I flicked the switch, silencing the exhaust fan and cutting power to the five bright, bare bulbs above the mirror. With my other hand outstretched to guard me from a likely clumsy collision, I felt for the door, holding it open as I slid along the hallway wall, feeling the coarse, chalky paint squeaking against my fingertips. My toes curled into the carpet as I slid along towards the bedroom door that, for the first time in months, sat closed, latched, and tight. I don’t even close it when I sleep. My fear of not being able to hear a rapist break into my living room keeps it ajar and ignored.
This evening had been busy on the tracks; freight had been rumbling through the open bedroom windows, metal screeching against metal and double-stacked cars slamming against each other as the mammoth trains slowed around the bend. My conversation was quiet, so I fled to the bedroom door and closed it–as if forgetting how. Did it latch? Does it pull against the carpet? Should I leave it cracked? Silly things to think about when trying to listen to someone’s words in your ear. No more to say except that it did latch, the carpet is much too short for force to matter, and the air suddenly felt somber, stale.
Hours later I was blinking into the inky darkness, bumping an elbow into the wall and apologizing to it under my breath. I rubbed my fingertips together before placing them on the bedroom door, trying to shred the dry discomfort of flat paint from my fingertips. I knocked to nobody, my knuckles rubbing in stripes until I found the cold knob.
Open sesame. Open door. Open air. Open lungs. My eyes, feeling more than seeing the glow of streetlights against the shades shut tight against it. Deep breaths went even deeper in the darkness. A smile and a sigh …. The balls of my feet scooted across the floor. I stretched out my hands to the window sill, leaning my weight against it. My mouth slurped in the cool, moist breeze, my nose brushing against the screen. The wind rumbled through the trees, picking up speed around the bend. It was delicious. Every moment I breathed I felt new again. I peeked. The orange glow from the street lamp revealed the way the leaves shook and trembled in their sleep. Why hadn’t I known this before?
It may seem simple, silly, even meaningless to love such moments. But don’t you know the joy of opening an old door? Rediscovering the freshness found behind it? It’s life.
And tonight life smells like October rain, peeling tree bark, and solitary bedrooms.