Open Doors

Submitted into Contest #103 in response to: Write about a character looking for a sign.... view prompt


African American Creative Nonfiction Friendship

Long before the hinges had fallen off of the door of our 2 story colonial, our marriage had loosened and showed signs of strain, needing both new paint and repair. Perhaps a trip to Home Depot would do the trick, and we could begin to mend not only the door, whose threshold I had been carried through 16 years earlier, but our hearts and ultimately our home. While I was willing, the back and forth of his infidelity forced me to turn its knob forcefully, and scrape its bottom unwillingly onto a foundation that was already in deep disrepair. Before I knew it, I was slamming the door and vowing the reverse of what I had promised in the faithful years earlier, “I don’t.” Reaching for the red can of paint from the car, I would approach him in the corridor of the musty hallway of worn carpet and make my declaration, “I can’t do this anymore. “Can’t do what?,” he asked. “Open the door? “I’ll fix it in the morning when we paint the door. Isn’t that what you wanted?” “No,” I said, “It’s not the door. What I want is a divorce.”

Was that why my marriage didn’t work? I reasoned, sitting in the dark cold empty courtroom with my best friend, Felicia at my side. Because the door was purple. While purple had long been a color for prosperity, this door hadn’t brought me luck or prosperity. Its ghastly eggplant color made me hate the vegetable even more. Maybe I should have just painted the door, I reasoned as the judge reviewed the terms of our agreement. He had given me everything I had asked for, but I still wasn’t sure how I was going to make it. 

“Lisa, don't worry, everything is going to be alright,” Felicia said, interrupting my thoughts. “When one door closes, another one opens. Girl, you know that,” she added. True to fashion, Felicia was always quoting somebody.  

“What? door? I was just thinking about a door,” shifting my focus to her.

“It’s the law of attraction.” she said. It’s for….

The judges jab onto the sound block awakened both of us to the present, for us to be silent, and to rise. “In the matter of Freeman vs. Freeman the absolute divorce has been granted,” the judge announced. I took a deep breath and glanced at my ex-husband who was already walking out the door, but managed to turn himself around for a second and say goodbye. “Good luck.” That’s it, I thought. It’s really final. A half smile managed to squeeze from my face, knowing that the divorce’s finality left him the house with the purple door, and me in search of a red one. 

Felicia reached over to give me a hug. “Girl, you got this. You have your whole life ahead of you and not to mention one-hundred and TEN THOUSAND dollars! Oh my God girl, now what?” Felicia asked. “Where are you going? What are you going to do?” she ranted.

“Well first I have to get the check. You know how long these things can take. It could take months. And after taxes. Oh my God. What else can I do, but wait,” I replied. “For sure I’m going to get out of that apartment and start looking for my dream home.”

“With a red door, right?”

“Yes. The infamous red door,” I replied.

“What’s that all about anyway?,” Felicia asked.

“Well, if you must know. It’s Good feng Shui,” I replied. “It means strength and life. The two things I really need right now.” I explained. “That’s what I was thinking about when you were quoting Alexander Graham Bell.”

“Well, no time like the present. Lisa, go for it. The check isn’t here yet, so you have plenty of time to look.

“If truth be told, I’m scared. I don’t know where I’m going, but I do know that I'm going wherever the money will take me. If I can just find a duplex and get some rental income, I’ll be ok.” I said.

“Like I said girl, your door is about to open,” she said, reaching into her purse. 

“But wait, you mentioned something else about the law. “What were you talking about?”, I asked inquisitively.

“It’s the law of attraction. “Listen, Lisa, I gotta run. But here's a little something for you. It’s all in here. Just promise me you’ll read it,” she said, handing me the careful but obvious gift-wrapped book. “I’ll call you later.” Felicia knew I wasn’t big on reading. “I promise,” I yelled as she dashed out of the courtroom.

Riding home, I glanced at houses leading up to my street admiring the perfect set of picture perfect windows from which to look out and sip coffee in the morning, the perfect porch to write and greet guests and the perfect bright door facing South. My eyes drew to homes with bright red doors, sturdy columns, and a wide country porch to complete its charm.  

Once inside my apartment, I carefully unwrapped the book and revealed its title, The Secret. I plopped on my bed and began searching google.  “(The Secret” is simply the “law of attraction.” Essentially, the law of attraction states that whatever consumes your thoughts is what you will eventually get in life.) Hmmm. Sounds interesting, I thought. Aha, a video. I could get into that. Clicking on the YouTube video, the narrator began, “If you can imagine it will happen.” For the next hour I listened to testimony after testimony of people who had believed in the impossible and whatever they were believing for they said, came to them.

The telephone rang and it was Felicia. “No, I haven’t read the book yet, Felicia,” I answered. But I am watching the video. It’s interesting, but a little spooky if you ask me,” I confessed. 

“Well I’m telling you girl, it is for real. True to form, she backed it up with a famous nod. “And, it was on Oprah.” With that said, we both shouted out in tandem our anthem followed by laughter. “And you know if it’s on Oprah, it must be true.” 

