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Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 11 months ago

1. The Door to Wonders

David’s lifelong adventures with the doors began by accident when he was a boy. It was just a game—a way to beat the boredom of a rainy day when everything seemed old: his toys, his books, his room, and his life in general. His prize possession, a microscope, was broken and could not entertain him by revealing the hidden details of the world around him. He tried rummaging through his other things, but they were all the same ones he had seen before. Nothing new had crept in while he wasn’t looking—with one exception. The book Mom read from at bedtime must have fallen off the shelf. He flipped through it briefly, looking for pictures. He loved pictures, especially detailed ones; but the book contained only boring line drawings. Yet one of them caught his eye.


The story was about some kids who found a way to another world in a kind of closet, and the drawing showed them walking into the closet and coming out in a forest. He hadn’t really thought about it before—it was just a story, after all—but now he actually began to wonder. What if it could really happen?


His common sense immediately reminded him that he had been around his room several times for as far back as he could remember, and it never had any real mysteries. Come to think of it, he had even checked the dark closet, and the only things there were clothes and a few boxes that turned out to contain some old shoes.


This memory reinforced his boredom until he realized that he could at least pretend to find another world in his closet. Some of his friends did that. David usually told them they were nuts—he preferred facts, and his microscope gave him lots of new worlds to explore. But not today.


They said that they picked a quiet spot and made up a place of their own. Barney in particular said he holed up in his closet—that he could practically walk through it and into his own world, kind of like the kids in the book. Of course, Barney was a nerd. And David was never sure how to take their tales, so he simply left them. He was a very literal boy, and he would never have considered their remarks figuratively, which meant that they were stupid. But now he was stuck at home, and they were probably doing something interesting. How stupid was that?


Why not try pretending for once?


The thought startled him and nagged at him. Finally he opened the closet door and peeked in. The hard, shiny black shoes he hated to wear were still on the floor. The clothes were still on the hangers, so high he always had to stand on tiptoe to get them down. Bending over a little, he could see the dull gleam of the wood paneling behind the clothes—but no new world. Not even when he squinted hard!


David sighed, disappointed. Imagining was harder than he thought. Then he remembered that the kids in the book had actually walked into their closet and pushed blindly through the clothes. Oh, well: if he was going to pretend, he might as well do it right. He stepped into the closet, a little frightened. Making believe was new and every bit as scary as the closet itself.


He stood for a moment facing the clothes, the closet door open behind him. The book said that it was foolish to shut the door, and David agreed wholeheartedly. It wasn’t that he could get locked in; it was just that the closet would be so dark with the door shut. He might have trouble finding his way out, and he couldn’t bear to think of being shut up in a small, dark place like that for long.


Finally he pushed through the clothes. The back of the closet did seem further off, though it was probably just his imagination. Once he was past the clothing, he peeked down at his feet. He saw the closet floor, not the forest or snow of another world. Looking up he saw the same old wood paneling right in front of him, its lines forming mocking faces. He had studied the patterns several times before, but for some reason he had never thought of the lines in wood looking like faces. He wasn’t very pleased with the discovery at the moment.


Then he noticed the doors.


They faced each other across the back of the closet: two tall, narrow, ornamented slabs. The door on the left was silver on some kind of dull, white material; the one on the right was made of something familiar—something like the keys on his grandmother’s old piano—with designs in gold. David blinked, unable to shake the feeling that the doors had always been there, just out of sight.


He looked at the golden door first. He could see himself reflected in the metal, though the image appeared small and distorted. (He wasn’t that ugly!) Then he noticed how the gold traced out stories and words that he could not understand, but longed to know. They seemed somehow familiar, like some of the tales in the big, white book his mother sometimes read to him, but the white book was stuffy and hard to follow; these stories were alive. And the detail! He had always wanted a picture with plenty of detail—so much that he would feel that he could walk right into the picture. But regular pictures were not perfect: if you looked closely enough, they turned into a vague mass of colors. Yet here the details went on and on, reality inside reality, story inside story—beyond imagination.


As he followed one especially fascinating series of pictures, however, he found its ending covered with a blotch of…he wasn’t sure what. In some ways it was like mildew; in others, like some unmentionable kind of filth grown hard with age. Whatever it was, it spoiled the beauty of the door’s design, and David found himself grieving over the loss of something he had not known existed—and still knew practically nothing about. All he understood was that the most beautiful thing he could ever have imagined had been ruined, and he could think of no way to fix it.


