Open Closed Doors
On the long stretch home from the school bus stop, Kate sometimes played the Open Door game. Today would be different. Today, when she opened the door, Grandfather would greet her: “How was your day, Katy-Moon? What did you learn today?”
“I learned that kids can be mean, even after Mrs. Clarke has read us a story where the main point was to be nice, even though they were all crying in the story when Little Paul Dombey was sick, and I learned that when they get like that, it really is OK to go off on your own and ignore them, and I learned if you do so, someone might come up and say, ‘hey, do you want to explore the back woods with me?’ and if you say ‘yes’ he might might say, ‘OK, let’s go,’ and so you might find a whole caterpillar nest where they’re all tangled up in the oak. Did you ever see one, Grandpa?”
And for a second, the Open Door game might stop, for she would never know how he would answer that question.
She could imagine that, yes, he had seen a caterpillar nest, all tangled in white fairy hair, for who hadn’t, if he loved to walk the woods as her grandfather did, when the door wasn’t closed?
Grandfather would say, “Are you hungry, Katy-Moon?”
Or maybe–and this would be better–she would smell meatloaf–meatloaf and baked potatoes, and maybe, she could smell it now, just as she rounded the bend, before she even ran up the hill, and maybe that’s why she was running so fast, and when she opened the door, she would call out to Grandpa in the kitchen, “Grandfather, what delicious things are we having for supper?”
And after supper, he would say, “Leave the dishes, Kate, and let’s dance.” She would thumb through the stacks of LPs until she found the one she loved the most, Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, and, slowly, she’d pull it out, and slowly, she’d place it on the turntable, and ever so carefully, Grandfather would set down the needle while she turned the nob on.
And they would spin, and twirl, and dance, and sing, and he would scoop her up and waltz her to bed, and drop her onto the mattress so she would bounce and bounce and bounce and when the bouncing stopped and the music stopped and the blankets were snuggled around her, he would say, “Sleep tight, Katy-Moon,” and she would be asleep already.
But playing didn’t make it happen.
She opened the kitchen door to find her dirty cereal bowl on the table, the milk left out, the spotted spoon in the sink, with no record on the turntable, and the dog’s bowl in the corner empty, and the door to her grandfather’s bedroom, once again, closed.
Prompt for May 17: “Write A Story In 14 Sentences,” from StoryADay.org.