It starts like the bristling detachment of Velcro or the arrogant snap of a rubber band on your wrist. The cringing, ripping sound, the reflexive quick sting, ringing vibrantly on in the moments after. Like a bell that tolls a beat of hours that is overlooked in the passing, then counted by recalling rhythm afterwards. Instinctually, you want to keep going, keep climbing, over rubble and debris. The day has long since ended as you move through stark jagged blackness. You check the breast pocket of your jacket for a match. You strike the little brown line, once, twice, three times and light the now apparent hallway. The match burns down to your fingertips and dies. You let the remnants of stick and ash fall on the floor of the thick carpeted rug, decorated like elevator music, and see that your panoramic view of atmosphere stays alight, and right in front of you your eyes are beholding a door in your path.
You can’t open the door by force. Your elongated appendages, uniquely designed or evolved for grasping, reach out and wrap around what would be simple problem solving to exit. Fingers gripping, your hand turns, the motion to open, you jiggle the knob, it’s locked. You’re standing at the end of the hallway of unmarked places unseen by any map. You’re within the ruin, the century, the universe. You are within yourself. You can’t open the door by force.
You start by trying to calm. Breathing practices to steady the lungs, but molecules and dust motes fill your head through your nose like peeling wallpaper. The air is still and un-fresh, so you begin to focus on the factual behavior of objects.
The doorknob is oval and smooth. Turn it, it won’t open. Now the doorknob is round, then square, cut crystal, a lever. The doorknob is glass, brass, iron, of many metals or stone. First gold, but then ruby, later jade, then turquoise. Soon you’re shaking those handles with all your might and force until you decide it doesn’t matter what the damn door knob looks like. It won’t open.
You feel the panels of the door, wooden like any living thing ought to be, expanding to eventually shrink and decay, but time will not open this door by itself.
The doorknob slips off in your hands, like clumsily knocking your head on something hard, hard as the wood of the door in front of you, after having lifting your head up from focusing on something on the ground levels, misjudging your location and distance from a structure above you, and the cabinets and table laugh and laugh, and there’s nothing to be done. Slip the knob back on, jiggle the handle, it won’t open.
Wall to wall, darkness behind, the door in front. The wall paper is green floral and low lamp lighting gives off soft eerie hues. You turn away to think so that the door can’t hear your thoughts. Maybe if you take it unawares…
You turn to run at it to find yourself running up a stair case with no end. The door cannot be tricked. Now you’re running and running and the stairs keep growing and growing, so you stop to sit down and catch your breath, and when you raise your weary head, glistening with sweat running down your temples, you find the stairs gone and the door is back standing in their place with astounding mockery. You realize you’ve either met a worthy opponent or just another trampoline.
Wait, you realize there’s a window where there hadn’t been before. The panes are solemnly closed. They begin to rattle noisily within their casings. There’s an unseen nightly breeze impossibly coming through and the tapestry curtains dance vivaciously as if possessed by ghostly whispers. You look to the door. You consider to run through the window, but no, you run into the door and this time you catch it, and it catches you, and every breath in your lungs is knocked out because, the door can’t be opened by force, can it?
You catch your breath, recovering from your soured attempt, that collected badges of bruises, then make your way for the side window. You leap, crashing into the glass, shattering the square shapes into arrow shards. Swiftly through the air you fly as limbs move to dive then tumble. And when you do finally tumble down and roll, littered with nicks, scraps, and gashes; adding more by brushing the fragments out of your sleeves and neck; you look to find that you’ve tumbled back to the spot in front of the door. The window is intact, the evidence of glass becomes questionable. Are you bleeding? Are you not?
You turn around to the face the darkness, stalking off the way you came, trying to remember by which, how you had come. What other way is there to go? You walk down the hallway away from the door, away from the window. It was there, then it’s gone, then it’s there again. It doesn’t matter.
The further you walk the sounds of your footsteps begin to echo, leaving the oriental carpet of the hallway behind, making way to cement and sandy places gritting and scrapping beneath the soles of your feet. Before long, the sound is still and muffled. You turn around to find that you can no longer see the door you left behind. You take a few more steps then hear a splash, an assaulting sound after so much silence. Your shoes are soaked, and your pant leg is wet up to your knee. You’ve hit stagnant water. Standing in it, you give it a few more kicks, as if to test whether or not it will recoil like a trap.
You take off your coat and toss it side. Next your shoes and then your belt. Your discarded accessories tumble to the ground in a heaping pile. You brace yourself and then you dive. You dive right into the depths of the water. You’re swimming and swimming and find that the air bubbles go in no particular direction leaving no hints to the surface.
You can’t breathe and you find it remarkable how comfortable it is not to. You find sand at the bottom, heavily packed down by the weight of the water, and you make yourself a seat. The bubbles linger around, too and throw, like fish caught in a glass bowl. Your head is heavy with dark ocean blues and white shimmering crystal skylights. You’ve been here before. And here you find for yourself a moment in reduced silence and radio frequencies like whales and other manners of sea creatures beckoning a formidable embrace.
This wasn’t the place you needed to be, you respond with waves of your arms. If there ever was a key here you found it long ago, and before you know it your lungs are grasping for air and cursing your idiocy, screaming silently, go back the way you came, but no matter how familiar definitions are you can’t help but look them over again. You push the muck away with your feet and rise to greet the surface.
To your surprise, you shoot up like a rocket finding the air easily in haste. You come up with a splash and then land hard on your ass, hurting your thighs and cramping your legs. You proceed to curse and swear until you look to find yourself dry on solid ground and hardwood floors again, as you always had been, no matter how much you didn’t want to be. You never gave yourself that choice no matter how much you may have played or pretended.
You’re back in front of the door. It stands slightly affronted. There’s a window on the wall to the left. There is no window. The curtains begin to flow in the air like satin. The window is closed. The window is open. It takes you few seconds until you remember that the glass is broken and there it is, the glass is broken, and the curtains are summer now, carelessly and lightly caressing a nightly breeze. You’re bleeding, pulling out splinters, pulling out slivers, pulling out daggers and spitting on band-aids.
Fatigued, you’re losing blood, but you’re gaining more ground. Standing, you find your veins turning to stone as the last drops suicide to pools in the overwhelmed threading of the carpet below. As pebbles and specs, you’ve learned to flow, and have been carried downstream, but now you’re even more compacted than beneath the bottom of the ocean floor.
The door shudders slightly, clambering like a nervous blade of grass before the first frost, and soon enough it freezes and splinters. Shattering, it breaks into bristled stakes of wood as you walk through in abounded footsteps. Taking casual strides, you cross the threshold. The cracking of wood chimes like a friendly-long-overdue-phone-call on a sunny afternoon.
The door is open. There are no breaks or cracks, the door is swayed effortlessly to the side, intact and yielding at your pleasure. Steadied and surefooted, you close the door behind you gently, turning the knob closed with a smile, knowing that where there is a handle, it will open like a punch in the face as long as you bruise your knuckles and bite down hard.
All that you seek will be wonderfully destroyed in the most appreciated ways. Opening the door starts with remembering everything that you wanted to politely kick in the teeth and everything you wanted to encase in a jar, on a shelf, in your pocket, like a stolen windy day and butterfly wings that don’t go stale, immortalized by breathing and ripping down the pieces, one brick at a time.
The destruction of all the parasitic particles latching onto key components and cells, the maps of the problematic paradox straddling your leg like an opinionated dog without a nose, the blind monument, and the misinformed informer, with every single rustling match that begs to strike, to burn, to kindle.
All this time building, what you’re really doing is remembering what you need to tear down.