The Door

It was there in the morning when Ma came downstairs, at dawn, to start the bread baking. It must have appeared in the dark of night, for when she woke Da he grumbled that everything had been normal when he blew out the last candle the night before. And was she sure she wasn’t imagining things?

It looked as much a part of the wall as if it had always been there. The wood was faded to the same degree as the floor boards. The brass handle was polished, flickering in the light of the hearth fire. It was a shock, that morning, and no one spoke much or took their eyes off of it as they broke their fast.

“Oak,” Da finally said, with a satisfied smile, as if that solved the mystery of the Door that had suddenly appeared in the kitchen overnight. Ma frowned.

“Oak? But that hardly makes any sense. There are no oak trees in these parts,” she said.

“All the same, ’tis made of oak,” Da said. He was concentrated on his breakfast now, and not the least concerned by the Door.

That night, as the sun set, they realized they could see a warm, steady light from underneath the door. Though the sun had set outside their window, the light underneath the Door was surely sunlight.

Benn Jr stood watch all night, never slept for even a wink. Something, he thought, Well, anything, could come through that door at any second. And why wasn’t Da concerned? The next morning, when he was so tired that he fell asleep behind a bale of hay for two hours, Da scolded him for being as silly as the girls.

The girls, after a short period of stunned silence, spoke of nothing but the Door for days. Sammie was as fearful as Ma. Neither ever turned their back to the Door, and spent as little time as they could in the kitchen, which meant that Da had too many dinners of cold meats and cheese for his liking. Tara talked through every plausible explanation - as if there could be a plausible explanation for the sudden appearance of a door in the middle of a wall in the middle of a kitchen in a house that was every kind of ordinary, most days.

Thea on a chair by the door, when no one else was looking, and listened closely. She hoped to hear a sound, and dreamed of hearing a voice. If she heard a voice, it could very well be the voice of her first true and tragic love. The Pyramus to her Thisbe. She waited, and listened, and dreamed of who might be on the other side of the Door.

Sometimes, during supper, Da would give it a sideways glance, when he thought no one was looking. He wondered. But he wasn’t a man who wondered, so he said nothing.

For weeks the family waited out their own private mystery, fearing, hoping, or puzzling an explanation. For months, they held out hope that something might Happen. No one ever tried the handle. No one ever peered underneath, or through the keyhole. For years, the children grew older and the youngest could hardly remember a time when there was no Door. Ma had long since forgotten her fear, and now swept the floorboards in front of the Door, pushing the crumbs underneath to save her back from bending down with the dust pan. Even Benn lost his conviction that Someone or Anything would come through the door, and returned to his bed down the hall.

One night, Da found himself in the kitchen, after blowing out the last candle. That was when he saw the light underneath the door go out, as if the Other Side had gone from day to night in an instant. He frowned. He had become used to the faint glow, accustomed to the fact that the kitchen was never fully dark. It had been years since he had stood in such darkness.

When they woke up the next morning, the Door was gone. They stared at the wall in stoney, unhappy silence.

January

The soft falling snow turned that moment into any moment - muffling the trappings of the present. Masking the pavement, covering 2013 in a blanket of white. A clean slate. It could be 1920 or 1830. It could be any moment in all of time. The time traveller enters the snow storm.

The snow flakes are soft and thick. Halfway through my thirty minute walk my coat, scarf, hat are white. My cheeks are rosy and wet. My eyelashes are laced with snowflakes, their presence softens the lights of the city, halos the streetlights and blurs the lines. It is brisk but not cold, my scarf and hat keep me insulated enough to feel the warmth of a fast walk on uneven ground.

The streets are quiet - muted by the snow, and emptier than usual for the same reason. There’s something about this snowfall that makes strangers smile at each other. Makes me sing under my breath as I walk. Makes me laugh when I arrive, covered from head to toe in snow, to meet him outside the restaurant. When I look up at him, through wet eyelashes, I can see he feels it to - the grace of this snowy night. I can see, for a moment, how he sees me - rosy, shiny, my eyes full of the delight of a perfect January night. I can see his feelings for me, brimming in his eyes. Blurred, haloed, softened.

Bookends

If I packed a suitcase for a journey to the end of the world, what would I bring? A toothbrush. Hand cream. My favourite sweater. Clean underwear. Then I would fill the rest with books. I would take worlds with me - realms of knights and dragons, realities of broken hearts. Laughter, tears, aching sadness, and unrestrained joy.

Books are the cornerstones of my life, marked and measurable. They shape and mould my past, present, and future. Contain it, but also set it free.

It’s difficult to find the words to describe the power of words.

Some of my favourite moments have passed inside pages. Somehow, in the pages of a book, I have always found meaning, found purpose.

It suddenly saddens me to the think that the books that decorate my life are intangible. In the past year, almost all the books I’ve read have been electronic. There’s nothing to touch of my 2013 favourites. When I think about this, I wonder if I’m missing those cornerstones now, forever.

I think I need to buy more books, to fill more space in my apartment and in my heart.