Creative Corner is a space to share your creative writing at Roar! We hope you’ll enjoy the short stories we publish, all of which are written by current KCL students.
It isn’t the sort of place you can find online. It could never be stumbled upon on a booking or travel website. It isn’t the sort of place that allows planning or careful decision making. It has no landline, no available contact information. One could never intentionally go looking for it and succeed, though not for a lack of trying.
Whispers of a hidden oasis, an untouched slice of heaven on earth. A magical land out of evil’s reach, where all is good and bright. Urban legends and nighttime stories fuel countless failed search parties, each a little more disheartening than the last. Hope wanes. The faithful begin to doubt. People who believe in such nonsense are deemed delusional. Crazy. Unhinged.
Lights are turned off, curtains are drawn. Believers move on. Dreams fade. Reality tugs at the edges of the relentless. In time, even the streets forget. The world continues to spin, an endless tug of war between the good and bad; a tedious loop broken only every now and then by seemingly arbitrary events, like the flutter of a hummingbird’s wings, or the repeated falling of raindrops on a slanted ceiling.
It is in these seemingly ordinary moments that it chooses to reveal itself. It wakes from its prolonged slumber and appears, if only to bear witness to what is about to happen. Its thorny iron gate, tall and green as the lush forest surrounding it, emerges from the deep. It stands amongst the trees, waiting. Expecting.
Slowly, the gate opens. It groans to life with the thirst of someone who has been deprived of water for far too long and exhales. Breathes.
This is when it happens. You may be out and about, wandering the streets in search of a new winter coat, blasting music in your father’s ancient pickup truck with the windows down, or slamming the door behind you on somewhere – or someone – you will never go back to.
You may be deep in thought or hardly thinking. You may be content with what you think is all there is to life, or secretly holding out for something different. Something more.
This is when you hear it. A sudden murmur, no louder than a whisper. A soft voice that drips with longing and wonder and want, so much so that you can feel it in your bones. You imagine it surrounding you, enveloping you in a warm hug. The murmur turns into a song, a song so foreign, yet so familiar that it stops you dead in your tracks. It makes you pause, but only for a minute.
You run your hands along the hem of a pretty maroon raincoat, you stare openly at the woman whose car is rumbling beside yours at the intersection, or you glance back over your shoulder at the life you thought you wanted. The future you thought was yours.
And then something inside you clicks and, suddenly, you know what to do. You speed walk out of the store, you press down on the gas pedal, you run from the past towards the promise of a better tomorrow, the song inside your head cheering you on.
You walk, you drive, you run. You go until you can go no further. You follow the voice you hear in your blood. Though you try, you cannot seem to make out what it is saying. The farther you go, the louder it gets, until you don’t know whether you’re running towards it or away from it. You keep going. You push through the pain and the noise until, suddenly, everything stops. The only sound you hear is your heartbeat echoing inside your chest, your head, your throat.
You look up to find yourself standing in front of a gate, a gate so high you cannot discern its end from the tops of the trees above you. It seems to be covered in moss, making it difficult for you to focus on it for long, blending seamlessly into the background. You stand on your tiptoes, attempting in vain to spot what lies beyond, unaware of the opportunity that has presented itself before you.
A gentle breeze picks up, making the hair on your arms stand straight up, though you are not cold. For a moment, you start to doubt yourself. You wonder where you are and what the hell you think you’re doing. All the menial responsibilities of your humdrum life: work, rent, and the likes, crowd your thoughts like stormy clouds. You hesitate, standing on the heels of your feet, unsure.
But then the breeze dies down and the song begins once more. Only this time is different, because you can hear it clearly now, each word carrying so much beauty and strength that it brings tears to your eyes. As the pace of the melody quickens, the gate shudders open once more, releasing a rush of wind long contained, smelling of honeysuckle and sweet. The air tugs at your clothes and hair, inviting you to move, come in, see, experience, live.
Laughing, you walk through the strange doorway into the unknown, the weight on your chest easing as you twirl in the wind. Behind you, the gate quivers once more, the effort of opening up the wonders of the world to an unassuming soul resting heavy on its shoulders, forcing it shut.
You do not look back as the gate closes behind you. You march forward, eyes wide open, taking everything in. The song still echoes in your head, “You’re home, home, home.”
You can send your short stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.