A few days ago I read Matthew T. Aspden’s post at Mattsden101 and was extremely impressed with his first attempt at WordPress’ Weekly Writing Challenge, Through the Door. I decided to take a crack at it as well. It was a short story that was struggling to get out. I had no control. Also, if you didn’t know it already, May is National Short Story Month. I Hope you enjoy it. Thanks Matthew, for the inspiration.
The door to your house/flat/apartment/abode has come unstuck in time. The next time you walk through it, you find yourself in the same place, but a different time entirely. Where are you, and what happens next?
Through the Door
Immediately upon entering my home I sensed that something was amiss. Soft music plays in the living groom and the curtains are wide open, revealing a winter wonderland in the middle of what was once a very hot day in May just minutes before. I stand with keys in hand and with mouth agape. Am I in the wrong apartment?
Quick glances about my surroundings give me an overload of information that I process quickly while my mind is still reeling. I can smell the aroma of something extremely delicious simmering on the stove. I hear the shower running in the bathroom down the hall. Around me, the furniture has changed and the layout is different. There are more paintings on the walls and pictures on decorative frames on shelves.
Then reality bitch-slaps me and all becomes very clear.
I drift closer to one picture in particular: my daughter’s college graduation. At least I think it’s my daughter. Another shows her wearing a stethoscope in an office. Her office. She’s beaming. God she’s beautiful! She’s so much… older.
I then hear a woman’s humming. Right there in front of me, sitting on the couch with her back to me is a familiar person. Beside her and to her left are two small children sitting next to her. I don’t know them. One is reading while the other is playing on a device.
Once beautiful hardwood floors are now covered with thick rugs, which muffle my approach. Moving a little closer, peering over her shoulder I see that she’s reading her tablet. No longer sporting her stylishly cut short black hair, she now wears it gray and a little longer. She’s oblivious to my presence. She stops her reading and lovingly strokes the head of the nearest child as she plants a kiss.
I notice the ring immediately. It’s very beautiful.
The shower stops and I hear the bathroom door open. “Honey, I’ll be there in a moment to tend to dinner,” a male voice booms down the hallway. I don’t recognize it. “We’ll get those twins fed before they go back home in a jiffy.”
Then reality bitch-slaps me and all becomes very clear. I turn to look at her as she reads and then to the picture on the shelf I had missed earlier during my initial scan.
She’s so happy with him.
I stare at it and just blink. I think about that other life. I think of the good times and the bad times. I think about how much we’ve grown and how much we’ve yet to grow. I am filled with sadness but only briefly, like a distant memory recalled and then dispersed to the winds.
I think about the precious time wasted. I think about how in the end, the arguments and the conflicts didn’t matter. Respecting one another, being responsible and taking care of our precious was – is all that really mattered to me. With the passing of time, love changes and morphs into something different, always in a state of flux. But overall it’s still the same emotion, often laced with volatility but still containing so much depth.
We’re on different paths… drifting… but I’m okay with it. It’s taking its natural progression and this course cannot be altered. Acknowledging this fact makes this reality so acceptable, even natural. I’m comforted by the knowledge that no matter what happens, they’ll be both taken care of. That pleasant thought makes me smile.
I back away and head out the door silently. Before shutting it completely, I turn and look at her and I am at peace. With one last glance I shut the door.
I turn to walk away and the door opens almost immediately just as I closed it, startling me in the process. It’s her, along with my daughter exiting the apartment. She looks at me with concern.
“Are you okay,” she inquires as she locks the door behind her. I stare at her green eyes and stammer something unintelligently. My 11-year old daughter hugs me, squeezing me tightly and bringing me out of my stupor.
“Want to come with us or are you going to be busy again?” she pleads with her big bright smile and pretty brown eyes. Meanwhile, she walks past me and descends the stairs as I hold my daughter.
“Sure, why not,” I tell her with a smile. “We’ll all have a fun time this afternoon.” I smile knowing that everything’s going to be OK. I’m totally cool with that.