As Bia left my bedroom, I heard Kratos ask, “Bia, what happened?”
Bia must have been directing her thoughts to the others and not me, but I did hear how the others were reacting to her.
“Will Mom be alright?” Teddy asked, concerned for me.
“Yes, of course, she will, laddy,” Zelus reassured his nephew.
“I shouldn’t leave her.”
“Tiberius, she will be alright,” Kratos said.
“But what if she needs me? What if…” Teddy continued.
“Let’s let her rest and we’ll talk about it later. She just needs to rest. You go with Zel and we will watch over her,” Kratos said.
“Ni, I’m taking the kid with me!” Zelus shouted.
“That’s fine, but be careful!” I shouted back.
As they left, I heard Kratos’s side of what I assumed was a conversation between him and Bia.
“Are you certain?” Kratos asked.
“By the Gods! I hope it’s not.”
“The red door must not be opened.”
What are they talking about? What’s this red door? I thought to myself as I ate. I shrugged it off and turned on the television to watch the Olympic trials, already knowing the games were gonna be lit!!
I tried to concentrate on the television, but my thoughts kept circling back to what my brother had said. What was this red door and why was it open?
I continued to watch as my favorite gymnast flipped her way to top marks before drifting into a deep sleep.
My mind flashed back to the precinct where I spoke to the general. There was a red door. I was not sure why this was important. The room spun like a cartoon, flashing colors threatening to make me sick.
My head was reeling. I was standing in front of another doorway to a room and I pushed on the red door. I stepped inside. The light inside was neon green, the walls lined with torches. It was a long hallway with more doors, some big ones twenty feet high and some as small as a mouse.
As I walked down the hall, I noticed each door was unique. The first doors looked like they were from the 20th century, made of glass and steel. Then there were doors of oak and ash with big iron hinges and locks. I could hear sounds coming from behind each door. I was reaching out to grab the large handle of one of the twenty-foot doors when a voice next to me made me jump.
“Hello. What are you doing here?” a little girl asked me.
Startled, I let go of the handle and exclaimed, “What?!”
“You aren’t supposed to be here,” the little girl said. She was dressed in an Ancient Grecian short dress, much like many of the children wore a millennium ago.
“Come on, don’t open that door.” She pulled my hand away and held it, tugging me away from the door. I allowed her to lead me where she wanted. We went past the mouse size door and I tried to stop to look at it, but this little one just tugged me harder.
“Wait, I don’t understand. Where are you taking me?”
She stopped and crossed her arms. “Listen here, big one, you aren’t supposed to be here and I’m taking you back.”
“Back where?” I stood there, surprised at the little girl. “And who are you?”
“I’m you, silly,” she said with a giggle.
“My goodness, is that the only word you know? Come on. I need to get you outta here.” She pulled me further down the hallway.
“How are you, me?” I asked
“I’m a memory of you when you were my age.”
“Yes, everything here is a memory, some good, some not so good. That’s why I pulled you away from that door. You won’t want to go in there.”
“What’s in there?”
“The bad. It’s really really bad.”
“Have you been in there?”
“No way. You think I’m crazy or something? Besides, she won’t let me.”
“Oh, my gods, you ask a lot of questions.”
“Well, who’s she?”
“I’m she,” came a voice down the hall. “And just where do you think you two are going?” said a 15-foot woman.
“Now you did it,” the little version of me whispered. I looked down at her.
“Nike, what are you doing here?”
“I don’t know where here is. I was in my room watching the television, then I was in the General’s office—”
“Oooo, I like television,” said the little girl.
“Me too,” I said as I smiled at the mini-me. “Then the room did this spinning thing, and I was over there.” I pointed to the hallway door.
“Come here, little one.” I wasn’t sure if she was talking to me or the mini-me. We both walked over to the giant woman. She had on golden armor, her wings gigantic and golden, just like mine. When she took off her helmet, I gasped.
The mini-me squeezed my hand. “It’s okay.”
“You… you… you… look like—” I stammered
The woman shrunk herself to my size. “Yes, Nike, I am also you, the warrior you.”
“Wait, how is this possible?”
“We live here.”
“But why am I here?”
“Well, you come here every time you have…” she looked away from me as if she were looking for something. “Every time you have moments when things get hard for you, you retreat here.”
“I would never retreat,” I retorted, putting my hands on my hips.
“Don’t worry about that for now. Since you are here, I need your help.”
“You need my help? How can I help you?”
“Follow me, I can show you,” mini-me shouted as she bounced up and down.
She tugged on my hand again, encouraging me to move with her. She must have been no more than ten, full of joy and energy. The warrior me followed us.
We walked down the corridor until we reached the door to the outside. The sun was warm, and the air smelled of the sea. I knew this place. It was the hill above my childhood home. The grasses were green, and the bougainvillea was in full bloom. The air was crisp and a mist of sea salt was on the breeze. As a flock of swans flew overhead, I let go of mini-me’s hand and sped further into the open field. I remember playing here as a child.
But how was this place here? The city had built homes on this hill. How could this be my home? I asked myself.
“This is how you remember it and it will always look like this,” warrior me said.
She stood next to me as we looked out over our home. The need to run through the field pulled at me. I could run as fast as I wanted. Both mini-me and warrior me joined me as I took off. We ran at the same speed. I’d never run with anyone that could match my speed, but they could. We ran down to the beach, stopping hard when we reached Father’s boat.
