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Behind the Broken Door

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects, including education and creative writing.

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The door popped open and made itself known with a screech that tore through the ears of the unlucky person nearby.

That unlucky person was Ted Fryer. Poor Ted leaned back in his executive chair and groaned. Sharp-edged pain slashed through his head, throwing off his concentration on the minute details of his work that lay before him on his desk.

"I've had it," he gasped as his eyes rolled toward the door. "I've really had it with you."

That door. That damn door, as Ted called it, had become his nemesis. When Ted least expected it (or when he had mustered enough concentration to complete his mundane and pointless tasks ), it popped open then widened a few inches with a cringe-inducing creak.

Sometimes, he wondered if that door was trying to say something to him.

The door never cooperated with Ted. And it became a source of annoyance for him. During business hours, when he wanted privacy in his dark, dingy office, the door made its move. He'd get up and close it. He'd even lock it. But, the door kept opening on its own, not wanting to be denied. Sometimes, he wondered if that door was trying to say something to him. If there was intent, all it did was raise the ire in Ted.

As he had done before so many times, Ted pulled himself out of his chair and headed toward the door to close it. His intent was to slam it hard. But, as he got closer, the door did something it rarely did before; it quietly opened wider than before.

A cool breeze hit Ted's pale skin. It wasn't the only thing to enter his domain. Light, natural sunlight streamed in. It was enough to blind his bloodshot and haggard eyes. Yet, after a moment of adjustment, he saw clearly what was on the other side of the door.

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"What the..," he mumbled. He couldn't finish his thought. The sight before him took the rest of his words away.

One thought went through his head: how has it been that I've never noticed this before?

The bright hallway beckoned him. He left the room and headed down it until he came to a window that overlooked the facility and neighborhood he worked in. The clear glass opened up to a world that was verdant and clean.

He peered out that window for a while. An odd feeling came over Ted. He turned toward the office...and the door. The door was wide open. But the office he came from was dark, except for the faded tungsten glow of the table lamp on his cluttered desk.

It was a coffin for the dead, he thought at that moment. But it was a coffin he'll have to return to. After all, that assignment for the company needed to be completed, even if he really didn't know what the point of completing it was.

He justified it all by saying the work he didn't love was important.

Reluctantly, he turned away from the window, and dragged his heels in the direction of his office. The walk down the hall was a long one for Ted. Additionally, the light that filled it grew dim with every heavy step he took toward his office.

He entered the room and stood in for a moment in the sick darkness. At that moment, the word "why" floated through his head. Why am I here? Why I am doing work that means nothing? Why am I wasting time?

He justified it all by saying the work he didn't love was important. He did this so many times before he left the office for the day and went back to an unhappy home.

Quietly and calmly, Ted shut the door until it latched.

He headed to his desk and sat down. For a spell, he stared at the task before him. Reluctantly, he tried to get back to work.

The door popped open, again. But, Ted didn't jump. Instead, he craned his head toward it. For its part, the door didn't stay a crack open. It widened and gave Ted a view of that hallway, again.

He understood. He got up and headed to the door. This time, he entered the hallway. Only then, did he turn to the door. He closed the door behind him and continued his trek down the hallway and toward the exit. And, he never returned.

The door, this time, remained closed, never to open up to that dark, dank world that was Ted's office.

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© 2022 Dean Traylor

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