Both Behind and Beyond the Door by Troy Prichard

The girl timidly leans towards the window. Knowing that if she gets too close her breath will fog the pane of glass she is trying to look through. It is another day. From time to time she catches herself looking to the outside beyond the house she lives in to see what other people are doing, checking the weather, and somehow getting a breath of fresh air from the life she lives inside the house.

She watches people going about to and from other places. Sometimes talking and sometimes even doing things together. There are even other children and sometimes they play together. Although she cannot bear to bring it to her lips she tells herself People like me do not belong out there. People out there do not know me, and are probably better off not knowing about me, or the house I live in. Behind the window and the door is where People like me belong."

At times when the sun is hidden behind the clouds and when it rains she consoles herself with the thought of being safe behind the window. Safe behind her window looking to the outside she cannot feel the cold or the wind that looks frightening nor be pelted with the rain that falls so very cold and hard. “People like me are safe behind the window and door from things like that."

There are times when the girl ventures outside the house. She will open the door step outside to feel the sun, the breeze and to walk among the people and children outside. The girl has learned that people cannot tell she is People like me just from looking at her. It is only after spending some time with her that the girl will notice a change in the way people talk to her, and realize that they are figuring out that she is People like me.

The girl has learned to conceal herself by trying to be Someone she is not. "If I am not me then they will not figure out that I am People like me. It is a careful balancing act of trying to be someone the people out there will like having around. But there are allot of people out there and they all like different things. It can be at times a tough act to follow. When finally exposed the girl runs back to the safety of her house.

In her house are the memories of everything that Once was including all the good and the bad. These memories in and of themselves have no feelings. The only meaning the memories have is the meaning the girl gives them. When the girl goes outside she gathers new memories and keeps them in her house. But besides the memories that she has gathered there are the memories she has no choice in having. Bad, hurtful things, these are the memories of things that have happened to her.

She knows in her heart of hearts that no one not even her deserves to have been through the painful experiences of her life but this feeling is locked up in her heart. Bearing the pain of livening with this undeserving hurt is what makes People like me. With no other choice she too has become People like me.

She could never catch her breath long enough to learn how to live her life any other way, and even worse there was no one to show her how or to show her that on the outside she deserved to live a better life than she had.

There are times when the other children will knock on her door and ask her if she can come out to play and sometimes she would. Precious and few are the moments where she can enjoy the company of other people. But they do not last and the longer the girl is at ease with other people the more likely she is to let her guard down. Managing just how close and how far away to have people in her life has become a constant tug of war. She feels that the closer she is to others the more likely that they will figure out that she is People like me. Although she can always go back to her house she also knows the emptiness of living with the Once was’s instead of living with What could be more.

Once again the girl finds herself looking out the window. Although she never saw who walked up to the door. She heard the knock on the door. Having not seen the person walk past the gate to her yard and hearing an unfamiliar knock the girl struggles with the choice to open the door or stay put. Lost in the moment of What once was’s and the What could be more’s the girl noticed a boy walking back towards the gate. It was too late he was already leaving. The more she thought about it his leaving was almost a relief. Then she saw him close the gate and turn around to see her in the window, relief oddly turned into curiosity.

He had the reckless abandon of a carefree smile as he kept his gaze upon her. He was not mad at her, there was no judgment passed for her not opening the door no look of contempt or condemnation. Instead there was a confident look that seemed to ask "What are you waiting for?"

The boy's patience had given the girl the time and space to awaken the girl’s desire of What could be more. The girl quietly and cautiously walked past the Once was’s then opened the door to the outside. She could still see him just past the gate. He wasn’t going to and from one place, he wasn’t playing with the other people, he was waiting for her.

Although she knew just how many steps it was to the gate from her door this time she didn’t feel the need to count them. Instead the boy’s smile seem to draw her nearer and nearer. As soon as the girl had closed the gate behind her she nervously asked "What do you want from me?" There were people from out there that had come to know her as the Person she was not instead of the Person she is, and maybe this boy was here for the same reasons the other boys had come to see her for.

With a smug but puzzling look the boy answered "I don’t want anything from you. I was just thinking that today was a beautiful day to talk a walk outside and was wondering if maybe you might want to take a walk with me?"

The girl coyly replied "Yes I will walk with you." On the outside she became the Person she is not to protect the Person she was. The girl had seen this come on before and knew it would only be a matter of time when the boy would reveal himself as being just like the other boys who did want something from her.

