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I Thought I Closed That Door

By Faith Allington

One day, you will return. This is why I bought the last house we rented, a sprawling mansion in the ruins of an English garden. It’s still beautiful–apple trees, lilac hedges and masses of ivy. The roses have gone wild, of course, without your skill. I never was good at moderation.

It’s the mornings, in the bed too big for me, that are hardest. When the light is honey, I imagine you could be waking to the same breath as me. I wrestle myself from under a mountain of blankets and shuffle downstairs.

Today I sit in the breakfast nook and drink the tea you love. The kitchen is the color of earth, bright copper pots and pans hanging above me. I miss you so much. Your eyes glinting and crinkling with laughter. Your lips dark and smooth as poppies.

Are you drinking tea somewhere far away, thinking of me?

Something clatters to the ground outside. I rush to the door and crack it open, expecting to see a crate of groceries before I remember it’s not their delivery day. My heart hums as I search the sweeping driveway.

Is it you? Are you home?

But the garden is empty. Something moves in the shadow of the oak trees, a deer perhaps. You will find it charming, how bold they’ve become in your absence. When I turn back into the house, I hear a creaking sound.

I thought I closed the door to the guest room. I reach for the knob and pull it shut. If not today, then tomorrow could be the day you return. I need to clean the ground floor of the house before nightfall.

The next morning I wake the same way, burrowed deep under linen and silk. I draw in my breath and follow my rituals–the second floor is on Tuesdays. Isn’t it strange that cobwebs gather, day after day, though the rooms are never used?

Then I hear it again, that creaking sound. I peer round the big bannister and sure enough, the guest room door is open. I’m sure that I closed it before I went to bed. My heart dances like dust motes in the sunlight at the thought of you home.

I step through the doorway, my eyes searching the shrouded room. The light is thin in here, dimmed by gauze curtains. Except for the box, the room is empty. The air is chilled and smells like violets, so heavy it pours into my lungs. Tears catch in my lashes. Oh, I wanted to believe that you had come back, at last.

But then I see the lid is open. You lay on the indigo velvet bed, the dark of your eyes always open. The fractured curve of your spine shows through your rib cage. Your delicate finger-bones lay, palm up, waiting for me to take your hand.

Is it time, my love?

I climb inside the coffin and close my eyes.


Faith Allington is a writer, gardener and lover of mystery parties who resides in Seattle. Her work is forthcoming or has appeared in literary journals, including Fourth River Tributaries, Crow & Cross Keys, The Fantastic Other, Bowery Gothic and The Quarter(ly).


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