“Read the book girl. You promised me, bye.” Busted. Well I had promised. So I shut the video off and began reading, turning each page and chapter as if I was eating each word as if I was eating a good bag of chips with dip. I couldn’t believe the number of famous people who had admitted to using it and I was just learning about it. Imagine it and see it coming to you, the book admonished. Be specific, said another. Put it on a vision board and look at it each day until it happens, another chapter suggested. Halfway through the book I put the book down and pulled out a sheet of paper and drew and listed the details of the home I imagined. Lots of windows, hardwood floors, white cabinets, granite countertops, duplex and a red door were on the top of my list. 

Closing the book briefly, I began googling, duplexes 50,000.  A few trailer homes popped up. There was no way I was going to find it in this city. Too expensive. Besides, I didn’t want to live in the same town with my ex anyway. Well, everyone says it’s cheaper in the South, I reasoned. A long time fan of Maya Angelou, I googled where she lived. Search results revealed Winston-Salem as one of her longtime homes. That’s where I’m going then, I said. That night I called a real estate agent in the area and told him I was looking in the area for a new home.

“So tell me, what exactly are you looking for?” Asked the real estate agent.

“Well,” I said, a duplex. I want to live on one side and rent out the other. Hardwood floors would be nice. White cabinets. Oh, and a country porch. 

Okay. That’s very specific. Winston-Salem has a lot of older homes. And your price point?

$50,000. I said with confidence.

“Well, that might be hard to find. But, I’ll send you some listings.”   

The next morning I began checking the computer, nothing. Not it. Nope. Just as I was about to give up I saw a home he had sent me as one of his listings. Flipping through the photos I saw hardwood floors and white cabinets. Promising. Looks interesting. Oh my god and a country porch. 

I immediately picked up the phone and called the agent. “That’s it.!” I said The one for $52,000. Please make the offer.”

“Give me a moment. Do you have the MLS? he asked. After a brief pause, he said, “this doesn’t seem right. It’s a single family home. There are million dollar homes in this area. Sometimes the pictures don’t match the property. Why don’t I go and check it out for you tomorrow afternoon?” 

“Okay,” I said and immediately dialed Felicia. “I made an offer on a house,” I said.

“Really, you did? Where? When?” she said. “How do you know it’s the right one?” she continued.

“The book you gave me. The Secret.” 

“What, oh my God, are you serious?”

“Yes I’m serious. I did exactly what it said and it came to me. It actually came to me."

“Is it a duplex?” she asked.

“No, but it’s exactly in the price range I can afford. It has a porch and the white cabinets and hardwood floors.”

“Slow down. Well, what about the door? The red door.

“Well, the door wasn’t red, but it’s the one. I just know it. What the hell, I’ll paint it red. Now hang up and look at the pictures and just one more thing. Can you drive me to Winston Salem this weekend. Please, please, please. If they accept my offer, we’ve just got to go see it.” 

The next day, the agent called. 

“Hello,” this is Lisa," I answered. 

“Hi Lisa, this is David from Southern Realty. We spoke yesterday. So, I did have a chance to go to the house. Well, there’s just one thing, it’s actually listed as a single family home, but it looks like somebody put up a wall and turned it into a duplex. So instead of a two bedroom, 2 bath as listed its one bed and bath on one side and one on the other. And it’s already tenant occupied.

“Make the offer,” I said. “Full ask.”

“But you haven’t seen it,” he replied.

“Yes, I have.” I answered. "Just please get the offer in. I will see you this Saturday for a walk-thru. This was too good to be true. I had to see it for myself. But, I was terrified that it actually might be happening. 

Felicia and I began the 4 hour drive to Winston that Friday night. By the time we checked into our hotel it was dark outside. “What do you say we go by the neighborhood and check it out? You know what they say, go by there at night.” Felicia said. “Yes, let’s,” I said eagerly, but cautiously.

The craftsman house stood prominently on the corner with every light out on the porch and no signs of life on the inside. “Let’s go peek in the window.” I said. “It’s pitch dark. Girl, you tryna get us arrested? Felicia said. “Besides, we don’t even have a flashlight.” “Common' I have to see it,” I reasoned. Let’s use the flashlight on our phone.” Walking up the stairwell onto the wide country porch Felicia and I quietly bunched together heading for the door, noticing then that there were two doors. One apparently must be the tenant unit who we didn’t want to disturb. “Which door?” I asked. "What if it’s the wrong one and we wake up the tenant? "Lisa said. I took a deep breath and said, “let’s go to the one on the right, that’s good feng shui. Turn the flashlight on your phone.” The moment Lisa opened the screendoor and turned the flashlight onto the door, I immediately fell to my knees as the light flashed on the door. “Oh my God. Lisa, Oh my God. Do you see what I see? I asked. “Yes, I see it. Your…” But the pictures didn’t show it, with the screendoor”, I interrupted and cried. “Aren’t you glad we don’t have to paint,” she said. "I hate painting."

July 24, 2021 03:53

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.