The Door to Forever
by Ron Van Sweringen
A huge metal door mounted in a marble slab on the mountainside stood closed before Robert Marsh. Oxidized to a faded green color, the door was intimidating to Robert; but what might lie beyond the door was even more daunting. It offered the possibility that he might be discovering Forever.
“Who even knows what forever is?” Robert asked out loud while reading the letters on the door. “I’ve heard of it all my life: things like, ‘You’ll live forever’ or ‘This is taking forever’. But who really knows what forever is?”
“Perhaps the person or thing that made this door knows,” said a small voice in answer to Robert’s question. The words hung in silence as if frozen in a block of ice.
“Thanks for nothing,” Robert snorted. “You always come up with the wrong answer at the wrong time.”
The words in the block of ice shivered and began tinkling. “Stop doing that!” Robert growled. “I’m nervous enough without that.”
“Don’t you mean ‘scared’?” the small voice replied.
“There you go again!” Robert gritted his teeth. “I wish I’d left you corked up in that cask of brandy where I found you.”
“Not seriously,” the voice replied. “Think of all the help I’ve been, guiding you up this dangerous mountain.”
“Oh, all right!” Robert conceded, reaching out to grasp the door handle, “but from here on out, keep your observations to yourself. I don’t intend to listen to them forever.”
The metal handle on the door was shaped like a question mark, and it felt cold to Robert’s hand. He started to pull back upon touching it, but could not. He felt as if a magnet had bound him to the metal. “Here goes nothing,” he said, pulling hard on the door.
“It’s impossible,” he gasped a moment later when the door hadn’t budged. “I don’t have the strength to open it.”
“Of course not,” the small voice chimed in. “Not if you’re going to think negatively. You can’t open a sardine can if you allow yourself to be defeated by fear.”
“FEAR?” Robert replied, dumbfounded.
“Yes,” the voice tinkled back. “Your subconscious fear of the unknown is what’s keeping you from opening the door.”
“Oh, for crap sakes,” Robert moaned. “Here we go again.”
“Let me try,” the voice said. “after all we don’t have forever — yet.”
“Let you try? You’re only a voice, how can you open anything?”
“By using the power of reason, my friend. You should try it sometime.”
Robert heaved a sigh of frustration. “Go ahead, make a fool of yourself.”
“Door, we don’t have much time,” the voice said. “I’m sure that deep in your heart you long to accomplish the purpose you were put here for: to open. To feel your hinges move and your handle turn, letting the breeze blow through you for the first time. Imagine the unparalleled joy that could be yours by the simple act of opening!”
Robert was about to laugh when a moaning noise emanated from under the door; sounding as if a thousand fingernails were scraping against stone. Next came a screech that felt like a cold icepick piercing Robert’s eardrums.
“Oh, my God,” he gasped as the huge door slowly began to open until a sliver of blue sky appeared beyond it.
“Never underestimate the power of a single voice,” the small voice said. “Especially if it’s mine.”
Oddly enough, even the air on the other side of the door seemed fresher, and the sunlight that bathed Robert was warm, and it danced over him like a silver mist.
“Are you here?” Robert said with a hint of awe in his voice.
“Yes, I’m here,” the small voice replied. “Isn’t it beautiful and calm? Almost as if every spring morning that has ever existed in the world were rolled up into this instant.”
“I take back every unkind thing I’ve ever said to you,” Robert whispered. “You have described it perfectly. I only have one thing to add. I wish this moment could go on forever.”
“Maybe it will,” the small voice replied. “In case you haven’t noticed, the door has closed.”
Copyright © 2015 by Ron Van Sweringen