They had spent a wonderful afternoon. Just walking and talking. There were times the girl slipped and revealed herself to him. When she felt the nervous pangs of having just slipped she would nervously look for the change in the boy revealing that he had figured out that she was People like me. Instead she found only acceptance and understanding. It was like a breath of fresh air long in the waiting.

After being walked home by the boy and safely back in her house the girl carefully set her new memories in a place where they would never be lost. Few and far in-between were the good memories and it was all too often when the good was lost with the bad. But this time she was extra careful.

The girl sat on her couch and carefully reflected upon what had just happened between her and the boy, and just as important was what did not happen. He did not want anything from her, and oddly enough he was more comfortable with the Person she was instead of the Person she was not.

This both confused and frightened the girl. Once again surrounded by the despair of Once was’s, quietly the girl tells herself "He will be just like the other boys. Time will tell. They always want something from me they always want everything but me."

Like a cloth being woven connections were being made between the girl and the boy, both in plain sight and some without their even knowing. When separate some of the connections were still there, but when together they blended like a well woven tapestry.

In time the girl realized that the boy had been closer to her that anyone else. Without knowing it she loved the boy. She shared her pains her joys her hopes and her dreams, and so did the boy.

The two together had learned how to look past each other’s faults, and shortcomings, to find the joy of the love and peace they had shared.

The girl had looked past the boy’s darkness and never fully accepted that he too was People like me. One day she realized that her own darkness would try to consume the boy as it tried to consume her. As dearly as she loved the boy and still knew it not yet. She decided to push him away to protect him from the darkness within her. All the while she never bothered to accept the boy had a darkness of his own to bear.

The girl decided to be the Person she was not to scare away the boy or at least keep him a safe distance. Far away enough not to hurt him but close enough that when they needed each other they could mend each other’s broken lives. She would scare him but not leave him.

The boy would watch the girl switch back and forth in-between the Person she was and the Person she was not. So many times it would so nearly broke his heart to see what the girl was doing to herself. The darkness in himself and the truth of being another Person like me had helped him almost understand what she was going through. Unknown to the girl the boy was also wagering an unseen battle of his own. The boy too was in love and would not leave her.

There was a truth the girl and the boy lived that would not reveal itself until later years. A truth they both shared and knew it not. Without knowing they shared a gift of wiping away the each other’s tears, of mending and filling each other’s broken and empty hearts. Together they could heal. They both got pretty good at picking up the pieces, both their own and each others.

In time the girl realized she could not push the boy away. It was almost a comfort but the fear of hurting the boy had kept her in check. The fear of hurting the girl is what kept the boy in check.

The boy was not like the other boys or the other people in her life that had hurt her. He had vowed to never be the hurt in her eyes he had had seen so many times before. The boy too had a balancing act to follow, he was close enough to be there for her and yet far enough away so the girl would not be afraid of the closeness.

In life there are days that could be thought of as being defining moments both the girl and the boy found both themselves and each other on one of these days.

Both the girl and the boy were sharing a day with being drawn closer. Both had realized the closeness and did not fight it. While they were talking the sun had hid itself behind the clouds and a chill was in the air. The breeze had slowly picked up all the while the girl and the boy never noticed. They held each other tighter and held on to the moment they had.

The rain started slowly but it did not stay that way. Instead it picked up as well as did the wind. Before they had known it the girl and the boy had been caught up in a rainstorm. The two ran for the safety of a shelter outside.

Already soaked to the skin the boy ventured outside the shelter. Slowly he began dancing in the rain. In spite of being as awkward and haphazard as he could be his efforts to try to dance were not stopping. He could not dance and did not care he would try anyway.

The girl looked on in utter disbelief and amidst the giggles she asked the boy "What in the world are you doing?"

The boy replied "I am dancing in the rain. Come on out here and dance with me."

The girl’s hesitation had kept her in her footsteps. She shouted back "I do not know how to dance in the rain."

With out hesitation the boy replied "Neither do I but it hasn't stopped me yet. Come dance with me."

Drenched and still dripping wet the girl looked down while she whimpered "I can’t."

The boy stop dancing and came back to the girl. He took her hand to comfort her and with his other hand he lifted her chin up so the two's eye’s could meet. "You can’t or you won’t?"

