A Door set in Stone is a very short story I wrote to go with this week’s door image for the Thursday Doors, #ThursdayDoors, blog challenge where everyone can take part in, and hosted by Dan Antion over at No Facilities.
A Door set in Stone
It was the gurgling laughter that grabbed his attention causing him to nearly trip. It rose from behind the brick wall and floated with the wind like the bubbles kids blow at birthday parties. His eyes had left the road on their own accord, surprised as he was to hear a human voice. The toe of his right shoe hit against the raised pavement, his knees buckled downwards, his arms sprang upwards, then spun like two propellers, and for the duration of three rather large forward steps he’d been sure he was going to kiss the pavement.
He didn’t, for he had recovered his balance by the time he had reached the next yard.
That blasted buckle in the pavement, the result of an overgrown root from a nigh tree! It had produced a hump in the ground, one he knew well. Each season he had to watch his footing here for a different reason. Exactly here, seven steps from the crossroad if he came from home and twenty-four from the traffic circle when he returned home… In wintertime, the slight downhill right past the bump became icy and slippery. In summer, the rain would make the tree overhead throw off its flowers, while the humid heat would do the rest, turning them into slimy mulch.
Yet today a human voice had laughed behind that brick wall, the wall he’d walked past every day and never noticed, focused as he always was on that bump in the road.
Halfling the wall stood an arched wooden door framed in stone and flanked by two ceramic vases, like two giants keeping watch. He stopped in the middle of the road, his mouth half-open, wondering how he’d never noticed any of these before, before the laughter.
The next day he left home earlier. Because he never liked to be late for work, that’s why. As soon as he approached the brick fence he slowed his pace, treading carefully, his eyes jumping from the road to the wall, from the wall to the road, while all the time he was listening, trying to pinpoint the instant before the laughter will bubble and rise over the wall again. He slowed his pace so much he nearly stopped, nearly, yet he didn’t. And the laughter didn’t come. And it didn’t come the following day either, nor the next. Until one day when he forgot all about it, intent as he was on the road.
That day he’d caught the fold of a dress disappearing inside right before the arched doors slid shut. A long, pink, sparkly dress the kind one would wear to a ball.
Then the laughter rose again, sounding different this time. Questioning, somehow.
The knocker’s thud still echoed in his ears, his hand still raised, when the door opened.
‘I was waiting for you,’ She smiled. And he was lost.
‘And had I rang the bell instead?’ was the last coherent thought to flash through his mind.
A missing report was filed a couple of weeks later. Only when files began piling on his desk had his co-workers noticed his absence. Even then, it took them two days to figure out his name.
As for the bump in the road, it is still there, to avert the eyes of the passer-by from the door set in stone.
Copyright © 2021 Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.