If I were to open that door, what awaits me? [ part 3 ]

by gaytaylor

msaprilkell

3.

Not everything is what it seems. I learned this during one of the family vacations that were a part of my every summer of my growing up. Our family of seven generally went to visit relatives a few states away, but sometimes we took sight-seeing excursions. On these trips my parents had a general destination in mind and were open to detours along the way. Sometimes these were “Mystery Spots,” sites purported to defy the laws of gravity but built (I’m sure) to incorporate optical illusions and mechanical trickery. I remember watching a ball bearing run uphill, water pouring out of a faucet suspended in midair, seeing our guide measure two people’s height, then having the one stand here, the other there, and voila—the shorter one suddenly appeared taller.

I was perhaps ten years old when Dad pulled the station wagon into a roadside attraction of a different order: a haunted house. It was a wax museum, mostly. Gruesome scenes constructed in the various rooms of a meandering house. Take your time, walk through at your own pace. The diorama I remember most vividly is the bathroom with its scene of children throwing their mother’s body parts into the tub—literally, a bloodbath.

Gruesome. Startling, the times a live figure would appear in the otherwise static displays. It happened suddenly and at random. A ghostly masked face would suddenly leer at us from around a wardrobe, or a clawed hand would appear atop a table then vanish. I was scared. My mother assured me it was an employee set to spook us. I kept pulling at her blouse, “Can we go now?” At last the answer was “yes.”

The exit route led us past a closed door—it appeared to be a closet—with a sign tacked on it: WARNING. DO NOT OPEN THIS DOOR. My dad called for a vote. Should we or should we not throw open the door? I agitated to leave it closed. I was sure the masked ghost was waiting behind the door, waiting to lunge out at us. My mother, always a tease, let on as though she wanted nothing more in the world than to open the door. I felt real fear rise up within me. I pleaded to leave the door shut tight. In the end, that’s what we did. We made our escape, left the door untried.

I still wonder what would have happened had my father turned the handle.

+ = +

for reflection:

What handle might have made a difference in your life, had it been turned and a door been opened?

for action (or, if you’re Catholic, penance):

Think for a moment about what handle presents itself to you today. What door might you knock at? How might you handle what next presents itself?

About the photo: coutesy, msaprikell at flickr.com. Love that expression!

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