Feb 10 2010

Opening the Door

Published by at 10:25 pm under callie,characterization,transitions,Writing

She awoke with the last dream image still in her mind — an empty street, all the buildings along both sides with their doors standing wide into the road, irregularly spaced night lamps illuminating a light mist. More open doors. She knew her subconscious would eventually get its full message through; the obvious interpretation was that it was time for another adventure outside, but it didn’t hurt to wait and confirm such intuition. Reading more would help shift mental gears, and thankfully it seemed like there was nothing currently stopping her from enjoying her book.

The prose was delightfully vivid, and she was enjoying the interweaving of metaphor around jailer and prisoner, parent and child, insanity and the fight for sanity, the power exchange and attempts at same. She caught herself staring through the words after reading the scene with the first escape attempt, her fingers absently stroking the smooth page as her thoughts took her back through the street of open doors. She closed her eyes briefly to erase the image, and returned to the text. After a while she set the book aside. It was engaging her interest but not enough to banish her dream, and she could not ignore the rumblings of her stomach any longer. With a little sigh and a last pat on the cover of the closed thriller, she arose from her couch and went to the kitchen.

She was definitely in the mood for violently chopping vegetables, and not of a mind to wait long for food, so stir-fry was an easy choice. She started a single serving of rice in the cooker, then pulled out a strip steak, an onion, a red and an orange bell pepper, and a bag of fresh-frozen green beans. The slicing and dicing was as viscerally satisfying as it always was, and she found herself humming as she combined the ingredients with her favorite custom sauce blend in the hot skillet. She didn’t recognize the tune, but that had happened before. Just as she felt the stir-fry was ready, she heard the clicking sound of the rice cooker completing its cycle.

Dinner preparations always helped repair her mood, especially when the timing worked out just right. She carefully arranged a perfect circle of pristine white rice on a dark blue dinner plate, and then scattered two scoops of the colorful skillet contents across the top. That, chopsticks, and a simple clear glass of water were all she carried with her to the table in the dining area that filled one end of the kitchen.

After her satiating meal, she did the necessary clean-up — putting the leftovers into a storage container in the refrigerator for lunch tomorrow, rinsing the dishes and putting them in the dishwasher, giving a quick wipe with a sponge to the counters and stovetop. She decided a dirty martini with her after-dinner reading would complete her evening nicely, and retrieved the appropriate glass from its place next to the cereal bowls in the cabinet. She set the glass on the kitchen counter and went to the refrigerator for the jar of olives. As her fingers closed around the cool cylinder hidden behind other bottles in the door compartment, she brushed something hard under what felt like a piece of tape, and her eyes widened for a brief moment in disbelief. She pulled out the olive jar and turned it around to confirm her suspicion: the key was taped to the back, over the nutrition label so the tape would hold.

One corner of the tape had peeled back where it went too far onto the glass, and her fingers played with the curled edge for a bit before she peeled off the key, taking bits of the label with it. She ran her fingers over the key’s surface but stopped when she encountered the sticky tape residue. Washing it was the first priority then; half a minute at the sink with soap and water and a good rinse were sufficient.

She thought for a moment about having her drink before trying the door, but decided it would make a better end to her adventure than a beginning. She left the glass on the counter to remind herself, but returned the olive jar to its place so it could remain properly chilled. She thought about leaving the key on the counter while she changed clothes, but that had failed her at least once before, so she kept it folded into her palm.

Now dressed more appropriately for the outdoors, she checked the window in the door to ensure that no one was near, but the visible area was as deserted as usual. She tried the key in the door lock. It slid in easily and turned smoothly on the first try, also not a given from past attempts. She didn’t hesitate as she turned the knob.

The door opened onto a shadowed path, made darker by the presence of full night. A cone of light from a street lamp at the end of the way seemed to show that she was down a short alley off a larger road. A brief burst of wind carried a crumpled piece of paper past her ankle. She moved to where she could see the main road better, and wasn’t surprised to find it was the street from her dream. More discarded paper littered the roadscape than she remembered, and there were less lights here, but those were minor variations in detail.

Here, unlike her dream, all the doors were firmly shut.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Opening the Door”

  1. Derekon 11 Feb 2010 at 2:44 pm

    This series is a very compelling and fun read! The scene when she opens the door and sees the glowing streetlamp at the end of the alley made me think of the streetlamp in Narnia. That put a smile on my face =)

  2. Reesaon 11 Feb 2010 at 3:51 pm

    @Derek – I am glad you are enjoying it. Compelling is definitely a good word for it, I’d say, I’m already looking forward to the next one!