Monday, March 26, 2012

The Door

This place once told me a tale of two.

They were young, happy and very much in love. As with most natives of a city dwelling, they were cramped, but knew no better.

Each evening, they came home to a friendly doorman and quiet neighbors. Each night they filled their cozy accommodations, with laughter, witticisms and the cloying score of affection.

One night, the wife spoke of an unexpected promotion. After the squeals of delight and warm embraces, the husband reflected that it might have been time to grow their little family, and turn that closet into a nursery. A smile blushed across her lips, and she agreed thoughtfully, but. . . suggested that some practice would be most appropriate.

A bottle of wine, a brace of kisses, and they fall asleep in each other's arms.

* * *

"THUNK," bellowed the door. A wall of sound that crossed the bedroom from the closed door, a shot through the bed, their sleeping bodies, and left their window resonating like a loose drum.

He drew in a breath and a bad taste; turning his head he managed, "Wha. .what the hell?"

They both struggled to sit upright in bed. She fumbled blindly through the numbness of sleep. He slipped off the bed, and fixed his stare on the door. Her hand finally touched the small rotating switch of the small white lamp on her nightstand, and then there was light. She whispered, "What was that? Was that from the hallway?" She squinted, looking over at the clock, 2:55.

He shook his drooping head, and let out of a sigh as his eyes became accustomed to the little lamp. Trying to reassure her, he said as firmly as he could to the door, "Hello?"

There was no answer, but the wind lightly whistled outside, in the purplish yellow evening outside their window.

He noted to himself out loud, "There's no light from under the door, the hallway lights are off."

They looked at each other. "Did we turn off the lights?" she asked, honestly unable to collect the memory in her growing anxiety. She drew the blanket close to her eyes, and with nimble toes, curled the bottom of the blanket under her feet.

He armed himself with a candlestick.

Quietly, he approached the familiar door. . and turned on the lights. Looking back at her, his hand hesitated upon the knob.

Then, with a breath, he opened the door. . . He saw the stillness of a mocking darkness.

Unnoticed, the lights outside dimmed. Were they paying attention, they would have seen the stars retreat behind a blanket of clouds, the soft rosy glow of street lamps receded, and the lights in the windows of their faceless neighbors went out in unison.

He looked back, and whispered "I'll just have a quick look. Don't worry sweetie," and with a smile, he slipped into the darkness, pulling the door behind him. The door came to a near close, leaving a slick black strip.

She heard the soft of his footsteps moving away, drowning in the shadowy hall. She sat in the bed a moment, expecting to see the hallway light. . . but like his returning footfalls, it did not come.

She called his name; a voice gutted by fear, dried with uncertainty. She tried to shake off these childish fears, and with vain hope she chided, "This isn't funny!"

But then, again. . . there was nothing.

She slid off the bed, and shuttled over and pushed closed the old white door, and came back to stand by the bed.

The minutes curled up and died like centipedes stranded on hot tarmac. Her tears flowed freely, and silence filled with the soft murmurs of her crying.

She slid off the bed, over to the dresser and picked up the remaining candlestick. Unwillingly, throat soured by fear, and wet with only tears, she forced her legs to move her to the door. A plain white wooden door with four inset panels; a window on the heart of a cloud. The old glass knob with brass fittings stirred with dull reflections of yellowed lamplight. Four steps to the door, her eyes widened and she raised the candlestick.

Neither light nor sound came from the hallway.

Three steps to the door, but she could only inch forward on her quivering legs. Her head momentarily failed under the weight of tears and sobs.

With a wooden hand, she forced herself to touch the old glass knob, filling its gloom with the blooming aberrant shape of her hand. . or was it something else.

If ever a door, could be cruel. . . this one took it upon itself to take her by the throat, and squeezed with a long prickly silence until . . . "BOOM" it roared again. The echoing beyond was lost to some vastness that is more chasm, than her home.

She jumped back, and through her choked sobs, she blubbered out his name; an incomprehensible plea from a puddle of salty tears and mucous. The adrenaline that set her heart slamming about her rib cage like a wild sparrow thrown into a tiny airless box, could do nothing to prevent her knees from buckling.

Of course, the door stayed quiet.

And then, stars swirled overhead, streetlights again threatened to burn through the night sky, and several neighbors found their light switches.

The door innocently slid open of its own accord. . . but he simply wasn't there.

- 2007

I've wanted to write a story of short stories, told by a wanderer who traverses doors as portals to more than the next room, and who samples disjointed moments as the threads of his reality. There are hints of a old conflict underlying his travels; the reality of the very first story teller, and the tales in which we live; a floating citadel of flesh and mouths, endlessly telling tales into a void which they struggle to fill; and the endless revisions of an increasingly erratic story teller, whose perfected creations are tearing apart their realities. This is one such story.

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