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Open Doors

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Congress of the Rough Writers, Carrot Ranch, @Charli_Mills

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Go ahead, crack open the door and read on.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Unopened Door by Duane L Herrmann

I was in the house, the same but different, there was a new door, opening to rooms, spaces I’d not known before. As I wandered these empty, unused places I wondered why we had not lived there. Possibilities were vast. When I woke up I instantly knew these were our possible lives that my mother did not know, experiences of joy and love we did not have, but could have. And I grieved for their absence in our lives. We could have been happy, enjoyed each other, been a real family – not the hell that was our home.

🥕🥕🥕

Child Welfare Report by Bill Engleson

I never forget what it was like. A complaint comes it. Something terrible is happening behind closed doors. The doors of a family home.

First steps are to do some checking.

What do we know?

Who knows what we don’t?

Who knows this family?

Will they tell us something useful?

All this is happening with lightning speed.

The best approach is to see the child at school.

When that is not an option, for any number of reasons, a frontal assault is all that is left.

The knock at the door.

The heavy hand of the state.

And then…

🥕🥕🥕

Un-Cooperative Doors by Connor Dickinson

1975’s dark mahogany doors s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d their masculinity, timelessly to the cornflower blue powder sky. Rectangular misty glass panels, soul-less eyes, vanishing miles from my four-year-old ‘buckled’ Clarke shoes. Mother knotted, scurried inside the Cooperative amongst thirty-so Glaswegians, grabbing a four-pack of McEwans, ‘not enough change’ for the 7p beans.

Gigantic metal padlock, unhinged stared at me demonstratively. Etching SECURITY in my brain. Clasping childhood shut. Happy to lock-up. Cursing shop-teller rang the police. Mother madder-red with embarrassment. I, menacingly content that dad couldn’t blacken her other eye for ages – the unlocking blue sirens seemed a lifetime.

🥕🥕🥕

Two Masks Really Are Better Than One by Tain Leonard-Peck

Earlier today, two men robbed Rocky Mountain Bank. The pair briefly conversed with the receptionist after entering the building. It is believed they were stalling until the manager returned from lunch, as only she could open the vault door.

Once the manager arrived, the thieves removed their face masks. The bank’s occupants fled in a panic. The thieves then looted the bank at their leisure.

Police are doubtful that the perpetrators will be apprehended, as they were wearing Ronald Reagan masks under their Covid masks, which the victims didn’t notice as they fled in a Covid mask violation panic.

🥕🥕🥕

Doors Old and New by Geof Le Pard

‘No good?’

‘They didn’t even call. Just a texted no.’

‘I did say you needed to think through your CV.’

‘They never mentioned piglet castrator, Logan.’

‘You wouldn’t, would you? If you wanted someone to sell deodorant.’

‘Oh well. One door closes, another opens.’

‘Really?’

‘I said as much to the chap in reception. He’d sold them a door. Offered me a job. Said he liked the cut of my gib.’

‘I’m pleased.’

‘Logan. What’s my gib?’

‘Your new post lockdown haircut.’

‘You think that’s what swung it?’

‘If you hair opens doors, then I’d even forgive a mullet.’

🥕🥕🥕

What If?  by Hugh W. Roberts

What if what was on the other side of the open door wasn’t what he was expecting?

***
As I watched figures going through the open door, not even the pattering of rain on the roof of the car took away the fear I felt.

“What if…”

As my hands gripped the steering wheel tightly, anxiety began to snowball out of control.

“What if..?”

The thoughts of home and a warm bed were welcoming and safe.

“What if..?”

As I drove away, the LGBT community, who I feared, would have to wait another two years before joining them behind the open door that led to non-judgemental new friends, a new life and being who I really was.

🥕🥕🥕

Door Duty by Heather Gonzalez

Macy knew she had locked the door, but something inside her told her to go back and check. It was wide open. There were no sounds to be heard from down the steps which scared her more than if she had heard screaming. Every citizen took turns checking that the door stayed locked.

Macy took a deep breath and began to walk towards the door. That is when she finally heard the guttural howl from below. Without a second thought, she slammed the door and locked it. She planned to be sick the next time it was her turn.

🥕🥕🥕

Should I Retain Possession of My Hand, I Will Offer You Possession of My Heart by Kathryn Leonard-Peck

“I knew we shouldn’t have opened the door. Vampires in the ballroom, werewolves in the garden!”

“Calm yourself, darling. I have silver bullets. The way you’re wailing, you’d think us surrounded by French Republican rabble.”

