ESCAPE, by Mary Jones

“If one says ‘Red’ – the name of color – and there are fifty people listening, it can be expected that there will be fifty reds in their minds. And one can be sure that all these reds will be very different.” — Josef Albers.

The Red Door--from Mary Jones by Billy Knight and with his permission--9-13

“The Red Door” by Billy Knight used by Mary Jones, with Permission

Red is my favorite color; also one of Scorpio’s, which I proudly boast as my astrological sign.  It immediately draws me in, like a moth to a flame.  It’s energizing, powerful, ornamental, and obtrusive, represents sexuality, and is the color of the highest arc of the rainbow.  It evokes action; stop, pay attention, incite, heed, usher.  It lures and jabs my inner most precious feelings and private thoughts, and makes my heart race, as if I’m riding a horse running at full stride or watching the final seconds of a close basketball game.

The hue of the door entices me, and my degree of desire for the unknown rouses me to take action.  Some would be intimidated by the deterioration, but somehow that beckons me.  The passion to investigate leads to burning motivation and in turn, the driving question, what is held within?  What mysteries and treasures are waiting to be discovered inside this seemingly abandoned shed, with a door of the most striking red hue?  The blistering sun and torrid rains have battered it, paint peeling, revealing a plethora of shades underneath.  Jet-black stains streak down the front, but I’m lured, nonetheless.  It halts me in my tracks, as if I’d been snatched out of a blissful daydream by screeching brakes.

As I gaze upon it, my hesitation about opening the door swiftly moves to the forefront. Will bats fly out?  Are raccoons or squirrels residing inside?  Is it infested with spiders or wasp nests?  Then again, shelves lined with fascinating trinkets and treasures, perhaps antiques, anxiously awaiting rediscovery, may exist.  The eagerness to explore tugs my most basic curious nature, and I grasp the charcoal black weathered handle.  It is smooth and worn, like my favorite jeans, and dirty and greasy, from years of use.  As it slowly swings open, the hinges squeak, like the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard, and the grating noise causes me to cringe.

I have no idea how much time has elapsed since someone was last inside.  At first glance, with filtered light shining in, the space appears empty.  It’s dingy and smells a bit musty, and I sneeze, the sound startling me.  I pause, and quickly peer over my shoulder to see if anyone has heard.  It’s just me.  I am relieved, and because I know I’m alone, I cautiously continue my investigation.

I turn back and my eyes adjust to the dimness.  I observe cobwebs dangling between beams overhead, the fine filaments, wispy, like clouds on a warm summer day.  The floor is made of wooden planks, four inches wide and six feet long, running parallel to the door.  They’re covered with dry leaves and small twigs, and they crunch and rustle under the soles of my favorite brown boots as I enter.  I’m surprised to see the inside of the door isn’t red.  It’s hoary, and a beautiful shade of raw umber, similar to a watered down cup of coffee.

I recognize a variety of items hanging on the walls.  To the left, hand tools including hammers in various sizes with different colored handles, some wrapped in black electrical tape, hatchets, levels, planers, screwdrivers, ratchets, wrenches, some antiquated, and vises.  On the right, spring-released animal traps, with nothing in them, and I laugh inwardly, relieved.  I glimpse a metal lawn rake with a broken handle, as well as a spade, shovel and hoe.  A rusty sickle, dangles precariously on a nail, rocking gently back and forth, like a pendulum on a grandfather clock.

An old rickety ladder, with some of the risers snapped in half, is gingerly hanging on two bent hooks.  A few tin cans, labels still affixed in muted colors, and glass baby food jars with screws, nuts, washers and nails, are placed on top of horizontal boards; make shift shelves, so they won’t topple over, spilling their contents.  I recall my father, and how he organized his own workshop.  There’s familiarity, which elicits a sense of pride in this simplistic approach to organization.

Ripped and tattered newspapers lie haphazardly in the left corner, smaller pieces scattered throughout, gnawed by mice to build their nests.  Some rusty beer and soda cans in the opposite corner, and miscellaneous odds and ends.  A wooden three-legged stool, standing two feet high, proudly occupies the middle of the space.  It reminds me of a soldier, solid, stout and strong.

There are a few things on the wall I don’t recognize, and I yearn to know what they are.  Past and present collide when I utilize my phone to take a few photos.  I press the button, and the click of the shutter booms, like a firecracker, inside the small space.

I’m extremely cautious.  My instincts tell me to leave everything undisturbed.  It’s possible these things have been forgotten, but they don’t belong to me, and proper judgment says better to leave all as is.  I finish taking my photos, glance around briefly, step outside, and slowly shut the door.  The latch falls into place, as it has countless times previously; it knows exactly where it’s supposed to be.

I retreat a few feet and focus on the front of the shed again.  I stare, with appreciation and longing, and soak in the serenity of the structure.  It is profuse with history well beyond what I’ve found inside.  There are stories I don’t know, a lifetime of secrets, laughter, joy, pain, sorrow, tears.  It inspires me, and makes me long to know who, what, why, when and where.

I quietly depart, my heart bursting with excitement, knowing full well I’m destined to return.  Maybe I’ll bring someone, but more than likely will come alone.  Sometimes the best gifts are the ones I discover on my own and selfishly choose not to share.  They become priceless, precious, even palatine, because of the memories they hold.

My life needs this amazing, purposeful, tiny structure with the red door that takes my breath away.  It’s a place I can call secretly call my own.

It is my escape.

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