From the time she was five years old, the closet in Chloe Gallaghers bedroom had always been an object of fierce terror to her.
See, ever since she could remember, Chloe Gallagher had been convinced that there was a monster living inside of her closet. Now, cleaning it out the weekend before she was meant to leave for college, she couldn’t believe how wrong she’d been. Of course most children have wild, active imaginations, and a lot of children are scared of things like this; monsters under the bed, monster in the closet, a general fear of the dark and the unknown. But Chloe was no longer a child. She was almost twenty now and she was preparing to go to medical school. Standing there on that early summer evening, the late sun pouring past her blinds and splashing across her bedroom floor as she stared into the closet she was once so deathly afraid of, Chloe couldn’t help but laugh at the whole thing.
See, Chloe also wasn’t like most kids because a lot of kids don’t grow out of that monster phase so quickly. Chloe did. Sure, she was scared, but she quickly found the closet she feared of housing a monster to be a safe haven from the rest of the home that housed an actual monster; her father. She could recall so many times once she was eight years old that she and her mother had to hide in closets, specifically Chloes closet because it had such a solid lock on it, just to escape the awful man they were trapped with. Eventually, as Chloe grew older, she realized the closet could be a much better place to spend her time. It was a rather small walk in, but she made it into a cozy space. She built a little pillow fort in there, cozy with blankets and books and snacks, and she’d spend all her free time alone in that closet.
When she came to realize she was in love with her friend Charlotte, whom she’d met the previous summer during college tours her school was making Juniors and Seniors take, she didn’t want to come out of the closet. She found it to be at odds with how she usually viewed the closet to begin with; a warm, safe little space just for her. Over the next year, she accepted that the two had nothing to do with one another, and came out to her mother, who continued to give her all the love in the world. See, Chloe and her mother, they were two peas in a pod. Her mother, Enid, had been brave enough to finally stand up to her father when he attacked one night, and killed him in self defense. Because of this bravery, Chloe admired her mom, and realized if she was brave, she too could do anything, no matter what someone else told her. So Chloe coming out to her mom just re-instilled that sense of bravery Enid knew they both had to do the things they knew they had to do in order to be happy.
Chloe stepped back, hands on her hips, as she looked into the closet once more. Now empty of boxes and clothes and her little hideaway, she could see it was just that and nothing more. A closet. Just a subroom attached to a bedroom. But to her, oh it was so much more, so so much more. The thought of even using a new closet somewhere different, some random college campus somewhere…it scared her. But she knew that better things were coming, newer things were coming. From one place to another, one school to another, one closet to another.
It was, after all, just a room.