“Heaven forbid. Did you know, Lord Ruthven told me the unnaturals gamble, then sow discord to avoid their debts.”

“That is shocking. Fangs to your left. Mind your hat.”

“Fur to your right, my lord. I shall dispatch it with my hatpin.”

“Shall we fight our way to the punchbowl? Slaughtering is drying work.”

“Thirsty…for blood!”

“Drat. In want of a wife again.”

🥕🥕🥕

Aloysius’s Curiosity by Nancy Brady

Curiosity killed the kitty cat, they say, and Aloysius was extremely curious. Fortunately, he was also skilled at getting out of scrapes. Aloysius would sneak past those humans who might harm him, but he also knew instinctively whom to trust.

One night while prowling, Aloysius discovered a door built into a hedgerow. Curiosity getting the better of him, he pawed it open and entered a maze. In the center of the maze was a fountain full of sparkling water. Little did he know that lapping from that fountain changed his life; his life would never be the same again.

🥕🥕🥕

Giving Lacuna by JulesPaige

At the door, in uniform – one anyway…
Her muliebral brother
Was in a sleeveless dress
Down to his ankles…
Probably not spoiling for a fight –
Just there to accompany the girl…
It wasn’t until after she left
(I bought my favorite cookies…)
That I wondered just how liberal
This town was… and hoped
Perhaps beyond reasoning
That they’d make it back home –
Because I knew that across the street
Behind some of those closed doors
That some of the neighbors
Who’d given our family some grief
Because ‘We’ weren’t like ‘Them’ –
Might not keep their door or mouth shut.

🥕🥕🥕

Closed Door by D. Avery

The door was almost within reach but still she moved slowly. In her socks, she crept at the edge, avoiding the creaky worn boards in the middle of the hallway. Holding her shoes in one hand, her stuffed shoulder bag clutched close under her arm, she cautiously listened to his steady snoring from the couch. Then she reached for the knob with her free hand.

Click.

He’d sat up, cocked his revolver.

“Fooled you.” He fired.

Her shoes hit the floor before she did. He fired again.

She bled out in front of the door, now out of reach.

🥕🥕🥕

Left the Door Open by Anita Dawes

Honey, you left the door open
God’s doing that shining thing again
Does he still have the hump with you
For believing your own abilities?
For taking so many of his winged ones with you
What did he have to say?
The more I lift them up, to do their own thing
The more he will smite them
He is threatening floods, famine, plague
He has a nasty one up his sleeve
Says he’s been working on it for awhile
When the moment is right
He will arrange for a cock up
Many hands, but China will take the blame…

🥕🥕🥕

Trapped in a Nightmare by Miss Judy

Jessica found herself in a long, stark white hallway, antiseptic. Doors to the left, doors to the right, all sealed shut. She looks back, sees only the same white hallway and doors sealed shut.

An open door appears ahead filled with darkness and shadows – a way out? She walks toward the open door and the darkness. She gets no closer. The hallway seems to have no beginning and no end. Frightened, she tries to scream but cannot. “Jeff, where is Jeff? Help me!”

A hand grips her arm. “Jessy – wake up! You were having a bad dream.”

🥕🥕🥕

Keys in Her Hand by Annette Rochelle Aben

She knew she had to leave a marriage that most likely should have never taken place. Doors were opening all the time. On their honeymoon when he raped her, that was the first door. But she was just too shocked and confused. Their first wedding anniversary when he told her what a piece of shit she was, was another open door. But the sweet apology closed the door, because she believed she was worthless anyway.

7 more years of verbal, mental and emotional abuse opened the door to counseling. Which lead to opening the door to the lawyer’s office.

🥕🥕🥕

The Blue Door by Reena Saxena

The door was never locked, just pulled tight.

She kept floating in self-doubt, inadequacy and a guilt about not being what others expected her to be. Deep down, she knew the allegations are not true. But there was no way out. There was no way of getting rid of antagonistic shadows.

Today, that one truth hit her like a sun in darkness. She is a victim of mental abuse, not a perpetrator of wrongs.

That one article, that one link to a webinar, and she knew it….

The door was always open. She just has to walk out.

