She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door. Medieval and ornate, the door did not belong in her tidy living room, between the family pictures and the book shelves. Worse, it wasn’t always there. Since the day she’d met that gardener in the park it had come and gone. Even now it was fading.
She stood up slowly. Hers was not a life conducive to the random appearance of strange doors in her living room. Since the accident of her divorce she had been the perfect citizen — predictable and productive. She did her job, did it well, then hurried home to take care of her children. Who turned out just fine, thank you. All three of them had gone to college, and graduated. Hopefully they were happy.
Across the room she walked, carefully, so as not to startle whatever it was. At first she had thought she must be mad. Reading in her rocking chair, hiding in her stories, she tried to pretend the door did not exist. She had refused to inspect the intricately carved wood, to trace the sinuous curve of the golden handle. No window, no peep hole, allowed her to see beyond. If she wanted to discover what lay on the other side she would have to open the door.
She stretched out her hand as she would to a strange cat — slowly, almost absently, as though she didn’t much care if it came to her or not. The handle was warm to the tentative touch of her finger, faintly welcoming. Emboldened, she grasped the handle, took a deep breath, and pulled, looking over her shoulder at the pictures of her children. Nothing moved. The door had almost vanished. The children looked startled.
Absurdly disappointed, she pulled again, then braced one foot against the wall and tugged. The door moved slightly. Suddenly desperate, she tugged harder, tugged with all her strength. She ignored the grey footprint that appeared on her perfectly painted wall. The door opened with a rusty shriek of surrender.
Stepping through the doorway she found herself in a cold gray room with a line of plastic chairs and a glassed-in booth. There were no windows, and no door save the one through which she had entered. The room resembled the waiting area for a plane, or a ferry.
The booth was closed, venetian blinds pulled down inside. A stenciled sign read: TOUR HAS DEPARTED. NO ADDITIONAL TOURS SCHEDULED AT THIS TIME. On the counter rested a perfect rose, tiny dew drops still clinging to scarlet petals.
She picked up the rose, held it to her nose and promptly impaled her thumb on a thorn. The sweet scent and the wound brought tears to tired eyes. A card lay on the counter. The lovely curling script was hard to decipher, especially when her vision blurred. Sorry, couldn’t wait any longer. Maybe next life.
The woman sighed, took the rose, and stepped back into her too-familiar room. Behind her, the door swung shut with a decisive click. When she turned to look, it was gone. The smudged footprint on the wall remained.
The rose stood elegantly in a crystal vase. Gazing at it, she sucked her wounded finger, the taste of blood warm and rich on her tongue. A deep fragrance cleansed the air. I hope the blossom lasts so I can show the kids, she thought. I have paid for it in blood.
Maura Glynn-Thami is a physician who has discovered that writing chart notes all day long is not as much fun as writing stories. So she writes when she has time, and reads when she does not. The opening chapter from a novel in progress was a finalist in the SciFi-Fantasy section of the PNWA contest in 2012. She holds a certificate in Literary Fiction from the University of Washington, and attended the Taos Toolbox Workshop in 2012.