Ellen Perry :: The Door ::


Southern Legitimacy Statement -I was born in North Carolina and lived here all my life (almost 50 years, now, good Lord). Dad is from east Tennessee, Mom from Georgia – I’m a hybrid, then, of Deep South and Appalachian sensibilities.

The Door

Donnie, 38
Gabrielle, 40


Dad’s here and said he’d help us with the door. It’s the one Gabrielle wanted, a storm door for the front, the kind that has a retractable screen. There’s already a main door but she wants this one, too. I don’t get it but whatever. Dad stands in the hallway, she calls it the foyer, with his tools. I read from the installation guide. She’s sitting with Mom on the couch and they’re weird with each other. Some kind of power struggle but Gabrielle has already won. Refuses to lose. Claims the throne. Will sting herself to death before giving in, like a scorpion. I’m already out of the fight. I’m pretty much already gone. Easier since we’re not married.

Only thing I really wanted is a dog, and that’s the one thing she won’t budge on, which is crazy because this new house she bought has a fenced-in yard. Dad curses the storm door, I’m trying to hold it steady. Maybe if we built a doggy door to where an old mutt could go in and out. Always have loved dogs. We could probably figure a doggy door if we can get this one up, the way Gabrielle wants it, which is now and fast. Yesterday. 


I bought the storm door that said E-Z INSTALL but these two act like they’re building the pyramids. I should have just installed it myself.

When I first saw the house with my realtor in January I had this vision of what could be our new home: the main door swung open like a welcome, storm window down, summer breeze drifting from the porch through the screen into the dining room. Happy couple, entertaining guests. What a picture! All my years of work culminating in this moment, in my dream house. But today is nothing like that. Instead I have to practice patience and try to be a nice host, Donnie’s parents in from out of town and everything, but I’m about ready to take off out the gaping frame and let them all deal with the door and each other. 

Can you believe on top of it all, he wants a dog? I reminded him that our cat, really my cat, is terrified of dogs. She was here first. Queen of the castle. His mom feels sorry for him that he wants a dog but I’m about to the point, if they can’t get this door up within the hour, of telling the three of them to go to hell or Dog City and stay there. Ms. Kitty outlasts them all, anyway; she just yawns and bides her time. 


An old hound dog, maybe. A buddy to have around. Gabrielle doesn’t want kids and I could go either way on that, but it would be nice to take a dog with me on hikes when she’s at work. There’s a little bit of woods here. A small doggy door leading out to the patio might be ok. I could keep him out there away from her precious cat, the queen. “Are y’all about done?” Gabrielle calls from the hallway-foyer. Dad curses the door again, we finish screwing the handle on, and she comes over to see if the screen part moves up and down to her liking. Surely a doggy door wouldn’t be too hard by comparison. But Dad says, “This is the last time I do anything with a door like this, E-Z INSTALL or no.” He’s irritated and I’m trying to keep the peace. Mom has a gift bag ready. Probably a candle, something like she used to give Liz, the one who did the best at fixing Mom’s Thanksgiving cornbread dressing. Dog dreaming will have to wait. 


Donnie’s mom just gave Gabrielle a cookbook as a housewarming gift.

and another one gone, another one bites the dust.

We are the Queens here. 

      I swish my tail to say I want out, and the new door opens like magic.