There was a sign by the door. A small blue enamelled metal plaque. One of the corners had cracked, and a crust of rust had started to flake about it.
Judy stared at it, trying to imagine whoever it was that had placed that sign there, so straight and perfect. She wondered what they would think if they were to see that rusting corner now. Would they be disappointed, try to repair it, take it down and replace it with a perfect, fresh new one?
She would leave it as it was. She liked the sign, liked that small imperfection. It made the door less intimidating.
The door at home was narrow and red and inviting, a door to be opened, a door that welcomed people inside, cheerfully, easily.
This one though had always made her uneasy. A vast wall of oak straining against the black metal of iron hinges. The handle was thick and sturdy. She’d placed her hand around it once and found she had to press all her weight upon it to make it shift, only to find, in the end, that the door itself was locked.
It was always locked.
Keeping everything inside like a secret.
Perhaps that was the appeal of it. She always wanted to know what was inside, behind the walls, behind the door.
The sign gave opening hours. A short list of times when it was possible to ring the bell and enter. But she had never dared.
At home she had asked her father what the times were for and his answer had surprised her.
“That’s the times when they sell pots of honey and jam. Homemade too. Do you want to buy some then?”
She shook her head and her father smiled. He could see the idea of opening the door scared her.
The honey though, that intrigued her.
She had seen them on occasion, passing through the door. A flock of black, heads covered, faces shadowed. Like ravens. Their long smocks rustling like wings.
Seeing them had made her more curious, more afraid. Their blackness seemed unnatural somehow.
But they suited the door, suited the thick walls.
The blue enamelled sign listed times for vespers. Evening prayers she later found out. But she thought of whispers instead. Of hushed tones divulging secrets and mysteries. And again that blackness seemed to fit.
Sweet, golden honey. She had tried to imagine these dark whispering figures tending bees and pouring that thick sweet liquid into pots. Tried to imagine the garden that must be beyond the walls. A garden alive with beehives and strawberry patches and fruit trees.
A vibrant place that hummed noisily and secretly behind that heavy shut tight door.
Listen to “Door” here