Although she could feel the warmth of his hand upon hers and his eyes meeting hers the girl could not bring her to say anything. Her silence was broken by the boy asking "You mean People like us don’t dance in the rain?"

The girls face was flushed with a fear that came and went. Quickly she grabbed and held onto the boy. The two twisted from side to side the way couples do when they are comforting each other. Always moving just a little but never going anywhere.

The girl stole a glance at the boy’s eyes. His eyes were losing the joy they once had in the rain and were turning into a more somber and consoling look as he comforted her.

As quickly as the girl had grabbed him in her moment of fear the girl broke the grip she had on him only to pull him by the hand back into the rain.

Carefully she made some space in between her and the boy "I can’t dance as bad as you do but I can try."

The girl and the boy were both lost in the moment as they whirled and twirled around and around. The sheer giddiness of their lack of inhibitions had filled their hearts to overflowing and their bodies with a nearly endless supply of energy.

Nothing else mattered anymore: the rain, the people who judged, and the people who hurt, who cares! Who would have thought that People like uscould dance in the rain? It didn’t even matter if the people that were not like us did or didn’t dance in the rain. The girl and the boy did and that was more than enough for them.

Consumed by the intoxicating blend of freedom, rain and the mud, their bodies danced until they slipped and fell in. Amongst the giggles, and the slipping around in the mud, the girl caught hold of the boy and climbed on top of him to make sure she had all of his attention. As she sat on him the girl leaned in and fixed her gaze upon him.

The boy was thinking she was going to steal another kiss. But the conviction in her eyes said something else.

As she looked at him she took a long breath and said "You know I love you."

Hearing these words from her lips almost took the boy's breath away, but only for the slightest of moments with a gleam in his eyes and without skipping a beat, even a moment’s hesitation he told her "I love you too."

Never in the girl's life had her heart been touched like that, nothing came even close.

She was no longer afraid of What once was’s, or the memories, the people who hurt, or even what everyone else thought of her. In her heart she knew what she had said and she had to tell him now, before her courage of the moment was lost.

"I know I am not much. But everything I am I give to you."

What follows next is a tale of sheer panic and its aftermath.

It was the boy who panicked first. The boy had been so very careful; he had to be. Keeping everything at tiny baby steps was the only way to build her trust. Anything big would have just frightened her away again like it had before. The boy had lived and learned the hard way. Little by little, constantly building, he was in this for the long run. He wasn’t like the other boys or like the other people who wanted something from her. He wanted her for the rest of his life.

What had just happened was by no means little by little and honestly the boy was lost in the panic.

The girl has seen the lost look on his face. She could not escape it. He was right there. She too panicked and, when she did, the first thought that came to her mind was he did not want what she had to offer, he did not want her.

When the boy looked up at the girl he had seen something he had never wanted to see. Upon the girl's face were the looks of hurt, shame, and fear. Even worse, he had been the one who put them there. He did this. He had hurt her. He had put the hurt in her eyes. His heart sunk so low that he did not even want to take another breath. For as long as he lived the words "I hurt her" would never leave him, or the look upon her face, the pain they brought.

Crying and still in shock the girl rolled off of him. Not even the rain could wash away all the tears. The boy tried to make it up to her but by now she was hysterical with grief. The more the boy tried the more it seemed to upset and hurt the girl.

After that moment there would be only three times that the girl and the boy would kiss again, and all three were kisses of goodbye.

When things quieted down some, they had both gotten up and kissed each other goodbye. That kiss was the first of the last three kisses.

They both went to their own houses and with tears still in their eyes they both put the memories of that day away. After all that is what People like me do right?

Never again would things be the same. They still loved each other, and were still there for each other but the door where the girl and the boy could grow together as one was closed for now.

Whenever the boy would try to talk to the girl about that day she would run back to her house and close the door. She could hear his cries, his banging on the door, and his desperate pleas of understanding as he was trying to reason with her about that day.

But the hurt was still new and there was a lot more hurt that the boy was not even aware of that complicated things for the girl. She had to shut the door to her heart up for a while or at least until she could sort things out, even if it meant shutting the boy out too. She set aside the thought that the boy might have been right and it might have been too much, too fast, but for right now there was just too much for the girl to handle.

