Jill was trembling as if she had just woken up from a bad dream. It looked like she was in the cellar after all but had somehow walked through a part of it without realising it. The room she was now in showed no trace of the staircase or of the barred window. “I must be in a deeper part of the house’s foundations” she thought.
A warm yellow light came from the back of the room. It made it almost cosy even if the heat and the smell of dampness were overwhelming.
– “You passed that with flying colours!” the creature congratulated her.
Jill jumped. She hadn’t noticed that he was watching her from the opposite corner of the room, sitting on the ground.
– “What do you mean?” Jill asked apprehensively.
– “It did feel familiar, didn’t it?” he teased.
– “I have been waiting for you for a long time” he sighed. “Watched you walk along every day; deaf to my calls. You have no idea how liberating it is for me to finally have you here. Please, sit down” he gestured grandly to the ground.
– She laughed, incredulous. “No thank you, I’d rather stay standing up.”
– “Suit yourself.”
– “So what do you want from me?”
– “I want the same thing as you Jill. I want out.”
– “Why don’t you just leave this place then?”
He crouched onto his heels.
– “What was it like in the other room?” he asked.
– “A total blur. I must have had some kind of seizure or something, I think I lost consciousness”. The heat had become unbearable. She dropped her handbag to floor and opened her winter coat.
– “That’s one way of putting it…you lost your consciousness ” he giggled “or you could rather say you found your subconsciousness.”
– “Listen” she said, raising her voice angrily “what are you playing at?”
– “So you were never the pick of the litter, were you Jill? Let’s see…not a happy girl, not a mummy’s girl either…and let’s not get started with the father figure. Pain and rejection, time after time… A well learned lesson. Not expect too much from life so it will no longer bite back. But then again, you still want to prove it wrong, no? There will be that one time that will prove it all wrong, that will make it all all right? So every morning you get up, you get dressed and run out to meet it. That salvation point. Your ship is tight and sailing strong, no more water coming in through the old cracks, hey?” he stated drily.
Jill felt unwell as the heat had become suffocating. With her coat on the ground, she now took off her scarf and pullover and leaned against the wall for support. He kept on.
– “So what does it all mean do you think? You will never win this struggle with the world you know. Do you think anyone has ever won it? The world cannot be bent to your desires Jill. You must fit into it. The only thing you have power over is yourself. But you can’t invent it…you must work with what’s already there. Pretending is just loosing time Jill.”
She was feeling queasy and the room appeared to be spinning in front of her eyes. Sweating and panting, she let herself down to the floor and kicked off her shoes and socks. With only her trousers and blouse left on, she could still not stand the heat. The creature on the other side of the room was now standing up. “How funny” she thought, “one goes up and the other goes down.”
– “It’s the worst I know. But there is no way around it ” he said. “Everybody who will tell you differently is a liar! The only way out is through it, not around or above it. The other paths do not take you to the other side. They will only get you more lost. You always have to come back to this point to get across. There is no other way” he sighed again, shaking his head.
She had finally taken off everything and was now lying on the floor, curled up in a tight ball, sobbing. So many moments came back to her, so much pain… But lots of joy was there too. She could feel it. “A prism for one thousand emotions” she thought as she felt her tears run down her face. The creature was standing in front of her. He looked so tall now from where she was lying. Gently, he extended his hand towards her and helped her back to her feet. Urging her forward, he led her to a white shape in the middle of room. In a daze, she watched him reach out and pull a white sheet from over a full-length mirror. His long white fingers gripped her shoulders and brought her steadily in front of it. As a reflex, she closed her eyes; he leaned in and whispered in her ear: “bringing down your house of cards might not be as terrible as you fear”.
With every ounce of courage she could find, she looked up. She was now stark naked and faced herself completely. It was all there, it had always been there. The good and the bad, the hopes and the deceptions… She shivered as a sense of liberation flashed through her. She had seen it all now; he had shown it to her. She was no more nor less than what she had hoped for. She no longer needed to be an Everest to palliate for the abyss she feared lay inside of her.
At once, he let go of her shoulders and tilted the mirror in the other direction. As it flipped on its hinges, a door appeared on the wall behind it. She was sure it hadn’t been there before. He pushed her forward and said: “you see that’s how you find it”.
Jill walked towards it and pushed it open. It gave on to a beautiful garden soaked in sunlight. As she was about to step out, she turned around towards him:
– “But what about you?”
– “Oh I am free now too” he smiled viciously. “I am coming with you. I needed you to embrace yourself fully before I could finally take my place beside you. Because everyone needs a dark part to balance their lighter one Jill. I am glad you now finally see and accept me.”