozens of CDs with the latest 90s rock must-haves. Concert tickets and postcards were taped on the walls. Love letters were waiting to be sent. A big mobile phone was flashing with unread text messages. It smelt of Lancôme‘s Poême and carelessness. The roads starting in front of the building were still there. Not as many as before but they all had an easy access and appeared long, endless, and complemented by a sunset decor and a symphonic orchestra theme. I don’t really want to leave this room. It is confortable and easy. Maybe if f I do, the door will shut behind me and remain locked for ever. As I’m about to leave, a big boom make me startle. An automatic closing sign is flashing with a constant raucous bip. There’s now a safe digital keypad on the door. I don’t have the code for it.

The draught I’ve felt earlier is back. It’s badly lit and clouds are speeding along when I look out. It’s noisy and crowded outside the building. No more roads, only city streets with traffic jam. The room is big and quirky – but not in the good way. I hear a child crying in the background somewhere. I call and want to help but I feel useless. There is a coat hanging right next to the door. I take it hoping it will make me warmer and try it on. But it is so heavy and it’s breaking my shoulders. I now walk humpbacked, and I leave the room, not really evaluating carefully my exit, and pin too many hopes upon the next room.

It is damp in there and mouldy. It feels like a rabbit-hole and a maze at the same time. I switch on the heater and open the window to ventilate the room. The fresh air doesn’t seem to help. It smells of nothing. The horizon seem all twisted now and my head is spinning. I’ve lost my ability to manipulate the objects that I encounter in any controlled, predictable way. I pull back a curtain to reveal another door that leads into a small passage, not much larger than a rat hole. A sign says “fantastical environment, this way”. I find a little bottle on a table, and tied around the neck of the bottle is a paper label, with the words “DRINK ME” beautifully printed on it in large letters. I’m on the brink of drinking the liquid but I’m distracted by a music. I instantly want to surrender to the siren calls I hear, but I can’t seem to trace where the sound is coming from. Is it from up North or coming from the South? I notice the roads are now very far away from the building. Outside is just mud and puddles.

The bottle’s content may eventually allow me to fulfil my wish to journey through the door, but I am so scared…

It seems I’m stuck here for a little longer. I thought it was the end of the corridor when I came in here but there’s got to be another floor because I hear some noise coming from upstairs. I don’t really know what to expect.

Funny, while I wanted to type expect, I typed escape

20 thoughts on “Follow the sign

    1. Thank you so much Sarah. This piece is very dear to me and I didn’t really know if the words would work as well as the images I had in my head.

      Very kind of you to take the time to comment.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the feedback. I’ve had the story in my head for a few days and was hoping I’d manage to create an atmosphere of some sort with my telling.
      Thank you for reading.

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  1. Have to agree with the above comments and I’ve thought before that I also wouldn’t have known English wasn’t your first language. The White Rabbit reference at the end makes me think not of Alice but of Jefferson Airplane/Starship. 🙂

    janet

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    1. Well, if the white rabbit represents our curiosity, I’d rather experience it with Alice’s dream than trippy hallucinogens!!!
      Thank you for the comment about my level of English as a foreign language. It is always very good to hear 😉

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  2. What a wonderful piece of prose; you’ve certainly outdone yourself, Véro! I personally believe that life isn’t about following signs, nor about following a particular path, but rather choosing which path(s) to walk on. There is no shame going from a calm, predictable corridor towards a door at the end of it to a meandering, limitless countryside stroll towards nowhere. It’s more about the sentiments each path brings you, especially joy and fulfillment. We’re all walking our own paths at the moment, and who knows if we’ll change course later down the line?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re very sweet Becca. I do believe the paths are here for you to choose. But it takes many years to be sure the one you chose was a good one.
      In order to get obsessive with former alternatives – like me!! – you need to walk along that path for quite some time before drawing a conclusion! I’ve rarely been limited in my choices or drawn towards easy road, but man, sometimes it feels like a very high mountain hike!!! Especially with age… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a powerful piece. For some reason, the phrase jumped out at me: It smelt of Lancôme‘s Poême and carelessness. As others have pointed out, I did not realize as I was reading it that English is not your primary language. I wish I could speak French as beautifully as you write English. I found your blog through the Bloggers with a View Market Day on Donna’s Retirement Reflections. I’ll definitely be back.

    Liked by 1 person

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