I haven’t been one to publish posts related to Halloween, and this year was obviously no exception.
Now that we’re a few days into November though, it occurs to me that an allegory I wrote some months ago might mesh well with such themes.
I wrote it as part of working through an old trauma whose effects unexpectedly rearose. The tale follows a common mythical style complete with building suspense and an abrupt resolution.
As with past allegories I’ve written, some symbolic elements are deliberate, others unintentional — discovered only later to my startlement. Still others remain mysterious even to me.
The darker tone reflects what it can be like to confront past harmful experiences we thought we had resolved or had convinced ourselves we’d successfully got beyond.
Even though I’m leaving the deeply impacting real-life scenario unrecounted, I hope its allegorical expression offers readers a relatable and satisfying encounter.
Once there was a curious young woman.
She thirsted for knowledge, and she was open-hearted toward others.
When others shared their knowledge, she believed them.
When others told her of themselves, she believed them.
When they said they cared about her, she believed them.
One strong, smiling, confident man invited her to his house.
It was a modest house with only a few rooms, but they were lovely and well kept.
Although she was young, her family was gone, and it had been a long time since she had a home she belonged in.
She did not mind, for she loved visiting others’ homes.
And she loved to explore. She loved to explore their homes, their ideas — and the people themselves.
At the confident man’s house, there was comfort and belonging for her. And she stayed.
He told her she needed protecting, and that he would protect her.
When he sometimes had to go away, he made sure she was locked in — for her protection.
For such a small home, the basement was large.
But it was not very deep below the house, so the stairway down to it had not many steps.
Most of the basement was taken up by a hallway which wound around the four outer walls to reach a single room at the center.
The hallway was not well lit, and the basement room was always locked.
A separate entrance from outside the house also led down into the basement room. It too was always locked — for her protection.
She had never been down there. There was no need.
One key was kept on its own hook right out in the open, next to the door on the main level that led to the basement. A second key the man always kept on his person.
There came a time when he announced to her that he would be away for a while, and that she must take great care to stay safe in his absence.
He said everything she would need was provided for on the main floor, that there would be no need to go downstairs, and that indeed she must not do so.
On the first day he was away, she cleaned and tidied up all the living area, so it felt newly beautiful and comfortable and organized and safe.
The second day she spent all the hours engaged in handicrafts and other pastimes.
On the third day her curiosity and exploring spirit nudged her.
As she sat knitting in her safe beautiful organized comfortable living room, the fingers of exploring thoughts kept gently tapping her shoulder.
She ignored them many times: “What need have I of anything that does not already surround me?”
At length she also said to herself, “Since I am safe, what harm could possibly come from finding out something new?”
She finally set down her needles and yarn and with a flutter inside approached the door leading to the basement.
She removed the key for the basement room from its hook and slipped it into her pocket. The door at the top of the stairs did not have a lock, and the doorknob turned easily.
Descending the first step, she felt for and found a light switch and flipped it on. A bulb over the stairs lit up, but it was so dim, she returned to the kitchen for a flashlight.
She started down a second time. Each stair step creaked. Landing safely at the bottom of the few steps, she saw that the ceiling was not far above her head and that bulbs of the same dimness lit the entire hallway.
Aided by the beam of the flashlight, her eyes adjusted comfortably to her surroundings. Her thoughts were quiet as she stood aright and took self-assured steps along the hallway.
At the first corner, she heard an ever so muffled growl. It was so faint that she attributed it to her imagination. Turning in the next direction, she saw that the continuing hallway exactly resembled what had come before. As did the hallway after the following corner.
One more turn and now she was in the final portion of the hallway, alongside the fourth wall of the building’s foundation. Here the occasional faint growl was becoming less muffled. But her curiosity and exploring spirit did not allow the sounds to deter her.
At the door, she paused. All was silent now.
She dug the key from her pocket, and found it slid into the lock easily. So very easily.
The door creaked but swung open, just as easily.
It was dark inside. Dark and silent.
As she aimed her flashlight into the dark and silent room — the beam illuminated the face of the man himself!
At that split-second, he roared and pounced and tried to devour her.
Her sheer determination enabled her to slip his grasp…
She managed to scramble past him toward the other door which led outside…
To her immense relief, it was not locked! In one fluid motion she yanked it open, rushed out, and leapt up the few stairs into the daylight — and never returned.