There's a girl.
A girl in a storm.
Wind whipping her hair into tangles against her face. Swirling dark clouds gathering fierce. Rain and tears racing in rivulets down her cheeks.
But this isn't a typical storm. This storm is indoors.
And she's running. Down an endless hallway, futile attempt to outrun the tempest overhead. Feet slipping on the wooden floor, rain puddling at her feet. Soaked through, shivering. She can't escape.
The hallway is lined with doors. Tall doors, short doors. Ornate doors framed in gold. Doors painted blue and doors painted red. Doors lined with ivy and doors with frosted glass.
She tries one, desperate for escape. It's locked.
She tries another, eager hands wrestling slippery knobs. It's locked too.
All the doors are locked.
The realization sinks in reluctantly, a scratchy wool blanket on wet skin. The storm is pressing in, and she has no where to go. Frantic, she beats her fist against one door, then throws her full weight against another. She yells, screams. Her voice echoes in the stillness as she bounces like a pin ball from door to door. No entry. No admittance.
The doors are locked.
Weary, she sinks to the floor, pulling her knees against her chest. Her breath comes in heaves, her body wracked with cold and fear. Panic grips, cutting colder than the rain clinging to her clothes. She has no where to go. She can't open the doors.
She can't fix this.
She can't control this.
She's stuck in the hallway.
Half numb, she vaguely remembers the last time she was there. The last time she knew the firmness of those doors, the hardness of that floor. It'd been so long. How had she gotten out that time?
Muscle memory moves her fingers into her tangled hair. Finds a bobby pin wedged into a curl. She frees it, studies it between limp fingers. Then she remembered.
Last time, she'd picked the lock.
She'd forced her way in.
She tightened her fist around her only hope. She could do it again. She held the key to her freedom.
But had it been freedom? Somehow, she'd still ended up back in the same hallway. Back on the floor.
Thunder cracks above. The clouds release a fresh torrent of rain. She huddles deeper into herself, the pin biting into her clenched palm. She had to get up. Pick a lock. Force it open.
Force her path.
If she didn't, who would?
He told you to wait...
The whisper came, a breath on the wind, so faint a reminder she'd almost missed it. Who had told her to wait? Oh, right. Him. The Door Keeper. He'd told her to wait in the hallway.
But surely He hadn't known about the storm coming. Why would He tell her to wait in the storm?
She slowly sat upright. Ready to stand. The bobby pin burned in her hand. It would do the trick. Then she wouldn't have to wait anymore.
His voice came again, from inside her this time. Familiar and painful and too wonderful to contain. She swallowed against it. She was cold--so cold. She needed to get warm. Pick a door, and get warm. If The Door Keeper wasn't taking care of her, she'd have to take care of herself.
Thunder shook the hallway. She couldn't breathe, she was so cold. She had to fix this.
Trust me. And wait.
She couldn't ignore Him. The pin dropped from her fist.
She shifted her weight, rolling onto her knees. Lifting her face to the rain. The doors were still locked. She was still trapped. And it was still storming.
Yet... I trust you.
Instant warmth flooded her body, coursing through her veins. Surrender wrapped a down-soft blanket over her shoulders, casting off the damp. The intruding rain couldn't seep in now. No, it flowed straight off, taking layers of self-sufficiency with it. Removing the outer grime of pride. Washing anxiety and doubt right clean until all that was left shone blood-red and white as snow.
And at the end of the hallway, the simplest of doors flung wide open.
The Door Keeper had come.