The Other Side of the Door

January 14, 2010
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The Other Side of the Door
Ms. Watson was a petit Hispanic woman in her mid-thirties. Not that anyone would know for she hid her unruly ash-colored hair and creased face scarred with worries behind a thin slab of laminate oak. Her gray eyes watched the suburban moms rush from errand to errand, businessmen bustling home from work, and young children playing in the streets without a care in the world—all from the security of her tiny peephole. For two years now, she had hid from the worry and watched the world pass her by within the confines of her small two bedroom villa. The only thing that separated her from the world was the door.
When the flowers began to bloom and the birds chirped from their homes once again, Miss Watson spotted a little girl who lived across the street. She became transfixed with this particular girl and drawn to her carefree attitude that seemed to radiate from her soul. She would skip through their neatly trimmed grass with her blonde braids swaying gently in the breeze while humming songs of joyous tunes. Ms. Watson sat and admired—admired from her window pane that is.
Emily felt like she was being watched. Her eyes scanned the tiny cul-de-sac and met a pair of daunting gray eyes from the window across the street. Her curiosity overpowered her unease and she tentatively walked through the jungle-like grass and untamed weeds towards the door.
Ms. Watson felt her palms begin to sweat profusely as her ears were alarmed by the sound of her foreign doorbell. Her heart beat wildly and her breathing quickened. She felt the room closing in around her threatening to collapse at any moment. She had been spotted! Never had she felt so threatened in her usual safe place. She caught a glimpse of a white 2-dimensional object from the corner of her eye. She remained frozen in place, hiding behind her floral upholstered sofa until she saw the girl return to her own home. She turned her frail frame towards the door and saw a carefully creased piece of paper lying on her dingy hardwood floor. Slowly, she approached the letter as if it was a bomb that would explode at any moment. She held her breath as she disclosed the letter that had caused her so much anxiety.
Her eyes scanned the finger smudged paper and read the child-like scribbles. “Why are you hiding?”
Emily knew someone was in that house, despite its unkempt appearance that begged to differ. She arose the next morning and stood at her window sill to greet the fresh spring air and inviting sunshine. Lying beside the familiar door she had stood upon yesterday was a note. A new note.
She was here again. Ms. Watson could feel the perspiration drip from her brow as the strange creature approached and threatened the peace of her secure confinement. After much pondering, she had scribbled a short reply under the girl’s message. A simple, “I’m afraid.” It was the most honest, child-like response she could think of, yet it was still vague enough to conceal anything that might endanger her.
Emily read the note and responded back with something her mother often told her when she was afraid of the monsters that were lurking under her bed. Her words surprised Ms. Watson—they were much too profound to come from a mere child. Here words, “Life is too short to be afraid,” seemed more fitting on a piece of paper found in a fortune cookie than from the fingers of a young girl who couldn’t be older than eight.
And so it began, the communication between the young girl and the agoraphobic woman through the note that was slid under the door every day. Much to their surprise, a bond—a friendship—was beginning to form between the two strangers. Emily would wake up in the morning and run straight to the window sill without even thinking. She would burst with excitement when she spotted the piece of paper sitting on the doorstep. Ms. Watson no longer became afraid when she saw the little girl approach her door. She even began to look forward to it. She was fascinated with the places Emily wrote about. Mesmerized by the adventures she transcribed. And slowly—slowly the desire to do more than just survive—but to live life became greater than her need to hide from her fears. As her desire grew, so did her hope, the hope that maybe someday she would be able to talk to Emily, face-to-face, from the other side of the door.

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