I felt it caress my mind, like the breath of a lover’s whisper on the ear:
Don’t you want to know?
I did want to know. I did. I stood there staring at that weathered, battered old door. The paint spider-webbed across the surface like desert clay, dried by decades of sun and air, decades of neglect. No one went near the door anymore; no one touched the tarnished, dusty knob, put hand on the shriveled, cracked wood panels, pushed against the must and mold covering the frames. No one saw what was behind that door. The wood plank floors vanished under it silently like mist, the shadows beyond pushing their way into the hall as far as they could, like a child straining its fingers under the gap between door and flooring. No one saw what was beyond the door.
I took a halting step forward, the floor protesting my movement, cautioning me against my curiosity. The walls seemed to lean in, warning me, trying to restrain me from crossing that ancient threshold, from seeing what was beyond the ward lock. The whole house seemed to press against me, to repel me from the door. But it was tenderly caressing me within, and the ache to know, the need to see, to touch, to feel … the urge seized my legs and inexorably I moved forward.
Don’t you want to know? Yes. I do. I do.
The memories zeroed in on me like a sniper’s scope: sunlight, joy, laughter. What fun I’d had as a child on the other side of that door! I could have drowned in the love I’d felt then, before … .
As though in a scene from a movie, I saw my fingers reach forward, toward that old dusty knob. I felt the scars on the tarnished metal and they brought forth the scars on my soul, opening the wounds anew. The sorrow wept within me. I have to know!
My hand remained poised on the doorknob while the subliminal dare took over, taunting me to twist the knob, as though I knew somehow the door would be unlocked without having any reason to suspect this. I was trapped in a daze, entranced by the voice drawing me into the rabbit hole as it started telling me its secrets. My secrets.
Yes, the door was always unlocked. It was a question of who had the courage to finally walk in.
I’m not so certain I was ready to face it myself, but my hand moved of its own volition, turning the knob slowly, feeling it twist with ease and almost hearing the metal of the lock slide while I shifted my weight on my feet. The floorboards creaked in protest, providing the final voice of dissent before I’d reach the point of no return.
I ignored them, apathetic to their message, and started to open the door.
Even it was reluctant to reveal its secrets. The old hinges groaned and I had to push firmly to overcome the inertia of ages. But it did open.
It was dark. The gloom drew me closer, straining to see beyond the threshold, to face . . . what?. I took one step, then two into that mystery. My courage wavered as two pinpoints of light sprang to life and something brushed by my face.
I have never been fond of spiders, and the soft, silken brush of a spiderweb is usually enough to make me howl in disgust. But I stood there, transfixed, staring at the pinpoints of light, which for a moment seemed like the eyes of an unknown animal; feral, silent. But I soon realized they were holes on the wall facing the tropical jungle beyond the house, not sources of light in themselves, but windows to the shadowy brushwood that lay outside.
I stepped closer to them, the floor creaking beneath me, the old planks barely holding my weight. It no longer felt as solid as it was on our afternoon escapades on those summers long, long ago. It used to be our favorite shaded den, a refuge from the hot summer outside, till everything changed one morning. I shudder as I think of that warm, bright morning when we were all hurriedly packed off by our silent, frowning parents to visit our uncle. When we returned two days later, a pall of gloom lay thick and heavy over the house. We left immediately the day after, never to return.
But that has changed now that my father has passed. I have come back after twenty long years to bid goodbye to the childhood retreat I had last seen through seven-year-old eyes.
A ragged wooden chest caught my eye. I didn’t recognize it.
Deep scratches marred every face of the chest, like it had been carelessly thrown around a hundred times. Were my father’s papers inside? Could I finally be free?
Heavy footsteps echoed through the house.
I spun toward the door. No one else was supposed to be here.
* * * * * * * * * *
Well, this is what we have so far in the flash fiction, 2-paragraph story circle game. If there are any more additions, make them in the comments section of this post, rather than the original (I’ve closed the comments there).
Thanks to everyone that played! It was fun, and the entries were outstanding! We had a wide variety of entry styles, making for a really intriguing opening. Maybe someday one of us will turn this into a full-blown short or something.
God bless, everyone, and thanks again! There’s another game going on right now over at The Writer’s Nesst, so go check it out and add your entry!