"Watch," said Harry.
Holding the key between thumb and forefinger, he popped it into his mouth like it was a French fry.
He winked at me, then he started to chew. The sound of metal on enamel made my own teeth buzz. My fillings felt like they were sparking.
"That's not right," was all I could say. "That just isn't right."
He carried on chewing, smiling as he chewed. Metal on enamel still, but less so now, like the key was breaking down into smaller pieces.
A minute of this, then Harry swallowed.
"There," he said. "All gone."
He opened his mouth wide and stuck out his tongue, like a child trying to prove they've eaten all their greens and can they have some ice cream now, please?
I stared at him. I wanted to grab him and shake him, tear him open and pull the key out from inside him. Instead, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
“Why?” I whispered.
“Because we can’t go back.”
I opened my eyes and looked into his earnest face.
“We have to.” I said, my voice still quiet as I struggled to keep myself under control. I had never been as angry with anyone as I was with Harry in that moment.
“Listen, Seij, you know we can’t go back there. Not ever.”
“We have to.” I said again, this time through clenched teeth.
“Well, now we can’t, even if we wanted to. The key is gone.”
“You ate it.”
Harry made a face. “Yeah I did. It was the only way.”
“The only way to destroy it – but why did you have to? Why would you? Harry, I have to go back!” I got to my feet. I was screaming now, but I didn’t care. He had ruined everything, destroyed my one chance of getting back to where I belonged. Loathing coursed through me. All I wanted was to hurt Harry, to break him. I lunged forward, but he caught my wrists.
“Seija! Seija, calm down. Seija, listen to me.”
I didn’t calm down – I tried to force myself forward, reaching for his face. He didn’t realize what he had done! He had taken my life from me, now I was going to take his from him.
He twisted me around, still gripping my wrists so my arms were wrapped around myself in a sort of strangled self-hug. He pressed himself against my back and spoke in my ear: “Seija, that place was all wrong. If you go back… if you go back, I’m afraid I’ll lose you. I took the key for you. Please, listen.”
I continued to struggle, but he pulled my hands back tighter. I gasped in pain.
“You can’t ever go back there.”
A sob escaped me. He was right. He had destroyed the key – there was no way back. I went limp, weeping. Letting me go, Harry watched as I wilted to the floor. Sitting beside me, he listened to my cries.
“I’m sorry, Seija. I’m so sorry.” He said.
But even as he said this, I knew I could never forgive him.
After I had cried myself dry, Harry helped me to my feet.
“You should get some rest,” he said, “Perhaps you ought to sleep in Aina’s room tonight.”
“No.” I shook my head emphatically.
“Seija, we should keep you away from that door.”
“I’m all right,” I smiled at him, wondering if I could fool him, “I’m okay now. You were right. The key needed to be destroyed. Now I can’t get in and nothing can get out. I’ll be fine.”
Nodding uncertainly, he led me to my room.
“I’ll be right across the hall, if you need me.” he reminded me – quite unnecessarily. His had been the room across the hall since we were children.
“I’ll be all right.”
“Good night, Seija.”
I went into my room, and quickly shoved my dresser to one side. In the space revealed was my door – a light glowing behind it. Examining the handle, I looked for some sort of weakness, some way to get in. The key-hole loomed at me, reminding me what I had lost. I closed my eyes and relived Harry eating the key as though it were candy. I clenched my fists, thinking how much I hated him. Getting up, I began searching for a hair pin. I looked all through my vanity – it seemed my hair pins always hid whenever I needed them. At last I found an old pin, bent out of shape and useless for doing hair. But that wasn’t what I wanted it for.
Returning to the door, I began twisting the hair pin in the lock. I tried for nearly a quarter of an hour, but I had never been much good at lock-picking.
I knocked on the door.
“Hello?” I called, “Is anyone there? I’m locked out. Hello?”
My beating became more frantic as no one answered.
“Hello?! Can anyone hear me? I lost my key! Let me in!” I began crying again, scratching at the door that refused to open for me, “Let me in! Please, please let me in! I can’t lose this, I can’t. Please!”
There came no answer.
“Please! I need you.” I leaned against the door and wept. I had lost my world. Except I hadn’t lost it – Harry had taken it from me. Harry, who was supposed to be my friend, had taken everything I had ever wanted – had swallowed it!
A sound cut through my weeping – a small, squeaking sound. With a gasp, I looked at the door – the handle was slowly turning.
“I’m coming for you,” a voice said – a low, scratchy voice I knew so well.
“Horace! I’m here, I’m waiting.”
There was a sound like fingernails down a chalkboard, and I knew Horace was trying to break through, was trying to take me with him.
The door shuddered and creaked, and then the door knob twisted again. The door began to screech open. Horace’s long, black fingers appeared in the widening crack. Then the door was opened, and I looked into Horace’s red eyes.
“Come with me.” he whispered, “You belong here.”
“NO!” The other door – the door to my bedroom – flew open, and Harry ran into the room like an idiot.
“Go away!” I shouted.
“You can’t do this, Seij!”
“Get out of here, Harry! You don’t understand.”
“No, Seija, you don’t understand. That place is evil.”
Horace laughed. “Always playing the hero, aren’t you? Seija belongs with us – you can’t take her from that.”
“Seija, don’t you understand?” Harry said, a note of desperation rising in his voice, “They’ll destroy you. There won’t be anything left. You can’t go into that darkness.”
“Go away, Harry.” I said, my voice level.
“Come,” Horace hissed. He led me away, through the door.
“You can’t go,” Harry said, “Seija, I can’t lose you. I love you.”
The door shut solidly behind me.
Today's Novel Idea Prompted by: The first several paragraphs of this piece (the ones in italics). Courtesy of Writing Prompts and Story Starters.