As a die hard Silent Hill fan the word locked instantly brings to mind the familiar refrain of the game:
The lock is jammed. This door cannot be opened.
The phrase serves two purposes. One, it means not having to create time consuming and costly empty rooms and it acts as a way of pushing players through the game by minimising opportunities to meander.
Its second purpose is partly accidental but helps to reinforce the nightmarish atmosphere of trying to find a way out or through but only encountering locked doors in dark corridors. It’s this side I’m interested in.
There are different types of locked doors. Locks can keep things out but they can also keep them in.
Many of the participants chose to interpret the theme by writing on themes of emotional abandonment or leaving an unloved job.
Like a few others, I chose to revisit one of my abandoned posts to offer it a chance of redemption.
Back in January I promised to write about the game Life is Strange and why its story and characters captivated and troubled me.
It started off as semi-review before moving into an exploration of its themes of loss, regret and changing the past by travelling through time to start all over again. The first part of that post is now a post of its own.
Locked and Abandoned
In writing the original post I took an unexpected turn and I found the door in the dark corridor with its jammed lock.
The door that cannot be opened for a very good reason. I’m the one that jammed it. What lies behind that door is too much to contemplate.
Butterflies and hurricanes
The dilemma at the heart of time travel stories like Life is Strange is simple and familiar to anyone living with loss and regret.
If you had the chance to go back in time and do things differently, would you?
Most of the time travel stories I know take this premise and then go on to show terrible consequences that far outweigh the past harms undone. In a way they follow on from the fairy tale themes of being careful for what you wish.
Careful what you wish, you may regret it / Careful what you wish, you may just get it
This is my locked door.
Behind that door is an alternate timeline where there were heart beats not silence, proud double cuddles with visitors bearing congratulations not consolation, smiles not pity, where a sea of white cards turns blue and where we light candles for their birthdays rather than in their memory.
We have no way of knowing if had the boys lived whether we would have had our rainbow children or what they would have been like or how they would all get on (or not). There’s no way of knowing whether I would have left my job, moved house, kept or lost friends or strengthened or weakened family ties.
Was it our grief that consumed and distanced us or did it just rip off the wallpaper covering the cracks of long fragmented relationships?
There’s no way of knowing whether if we could go back in time whether we could have changed the outcome, if we could have only got the doctors that day to listen…
Much like the infamous butterfly, the flapping of these tiny thoughts quickly becomes a hurricane too wild and dangerous to be contained.
It’s a harrowing thought exercise giving rise to questions that may be better left unanswered.
So with regret I lock that door and walk away. Far better to abandon that room than risk its consequences.