Flint had always heard stories of doorways. They could be hidden anywhere, small as the head of a pin or large as the sea. One person had even said that their doorway was the sea, but they knew that Matti was a storyteller, if anyone was ever quiet enough to listen to his tales. The doors led anywhere, everywhere, to exactly where one was needed and where one needed to go. Everyone had a doorway, somewhere. They just had to find it.
Flint had heard stories of doorways, but what they really cared about were those that lurked beyond. For some, they arrived with glinting eyes and teeth that glowed if the light hit them just right. They came with deals, if one was willing to pay the price. They came by many names: the Fae, the nightwalkers, demons. Everyone who knew about them knew that there were rules to follow: never share your birth name, never gamble what you can't stand to lose, and most importantly, don't offend them.
Flint heard stories of doorways, but for them, they were more than just stories murmured to pass the dark nights at the orphanage. They were a way out, a beacon of hope if one was clever enough to decode them. They studied protections - carry salt, wear red, and be careful with one's words - and spent hours thinking of what they could ask for, what they could do. And when they finally felt they were as ready as they could be - for no one is ever truly ready for their destiny - they set off.
Flint told stories of doorways. They had always thought their door would be somewhere in a dark, soot-stained corner of the city, but it was actually rather pleasant. A brightly lit forest, a boat across a river, and then the door, plain as day. Coated in bright green paint - or was the wood itself that shade? - it was set into the tree as if it had been there before the seed had been planted and would be there long after the mighty oak had withered and died. They had knocked three times - after all, three was always a good number to go with - and didn't hesitate when the door creaked open, letting a bright slip of light through the crack.
Flint made it across, and they made it back again, but their memories of the place were always slippery as a soap bubble. They told all the stories of the land that they could remember to anyone who would listen, and never stopped trying to find their door again. It should have been easy, they kept telling themself, trying to hold the image of the portal in their mind. In all of their travels, though, they never came across it again.
After all, some places only want a shiny novelty, and once you are cast away like an old, broken toy, they won't let you back in. Why would they, when there are tens, hundreds, thousands of others, willing to fight tooth and claw for a chance at making it through, just like you did, all those years ago. Or was it just yesterday?