🥕🥕🥕

Doorway by Sarah Whiley

I dream of escape
Escape from in here
Here is my nightmare
Nightmare and fear

Spiralling down
Down to the black
Black prefers dark
Dark doesn’t talk back

It’s been a long time
Time has stood still
Still in my mind
Mind been through hell

But now dawn is rising
Rising to light
Light from a doorway
Doorway in sight

I cross the threshold
threshold anew
anew expectations
Expectations of you

Please hold my hand
hand trembling, I go
Go through the opening
Opening so slow

Guide me with love
Love me carefully
Carefully we’ll weave
Weave a journey

🥕🥕🥕

Essentiality Remains by Rebecca Glaessner

My restless body sleeps, mind seeking.

Endless doorways. Some lead nowhere, others to places I cannot comprehend.

There’s just one I search for. Within, contains a source of darkness. I must eliminate it.

I wander twisting corridors, labyrinthine in nature, as all minds are.

There, ahead. The darkness, flickering and tremulous. I follow, my heart pounding within and without.

The next corner conceals it. I falter as I turn. Reach the final door. There’s no light. I proceed despite fear.

Within, darkness overwhelms, engulfs, devours me.

Fear.

I breathe.

I embrace.

Persist through.

Quiet.

Strengthened, mind and body remain.

🥕🥕🥕

Door to Adventure by Kerry E.B. Black

In Granny’s grand, dark house, Cleo was forbidden to enter the study, no matter how intriguing. Granny’d locked it and all of its secrets when Uncle Jameson died.

However, Cleo longed to sneak inside.

The door breathed temptation. Its woodgrain spelled suspense.

Day after day, Cleo snuck to the door and pressed her ear to the warm wood. Night after night, she turned the handle. It remained unmoving.

One quiet evening, Cleo’s family left to run errands.

Cleo crept to the door and turned the brass handle, expecting it to remain stable, as always.

Incredibly, it twisted in her grip.

🥕🥕🥕

She Escapes by Joanne Fisher

When he arrived home, he found the door to the basement was open. With his heart thudding in his ears, he quickly went down the stairs and found the cage he had kept her in was empty, the door hanging wide open. How she had escaped he had no idea. He went back upstairs. Already it was dark and quiet outside. She could be anywhere by now. He sat down on a couch and waited for the inevitable. Soon there was the sound of many sirens approaching. They wouldn’t understand that with her free, the world would soon end.

🥕🥕🥕

DD (Death Door) by Simon

Grim reaper assistant accidentally opens a door of death.

“What have you done?”

“Boss, apologies. This is a mistake”

“My work load is going to pile up with dead souls”

“So a new catastrophe? this door is gonna be interesting”

“Interesting? seriously?” sighed Grim Reaper “The game between life and death is what makes earth interesting – it can be closed, IF human worked together”

“Are they powerful than us?”

“Not really, but they are, we create catastrophe, they create peace”

“Just one catastrophe, right?”

“One? enough to wipe 50% of human population. Catastrophe Begins 2019, Ends Unknown, COVID”

🥕🥕🥕

An Open Invitation by Norah Colvin

Actions speak louder than words so, when the door opened, she assumed it was an invitation, even though she’d been told to stay inside. She didn’t need naptime. She was a big girl.

Outside the day sparkled with springtime. Birds chatted as they flitted from tree to tree, inviting her to follow. A lizard peeked from a log, then rustled away in winter’s leaves. She followed, crawling under bushes, into an open space where rocks warmed in the sun. Gum nuts and seed pods, twigs and leaves enthralled until, lulled by the warmth and the dappling light, she napped.

🥕🥕🥕

Letting the Light in by Anne Goodwin

Suzi begged her mum to leave the door ajar. She begged her daddy too. Then, if a nightmare awoke her, she could see her teddies, and the landing light would stretch through the gap and chase any witches away. But if the adults’ games disturbed her – thumping music, shouting, shattering glass – she’d creep from her bed and shut the door on the noise.

One night, she felt a hand on her tummy. Under the Cinderella duvet and her Pocahontas pyjama top. Suzi hasn’t slept at her daddy’s since then. Even at home, she insists on closing her bedroom door.

🥕🥕🥕

Open Doors by FloridaBorne

“Be wary of con artists,” Mom said. “They’ll open doors you thought impossible to enter, and you’ll beg them to take your money.”

Her clothing was modest. She never traveled farther than the county’s edge. When strangers entered our town she sequestered us inside the house and closed the curtains.

When she died, we found a poster of her. Young, wearing a gypsy-like outfit that showed off a well-endowed chest, the caption said, “Madam Truepetto, fortune teller.”

Next to it was a newspaper article titled “10 most wanted,” her picture on top.

I opened my own doors after that.

