The Cedarville Review 2024

34 CREATIVE NONFICTION As you entered this new room, something changed. There was dampness to the air, not like the cold musk of the place where you came from, but a genuine humidity that ushered in warmth. Tiny streams of water rushed towards your toes. You winced as they seeped into your shoes. And then, your face tilted upward. That’s when you saw it. There was a shaft of light—yellow gold spilling into the gloom. You gasped. Relief fell upon your shoulders, heavier than the shadows of this maze, but light enough to lift your feet from the ground. Up ahead was a staircase. At its summit—a cracked-open door. You didn’t hesitate this time. You could hardly hear the guide when he announced the conclusion of the tour and beckoned the group forward. Your ears buzzed with anticipation. There was no apprehension, despite not knowing where you were going once you entered the glow. Desperation burned in the back of your throat. Something greater waited for you up there—something far more appealing than anything the world below could ever offer. And so, you ran. With each stride, you lifted your knees, higher and higher. You skipped a step, and then two. You practically fl ew. And then— You panic. You rocket back into the present and grip the handle of the JCPenney exit door. You pull as hard as you can. The door rattles. It won’t budge. Your heart bubbles up into your throat. You turn to the desk at your rear. There’s no cashier. You yank the stainless steel as hard as you can. Your breath shortens. Your eyes well. Outside, a stitch of lightning zips across the sky. In your mind, you scream help. The words won’t leave