General Fiction posted January 9, 2017 Chapters:  ...10 11 -12- 13... 

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Short story

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Donny's Door

by Bill Schott

It was spring and my folks were visiting my grandmother. We seemed to always drive to her home, some two hundred miles, at least once each spring. She would bake big apple pies, and Mom and Dad would help her rummage through clothes and things to discard or take to the Salvation Army.

My older brother and I were usually sent out to pick up limbs or trash that had been covered by snow all winter. Johnny would end up raking and sometimes mowing. I would push a trash can around and pick things up until I got bored. Eventually I would leave Johnny to his tasks and slip away to the barn or work shed.

This time I actually ended up in the cellar, as the heavy, forty-five degree door had been left open. Down inside I found a bare bulb and chain hanging just beyond where the sunlight shone in. When I pulled the chain the old rustic cellar burst into view. Not much to get excited about. There was an old bicycle (I mean old) that was half way to being all rust. Beside it were earthen vats that I think Granddad used to make wine. An old ringer-washer sat there, covered with a tablecloth, next to an overstuffed chair that comforted several years of dust and whatever other contaminants had come to rest on it.

Next to the stairs, that I knew headed up to the kitchen, I saw another door. I thought it might be a closet, though it was on an outside wall. It had an antique padlock on it that looked like it hadn't been unlocked in a century. I tried to see if it would open by tugging on it, but the whole clasp and hook came off the door and I dropped it to the dirt floor.

I hesitated for a brief moment, thinking I should report what I'd done. Sanity returned and I felt that this could just as easily have fallen off on its own. I reached for the knob and yanked the old, wooden door open.

A gust of wind came blowing in my face from the other side. Although it was totally black I knew that this was some kind of passageway. I thought to run and get Johnny, but then I heard a voice coming out of the darkness. "Donny?"

I'm sure I crapped my pants as I ran for the cellar door. I flew up the five steps to the outside and kept running until I had circled the house and found my parents. They were pounding a sign into the ground out by the entrance to the driveway. It read -- FOR SALE.

"Mom! Dad! I was so scared!"

"When did the realtor say she'd be here, dear?" she asked, speaking to my dad and ignoring me.

"About four I think."

"Dad! In the cellar there's--"

"John called and said he and the kids would be in town this weekend." Mom said, oblivious of me. " Joan has a sales meeting in Chicago."

"Who's Joan?" I said. "What kids?"

I noticed our minivan looked a little faded. It was so shiny this morning, but now it was like it had been washed a million times.

"May as well get back." said Dad. "She has the key and can do whatever she needs without us. Anything that was Ma's is out and the rest is better left there."

"Is something wrong with Gramma?" I asked.

They opened the doors to the van and got in. Their movements were slow and measured, like they were in pain. It was then that I noticed how much older they looked than they had this morning.

Dad started up the car before I even got in. It was like he wasn't going to wait for me. He didn't. Almost immediately he shifted into reverse and backed out of the driveway. I yelled for them to wait for me. "Stop!" I shouted. They just pulled out and drove off.

I was stunned. Shivering, I'm sure I began crying. My head was spinning as if I were on a merry-go-round. I heard my name called from the direction of the house. It sounded like my grandmother's voice. It was. She was standing on the front porch waving at me. Approaching, I noticed she looked younger. Standing at the bottom of the front porch steps I saw clearly that my grandfather, whom I had only seen in pictures, sat in the rocking chair just behind her. By his feet lay Skipper, the first dog I recall as a baby. He'd been gone at least ten years.

Once on the porch, I hugged them both before we all went inside. She had baked some apple pie.



Thanks to Michael Whitson for use of the cool door pic
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