🥕🥕🥕

Michael’s Motivational Speech at Walter Reed by Sue Spitulnik

Had I not been in a bomb blast, I would probably still be on active duty, stationed who knows where. Instead, I’m directing the teen choir in my hometown church, I’m singing lead in a veterans only band, I’m taking the healing power of music to multiple veterans’ facilities in a gifted van , I’m marrying for the first time, and I’ve immersed myself in family life. It took me a while to realize losing most of my legs had opened doors for me. The secret is to believe there is a specific, exciting purpose for the new you.

🥕🥕🥕

Freedom by Michael

Freedom! That’s what lay beyond the opened door.
If only I could be brave enough to take that step.
The shackles that bound me were growing tighter, pulling me into a dark abyss I knew would be my end.
I had long harboured the desire to escape, find my own way. Threats kept me in my place. Financial ruin, public humiliation, alienation from my family.
So, I labored within the confines I allowed to be imposed on me.
But one day, the shackles fell, the door opened, I turned my back on misery and looked into a new world.

🥕🥕🥕

A New Door Opens by Charli Mills

At fourteen, Francis hid behind doors, gripping Mama’s hand, her breath hard as ore in her chest. One door led to another until they boarded a creaking vessel, shut below decks. Water lashed. The ship rose and fell and swayed from side to side. Wind howled. Finally, the hatch opened to sunlight and seagulls. They merged with a sea of humanity, walking to a mining camp called Cliff. When the mine captain’s wife died, Mama was the only one willing to wash and prep the body for burial. A new door opened – a job, income, a life beyond slavery.

🥕🥕🥕

Not on My Shift You Don’t by Doug Jacquier

A nurse flits into Dad’s room, mock scolds him for barely touching his breakfast, and flits out again, ‘Were you born in a bloody tent?’ he calls after her, which means she hasn’t shut the door behind her. Again!

I ask him how he is. His face sags, he looks me in the eye, and says ‘I’m buggered*, son’ and I know he’s decided he’s had enough and just wants to be left alone to leave this world on his own terms. But the nurse doesn’t want that happening on her shift. So she keeps leaving the door open.

* buggered – Australian slang for ‘finished, exhausted, dead tired’

🥕🥕🥕

Diamante by Saifun Hassam

Diamante hiked down the mountain trail under a canopy of tall evergreens. Sunlight filtered through openings like windows into the cloudless blue sky.

Diamante had finished helping the teachers of the mountain villages set up their summer classes. He was enjoying his new role, learning to be a teacher of teachers.

He loved the mountains, but his first love would always be the sea.
He trekked down to the limestone cliffs and saw the sea. Like an open door into another universe. He gazed entranced by that far horizon where the sky touched the sea. Time to go sailing.

🥕🥕🥕

Well, Why Not? (Part 3) by Liz Husebye Hartmann

(A ninety-nine word flash, times three…that will lead you back to Door Number One)

The twins pushed the net over their heads, flinging it to the side. “Well Mam-Duchess, why DON’T you marry one? We’re still just kids, after all!”
Sister Indelicata tipped her head, as she gathered up her seal-hunting net. That was the most grown-up thing they’d ever said. Perhaps those girls had promise, after all.
The Duchess blushed and the lonely widowers shuffled. The first, largest group beat a hasty retreat to the ballroom door, careful to stuff handfuls of delicacies from the banquet table into their pockets. One snagged a bottle of bubbly. Sister began to swing her net.
#
The door began to swing shut behind the First Lonely Widowers. The Duchess shook her head. Sister shrugged and folded the net over her arms. Twins Tikk and Tokk drew their sleeves under their runny noses, eying the glistening towers of spun sugar confectionaries.
The second group of widowers muttered to each other.
“Those two girls could use a good bath, and some discipline…”
“I prefer them meek, like my dearest departed…”
“Too bad the net-hunter’s a nun…”
“Give them another five years, I might…”
“How old do you think they are? How old do you think SHE is?”
#
One man stepped forward, teary-eyed for the Duchess’ embarrassment. “I don’t know who’re the biggest fools, here. This group of shallow, (some) slightly perverted, bored widowers that came here to take advantage of your generosity…or you?! All that was needed was to ask for help, little sister.”
“I wanted to raise the girls on my own. Their father was my childhood love, their mother my dearest friend.”
“You’ve always been independent.”
The twins’ eyes grew wide. “You had a choice, and you chose us?”
The Duchess nodded. The girls tackled her.
Sister Indelicata smiled, and slipped out the door.

