The New Room

Entry by: Seaside Scribbler

27th October 2022
Michelle had never considered therapy - thought it was for beings lesser than herself. It was a sort of snobbery - this idea that she was better than everyone else, could cope with whatever life threw at her, was strong. And she felt she was, right up until the moment she found herself on the bridge, looking down at the river far - so far - below, wondering if it would hurt. She didn't remember getting there, only that she'd walked, was alone and had lost her phone.

Just two days previously, her life had been perfect. She was respected at work, she had a fiance, she owned a property and felt she had succeeded. And so what if she didn't always feel 'happy'? She was a success; she'd transcended her beginnings and she was going places. Going places - it was an Americanism she hated but her boss had told her that's where she was headed just two months ago when he offered her a promotion.

He used another Americanism when he sacked her, too. 'Life can spin on a dime', he'd said, as he explained why she had been chosen to go. Michelle protested - showed her boss her stats for the month, explained that the company couldn't do without her and he shook his head and made a flicking motion with his fingers, possibly to show a dime being spun in mid-air.

'Ok,' Michelle had said to herself. 'I can cope. I am strong, I am successful, sod him, I'll rise again.' And she left with her head held high, before lunch, waving away his insistence that she stay for a final meeting.

She headed home to her fiance, Ed and found him poetically in bed (it was strange what her mind did, to protect her) with the cleaner - until now a sign of her success. She had a cleaner. Ed had a cleaner. Ed was having the cleaner, in their bed. Ed in bed.... all this raced through her mind as she stood in the doorway and watched him bury his head between her ample thighs. Ed likes me skinny, was the next thought she had, as the cleaner screamed and tried to cover her similarly ample stomach.

Ed must've watched too many films about indiscretion because he tried cliches and platitudes. Michelle watched him squirm, then turned (on a dime) and left, texting him as she did.

Get Out Of My House



She kept walking until she was in her favourite bar, with two drinks lines up in front of her, telling herself she would get through this, tat she was strong, that Ed wasn't worth her, that she'd find another job and another man and she'd carry on.

But it was strange - the more drinks she drank, sank, drunk, the more she felt stunted, stopped in her life, stuck at a red light...

'What happened?' she said, out loud and the whole awful day played itself out to her again. If she couldn't get another job, she'd lose her house and her car. The house and car were part of her success. Her job and fiancee were who she was.


Michelle lined up another three drinks, waving away Alberto's concern, even as she tripped on the way back to her table.

It went blurry then, and then later, when it was dark, and cold, she was on the bridge, looking at the floodlit water, so far below.

A sign she'd passed urged her to call the Samaritans, but she knew she didn't need them. She could pick herself up, right?

She was a success.

She was


'I'm nobody,' she whispered, and knew it was true. In a flash she'd disproved everything she thought about herself.

She gripped the railings, and looked down.

Behind her, a car stopped. She dimly heard the door slam and footsteps grow larger until they brought somebody to her side.

'Hello,' said a female voice.

Michelle turned and saw a woman about her age in a warm hat and gloves. It made her realise she was cold.

'You're a s'maritan,' Michelle said.

The woman shook her head. 'No. Just a concerned passer-by. I stopped in case you needed help.'

'I'm fine,' said Michelle, and then burst into tears. She didn't remember crying but by the ache in her head and the burn in her eyes this obviously wasn't the first time today. She stumbled out the story.

'Oh. Is that all?' said the woman.


Michelle couldn't speak. Then she yelled, 'Is that ALL?'

'Ah. Spirit. That's better. No, you're not a jumper. Good. Here, take this, go home, sleep off this self-indulgent stupor, and call me in the morning.'

And with that, the woman turned (on a dime) and was gone.

Michelle watched her go, then looked down at the card. It was too dark to see properly so she shoved it in a back pocket. before anyone else had cause to stop and meddle in her life, she walked home.

Ed was gone. The house was in darkness. Fully dressed, Michelle crawled into the spare bed (she'd burn her own bedding) and closed her eyes.

In the morning, reality hit her bit by bit in a series of stomach-lurching inner clenches, as she remembered.

She got up, groaning, dealt with her hangover with a practised succession of remedies, and looked at the card.

Need a new room? Call Amber Trevil on 07653 330998

was all that was printed on there.

