The green door
When I was small, the world was round and full of wondrous things: stormy skies, haystacks with nesting mice, winds to fly in, tractor rides through vineyards, cows to milk, pigs to tickle, crows to talk to, ducks to waddle with, geese to run from, shadows and invisible monsters under my bed. There were tokeloshes, chameleons, bicycle rides and the discovery of new lands, fairies, magic toadstools and faraway trees, secret gangs and meetings in the mulberry tree, rabbits to play with, hailstones to gather, moths to wonder at, fudge to savor, gum trees to have tea parties in, mountains to climb, gulleys to slide down, wild strawberries, jackals’ dens, porcupines and buck. The world was alive and so was I, although I never stopped to think about it.
Then one day I was put into nice dresses. My smudged doll’s pram was painted perfect red to match my perfect shoes. I set off with my suitcase along the long road into the future. It took awhile to learn to read the signposts and how important it was to polish your shoes. I eventually realized that the signposts made my journey very safe: “1 km to the next corner”… “Rock falls ahead”… The only signpost that made me stop and think was “Only you can prevent bush fires”. Nevertheless, I walked on. I did not look through the windows at the side of the road. I did what I was meant to do. And I forgot about the round world.
Not too long ago, the long road, the perfect path with its perfect corners, came to an abrupt end. It halted at a large green door with flaky paint and a brass handle. I turned around, in disbelief, and scanned the landscape. Behind me was the road that stretched forever back, mapping my life so far. And that was that. There was nowhere else to go. And, sure enough, there was no sign to tell the way ahead.
I opened the door (I had to kick and push it a little) and stepped inside. Before me was a mirror. And in the mirror was me. And the mirror said, “which one comes here now?”
I stepped back, mesmerized, as I watched the marching out of the me, with the shiny red shoes, and the marching in of somebody else who looked vaguely familiar. “which drinks the coffee, which the tea?” asked the wild-haired woman in pants with roses blooming on them.
“What do you mean?” I asked. She sighed, put her nose in the air and walked off.
“Well, it’s about time?” said a judge, in his robes, as he took me aside and seated me at a large desk under an oak tree. “I have been waiting for a very long time for you, my dear. Ever since the world was round. Now, tell me, how are you?”
“I don’t remember,” was my honest reply.
“Ah!” laughed the judge. “You have forgotten who you are, haven’t you, my dear?”
“I don’t think I ever knew, your honor!” said I. “I thought that perhaps I was an artist but then I was told this was not an option. I have done some interesting things since then, I suppose.” I paused and looked at the wilderness that sparkled around us.
“This is confidential, your honor” I whispered, “but I have to admit, life out there on the straight road is dreadful and dreary,” and I pointed to the door.
The crazy lady in flower pants plonked a steaming pot of tea upon the desk, followed by frothy coffee in a pink cup and a milkjug of vodka.
“Yes, it’s true what you say. It is perfectly sound! One can’t live in a world if it isn’t quite round!” said the judge. And with that, he put a paintbrush in my hand and sent me skipping down the field towards the blue, blue lake, without any shoes at all.