The Door

January 12th, 1984
by Jill Sylvan

"There is a door 'twixt life and death which only opens for the dead."

Jamie frowned and looked up from his book. "What's that mean, Anne? It's here all alone at the top of the page."

His older sister came over to look. "I couldn't say, Jamie. I think it means that when a person is dead, he can't be brought back." She shrugged. "I don't know."

"Marie's dying. Maybe someone could go and catch her before she goes through the door."

"It's not likely. There're alot of versions of where a person goes when he dies, and how he gets there.

"Now go to bed." She patted his head. "Mom would want you to get enough sleep."

Jamie didn't sleep for a long while, though. He kept thinking about what she had said. "'Alot of versions...' Damn!" He opened his book of phrases again, in the light from the hallway, and read what it said. "'Twixt, what does that mean?"

He flicked on his bedroom light and searched for a dictionary. Finding one, he opened it to the 'T' section and found 'twixt. "Betwixt." Then he looked up that word. "Neither one thing nor the other." His brow wrinkled in a frown. "What does that mean?"

The next afternoon, Anne and Jamie went to see Marie. Jamie wrinkled his nose at the hospital smells as the nurse led them to his other sister's room. The little girl was very pale. Jamie ran to her.

He picked up his twin's hand. "Hi, Marie." She smiled weakly at him. "How are you?"

"I'm a little tired. Glad you're here, though." She tried to hug him.

"Me too."

That night Anne couldn't get Jamie to leave his room. He simply lay on his bed, crying. He knew what was happening to his sister.

When all the house was still and dark, Jamie lifted his tear-streaked face from his pillow. He sat up. No child should look like he did then. He sniffed and wiped an arm across his nose. "Wait for me, Marie. I'm coming after you."

Down in the kitchen he quietly pulled open a drawer full of knives. He pulled out a long, sharp one. He was shuddering violently as he placed it against his wrist. "I'm coming." He sliced.

Jamie woke up on a dirt road. Green fields stretched around it. The blue sky was unbroken by clouds. He looked down the road.

Far away he saw a wall. It blocked his view of the horizon. "The door!" He sprang to his feet. "The door would have to be in something, like that wall!" Jamie went down the road at a dead run.

He was almost to the wall when he saw the door. It was nearly dwarfed by the size of the wall. Thre were three moving figures just in front of it.

A teenage boy disappeared through the door. Another was stepping towards it, and behind him....

"Marie!" She turned around at his call. Her face seemed empty.

When she saw him, life seemed to flood back into her. "Jamie!"

The teenager stopped with one foot in the doorway. He looked around at them in confusion.

"Oh Jamie, you came for me! But where are we?" They stared at the massive wall and the road behind them.

"I'm not sure, but we're not staying. Come on." They began to walk along the road back the way Jamie had come. He stopped and turned to the teenager. "Are you coming with us?" The other hesitated, then nodded.

Jamie opened his eyes. He was in the hospital. His mother, beside the bed, was crying. He saw his father talking to a doctor.

"I don't know why he did it. We heard him fall and thought it was a burglar. Next thing I know Anne comes in screaming that Jamie's slashed his wrists and we'd better get him to the hospital."

"Well, he really cut himself badly," the doctor said. "He almost didn't make it."

A nurse came in the door. "Doctor, Mr. Soames, one of those teenagers from that car wreck has lived."

"Thank God!" Then, because she did not leave, "Yes?"

"Mr. Soames, your daughter is awake."

Suddenly a cry burst out behind them. "Jamie!" They turned around. Mrs. Soames was holding her son and crying and laughing at the same time. Jamie had a somewhat bewildered smile on his face, and relief in his heart.