This week’s Weekly Writing Challenge imagines;
The door to your house/flat/apartment/abode has come unstuck in time. The next time you walk through it, you find yourself in the same place, but a different time entirely. Where are you, and what happens next?
I wrestled to comprehend. A paper bag full of groceries, milk, bananas, a whole chicken was still wrapped in my arm. The other lay toppled over, bell peppers spilled out onto the hardwood floor. Hardwood floor in the living room, not carpet. I peered over my shoulder, out the open front door. There was my car, parked at the curb, there was the covered entryway, nails that hung last year’s Halloween decorations still protruded from the wood siding, the over grown holy tree, the old redwood picket fence I’ve put off repainting stood there. But this was not my house. Out there was my house. Out there, through the front door, was my little yellow rental, plopped among the 1930’s Victorians and craftsmans. Inside here, this was not my house.
I glanced over the floral print, plastic-wrapped loveseat, against the wall, not a brown, microfiber, garage sale deal couch, no cat tower along side. A white, rectangle of a dining room table, dark red, vinyl chairs pushed underneath placed in the open dining room off the kitchen. There was no antique, round oak table and black painted, high-backed chairs. No wine cabinet, bookcase or Target bought entertainment case. No blueray, cablebox or flatscreen I mounted on the wall a week ago. My gaze sunk to a wood, encased radio cabinet, its face, a round, white glass-covered station dial.
Was it brand new?
A car passed by outside, a dark colored Toyota. I set the grocery bag down. There were pictures on the wall, black and white framed photos above the radio. An older couple standing on a dock, near a motorboat, a mountain reflected in the clear lake behind them. In another frame, another couple, a toddler in her arms, posed peering off into the distance. The third was the same couple, younger though, smiling in front of a blooming rose bush, he in a light colored suit and tie a matching brimmed hat on his head, she in a floral sundress, hair in fashion with Lucille Ball. Behind them a small yellow house. Stepping closer, the address on ceramic tiles mounted on the house’s front stoop, my address. I stumble over the the fallen groceries bag as I fled the pictures on the wall and the first thought that came to mind.
I found myself outside again, at the end of the steps, on the side walk looking up and down the street. My car was in front of me, birds argued from the depths of the holy tree in the front yard. The same, old Victorians, the bed and breakfast across the street, the same cross street alley, a view to the ocean in the distance. Turning back to the open door, I could see the same foreign interior.
Up the steps, passed the massive holy tree and through the threshold once more into the strange surroundings. I turned grasping the doorknob to swing the door closed but glanced out the front window. No holy tree. Leaving the the door ajar I could see out both the window and the doorway. Out the window the holy tree was gone, a full view of the street and the 1950’s craftsman across the street, no bed and breakfast sign, a cream colored, broad-fendered behemoth of a Plymouth at the curb. Through the open door, the holy blocking much of the street beyond, my Subaru parked on the street, in the same place the vintage Plymouth sat, seen through the window. I whirled around landing on the pictures on the wall again, the young couple in front of my house. Their house?
I left the door open, realizing reluctantly what may be happening. The open door may be the only link back and forth. A closed door may break the link altogether. With such logic in hand, I should step outside, shut the door, wait thirty seconds and open it into my house. But something wanted to see what else was here. I stepped further into the house.
Out the dining room window, into the backyard, a manicured lawn, no dandelions. On the patio, a pitcher of water – lemon wedges floating amongst ice cubes – sat atop a small, frosted glass table, white, metal chairs set around it. A feeling of interruption plodded warily through my mind. I stepped closer to the window expecting to see someone working in the yard. No one, nothing but a moment of hesitation.
The back two rooms, a bedroom on the left. My choice as well but instead of a large, solitary bed two twins were setup, each with a personal lamp and nightstand. A book rested on the nearest, Strangers on a Train.
Into the second room, not an office with antique, railroad desks against either wall, my grandfather’s acrylics and pastels hanging in their places but instead, a nursery. Set within reach of the open door, a crib. My chest went tight, a flush rose in my head, my eyes fell shut as a I breathed in deep. I leaned over the little railing and spat out an exhale. An empty crib.
Flurries of possibilities shuttered across my mind. A rush of what ifs. What if a baby was there? What if I the people who live here walked in? What if…? My stomach began to churn as I turned back to the open front door. What if that, whatever it is, rights itself and I strand myself here?
I stifled a sprint to the door. Curiosity of this place faded as panic of the possibilities welled up to replace it. Long strides towards the door, I’ve begun my retreat before my mind wholly committed. I cross the dining room and into the living room. I’m attacked. My vision blurs, my head struggling through vertigo. I reach out, a blind attempt to catch the recliner, my recliner in my house but it’s not there, not here. Down on a knee. One second. Two. Eyes begin to clear. I force myself up once again focused on the open doorway.
All around, the surroundings shimmered into blurred streaks, vibrating into vigorous oscillations. A figure ahead of me…no, two. A man. A man and a woman,. The figures sharpened, the faces cleared. The couple. The couple from the photos on the wall. The couple in framed black and white, in front of my house, standing before me now. Our eyes stared at each other. He pulled her tight to him. She held her baby, expressions on their faces mirroring the shock of my own. They wavered, shivered in unison, an old filmstrip sent off its reels. Then, nothing. They were gone.
A wave washed over my mind. I felt myself sway, legs unwilling to remain under me. I reached out for something to stay upright. The recliner, the arm of the recliner in its place, where it’s supposed to be. I gazed around the room, at the garage sale deal couch, the cat tower at its side, the television mounted to the wall next to me, the bookcase and wine cabinet.
My legs gained their confidence as I pushed myself up and moved to the door. Out the large front window, the holy tree filled the view. I grasped the doorknob and slowly swung the door closed.