fiction

The Door

old-door-knob-joanne-coyle

He had always wondered what the door would look like. Whether it be aged, warped or beaten by weather and years of use. Or perhaps healthy, covered in a fresh coat of polish or paint, the door handle glimmering. The expectations. He always wondered—and particularly on the journey over in the car. Or in-fact, any journey or space of time where concentration could escape him and his mind could wander. It didn’t matter what it was, only that it occupied his mind at that moment in time. Occurrences of troubling frequency in the recent weeks.

Why were the comfort blankets handed out by the Police to victims of a terrible tragedy or event so dull in colour and texture? The dull grey draped over the form of a woman, consuming her shoulders and her delicate flowery blouse. A cheerful pattern of colours; red, blue and soft yellow. It seemed odd to him that the object of safety and rest so perfectly symbolised the loss itself. Was this carelessness? Or simply seeking to be appropriate? No-one expects to be dressed in colours so bright after an event of that magnitude, only the colours of the police sirens. Oh that was it. He had to stop thinking this way, in every precise detail of an action or occurrence and their perceived notions. Or should he? Surely he is only better prepared for thinking this way. But at what cost?

The door was not how it had been anticipated. It was not one or the other, it was somehow both. The quality of the wood indicated that it had been stained and polished to maintain its rich tones. In the central to the door was a small, proud and ornate window furnished of stained glass. However, much like the people he expected behind it, the door had a character about it. On closer inspection, it was a little worn, the handle softly eroded from years and years of constant use. The wood softened in places where it had been held multiple times or from over-working by the maintainer.

He couldn’t stop this. Not since the event. He had been unable to change his thinking, to escape the details, the constant analysis. Perhaps it was a comfort. But a comfort does not create or exert a terrible pressure in the mind. It does not consume a soul. Instead it seeks to soothe. So that could only mean that the nature of this obsession was not pure. There was benefits to this view of the world, it enabled him to see things more clearly; to see through the shroud of confusion which plagued others. So maybe he was simply overreacting. But then again the problem was looking into things too deeply so in itself a vicious cycle was then created.

Now he found himself re-visiting his approach to the door, how his light feet and legs had become heavy with anticipation. His trachea constricted. His very lungs weighed down as if full of tar, sticky and unwilling to allow him air. He found it strange how his body reacted to this type of stimulus. He had never until this moment felt the weight of expectation and not in such a physical and tangible form. He instantly felt dread. Lights flashed a cruel red and blue in his mind. This simple action had transitioned into crippling him and even simple body functions seemed a struggle.

He remembered the night on the pier. It had been beautiful, the neon of the arcade had reflected far across the water. They had sat together on a bench, papers full of salty chips between them. They were over salted and feeble but it hadn’t mattered, the silence and atmosphere of the setting were simply appreciated, jointly. This night more important than the others because it was the first memory of many. The memory slipped away, like the rest of them.

What was waiting for him inside?

He could not allow another failure. This had to be the first of many successes. Determination gripped him, released the lock over his body and took hold of his arm, extending it out towards the door handle. He coiled his hand around the handle to have a strong and steady hold on it. He tugged on the handle to avoid slowness, there had been enough anticipation, enough waiting. He had no control over the event, he had been powerless. The time was now, he could and would control this. An eternity passed before the mechanism clicked. He pushed. The door squeaked on its hinges. He had always hated that.

Always? The memory of working on the door, returned to him and his promise to his wife to fix the squeak. He knew within a flash what he had been hiding from himself. He felt the pressure, the companion of his constant thought slowly begin to slip away, replaced by a different comfort. Familiarity. This door was not the unknown. The muscles in his forehead relaxed finally after seeming to be tense for so long. The deep furrows in his brow now told a story. His affliction of being able to see things clearly had blinded him from his own truth. The opening of the door, opened another in his mind. Images flashed through his head but not of the sorrow or tragedy this place had known so well. Memories of better times, times that had been lost to loss itself.

Before the sirens, the reassurance that everything would be return to normality and the suffocating dull grey blankets. All terribly suffocating. As if they could ease his shock. It was all so false, he could see through it and it had given no comfort to him. He remembered the night when he had lost them, his hand instinctively touching the scar on this forehead caused by the impact of the crash on his skull.

But it was over now, he had overcome this and now he could move on with is life. Away from the event. His vision momentarily blurred as the weight of the realisation came crashing down his cheek in the form of a single salty tear. He had made it.

He opened the door to his home. Finally.

 

Image sourcefineartamerica.com

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The cat

The cat stood watch lazily, its hazel-green eyes never blinking. The cat had been sitting at the window for almost half an hour, to be exact, 27 minutes. The streaked ginger hair running the length of its back started to prickle, slightly. Its eyes swivelled in its sockets frantically. Its pupils dilated to a ridiculous measure as if the cat wished to absorb what it was watching in the blackness of its widened eyes. Very slowly, the cats form became rigid, the muscles tensing all over its body, the tail flickering angrily like an endangered flame.

Bullshit. Adam cursed under his breath and slammed the lid of his laptop down hard, cursed and carefully opened it again. The cat known as Cleo, fidgeted and lost track of what had previously caught its attention. Like an endangered flame. “What even was that shit?” Thought Adam. He knew what it was, certainly not good enough to be published. Unless it was for a kid’s book, he supposed. He slurped the last of his lukewarm coffee noisily. Adam gurgled in pain and spat a mouthful of steaming coffee back into the mug, massaging the sides of his face with his free hand as if that would help soothe the burning sensation. Another thing he was wrong about, he chuckled to himself before quickly grimacing as he remembered his burnt mouth. Fuck sake.

Maybe he was just too hard on himself, he had that column before, and he could get more writing work, right? What was he even doing writing about his stupid cat anyway? Cleo had moved to sit directly in front of him, green eyes staring blinklessly up at Adam and let out one long and shrill meow as if replying to Adam’s thoughts. The stench of stale cat breath wafted up to his nostrils. Hmmm…fishy. Adam wrinkled his nose and frowned; maybe he was telekinetic. That would cool. Maybe if he could communicate with minds he would be able to control th- Adam was brought harshly back to reality as the Cleo sunk his claws into his lap. “Ow! Shit, Cleo.” Cleo did not stop, but instead persisted; this was all part of his ritual. Adam glanced at his watch. “Of course” he thought, “he needs feeding.” Another thing that he had neglected to remember.

“Hey shithead.” Adam turned to see Trish stood in the doorway, half naked, hair wet from her shower and a sly grin on her face. “The cat needs feeding dumbass.” She winked playfully. “Well you need to get dressed, my lady” replied Adam in a mocking tone. “Alas, that is true.” Alice feign sighed, waving her arms around before flopping face first onto the bed where Adam was sitting, scaring Cleo into running out of the room. Things were never serious between them. That was a good thing as far as Adam was concerned, as soon as things were serious they became difficult. Everything was just better off as a joke.

“Thanks for that. He was really digging into me there.”

Trish pulled out a fake finger pistol from an imaginary holster down by her side, blowing away imaginary smoke from the barrel. “All in a day’s work, partner.”

“One day I’m going to tell him I named him after his stupid catfood.”

“He’s just a cat, he wouldn’t understand.” mumbled Trish from through the bedsheets.

“Yeah, but I know the truth so it’d still be fun.”

Trish laughed and lifted herself back up into a sitting position lightly punching Adam on the arm. “C’mon, start writing.”