“What’s this doing here?”
“It’s always here,” mini-me said.
“No, it was destroyed after the war.”
“It’s always been here, Nike,” said the warrior.
“No, I remember I—” I tried to explain.
“Nike,” a familiar female voice called out.
I looked over to the small hut under the trees behind me. A tall, slender woman with black hair came out of the house. “Nike, please call your sister and brothers, it’s time for supper.”
“Yes, Mitera,” we all said in unison.
I turned to the others, and a small smile came on my face. Mini-me started laughing. “Mother never notices that we are three different versions of you.”
“Wait, you mean she can’t see me?”
“No, she sees you as each of us,” said the warrior.
“This place is so confusing.”
“It shouldn’t be. You cre—” Mini tried to say.
“Shhhh, little one. Not now,” Warrior interrupted.
“But she…” Mini tried to explain.
“Not now!” Warrior scolded.
“Okay, you two, what aren’t you telling me?” I asked
“Come on, we better go get the others,” Warrior said, trying to change the subject.
Mini skipped down to the beach. “Come on, Nike, they’re over here.”
I ran to catch up to her. There they were. Kratos was tossing a spear to Bia, and Zelus was practicing jumping over a fallen tree. I shouted down to them, “Mitera said to tell you to come in for supper.”
“Coming, Nike,” Zelus shouted back as he ran up the beach. “Hello, little sister,” he said as he picked me up and swung me around. Mini just giggled.
Kratos threw the spear right at me when Zelus set me down. Warrior caught it with ease. Bia ran up to us, picked me up, and gave me a big hug. Setting me down, she signed, “What are you doing here?”
The others stared at me.
“Children!” Mitera called again.
“Erchomós, Mitéra,” we all responded, running down the beach as we had always done so long ago. This felt nice.
We sat and ate the wonderful meal Mitera made. We laughed together as Zelus told a story of how he rode on the backs of two sea turtles. I kept staring at my mother. She was so beautiful. Long black hair and her smile made me smile. Her laugh revealed the Kingfisher birds of the Island.
“Nike, dear one, what is it?” Mitera asked me
“You were staring at Mother, Nike. Are you alright?” Kratos asked me
“Yes, I just miss her.”
“How could you miss her? You were here all day,” Zelus said.
“Yes, that’s right. It’s just—”
The door to the hut opened and a gigantic man walked in. His skin was covered in dirt and blood, and he had a full beard and large arms. My eyes widened, and I jumped up from the table and moved toward Mitera. I knew who he was, and I knew I didn’t want to see him. I closed my eyes, wishing him away…trying not to remember him. Pallas, the Father Creator, and my father. He was a giant and lately, his anger was not something to tangle with.
My heart raced at the memories of my father’s wrath. I started to tremble when I felt a small hand in mine. Mini had joined me near Mitera. He pounded the table, demanding his supper. Which made all of us jump. I clenched my fist, wanting to get away from him.
In a flash, we were back in the corridor. Mini was closing the door as I opened my eyes.
“He…he wasn’t supposed to be home yet,” Mini said. “He always ruins everything.”
“Wait, he’s not dead?” I asked.
“Dead? Not here he isn’t,” Warrior said.
“Where is here?” I asked as I looked around the corridor.
“Come on, we should get you back,” Warrior said.
“But where am I that I need to get back from?” I asked, puzzled.
“Nike, this is the hall of your memories,” she replied.
“You’re dreaming right now,” Mini said.
“No, no way. I could feel the sea air, smell the flowers, and Mitera’s dinner.”
“This is all a dream, Nike. We are only bits of your life. Fragments,” Warrior explained.
“No, this is too wild.” I pushed away from them. “ How—how did I get here?”
“I told you, you come here when you are under too much stress,” Mini said.
“This is your safe space,” Warrior added.
“No, no, this isn’t happening,” I said as I stepped further away from them.
“It’s true. And it has happened before,” Mini confirmed.
“How many times?”
“As many times as there are doors here,” said Warrior.
“But there are hundreds of doors here.”
“More actually,” Mini said.
“You’re telling me that I’ve been here hundreds of times, but I don’t remember coming here?”
“Well, each time you come, it’s for a different reason. This time we think it’s for one of the same ones you’ve had before,” Warrior said.
“What? Have I repeated some of these situations before?”
“Haven’t you noticed the size of the doors? And how different they are?” Mini asked.
“Yes, I was going to ask you about that. Why are they varying sizes and styles?”
“You see, the small mouse-size doors are small things that hurt us or disappoint us,” Warrior explained as we walked past the tiny door. “And then these great big ones are repeat offenders,” she added as she pounded on the great big door.
I tried to pull on the handle to get it opened.
“No, don’t do that,” Mini shouted.
I looked at her, puzzled.
“These are the doors you never,” she held up her hands to do the quotation marks in the air as she spoke, “want to open. There is too much bad in there. Especially those down there. Never ever open those,” Mini warned.
“Oh no, little one, I think we are too late. Why didn’t I notice that before?” Warrior shone a torch about 150 feet from us and sure enough, one of the big doors was cracked open.
“Oh, no!” Mini screamed.
“What?” I felt drawn to the door and ran toward it.
“No, Nike, don’t open that!” Mini shouted and raced after me.
But it was too late.