johnston front door

The Onslaught at my Front Door
by Joseph Johnston

It wasn’t a rapping so much as it was an occasional flutter, a squeak from the hinges, a whisper of pressure on the storm door.

I noticed it during the first week of quarantine but chalked it up to the wind. Maybe.

Second week it was more persistent. Harder to ignore. A regular crashing at the front door. Convince myself it’s the pestilence.

Should I see who is there? Do I break the fourth wall? Let the disease in?

Much easier to just camp out in the basement and ignore the obvious. Maintain my controllable dimensions.

I hauled a tiny fridge down there and the coffee pot and the TV and the litter box and the best blankets. And the good rocker/recliner.

Third week I made it all the way to Wednesday completely ignoring the onslaught at my front door. I still don’t know how.

My fingernails were worn down to nubs, embarrassing versions of their former selves. And I couldn’t manage any TV. I was just sitting there. Rocking. Remembering.

Defending castle from disease. Hands over ears, hearing nothing.

Thursday. Thud. Crash. THUD. CRASH. And repeat. The storm door coming off the hinges. And no wind to speak of. The point of no ignoring.

I don’t want to investigate. I’m tired of investigations and ruminations and interrogations and suspicions. I’m tired of masks and their accusations.

I’m so tired. But I can’t make the noise stop. I have to answer the door. I have to face disease and death.

I wrap a novelty bandanna around my face and rack the deadbolt wide open. Turn the knob. Expecting zombies, I unleash the outside, in.

But it’s just a deer. Maybe six months old. Crashing into its reflection, in my direction.

I tape a drape over the storm glass and breathe.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It’s astonishing how quickly my mistrust of others has grown since the pandemic began. This is probably what I hate most of all these days. I don’t want to mistrust others, but I can’t help but feel like my life is on the line whenever I have to interact with someone. With this prompt, I tried to tell the story of how this new paranoia turned my front door into an airlock at some infectious disease germ lab.

johnston
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Writer and filmmaker Joseph Johnston made his first movie at the age of 11, an industrial espionage thriller that continues to play to excited crowds in his parents’ living room every Christmas. His prose, poetry, and video literature have appeared in Atticus Review, Matador Review, and Iron Horse Literary Review. He currently resides in Michigan, where he is working on a feature-length play about a dystopic suburban road rally.