The Open Door

Written by B. W. Jackson

TheOtherSideofTheDoor.jpg
Image: The Other Side of the Door by Lê Huỳnh Trà My

 

     I was beginning to warm to the couple who had taken me in. From a back room, I listened to them rummage through the house. I had already hoped, or even assumed, that they had a certain sensibility; and I was most grateful to them, for they had saved me. I was on the side of the road, leaning up against a tree, beside other unappreciated items discarded by an impertinent and impatient young man who complained of old things.

     In stark contrast to the young man who had thrown me to the curb, my new owners seemed to have some reverence for what I have been and what I can still be, although they are clearly uninformed. I heard the man wonder out loud about me. Pine, he said! My worry is that they love me for the wrong reasons. I cannot help but be concerned. That is my fate. Front doors must live with their sensitivity.

#

     Every part of the house is different. The walls are said to have ears; in fact, they don’t listen at all. Floors often whine, murmuring of the downtrodden and philosophizing every chance they get. Rooftops put up a strong front, and they are loyal, but they can be insecure and defensive. Windows are very enjoyable company. They are lighthearted and kind, which is understandable given that they don’t bear the type of onerous responsibility of doors. Due to their intrinsic value and intimate relationship with occupants, doors maintain a definite stature in the house.

     But every door is different, too. A good bedroom door should be trustworthy. The bathroom door is always private. The office door, although knowledgeable, is a bore. The attic door tends to be weird at best, and downright creepy at worst. Indeed, and as suspected, the attic door will move or creak on purpose when the mood is eerie.

     Front doors, without a doubt, are first among equals. They are the salutatorians and the valedictorians. At once the front door must be faithful to those inside the house and cautiously welcoming to those outside the house. Front doors are ambassadors.

#

     Before the impertinent and impatient young man threw me out, I spent four blissful decades in the presence of a warm family. I never doubted their sincere appreciation for me. Their taste was impeccable. The father was a doctor and the mother a professor. I watched as their family expanded. I had few complaints during that time. The children, particularly during their teenage years, often slammed me, but the parents made a point of reprimanding them for their carelessness. And I do not mind being shut with force, especially if it serves a purpose.

     Alas, once all the children had left, the parents couldn’t care for the house. They sold to a young man I never trusted. He had the air of a landlord. He said all the right things to the dear old doctor. He spoke sentimentally of colonial houses. But I knew he had other designs. He didn’t fool me. No doubt, he will have tenants in every room before the year is out.

     I wasn’t at all surprised when he appeared in the driveway with his truck heavy laden with home improvement supplies. What a horrible euphemism! As if tearing out an original porcelain sink and installing a particleboard vanity is an improvement.

     I knew I wouldn’t last much longer. Even before he dragged the hideous door out of the back of his truck, I had guessed his intentions. He had complained about me from the beginning, held his hand up to the sliver of space beneath me and around my hinges, bemoaned my draftiness. The fool! Old houses must breathe. A door’s hinges and knobs are a mark of nobility. Yet the young man hammered away as if he meant to knock them clean off.

     When he jostled me off the frame, I could feel that he was stunned by my heft, as I expected he would be. He staggered backwards. I wondered if he experienced any doubt when he realized I weighed twice as much as his new industrial door. Struggling, he managed to walk me out to the side of the road.

     I was fortunate not to spend more than a few hours by the curb, but even that was a disgrace. I nearly began to hope that someone might at least come salvage my hinges and knobs. Every cursory glance from a passing car pierced my heart. I cannot describe my relief upon hearing my new owners discuss how they would fit me in their station wagon.

#

     My new owners continued to rummage around, and I noticed for the first time that I was not alone. Across the room from me stood a dark and brooding door. In the hallway, I espied a door with glass panels. Evidently, my new owners had collected several front doors.

    As I pondered my strange situation, the couple suddenly returned. Together they carried me out of the back room and into a larger room, where I saw even more doors, a shopfront. Their intentions became clear.

     Now I wait and hope, and philosophize with the floors.

 

featured in our winter 2019 issue

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