🥕🥕🥕

The Wolf Pack by Donna Matthews

A smirk plays at my lips as I study the females through the windshield. Some girls like to be cute, as in, “Feeling cute, might delete later!” Me, I’ve never related. Cute feels fragile, fleeting. No, I definitely feel more at home with wild, untamed.

I check myself.

Why is it we humans feel this need to compare, to rank ourselves? We aren’t so removed from the wolf pack as we like to think. Alpha, lone wolf, the outsiders trying to fit in. Ugh. The ridiculousness of it all. Opening the car door, I smile and greet my friends.

🥕🥕🥕

Common Ground? by JulesPaige

The spiel around the deck’s fire pit, where we sat on benches, was about a raven. The bird screed into the night mimicking the other forest creatures. Like the storyteller droning. I only half listened.

Some of us were camping in the backyard. After retiring, nature called. I wasn’t expecting to find a blackbird right outside my door flap. Thankfully neither of us made a sound. Though my heart raced. I fished out a granola bar out of my pocket as a peace offering. It was accepted, and the bird flew away. The quiver of darkness returned to normal.

🥕🥕🥕

Couch Philosopher by Michael Fishman

Margie didn’t say goodbye because that conversation had taken place a long time ago. She just took one last look, exhaled and opened the door and walked away. Darrell sat on the couch and watched the door until it faded and became a part of the wall.

He thought Emerson said that every wall is a door. He wondered if it’s the walls in front of us or the doors we walk through – or close – that define our existence.

Hell if I know, he thought.

Then one day he stood up and opened the door and took a breath.

🥕🥕🥕

Go Hog Wild (Part I) by D. Avery

“Kid! Shut the front door!”
“Leavin’ it open fer Curly. My little hog’s wandered off, hopin’ she wanders back.”
“Reckon she will aroun’ dinner time. What’d ya think a Shorty’s prompt?”
“It’s liminal! Unlimited possibilities. Course, Slim Chance says opportunity only knocks at yer door jist once.”
“Hmmf. Ernie says a jar’s a open doorway. I’d ruther set aroun’ with Ernie an’ his jars a story grease then thet shyster Slim Chance. He’s always lookin’ fer a opportunity ta pad his wallet. Nope, real opportunities abound, Kid, ya jist gotta grab hold of ‘em.”
“Reckon so, Pal, reckon so.”

🥕🥕🥕

Go Hog Wild (Part II) by D. Avery

“Pal, let’s go ta the Saddle Up Saloon, see if Curly’s gone there.”
“Sure Kid. Anyway’s it’s about time we checked on the place.
Wunner if folks know all the possibilities fer ‘em through them saloon doors.”
“Them door’s always open ta folks wantin’ ta take the stage, mebbe let their characters out fer a romp, or share a story or happenin’.”
“Yep. Folks could chat with us or showcase their art, promote a book— jist about anythin’.
Well, here we are. Oh no! Yer puglet’s opened some doors fer hersef. The kitchen’s a mess!”
“Who cares? Curly’s safe!”

🥕🥕🥕


9 Comments

  1. Liz H says:

    Wow! A bumper crop of flash this week. Great reading!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. […] Submissions now closed. Find the full collection here. […]

    Like

  3. A fantastic mix between dark and light themes here. Great writing all!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      You noticed that, too! It was fun figuring out how to weave the dark and light. I usually don’t go dark right away, but the first three stories were so powerful together. Then Donna’s story brought us out to a place of “wolfish” strength and Michael Fisman and Jules carried us to a hopeful place. Light and dark twined between those two sets. Your story made a strong bridge. Lots of good sets with interesting contrasts or expansions of ideas. And D. brings us home with Ranch Yarns.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Aldous Huxley would have been proud of this veritable corridor of Doors of Perception, with special opening remarks to Duane, Bill, Connor (pure class), Tain, Geof, D.,Norah and Michael. But now it’s time, as the people of Yorkshire say, to ‘put wood in t’ole’. 🙂

    Like

  5. […] at Carrot Ranch, and this is way beyond the 99 words required there, this story is a nod to the August 5th prompt which is now closed and to the current prompt which is to “write a story, using cacophony“. I […]

    Like

  6. Wonderful stories and poetry! I love seeing all the creativity. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. How I miss this earlier, I have no idea, but great mix of dark and light stories, contemporary as well as some recollections. I love the creative spirit all of you have. It is so much fun to participate here. ~nan

    Like

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