This incredibly thought-provoking door was painted by a very special friend of mine, Kim Holwill, whom I have known for about 18 months now.
Elizabeth bought the painting from Kim as a Christmas present to herself and I promised them both that I would write something creative about what I think is behind the door. If any one of you would like to write a piece about what you think is behind the door, please do (and leave a comment here so that I can find the entries) as I would like to bundle them together and give them to Kim as a gift for her birthday later this year..So, without further ado…
The cottage in the country was deserted. It had been for quite some time, ever since Mrs. Angelico, the Italian seamstress had lost her husband and along with him, her desire to live in the house that they had shared for almost 30 years. Nobody ever lived there again…
Through years of torrential rains, howling winds and scorchingly hot summer days, the house fell into a state of disrepair, but one part of the house became more charming as each weather-beating passed – the blue door…
Curious children often played in the meadow nearby, but not a single one of them was ever brave enough to taunt Fate to answer the question everyone silently asked, “What’s behind the door?” Every one except Susie Castellano, that is.
Susie was a mysterious child to say the least, fearless almost. She and her family had recently moved to the village from the Australian Outback. She often regaled a tale of how she and her father had spent a night in the wilderness, fending off dingos, desert foxes and snakes with nothing but fire and their combined wit.
Whilst playing rounders with some of the other village children in the meadow one afternoon, Susie hit the ball so hard that it went flying through the air, crashing directly through a window of the abandoned cottage.
No-one had brought a spare ball in case of such an occurence, as it had never happened before. Susie, hands on her hips, walked through the meadow, muttering to herself, right up to the cottage to retrieve the ball. The other children stood there, awestruck.
She wanted to walk right in, after all, the house had stood empty for years, but she couldn’t – the door had no handle. So, she did what every other person in her position would do – she knocked.
The weathered blue door suddenly opened, it’s rusted hinges cringing under the pressure. Susie saw the ball, which had come to rest on a tattered old persian rug, itself resting on a beautiful parquet floor. As she inched nearer, the door opened some more, as if silently inviting her in. She couldn’t stop herself, it was as if some magical force was drawing her into the cottage.
As she entered the cottage, her nostrils were filled with, not mildew and dust as one would expect, but homemade pasta and neopolitana sauce and fresh herby garlic bread. Such comforting smells…homely smells…
But it wasn’t those smells that drew her into the house even more, it was an antique dresser, complete with bevelled mirrors and crystal perfume bottles, some not empty.
By this time, Susie had forgotten about the ball. She stood in front of the mirrored dresser, staring at the unrecognizable reflection that greeted her.
“Hello Love, open the drawer. Go on, open it.”
Almost as if she was under some kind of spell, Susie did and there, covered under decades of dust, she found a faded black and white photograph of two women, a more mature woman and one she instantly recognized – her mother. She stared at the photos, numbed by the questions milling through her head.
“Go child. Go and tell your mother what you have found. When you do, the silence shall be broken and I will finally be able to rest. Go now!”
Susie ran home, the photograph tightly tucked under her coat.
“Mom, I found this in the old abandoned cottage. I hit the ball through the window and…”
Before she could continue, Susie’s mother scooped her into her arms and began to cry.
“That’s your nana’s house Susie. I wanted to tell you, but I wanted to wait until you were older. Older than I was in that picture. You see, when I was just sixteen, a few months after that picture was taken, your nana and I had a terrible argument and I left home. Shortly after your Grandpa died and I was never able to forgive myself. I lost contact with my mother – I heard later from an old acquaintance that she too had passed. I never got to tell her how sorry I was, nor how much I really loved her and my papa.”
As if on cue, the doorbell rang – it was a gentleman from the local bank.
“Ah, Mrs Castellano, I’m so glad I found you! I have something for you. In fact I’ve had it for quite some time, but have only now felt the need to give it to you.”
In his hand was a small key, for a safe deposit box.
Puzzled, Susie and her mother stared at the man, who said nothing more before turning on his heels. They followed him to the bank, where they found the box belonging to the mysterious key. Inside was a letter, yellowed with time, which read:
“My darling daughter, Ava,
The spell is finally broken. My heart is restored by the love you have for your beautiful Susie and your admission of guilt. The house is yours. Treasure it, nurture it and care for it always. Keep the hall stand as a reminder, placing a photo of yourself and Susie in the drawer just after her sixteenth birthday, to maintain the tradition…
Susie’s mother was speechless. It was evident that the letter had been penned many years ago, long before Susie had been thought of, let alone born. How could her mother have known?
Ava Castellano (nee Angelico) honoured her mother’s final wish, moving into the house, never moving the dresser from its original position…
So, there is an antique dresser behind the weathered blue door – that mystery is solved, but what of the mystery of the photograph in the dresser drawer?