Every hole is a portal. We seldom know what's on the other side, but we pass through anyway. Your mother's birth canal was a portal into this life. The hole they dig in the ground to bury you is another portal. Francine wasn't happy with where her life was at, and she was always looking for a portal to somewhere better.
Francine was looking for a life portal, not a death portal. It is pretty easy to find death portals. Men are more inclined to use guns or jump from high buildings to find the death portal, and women usually prefer pills as a path there. If you don't leave a note saying you were looking for the portal, the police often look at your departure as a murder. Like there are death portals, there are life ones as well. Most of these have to do with a frame of mind, and deliberately making choices that will lead the person down a different path in life. Francine didn't want to have to work that hard.
She wasn't sure how old she was when she started it, but she couldn't remember much of her youth being a happy place. A father who did things to her he shouldn't have, and a mother who looked the other way. He didn't rape her or even try to have physical sex, but his hugs were too long, and too tight. He used to bounce her on his knee far passed an appropriate age. His looks of love, weren't quite right either. Where his eyes lingered, made her uncomfortable. Any time Francine tried to talk to her mother about it, she just changed the subject after telling Francine that she was imagining things.
When passing through doors, she would stop and press hard in different directions. If anybody said anything to her about it, she'd just say that she was into aerobic exercises. She would close her eyes and feel around the edges of an open window, letting her mind seek out a pressure point that would expose the portal to a different life. Sometimes when she was sure she wouldn't be caught, she would even go around the walls, tapping and pulling on things, like there was a secret door to be discovered.
Very early in life, she found that telling others of her quest would bring nothing but laughter and derision. So she didn't try to make friends too often. If she did hang out with some other girls, she never would share that part of her life. She never got asked out for a date during high school. Like many little girls who got unwelcome advances, she turned to food to put on enough weight that she would be unattractive to men. When she graduated from high school and her acquaintances went on to various colleges, Francine went to work at the local diner as the second shift waitress.
Of course it didn't pay much, but it was enough for her to get a place of her own. It was a tiny one room efficiency in the truck stop motel right behind the diner. She would still bow to her mother's request to come over on holidays, and her additional weight kept most of her discomfort around her father at bay. Even though she had her own place, her life didn't feel that much different. Now it was the long haul truckers that were making passes at her, and they weren't veiled at all. Her extra weight didn't seem to matter to them. It isn't saying much, because if it was female, and still living, they'd try to get lucky with it.
It was another Thursday night at the diner, with a few of the regulars who stayed until she left each night. They didn't mean her any harm, they were just lonely old guys who appreciated the fact she would even talk to them and be nice. They'd tip a little extra when they could, and she considered them her fan club. There were two highway patrolmen in the back booth, spending a large part of their shift sipping on the free coffee the management extended to all law enforcement officers. They both carried enough weight that Francine thought it would take a huge shoe horn to fit them into the booth, and a tow truck to get them out. It didn't seem to bother them at all.
A big gust of wind rushed into the diner from the now opened front door. Francine headed towards it to close the door, thinking it was only the wind that had opened it, when a disheveled young man with wild eyes and a somewhat bloody face burst through the entrance and grabbed her. It seemed like everything but him was going in slow motion. She could see people slowly starting to stand up, and the two highway patrolmen trying to get out of the booth, so they could reach for their guns. While all of that played out slowly in front of her eyes, the bloody young man had gotten behind her and had one hand around her waist, and a gun in the other hand at her head.
As the young man used her for a shield, maneuvering her between the patrons and himself, he backed through the hole in the counter to where he was behind her and she was facing the cash register. He demanded she open the register and get all the money out. As the patrolmen and other started to get to their feet, he pulled the gun away from her head for a moment and fired the gun once up in the air. He yelled the next bullet would be in the waitresses head, if any of them stood up or did anything stupid.
Francine did exactly as the wild eyed young man told her, though her hands were shaking so hard she barely had control of them. With her hand full of cash, the man started stuffing what few bills that were left down her chest and into her bra. Seeing nothing but change left in the cash register, he reversed his position to where he was backing out of the entrance with Francine still between him and the patrons. She was being pulled backwards, and couldn't see where they were going, until he spun her around just a few feet from a pick-up with both doors thrown open. As he pushed he towards the open passenger door, she noticed a glowing light that seemed to circle the open door. It might have just been a trick of the interior light and her imagination, but she felt sure that she'd found her portal.