Behind Closed Doors
The community rested on 28 acres of manicured lawns and gardens, nary a leaf out of place.
The poet found the perfection unusual, though not lacking in beauty.
He parked his car, crossed the lot and stepped into the foyer, as pristine on the inside as the outer grounds.
“Not bad, eh?” the older gentleman posited after the customary greetings. “We came here to die.”
The poet found that statement oddly troubling, its morbidity too rich in truth to go unnoticed, even if stated in jest.
“See,” added the man, as he pointed to condolence notices in a glass case on the wall. “They posted those four last week.”
The poet read the first line, then stopped: “We extend our deepest sympathies and regrets to the family of…”
He knew the rest.
After lunch, they toured the grounds.
“One guy built a nine-hole pitch and putt right over there,” the man shared. “It took him over a year.”
The poet nodded at the residents that passed, some with nametags, some without.
He wondered why.
“Another woman has an orchid garden in that far greenhouse. She practically lives in the place and usually graces our entryway with fresh flowers. Don’t know why we had none today.”
The man guided them into one of the various apartment buildings.
“They clean each unit once a week, with a deep cleaning every six months and they replace the carpeting, curtains and such once a decade whether they need it or not.” The man chuckled at his own joke. “Everyone decorates the little nook outside their front door as they see fit.”
As he walked the hall, the poet found himself captivated by the displays.
One wall presented a bevy of military decorations, each mounted on a separate plaque, a proud statement of achievement, or so he hoped.
Another featured three rag dolls, each several feet high, a representation of grandchildren.
“Why do their heads face the wall?” the poet pondered.
The visually impaired man kept a fresh daisy on a small wooden table and a simple sconce next to the doorbell.
The poet considered whether he could still see its color or only feast upon its scent.
On a miniature sideboard stood four pieces of china, a bunny, a pink rose, a toadstool and a tulip, with one of its leaves snapped off.
The lone leaf lay next to its parent, the chalky white cracked surface in contrast to the pale polished green sides.
The poet strolled past it, stopped and returned for a second look.
He stared at the cracked leaf, neither discarded nor fixed.
What did it represent?
Did it mean anything or nothing?
How long had it sat there?
Did the owner not care or did it break this very morning or had it been placed there on purpose, a symbol, a reminder, a metaphor of some sort?
“Why am I drawn to this?” he muttered inwardly.
The questions flooded him.
Why do some shiver in a rut while others gaze upon the stars?
How many wait in their hovels for an excuse to emerge, the daily meal, the monthly gala, a rare visit from a relative?
For every gardener or greens keeper, how many others live like inmates, eat, mandatory walk, nap and start again, the grave already dug in their minds?
“Why do I care and where did this turmoil stem from?” he sighed.
“The leaf,” the poet suddenly realized. “It’s out of order—the only thing out of order—nothing else is out of order.”
He paused and smiled for the first time, a smile of merriment and gratitude, a union of rebellious camaraderie with an unknown kindred soul.
He voiced a quiet thanks for the brave soul that lived behind that door.
That’s A View From The Ridge…
Best-selling author, Ridgely Goldsborough has written 19 books to date, 5 on emotional intelligence and has developed a phenomenal program called CustomerConversionFormula.com that you can get absolutely free as a member of the Groove community.