He pushed against the rusted steel door, trying to stop the weight of an object without purpose other than to close. His feet slid in an accumulation of small pebbles. It wasn’t so much that he cared about the door closing; he simply did not want it to be a problem for others. After all, getting it open in the first place was a bit of a miracle. The door, to anyone’s recent knowledge, had never been opened; it was a bit of antiquity, an object of the past, a forgotten gateway, perhaps just a forgotten door. He saw no lock. Its tilt and weight made it an unopenable block.
But, he did it.
He had been tending a garden when he first considered the door. The garden was a two-meter square patch to grow his own food; but, even the seeds had to be bartered. The garden bordered the door.
A year earlier he first contemplated opening the door.
“Why you wanna do that?” His friend seemed amazed that he would consider such a bogus attempt.
“I suppose,” he stammered. “It’s simply because I want to be on the other side.”
“That’s silly.” Not long on explanation the friend continued to be amazed.
“It can be done.” He raised his hoe deftly, and then lowered it, looking over his shoulder to see if anyone noticed. “Besides, I am tired of being here.”
His friend sniffed. “We all are.”
“I’ve heard others talk. They are all pessimists.”
“Boredom breeds pessimism. Pessimism leads to complacency. Which eventually kills will. There’s little group creative thinking.” The hoe handle bounced on the ground.
“Creative thought is discouraged.”
He angrily dug in the dirt with the hoe. “By whom?”
“The ones who put us here.”
“And, who is that?” He dug harder.
“I don’t remember.”
“I give up.” He waved his friend away.
Everyday his routine was repeated without variation. Everyday he reexamined the door.
One day he picked up a small rock and put it in a crack in the door casing. It stuck, largely due to accumulated rust acting as a support. “Hmmm.”
The next day he took his hoe and pounded on the rock, the rust cracked, but the rock passed through. The next day he poked another rock through, and continued the process for several weeks, picking up the rocks at his feet. Eventually, he found a larger rock and tried it but it did not pass through, just wedged. He pushed on the rock and the door creaked. “Oh.” So, he leaned on the rock. The door creaked again. “Oh.”
Eventually, he had his friend help him push on the rock. The door creaked and opened the width of a shilling; at least it seemed to open. Exhausted, they sat on the ground. His friend patted his knee. “I hope this is worth the trouble.”
He looked over his shoulder and examined their efforts. “Progress. Let’s try again, get another rock.”
Their second attempt was just as formidable, however, the door showed a depth, and the friend slipped a small rock in the opening. “There, it’s open.”
“Not enough. But, we will attempt this again tomorrow.”
The morning sun rose with the two friends wedging rocks in the slit of the door opening. Each rock opened the door further. “You know,” his friend said. “Others are watching, this will cause an outbreak of pretenders.”
“I doubt it. They see the work, that scares them.”
Again, they put rocks in the opening. Finally, he was able to put a hand through. A few more rocks and his shoulder. “I’ve got it,” he said.
“I’ve got a good rock.” His friend was rolling a rounded bolder toward the opening.
“Good, let’s wedge it in.” Together they hoisted the rock into place, and then he stepped over the rock and through the opening, but his foot slipped on the accumulation of stones and he almost fell dragging one foot behind him and dislodging the round stone. “Aaarg.”
“Don’t let the door close.” His friend was franticly pulling on the door.
Finally, his foot slid and his knees buckled. The door slammed shut. He squinted at his surroundings.
There were more patches of garden, just like the ones he left. He shaded his eyes. Across the field he could see his friend standing by the door.
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