At the beginning of this year, we announced our quarterly creative writing themes with the theme prompt ‘Flourish.’ We’re so excited to publish a short story from writer Warren Clementson. This delicate exploration of self wowed us from the beginning and untied the prompt in the most unexpected of ways.
Details of how to submit to our current theme, ‘Hideaway’ can be read here.
By Warren Clementson
The landscape I found myself in was more than black; here, colours were suppressed. Even the stones beneath my feet felt lifeless, if that were possible. I heard them crack and corrode with each step taken, as I walked towards a direction I could not determine, moving away from what could only be a lifetime before.
The stroll seemed endless as I struggled to understand what this was. There were no suggestions of a world of anguish, nor bliss – but indeed, mystery was a unique terror. When my eyes adjusted to a light of considerable distance ahead, I mistook it for a hope which had finally gathered in my core; some realization, some form of acceptance, for this new era.
Yet I found myself able to etch out a figure of some sort, and an aeon later, the figure was revealed to be a young boy. Further clarity illuminated the young boy by way of the age of reason; fear found its way back when the boy’s uncanny demeanour froze my spine. And then there was his face – my face, from long ago. The grin was unmistakable, and it was as if it drew life from this lifeless land, which terrified me further. His eyes were a pure, brilliant brown; their joviality spoke of one prevented from witnessing broken souls.
Finally arriving within proximity, I knelt, and we were face to face; he smiled at me and I smiled back, wearily. He pointed to a mysterious glowing door behind him, subtly lit by his own being but containing its own source of otherworldly light. The door was small, no bigger than him; I grew jealous from that observation.
I looked back at the young me – the old me. “How long have you been here?” I asked. He had small traces of wear and tear on him, and his eyes were slightly baggy.
“I’ve been waiting for you” he replied. “It’s been a while.”
He grasped my hand – so soft was his against my worn, ruddy skin – and he placed it upon a protruding rock which flashed with my hand’s connection. The door changed colour, and I stepped back, unsure. The boy didn’t flinch; rather, he knocked, before looking back at me. Then there was a knock from the other side. I was as amazed as he was content.
“They’re waiting for me…”, the boy said with a burgeoning smile. A light emerged from his mouth, one which began to illuminate our surroundings. I couldn’t get over his words. They’re waiting for me. And I remembered this door, finally – I remembered this door from another life, one where I couldn’t do what needed doing.
But the younger me could do it, because he already understood what was behind the door. Because he believed with conviction; and the returning knock only affirmed I never had.
He turned back to the door, pushing it slowly but surely, unveiling a light brighter than his own, pouring out far and wide. The dead land around us suddenly had a tint of green within it; echoes of a time when entropy was not welcome.
The boy walked in and, understandably, didn’t look back. What he now saw was superior to anything he had known until then; better than anything he was set to leave behind. The last thing I saw was the back of his head, turning left and right from what was likely a sheer delight of discovery; then the door closed behind him.
Almost as soon as it had closed, the door began to fade away, as did the wall which held it. The surroundings were dark once more, and I could only stand as the light which once pressed upon my eyes began to fade too. Then the darkness and I were one.
Except for the glimmer of green slightly ahead. I hurried over to it, afraid of missing it – afraid of losing this alteration in everyday darkness. With each step I saw its true nature; a plant, alien yet undoubtedly familiar. And in this crossroad of death and life, this contradiction felt comfortable. Its green filled my eyes with joy; its touch made me shiver with praise. Cleft in a pure lump of earth, I could not help but raise it from this acid land, this void of a world inside my own. I held it to my face, almost blinded by its zeal.
My heart felt hope again, for what my younger self had known all along; for what he had once striven for and found. I kept it clasped between both hands and I set forth to rediscover it all again. The art of growing, without losing my way.
Warren Clementson was brought up on X-Men comics, The Matrix and various cult TV shows from the late 90s – all of which inspired him to study art and media throughout his education. Culminating in a film degree from University of the Arts London, Warren went to ply his trade as