And yet… If the outside of the door was this good even with the stain, what might the inside be like? If only he could get inside! The door had no knob or handle, however. Suddenly he realized that the door must open outward, away from him, since its hinges were on the inside. He pushed, but it was no use. It was as if the door was warped, and all his work was just jamming it tighter. Something must have happened to make it stick, though he couldn’t imagine what. Then he thought of the stain. Sure enough—the blob filled the crack between door and jamb, welding it shut.


He tried picking at the mess for a while; then he turned from the door in disgust. Who’d want to use a door without a knob anyway? You might have no way to get out again. Besides, a door with no handle might come open at any time, with no way to shut it—if he bothered to pry it loose.


The silver door was another matter. There, in the middle of the silver and white paneling, was a big silver knob. The silver of the door was shiny like a mirror, and he could see himself clearly in it—it made him look bigger. A closer look revealed delicate patterns on the paneling, knob, and threshold. The designs weren’t as beautiful as those on the golden door, but they were so intricate that they actually seemed to move—and the stories and words were ones David thought he could understand. He tore himself away from the hypnotic display and reached for the handle. It took a lot of effort at first, but then it turned easily. The door itself, however, opened not just easily but powerfully, yet slowly, pushing against his hand as he pulled on it, inching gently inward, toward him. He looked inside.


What he saw was a long corridor with doors lining both sides. He couldn’t think how it could fit in that part of the house. It was hard to make out details in the corridor: for example, he had to stare extra hard to notice the fine threads of silver that ran through the bone-colored floor, walls, and ceiling. The moment he stopped peering at the silver, it faded into the white around it, as if it had gone out of focus and blurred into nothingness. For that matter, although the hall stretched back out of sight, it seemed somehow flat, like a painting seen close up.


Just inside the silver door was a mahogany desk like one he had seen at the doctor’s office, but without the papers and clipboards. It was empty except for a large, black book with purple bindings; the book looked new and old at the same time, like a recent copy of some ancient volume. Its heavy, leather binding showed no sign of use.


David poked his head into the hallway for a better look, and gasped. Behind the desk sat a cloaked figure like an old monk, his face hidden by his hood. He gestured for David to enter. For a moment the boy thought about running back to the safety of his room, but then he realized that while there was a knob on the door, there was no sign of a lock. The man could follow him into his room and… And what? He paused uncertainly. The man showed no sign of wanting to hurt him, and if the door had been there all along, he could have entered David’s room at any time. And still could: the boy was not sure he could barricade the door, considering how easily and forcefully it opened. He could imagine even the merest touch from the slight figure causing the great Silver Door to shove aside any obstacle. David edged back toward the closet, but the man made no attempt to stop him or chase him. It was ridiculous: the very thing he wanted, and he was scared to try it.


Finally David stepped carefully into the corridor—he half expected to run into a painted wall, but instead found that he had stepped through into the picture. Everything still seemed flat and a little out of focus, but now he was as intrigued as he was frightened. As he looked the place over, he realized that there was a thick coat of dust on the floor; if it was anything to go by, the man hadn’t left the desk for some time. The dust was undisturbed and so thick… A thought struck him. How could he see the silver pattern on the floor through all that dust? He checked and found that he could still see the silver, and that it was no more or less clear on the walls than on the floor. It was as if he could see whatever he was focusing on at the moment, but when he stopped concentrating, it faded from view.


The creak of the chair roused David from his thoughts as effectively as if the monk had cleared his throat. The man was still sitting there motionless, inviting a closer look. David glanced back to make sure the Door was still open behind him, and drew closer to the desk.


Now that he was in the hall, he could see that the silver door was narrower than the hallway, leaving just enough space for a thin pegboard full of keys next to the right-hand wall by the desk. The man behind the desk took one of the keys and handed it to David. It seemed brighter than the rest when it was on the board, though he could see no difference when he looked at it in his hand. The key was marked “Fantasia.”


Suddenly he heard a popping sound, followed by a swish of paper. He glanced back at the desk and found the book open. At the top of the page, ornate letters spelled out “Doorkeeper’s Log.” Beneath the strange heading, the page bore only the word “Fantasia~” with a squiggle at the end as if it were the beginning of an entry in a journal. The man’s hands were resting on the desk; there was no pen in sight.


Instinctively, David turned back toward the Silver Door. It was still open, and again he thought about leaving. Then he felt the key grow warm in his hand, and he noticed the man—the Doorkeeper—pointing toward the door immediately across from the desk. He didn’t need to read the door’s fancy script to know what it said: “Fantasia.”


The door had no knob, just a keyhole, and David knew without thinking about it that the door opened inward. Where was the handle? Then the answer came to him. Without a word, David put the key in the lock, turned it, and, pulling back on the still-turned key, opened the door.

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