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DOOR – A Short Story


DOOR

There is a door and behind the door are horrors. The door is mostly shut, it is a heavy oak door but you would not know it was oak as it had 89 years of paint on it. Layer upon layer, originally white gloss, but now more ancient ivory and chipped; this did a good job of protecting the door from the many inhabitants and knocks of the house. The handle was round and you would need to turn it to open it. There is a keyhole but the little oblong latch covering it up; had over the years of painting seized and was  now stuck fast. That was a good thing, to not to be able to slide the latch, to peep in. Would you want to see? The Edwardian key had long since vanished. The door unfortunately, was not locked.
Each day people walked past quickly, if they lingered it would mean feeling coldness seep out from the door frame where there were tiny gaps, no bigger than to slide a sheet of paper through. The biggest gap was under the door. If you walked past barefoot, your white flesh would sense that cold come along; like slivers of ice attaching themselves to your toes. You then would shake them out and think nothing more of it. Just, as long as the door was firmly shut. Tight.
During the past 89 years there have been families living in the house; it is a 3 bed semi with garage, garden and parking. No one could exactly pinpoint when the door was opened last. When the house was sold on, the particulars of the door were noted and accepted. It was a ‘quirk’ the agent had said, and as such the house was cheap. People didn’t seem to mind. They were initially curious of course, that would be natural. But, after the years, inhabitants went from scurrying by to waltzing slowly by generally more towards the wall opposite the door to avoid the chill. As far as they could see there was no room behind the door, there was no outside window visible. In the past, one brave child turned the handle and was beaten down by a matriarchal stare of such ferocity; they did not try it again. The house was put on the market after that. You wouldn’t want to chance a repeat performance.
Time went on and with the season changes came new inhabitants. They too were told about the ‘quirks’ and they declared ‘We love quirks’. The agent raised an eyebrow and handed over the keys and did not wave goodbye while the inhabitants stood on the doorstep. At first, the new people were very good and wore slippers to walk past the door, sometimes their bodies would brush against it and if they had bare skin it would be left with an ice cream chill that would last all day. Sometimes, you could forget about the door, and in your mind it would cease to exist. But, it was there; all day, sighing out sad, sharp icicles through paper thin gaps.
In the 90th year, there was a sea change. More tiny cracks started to appear in the ivory oak door frame, at first barely noticeable. But, what it did allow were more whispers of coldness to creep out. One by one the cracks grew larger.
‘Something must be done,’ the present owner said ‘the door frame will not hold the door for much longer’.
‘There has been movement’ one surveyor said.
After much searching, they found a carpenter willing to undertake the challenge. The inhabitants vacated and the carpenter occupied. The job was a hard task; how to remove the door frame but keep the door intact. ‘The door must not be opened at any cost’ was his remit. The carpenter, a simple man tried to think how to do the job. What could be so awful behind a door? I would be quick the door frame needs replacing. Take the hinges of the door and then knock out the frame and replace it and then rehang the door. He had done this job a thousand times.
He was a meticulous man and unpacked his tools. He studied the door, a good door made from good oak. Somewhere local, rumour had it, made from a felled oak tree next to Shooting Marsh Stile. It had stood for maybe a century or more, laying precedent over what went on in that field. Blood spilt, bodies hastily dumped in makeshift graves, too many to count. A door made from good, strong oak, the carpenter stroked the warm wood. It was then the temperature dropped suddenly and he put another layer on.  In order to unscrew the hinges he must open the door first. It would no doubt take a while to do this, the door apparently had never been open. His hand began to turn the wooden round door handle and his heart began  to pump. Hairs prickled on his neck and angry damp air escaped from the gaps in the door frame. He did not believe in superstition and wanted to do his job. He turned hard and pushed, expecting it to be heavy and sealed up. The door opened freely and decades of staleness was sucked out and taken in to the carpenter’s lungs. He closed his eyes. There was silence.
When the inhabitants returned later, the door was shut fast, the door frame was complete, no gaps remained. They were filled in. A small bag was placed beside the door full of neatly packed away tools. The carpenter was nowhere to be seen.
‘A good job,’ the current inhabitant bemused. ‘A good job’.

. door image

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