Friday, March 25, 2011

The Carpenter's Door by Ifelanwa Osundolire

Here's a short story by Ifelanwa. Enjoy it!
Every morning she unlocks the batten doors to the carpenter's shop. A door on which new layers of wood continually struggle to hide old cracks in the strips of old pine panels, flaking paint and nail riddled disguise. Sagging with age but hanging on every other day by the twin hinges on either side, the door shrieks ghostly noises anytime she worked into the night and at such times she would seek the help of a sand filled paint bucket that acted as a doorstop to keep the shrieking door quiet. That sand filled paint bucket had somehow become one with the door. Yet, every time she looks at that door, she sees something new. It was as if the battered door had begun to grow into art by itself.

Today she flings it open, allowing the morning light to wash away the darkness within and giving life to floating sawdust, which a moment ago had not been there. Reaching for the sand filled paint bucket with her feet, she drags it with shuffling obstinacy to the top of the time-grooved arc the door’s displaced bottom hook had scored on the workshop floor over the past ten years. Satisfied the bucket had stayed the sway, she settled in to begin the day’s work when she noticed a face in the flaking paint on the boarded side of the door.

It was an emerging image that stood out on the door as random brush strokes would reveal a face in an impressionist work of utter chaos. The emerging image looked like an anguished man in sorrow, holding his face in the palm of both hands, with his bearded face mapped by the space between his palms. The dully shaded hue of where his palms stopped and his face began was accentuated by the contrast in the bare wood grain patterns that outlined his hands and the pale blue paint on his face that had begun to  green with age. For eyes, the man had holes where nails had once been buried, and the sunken chasm of absent nails in the woodwork was what lent the picture its aura of grief. Slightly beneath those anguished sunken eyes, a triangular contraption jutted out rudely – a piece of wood, which beyond the picture was a triangular section of sawn-off bark that provided a handle for opening the doors from the inside. However, in that instant as she noticed the pains of the sad man in the door, the wedge provided a not so befitting nose but a nose all the same.

Careful to leave the door in the exact angle, she stood unmoving too – for to change position would mean losing the picture. Between her, the door and the grief stricken relief, there was a queer oneness and strange mutual dependence that lasted as long as they all remained faithful and for that time being, faithful she was: her unwavering attention solely on the hollow eyes. Then unexpectedly, and out of character with the paint bucket that always held its place, it lost grip of the bearing weight of the door and let go of its heaving mass.

As the door began its sweeping arc away from the lonely observer, she leapt into the space between the departing door and the doorway and held it back. Careful to drag the door back to its original position before the betrayal, then she stepped back to assume the same position she had been just seconds before but the grief stricken face had gone and now in its place stood a wedge of bark that looked nothing like the befitting nose she had once condemned. She couldn’t tell what had changed. Was it the sun’s angle or the doors position, or the fact that she was not at that exact spot where she stood before? Turning left and right, and adjusting the door here and there, she kept trying to find the man but as much as she tried to bring him back to life, somehow she knew she had lost him forever.

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