Because both the girl and the boy lived with parents and under rules and conditions not under their control, the girl was hurt beyond what anyone there could help her with. It wasn’t her fault, it wasn’t her choice, and it definitely wasn’t what she wanted. The girl had to leave the town where she met the boy.

The girl and the boy shared the second kiss goodbye when she left. Both the boy and the girl returned to their own houses and in their own way quietly became People like me again.

Years later, the girl grew up to become a woman and the boy became a man.

Once again the boy, now a man, knocked upon her door. The woman had heard that familiar knock and decided that she would walk with him for a few days. But the time spent with him reminded her of everything else she had left behind and was trying to live beyond. Tossed in with everything else was the boy, that day, and the agony of What could have been but wasn't.

The man was beside himself. Honestly, he wasn’t hoping for much and just wanted to spend some time with her. The boy, now a man, was ready to start another chapter in his life, to take his life in yet another direction. He had so dearly missed the healing of her voice, her laughter and her touch. Time spent with her was soothing to his soul. Even if she would not walk with him in the next chapter in his life, the man knew that in whatever direction he would travel he would treasure every moment spent with her and always keep her in his heart.

Very quickly it wasn’t too hard to figure out that she had still closed the door to her heart. The man found himself in a quiet moment where once again he heard them three words “I hurt her." The pain of these three words made it easier to agree with her about him having to leave.

Once again she would have to tell him good bye and kiss him good bye. This was the third time since that day and was the third and last kiss goodbye. For these two, returning back to being People like me had become like a wound that would not heal.

Now many years have gone by. They say time heals all wounds and that only time will tell. Who can really say for certain if that's true or maybe it's only a half truth at best. Some even say that the eyes are the windows of the soul.

Maybe, maybe not, maybe the truth is kind of like that time heals all wounds thing but more in a matter of degrees instead of being just one way or the other.

Years have passed. So many people have slipped in and out of her life.

All too often the woman had found herself alone with the feeling of not being whole, like something was still missing. The woman had reached a point where she had looked towards the rest of her life, and was just as unsure about her future as she had been in her past. She could easily say the years could have been kinder to her.

One day the woman found herself thinking about the What once was’s and the What could have been's. With a sigh that was almost a whimper the woman surrendered herself to the moment as she realized she could say nothing or everything and each would have just as pointless as the other. With a quiet, well practiced resolve the woman softly faded back into the quiet of her house.

There came a day when the woman heard a knock on the door.

The woman's heart skips a beat at the sound of a familiar knock.

Under her breath the woman questioned “It can’t be him can it?” So softly did she speak these words that she herself did not hear them she only felt them. Not sure, she fought back the urge to go to the door and see. She could only console herself by looking out the window. Almost out of habit she reassured herself “The window was safer for People like me."

The knocking on the door had stopped as suddenly as it started. The part of her that was wishing it was true was just as strong as the part of her that wished it wasn’t true. To her own disbelief she saw him walk away. She stared on as he opened and closed the gate behind him. Then slowly a man turned around.

It was him. Through her tears of grief and joy she could still see him. The man just stood there. His age had caught up with him also. He was worn and well weathered. But he was there and there was no mistaking the boyish gleam or look in his eyes that still seemed to ask “What are you waiting for?"

It was the look that only one man could have for her.

Desperately she tried to wipe the tears from her eyes so she could see him better. She looked towards the door, and then to him and finally the window between them

Frantically she wiped the window clean. In all of her excitement she had once again fogged it up.

Had she truefully forgiven him for that day, truefully? She says she did.

But could she truefully open the door to her heart and let him in again?

Could she once again offer "I know I am not much; but everything I am I give to you"?

A million words with his voice carry themselves within her heart.

He said “I love you too.”

With still trembling hands she struggles to reach out to him only to find the frame of the window.

Amongst her sobs and almost against her will she cries out loud “He did, he said I love you too.”

Could she,

Open the door to her heart again for him and receive him with open arms?

Her gaze now turns towards the door. Could she open the door and once again find and keep him in her heart?

Would she?

Would she?

Maybe you have a better ending and you could write it.

Would you?

Would you?

I am still hoping she will.

Howdy Rowdy. My name is Troy Prichard. I am 49 years old and I live in Omaha, Nebraska. I am not published, nor do I write professionally. I do have to admit I am really twisted, but I like it this way. In the long run I will write books but for the time being I am warming up with short stories. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did writing it.