A new room?

Michelle shrugged, and used her landline to dial the number, her phone still being absent.

In a few minutes she'd been cornered into an afternoon appointment she didn't want with a woman she didn't know to do goodness knows what. A new room?

Amber answered the door in the same sort of practical attire she'd worn the previous night.

'I'm glad you called,' she said. 'Business usually finds me. Not the other way around.'

'What sort of business?'

'I'm a sort of ... consultant. I help people find new places.'

'Like a recruitment consultant?'

'Yes. And no. Close your eyes.'

'But I haven't agreed to...'

'No? Then why are you here? Close your eyes.'

Michelle did so, more than anything else because her eyes stung from dehydration and crying. She sighed.

'Now. I'm just going to... hang on...' Michelle heard Amber grunting slightly with effort as she edged her chair closer. She jumped as Amber's hands manifested on her head.

'Um, I'm not...' Michelle tried to edge away.

'Keep still,' said Amber and dug her fingers into Michelle's hair, prodding against her skull.

'What are you...?'



'Ah. Oh. Ummm... yeah. Right. Ok, that makes sense. Ouch. Yes. Right.'

With each word she pushed one of her fingers harder until it felt to Michelle as if Amber was digging into her very mind. She was strong, Michelle discovered as she tried to pull away. She was about to push at Amber with her hands when the woman stopped touching Michelle's head and said, 'Ok, eyes open. Feel anything?'

Michelle shook her head.

Amber sighed. 'Damn horses to water, make them drink as well,' she muttered.

'I'm sorry?'

'Don't be. Listen to my voice.'

And in a dreamy, soft yet certain voice, Amber began to speak.

'You're a classic case of perceived success. You've perceived it but it was never there. You entire life is an illusion. You built your life on a floodplain. The rains come and whoosh, no umbrella. I've made you a new room. Inside. Look into your brain now. New bit is open. New space. Inside it are tools and things. Now we go in. Close your eyes again. Walk. Past all the success. past all the unsuccess. Into the dark bit nobody wants to go, the bit between. Look. You see doors?'

Michelle, to her surprise, nodded.

'They all have names. Most will be shut, yes?'

Again, Michelle nodded.

'Good. Best not to open just yet. But you can read them.'

Michelle muttered, 'Mum and dad. Gran. Cancer. Fear. Teddy. Ed. Thumb. Peas. Dad. School. Mrs Stevenson. Sick. Oh my god. Are these all memories?'

'Hmmm, sort of. Keep walking.'

Michelle stopped. 'It's the end. No, wait. There's a door.'

'Ahah. There it is. Right, open it.'

Michelle imagined herself opening the door.

'What do you see?'

Michelle felt herself squinting - into her own mind (?). The room was empty.


'Perfect!' cried Amber. 'It worked. Sometimes there's a little too much resistance. But despite all that prickliness, you really needed and wanted help.'

'Prickliness?' Michelle opened her eyes.

Amber waved her words away.

'We only use a small percentage of our minds. My job is to open up new rooms. A room is as good analogy as any. That's fifty quid please, discount.'

'Eh? But I didn't...'

'Cash or cheque.'

'Wait a minute-'

'I have another appointment. Cash or cheque.'

Michelle got up. 'I'm not paying you anything until you explain.'

Amber sighed. 'Fair enough. Thought you were clever.'

'I am.'

'Then work it out. What did the door say on it?'

'I... I don't remember.'

'Sure you do. Think.'

Michelle closed her eyes. Imagined herself walking up to the door. Looked at it. Opened her eyes.

'"The Future,"' she said.

Amber smiled. 'That's it, love. The future. That room can be filled with whatever you choose. Keep the other doors firmly shut, and fill that one. Easy. Fill it with promises to yourself and optimism and cake and soft chairs and a new career - everything you like. It's yours.'

'Shouldn't we sort of talk this through?' Michelle said.

'Thought you didn't want therapy?'

'How did you...?'

'Off you go. This session is free. Go and move into the new room. If it works, I'll create another for you. Then you can pay me.'

'How many rooms can you make?'

Amber smiled.

'As many as you want,' she said. 'An infinite number. You just need to open the doors. Remember, life can turn...'

The End