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Price of Admission

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Be sure, some doors say.

But how can anyone running from the world they came from be sure, when all they know is incomplete? When they are lost children, running from other kinds of neglect and cruelties and monsters that could haunt them as adults just as easily?

Why does a world ask more from children who already are in pain?

Kade thinks about that, about the rules of Lundy's world, and the world he visited-

Because the world would have been a punishment, for him, if he had never faced the Goblin King and been truer to himself than a world ever could be.

What do the worlds gain from their pain, their souls, if they were not meant to hurt as much as people yearned for their doors again?

Why get what you think you are looking for, only to have it torn away?

Why does a world target children, if it isn't taking something as much as the child thinks they might gain?

Earth isn't fair and is full of it's own cruelties and confinements, man-made and otherwise, that no one necessarily asked for.

But it gave more choices, when sometimes worlds seem to only let in people willing to adhere to the rules of a world and what they thought they needed, or who they were but not necessarily would always be.

How can you grow up, if a world tries to mold you into it's image, instead of giving yourself space to create exactly who you are, enough to force the world to bend to you and all you'll be?

How can you live a whole lifetime only to be thrown back into the ill-fitting body of a child, when the other worlds that let you in tried to leech you of all that it needed and didn't let you inflict the consequences of trying to take too much?

How does a whole other world get to choose the rules and then act like it is any different from the place you came from? The physics and the atmosphere and the creatures and people and sentient life might all be different, but in some ways, the way the world tries to take what it can and will wring you dry without giving back is almost exactly the same.

Sometimes, Kade is glad for linear time, and boring earth rules, not because earth is more sublime or mundane than another world, but because you know you start somewhere and end somewhere else and you choose who you are, you grow up and grow into who you are whether anyone around you likes it or not, and while both worlds would try to eat you alive, at least earth can't take the scars or the makes or the lines from growing up and changing and being every bit as human as you are.

Being human is change, is choice. And while Kade still wants a lot, still aches, he knows what he wants more than any other world can give him.

He wants space to be. He wants to make his mark and have it stick and not have it erased.

He wants to find a place he belongs and keep it without the world trying to rip it apart.

He wants the small kindnesses and compassions of friendship and humanity and life and things born of time and experience, and you can have those not on earth-

But humanity isn't all the harsh things the world or society tries to limit itself too, and all the people chosen by doors and spat back out on this planet are all human, all fallible, all ready to grow up together and cling to each other as they do, even when people aren't ready, because that's how time and experience and growing up works, with everyone thrown in the same different messes together and finding who they want to hold hands with and take the plunge into the rest of their lives, friend or not, because some things are forever and some are not but all of it happened.

Sometimes, you hold only to your memories, but they still happened.

They still mattered.

And that can't be erased.

(You just see the stretch marks of time easier, on earth, as it spins around the sun with all the people on it. Some worlds don't let you have that, don't remember the price mortality gives when it tries to take the spark humanity has and tries to make it the core of another world and another place.)