Doors I Haven’t Opened

Miniature door beside my favorite table at the coffee shop… It is small, as if made especially for a short person (me). It is painted the same color as the walls. It’s locked from the outside. I sit just beside it. I wonder, at times, about turning the lock to see what’s in there. The door itself is set beneath a sloping section of ceiling—stairs I can’t see. This door, if opened, would lead to the vacant space beneath the invisible stairs, it would be empty, used for storing only air. If I opened this door, and slipped inside to see how far the ceilings reached, how far up the underside of the stairs would take me, the door might close behind me, and someone might turn the lock. How long would the supply of air last behind that door? It is loud in the café… would someone hear me knocking?

Door in the last stall of the women’s bathroom at work… This is a white door, left locked or unlocked I don’t know, I’ve never tried the handle. Sometimes a light shines from under the edge of the door, which makes me wonder… is someone inside there, hiding? Might a person pop out when I least expect it, might I be startled by a falling mop and broom? The stall itself is as big as an East Village bedroom. There would be room for a bed, a chair, a tall dresser. When upset at work, and needing to hide it, this is the stall I’ve gone to. When feeling dead inside and wishing I were doing anything else with my days, I’ve stood there, inside that stall, staring at the door. It might not only hold cleaning supplies. It could be an escape hatch out the building. It could lead to the emergency stairway, there for more emergencies than just fire, a pathway down to street level that opens straight onto the sidewalk. I could open that door in the last stall, slip inside, and no one would know I’d gone.

Door beneath my studio at the writers’ colony…
I lived in a studio, a little house, for one month that was set up above a dirt road and hidden by trees. No lights lined the road, so looking out the windows at night showed only pure, endless darkness. It was a week or two into my stay that I happened to walk around the back of the studio and discover the door in the foundation. The door was directly below where I had my bed. It was troll-size: small. Small enough that if I wanted inside, I’d have to walk on my knees or crawl. The door itself was made of boards and held closed by a single latch. Anyone could come by and open the door and go into whatever was beneath the studio. Who knew what was in there? I was chilled. I didn’t want to open it. Also, the dinner bell just rang, so I left the door alone, planning to undo the latch and open it later. But in the night I became aware of shuffling sounds—creaks, squeaks, the hush of the heating system or else someone’s breath—coming from, I was sure, directly under my bed. My imagination—already pumped up by my month-long writing spree and in a very heightened place—brought to life the creature(s) that may have lived under the studio. In the night, they’d go in and out of that door, scratching on their short ceiling, taunting me. The large property belonging to the colony was rumored to be haunted in places—there was a rock outside a certain studio that I would NOT walk past alone at night, no matter if you paid me—but I’d heard no rumors about my own studio. It was only my imagination, only a door to the boiler, or to a storage space, or to nothing, to grass and weeds and dirt. There was no reason to be afraid. There is a photo of me, my last day at the colony, crouching in front of the passageway that led to the little door. I am trying to smile. But notice that I crouch just beside the door. That I don’t dare open it.

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3 thoughts on “Doors I Haven’t Opened

  1. Love this. All the uncertainties and the possibilities that spring from the image of a locked door… I’ve got the shivers.

  2. I love thinking about things like this. “What’s behind the door? Where can it lead?” I find that I take so much for granted in my everyday life, I look at so much without really seeing it. It’s interesting to question what lies beneath the surface.

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