The Drawing Room
Posted on: September 25, 2022
Cover Image title: The Drawing Room
Cover Image by: Meiliyl
There, right before me, was a door. THE door of which what lay beyond it had been haunting me for years now.
It was, objectively speaking, old looking; its wooden style was one that did not belong to the present era, and the varnish coat was damaged and peeling. But compared to the other wooden doors in the world, this one was lucky to still be intact, preserved, as if it were a treasured relic from the past.
Back then, I had chosen such a door with such care; I thought the door fit well with the theme of the room. It’s funny, because I still think it does, if not even more so, albeit for a completely different reason now.
I stood before it, but simply stared at it without any further movement; a recurring scene. Occasionally, my eyes would spark a bit and I would reach for the door handle before flinching away as if caught committing a crime. Other times, I would merely gaze at it, drowning in an old memory or something. Usually, though, I wouldn’t even be able to muster the courage to face the door. I would wander the halls or hide in a room, living by the second without much meaning.
Today was something a bit different. My thoughts afloat, I let them drift through the better times. As I spaced out, a rough texture brushed my worn fingertips.
Regaining focus, I realised that my fingers were tracing the indents in the woodgrain of the door, almost yearningly. I fell into thought; should I go in? I don’t know. Reaching out slowly for the knob, the hesitance and persistence in me waged war. It was a long and silent one, and in the end, hesitance stood victor.
Though I walked away that day, I slowly realised that a spark had been lit, and my interest in what was behind the door stubbornly clung to my heart. More frequently I would find myself standing outside that door, and more frequently I would feel a pull from it; the room behind calling out.
Eventually, my hands could grip the handle tight enough to twist it. And I did. Slowly, slowly, the handle turned, and I heard a sigh escape my lips as I did so. That breath bore the weight of numerous emotions I could not describe, and my shoulders lightened. Basking in the sense of relief, a small, involuntary nudge sent the door creaking open.
Just a small glance inside froze me, and the handle in my grasp was pushed away.
I’m not ready. I’m not ready at all.
I couldn’t stand there in plain view of the room for a moment longer, let alone walk in. Yet another attempt that ended with me escaping.
Days went by where all I could do was shoot a glance at the room behind the door as if trying to build immunity. Some days I would force myself to stop thinking about the room entirely, a necessary break from my internal struggles. But I didn’t give up; interestingly, every huge hurdle seemed to excite something long forgotten in my subconscious. The dreams from before had seeped into my waking hours now, and even out of bed I would find myself thinking of the room.
The room wasn’t large, and the view I had of it standing outside the doorway was a narrow one. I could only see what lay directly across: an old wooden desk that was neatly organised with yellowing papers, sharpened pencils, and other paraphernalia, all pristine and untouched, yet aged and covered with dust at the same time.
It’s been so long, so many years since `that` happened. Like the dust that was thrown up in chaos finally settling back down in place, the memories of before are now covered in a grey haze. The vibrant emotions of the past are replayed in vignettes, no longer so bright as I watch my former life with this layer of detachment. The passion I felt back then seems so foreign now. While normally, I looked to re-invite that passion back into my dull life, some days, I wonder if I am chasing someone else, that this passion was never part of my life to begin with.
Just from the limited sight, I can already read the story of the room. A story where blooming love and excitement was put aside before eventually being forgotten, anticipation turning cold as time went by. Once again, I stared blankly ahead. My feet were planted firmly, almost weighed down, outside the entrance, but my eyes were transfixed on the sight presented inside. That lonely, empty sight made me instinctively want to fill it, but I couldn’t.
I didn’t know how to.
Or maybe I simply didn’t want to.
My eyes blearily blinked the morning glow out of them. The view I was greeted with was the ceiling in all of its peeling paint glory. Pushing myself to sit up, I massaged the back of my neck. I had fallen asleep inside the room again. I sat properly on the armchair with faded coral upholstery; napping across it with the neck and legs on the armrests was a surefire way to earn a sore neck, I had found out through many experimental snoozes. The slightly too warm summer light came in through the windowpanes, burning straight in my face. I guess I have to get up now.
I shuffled reluctantly to the centre desk and sat on the chair there, leaning against the backrest lazily. Besides lazing around and eating, I had nothing else to do. Ever since I got used to coming in and out of the room, a part of me strongly refused to leave.
Most other parts of me were at this point too numb to care where in the house I was spacing out in so the majority ruled over.
I surveyed the room. It was the same as I remember leaving it all those years ago. To be fair, not many people would be interested in years-old paints and art supplies nowadays. To the left upon entering, there were a few canvases leaning against walls, an easel, a few stools, and the armchair I had just left. To the right were shelves with books, papers, and some displayed stuff on them. This desk was situated right before a window, but in the mornings, direct sunlight wouldn’t shine in this spot. It was the home of pencils, papers, pens, markers, and brushes.
It was this, all of this, that had been leaving me restless ever since I decided to move back to this house. It was this singular room, the carefully curated materials inside, the detailed layout planning. It was the months spent planning and constructing, and the years spent saving for it. It was all the beautiful aspirations, the dreams I had, the goals I set, and the promises I made to myself.
Then `that` happened.
After that, for years, the door to this special little room remained shut.
And now, I languish in the ruins of that hope. Those long years have drained away the inspiration, the drive; now that I have finally turned back to take a look, vacancy is what greets me.
I pick up a pencil and sloppily let the graphite scratch at a yellow page. Slowly, lines form. The squiggles that trail the lead are rough and unpracticed; seeing this, I frown and let go.
What has lost its lustre was never this room. A majority of the materials were still in a usable state, and limiting conditions were often conducive to creativity. No, I was the one who dulled. It would be understandable if it were only my skill; anyone would be rusty after not having practised in years. But it wasn’t just that. I was reluctant to even start learning again.
Can’t I just spend my remaining days lounging about? Why must I do extra work? I felt so hollow, so confused and lost. A lamp in my heart had been blown out and left unattended for so long that I got used to the darkness. I didn’t want to go out and light up new paths anymore, and now I sometimes wonder whether the lamp was real to begin with. Perhaps it was a fantastical delusion I made up for myself, a what-if I entertained once upon a time.
Even that faint emotion of yearning from before had made itself scarce ever since I walked back into this room. It had given me the impression that I did indeed wish to have that excitement again, but now that was nothing but a joke. It wasn’t kindling motivation; it was merely a broken throne earnestly welcoming its equally broken owner.
I sat back in my chair and closed my eyes. A fallen ruler resting in their crumbling castle, waiting for their time to come. Perhaps, a chance will fly along and they will grasp it with both hands, or maybe they will keep their eyes closed and shut off from the rest of the world until the day they no longer have the choice but to open them.
* The End *
[Writing Editor: Catherine]