I blame my mother.
It always starts there, doesn’t it?
Mother was addicted to game shows
like Let’s Make a Deal.
Now, plaid jackets and
cheesy theme music
don’t scare me.
But I tremble and sweat and
my heart hammers inside my chest
at the sight of a door.
I don’t have any doors inside my home,
so don’t come over if you value your privacy.
But it’s not really the doors I’m afraid of.
It’s what’s on the other side.
What will I find when I open a door?
A snarling beast?
A roomful of snakes?
A masked madman?
It’s all mother’s fault.
From way up in my bedroom,
surrounded by the bars of my tiny jail,
I could hear the television blaring.
Women were screaming and howling.
A man was goading someone to choose
Door Number 1 or 2 or 3.
And when he opened the portal
to reveal the horror that lay beyond,
their shrieking raced up the stairs
and found its way into my soft little ears.
Oh, what terrible thing had those women seen?
Mother, oblivious to my cries,
joined in the clamor
with her own yelps and shouting.
I was sure she’d been gobbled up
by the monster behind the door,
until she finally remembered
to bring me a bottle.
My little brain struggled
to make sense of it all, and,
of course, today I know the truth.
But when I was small, I knew only
that doors had things behind them
that made women scream.
And I’ve been afraid ever since.