Two Doors, One Impossible Choice He Shouldn’t Have To Make

On May 30, I’ll be publishing a new book in my series of short story collections. The first in the series was It’s Complicated: Short Stories About Long Relationships. Buy it on Amazon …

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Below is an excerpt from the upcoming book. If you like this, be sure to read and share this post with someone else you think will enjoy It’s Complicated.

When he fitted the van through the beams marking the narrow gate, pushed aside all the work stuff he had accumulated that day and stepped heavily out of the van at approximately six fifteen every evening, he faced the same choice. There are two doors in front of him, and every day, he faces the same quandary – which door to open? When his father bought the two-family home a decade ago, it was with the contentment that his sons would have a place to live with their own families when the time came. Who would have thought he would have to choose daily between the woman that made him a son and the one he hoped would soon make him a father.

Below, he could choose door number one, the door that would open up to reveal the woman who loves him, who takes his coat and wraps him up in her trademark scent of lavender and Andouille sausage, the woman who listens with laughter, even at his you-had-to-be-there jokes, tears when the stories take a sad turn.

She is the woman who will inspire the laughter that enrages the other, when his joy floats up through the ceiling boards, announcing his decision without the benefit of his explanation. Two evenings before, he had seen her face at the window and the childlike hope he saw in her face had made the decision for him. She had reached the door before he did, opening it, wiping her hands in her apron before caressing his face, her palms clammy, maybe from cooking, maybe from sweat, maybe from excitement. Either way, he loved that she still got excited at seeing him, thirty-three years after the first time she looked in his face. He had watched her when she looked at the others – his brother, who she hadn’t seen now for years, and wouldn’t for years more, if the parole board had their way. This light in her eyes only illuminated for him and he had a responsibility to keep it turned on.

Two days ago, he had stepped through the door and right back into his childhood, complete with homemade treats and a seat at her feet as she ran her fingers through the thinning hair at his forehead, as though crowning him as her prince.

He had fallen into the familiar and comfortable role and after dinner at the small table in the kitchen opposite the woman who still clasps her hands under her chin to watch him eat, he had had to pull on the creases of his Dockers work pants to pick his feet up to go fall asleep upstairs in the bed he would share with the other woman, if she wasn’t too enraged. She was. In the upstairs apartment, when she refused him, he’d tossed and turned, unable to find a comfortable spot on the sofa, wondering which of his decisions he regretted – going downstairs first or coming upstairs at all.

Today, like everyday, he has to choose again.

Below, behind door number one, is the woman who always waits.

Above, behind door number two, is the woman who paints her face like an eager courtesan but only when motivated by her own desires. She seduces with mystery and nonchalance, she screams when questioned but stands naked behind the smoke screen she has woven with baby-pink enameled claws. Yet he has chosen her before, for the things his widowed mother can’t give.

Now, his right foot lands heavily on the bottom rung of the porch steps and he stops, eyes closed, thinking, blinking them open again when he hears his name being called. He moves toward her.

Copyright (C) 2017 by Karen Wright

The above is an excerpt from an ongoing creative writing project which will probably be heavily edited in the future. Please do not copy or otherwise share this content. 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental. 

Thanks to Paul for fueling this latest story. If you’d like to buy me a drink to sip while I write the rest of this story, click here:
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