Happy Youbirthday

Rays of light filtered through the trees revealing a hidden meadow of doors. Rodney stepped out from his hiding place to face them, although he knew their formation well. In the distance, he could hear the mumble of an approaching mob, their chant echoing off the distant cliffs.

“To the stake! To the stake!” They would light his final fire by nightfall if he didn’t make a door decision soon.

Pick, Rodney. Just pick. The portals were only visible until the sun sank below the hillside. Then, he would be trapped.  

No more blue, he thought. Those doors had taken him down dark hallways to the past where he relived the mockery and abuse of his youth. Hundreds of times he’d endured the same tests, the same social experiments, and then the isolation of being a kid that could read other people’s minds.

Green doors seemed to be portals to the historical past, but heading in that direction had brought Rodney into more danger than harmony. Angry mobs gathered whenever he leaked out intuited information. The people of the past seemed to be in agreement that he was entangled with the devil.

And maybe he was, after all, he could find no peace in space or time.  Today, it had to be brown, he thought. 

Why had he avoided those doors, anyways? Was it because they reminded him of his brownstone in Brooklyn, her warm skin, or her chestnut hair before his revelations scared her away?  

In truth, there was nothing worse than returning to his own timeline where he was deserted and depressed.

“Burn him! Burn him!” The flames were no larger than fireflies but he could see them on the edge of the field. Rodney turned the knob of the closest brown door just in time to hear noisemakers and feel streamers scratch his face.

“Surprise!” More confetti and a clock topped cake, its cogs and wheels exposed, but the sweetest surprise of all, the locks of chestnut hair above a wrinkled face.

Happy Youbirthday, Rod.” She pressed petite kisses into each of his cheeks. “Thought you’d never make it. Now, blow out those cosmic candles.”

“Youbirthday?” Rodney inhaled, closed his eyes, ready to let all the grief of his journeys go.

Then, he heard her thoughts clearly. It’s the first time you’ve been alive in your intended space and time.

At this, his breath extinguished the flames. Impossible as it seemed, he could hear her thinking to him, Welcome home.

Flash Fiction Challenge #135

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