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The Door

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The cardboard box was soggy and floppy; the bottom threatened to give way and spill its contents onto the sandy gravel driveway. The smell of wet leaves and damp sand mixed with the taste of salt hung thickly in the air, and the severe sound of seagulls echoed in the vast sky. The wooden dock was still intact, its ashy brown wood creaking in the wind and dried from years of being bashed by salty waves.

The blue door was no longer the bright sapphire it had been ten years ago. It had faded to a worn color, much like everything else had over time on the coast. The door appeared weary and tired. Its wood was as dry as the dock, the brass doorknob was tarnished and splotchy from years of wear. The stone steps were smooth and rounded after enduring countless feet passing over them.

She hesitated at the door, the box still cradled in her arms like an overgrown, cumbersome child. She had passed so many times over the threshold, sometimes stopping to admire and gently stroke the smoothness of the beautiful door; other moments she would barely notice the bright blueness that mimicked the sea as she hurried in or out, always busy, busy, busy.

She had first learned to ride her bicycle on this sidewalk leading up to the blue door; her mother had stood on the rock-and-concrete steps and snapped a dozen pictures of her father propping up a teetering red tricycle with her pedaling madly.

In seventh grade she hobbled through the doorway numerous times on crutches after breaking her leg in an unfortunate skateboarding encounter.

The blue door had witnessed her high school midnight escapades, had heard the quiet roar of the cars that drove without headlights so as to not be seen when they pulled in the driveway. It had opened and closed behind her as softly as possible and chaperoned silently as she stood on the steps in the dark and kissed various boys.

She had posed in front of this door for senior prom pictures. Her date had awkwardly stood next to her, his arm around her shoulders stiff from nerves and the starch in his black tuxedo. She had accidentally stabbed him in the collarbone while pinning a white corsage to his lapel. Each picture taken after that showed her cheeks flushed more than normal.

The cobalt door had slammed behind her the last time she had seen it. It had mutely bade her goodbye, the rain drops streaming down its surface as if it was crying.

She leaned on the brass doorknob now with her elbow and kicked the door open with her toe. The piano sat in the corner of the bare front room, covered with a white canvas tarp and dusty from years of no one stroking its pearly keys. She could almost hear the echo of a single note being played from the piano, the haunted moments her mother sat on the bench and stared at the keys with a blank stare. The music followed her mother; it drove her to madness.

She set the soggy box on the floor, her back aching as she stood up and surveyed the house. The hallway to the right, leading to the expansive kitchen, had a thick coat of dust on the floor, like an unceremonious red carpet. The countless windows that faced the beach and the ocean beyond were coated in their own layer of grime, drops of salt water dried on in splotchy designs.

Family photos lined the walls, the deceased members inside the frames outnumbering the ones still alive. She noted how many were of her and her mother and father, a happy group of three from the outside. Inside, however, past the jewel-toned blue door, a fourth member swam through the rooms and wormed its way into her mother. It came in lines that seemed so neat and organized, so perfectly functional and normal, until they passed through an invisible barrier in her mother’s, twisted and muddled beyond recognition. The notes, soft and melodic, became sharp daggers piercing her skull, throbbing in her temples.

Sometimes she would lie in bed all day, the covers pulled up to her chin like a juvenile version of herself. Other days she would sit in bed with her head between her knees, as if a defensive position could block her from the torture occurring within. Music was more than deadly. It kept her alive. It pumped her blood through her veins, livened her heart. That is what made it so cruel. While her body pulsed with energy and fed off music, her mind twisted it into a horrifying ugly twin.

A set of French doors were on the other side of the front room, a part of a wall of windows that overlooked the grassy beach and cold water. She picked up the box and walked through the doors, straight through the house, as if the beach and dock and ocean were a continuation of the bright blue door. It was all one long, haunting hallway. A series, a chain, of events that never ended. Each thing reminded her of her mother. It was all so cruel.

The box became heavier in her arms as she walked toward the dock. A seagull flew messily away as she passed. The dock creaked under her weight and swayed. It was, perhaps, silly to build a private dock leading directly to the ocean. At the same time, it was quite practical. A dock provided a small, tamed piece of the ocean to experience.

The end of the dock came too quickly and not fast enough for her, both at the same time. The cardboard box, ripping at its worn seams, was set down at the edge. She peeled back the dirty packing tape and opened the flaps. Inside was sheet after sheet after sheet of music. Some were handwritten; others were photocopies made in a frenzy on the mad days where the music could not appear in her mother’s hands fast enough. Various sheets contained notes in the margins, the handwriting changing from loopy cursive to angular chicken scratch. The music was a very private journal, the inner workings of her mother’s mind, spelled and lived out in a very public descent.

A deep breath containing heavy air mixed with salt filled her lungs. This air kept her alive during her childhood. She picked up a stack of music and looked at it. Her vision blurred as tears formed. A single tear dropped into the ocean. It was symbolic, in a way, the salty water joining an ocean filled with thousands upon millions of its own kind. She raised her arms, the stack of paper high above her head.

With a powerful thrust, the papers flew forward. Her fingertips slipped from their grasp and she watched, mutely, as a thousand upon million sheets of paper were let go.



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