All the missing people were here, on the other side of this door. Well maybe not this exact door, but one like it in shape or color, if not style.
They all came here eventually, either on their own or with a guide. But even that wasn’t guaranteed. Guides could only come here once and then they had to disappear too.
There were plenty of robin’s-egg blue doors, and plenty of others that were arched. Not all of these were part of churches, but many were. Churches were the best place for secrets, after all.
Perhaps it had started with confessions, where deep sins were revealed and had to be hidden away. It wouldn’t do to have anything escape the confessional. Then word would get out and nobody would come. Without confessions, the church might as well cease to exist. Those relieved of their burdens were often so grateful that they tithed more. It wasn’t a one-to-one correlation, you understand. It wasn’t as if the priest said “say 20 Hail Mary’s and put $200 in the offering plate” but it worked that way anyway.
But there were plenty of other lost people who came through doors like these. People who’d lost their way in the world. People who didn’t fit in. People who were unwanted, or who just felt that way.
Children weren’t allowed, at least not in this kind of sanctuary. There was a sort of asylum for them, there had to be. Plenty enough children went missing over the years, so there had to be places for them. But this place was permanent. This place was no turning back. This place was more serious, more forever than marriage. There were vows here too, legal documents to sign here too, but there was no change of heart when things got tough. To be more accurate, hearts could change but the situation wouldn’t. No matter how much you begged or pleaded or cried, you could never go back through the doors into the real world. This was your world now.
Plenty came who were turned aside, deftly but firmly informed that there was no such place here. They left, confused, still searching. Perhaps they would find a different clue, overhear a different snatch of conversation. Perhaps they would locate another safe house entrance. Those who were turned aside were fleeing problems – money, love, drugs, either too much or not enough. They wouldn’t last here, wouldn’t be able to knuckle down and get to the business of really living this new life. They would be the first to want to leave and the last to settle down when they finally were made to understand there was no going back.
This new life was more permanent than marriage, more permanent than a tattoo. Both of those could be erased.