Last night, the bedroom door slammed shut and locked just as we were desperate for sleep.
No one knows how it managed to lock. Wind from the open window? My husband insists the physics are not right for that. But how? Ghosts in the attic? Attic ghosts– mice, bats, squirrels, flying squirrels, have all lived up there. There’s a roof right off the windows that are over our heads when we sleep. One summer night when the windows were open to their screens, we roused to see fourteen little racoon paws, and fourteen eyes peering, like children peering at animals along a zoo railing. As soon as we startled, a low mother’s growl came from the roof’s edge, scattering the tiny racoons.
The house was once a farmhouse, once a speak-easy––broken shards can be found in the garden soil–– once it was a red-light house for a one-woman business along what was once a gravel road, and now is an arterial. That woman kept goats in the basement, but finally ended up in a local mental institution. A family bought this house, turned it respectable in the late 1940’s. They cleaned up the basement, poured fresh concrete over the rubble foundation, laid a steel rod across the basement ceiling so the main floor wouldn’t collapse, and added on to the house in higgledy-piggledy fashion. And they were all short.
When they rebuilt the stairs to the second floor, anyone taller than 5 feet can smash their head going up or down. The small farmhouse doorways were never enlarged when they turned the old back porch into a kitchen and dining room. If you need to move a rocking chair or something bigger from the living room to the dining room, you need to carry it outside, go out the front door, come in the back.
This is a place where winter can be eight months long. The house is a force for stability. You have to think carefully about changes. When strange things happen, I just accept it. So last night, I crowd-sourced the solution to the internet, followed friends’ directions, and popped open the bedroom door.