Ours is a hard door to close. They built it so that you have to throw yourself behind it and strain against its weight instead of simply swinging it shut. Then, before you open it, you tug ignorantly – if it’s your first time around here – then pull with all you have once you realise opening this door isn’t child’s play.
No one who lives here is entirely sure what type of wood it’s made of. It’s not the kind of thing we’d care about. All that matters is it’s a door and that it keeps the good in and the bad out.
Today, it is I who stands as its opponent. I’ve planted my feet in the proper position and I’ve watched all the YouTube videos I can to make sure I know what to do once I get to the other side. I’m supposed to be part of the good it’s keeping in. But I want out, and once that happens, I will never again be considered the good. I’ve decided I’m fine with that.
I think I chose the right moment. Everyone is far within the bowels of this unsuitably large house, counting their toes as they watch a movie we’ve seen a thousand times. Mother calls it things like ‘making memories’. Or ‘our tradition’. Whenever she does that, I understand that it has nothing to do with us. It is the manifestation of her childhood dreams, having a family like us. Then I leave her to it because everyone deserves to have their dreams come true.
The problem is her dream has holes in it. And a vial of gaseous poison might as well have shattered and leaked all over us. YouTube says all families are like this, dysfunctional in their own way. But I was born intolerant, swinging my fists at my father for taking his time bringing us to the hospital. My mother almost had me in the car – which wouldn’t have been good at all. I had to practice great restraint to save her; I suppose I should have known that wherever there are embellishments, there just might be something to hide. Or so I was told every night after I had dropped something fragile or hit a sibling in the eye. Now here we all are, massive secrets and pretense splitting us down the middle while we smile and wave on a sinking island.
They don’t know I know. But then again, finally it makes sense why I was constantly off-beat and clumsy among the saints.
As I drag the big door open, it creaks as if it belongs to a dungeon.
A dungeon’s door must always make a ceremonious sound before someone walks across the threshold – so that you know your place, exactly where and why you are.
Something tells me I am no longer alone. I look over my shoulder to meet my father’s broken expression. He can’t…He cannot. So he waits for my response. And he waits. And we wait.
I push the dungeon door shut, unburden myself of the few earthly belongings I hold dear. Arms linked in solidarity, Dad and I usher each other back into the bowels of the friendly dungeon. Suddenly, the truth doesn’t seem so important…
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Copyright © 2022 Tebogo Ndlovu
PS: Hi, there. Welcome! Glad to see you made it to 2022. This year, one of my goals is to improve on my story-telling. So if you have any tips or constructive criticism, please don’t hesitate to leave your insight in the comments?
Thank you, sincerely. I hope you thoroughly enjoy your year.