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The Door to Nowhere Challenge - The Perch

Updated on February 1, 2015

The Challenge

The picture above is the Door to Nowhere. Yes, you may use the picture with your essay/story. Also, as part of your prompt, you have to begin your challenge with the following sentence:

Was it really only yesterday?

Was it really only yesterday? When Mom nearly jerked my arm out of its socket and said, “Don’t you dare touch that door handle, you hear me?”

Maybe it was. I should've listened.

I thought I knew what was on the other side: A rusty old fire escape that probably couldn’t hold my shadow. But that didn’t keep me from imagining that it led to a sprawling kingdom that surrounded my castle. No, it was a balcony, overlooking the ocean at sunrise. Or maybe we sat atop of a glorious mountain, and I was an eagle soaring over the treetops.

Yeah, sure it was stupid, but imagining what was out there was better than hanging out in this crappy living room.

We’d been up there all day too. Mom didn’t want us running around on the streets and it wasn’t like she was leaving. The other door kept opening and shutting as loudmouth people came and went, each saying a whole lot of nothing at all.

I looked back to that door. It was dirty white and streaked with grime. And just as soon as I got my chance I planned on opening it up so me and Pike would enjoy the view.

Pike was thinking it too, because he was smiling at me so hard he looked deranged. Some people thought he was crazy, my little brother, and I’d been in more than one fist fight because they didn’t know when to shut up about him.

Anyway, we just waited. We watched Judge Carla get to the bottom of some lawsuits. Then we watched Judge Marvin and then Doctor Kimball. I wanted to change the channel, but even when Mom wasn’t watching she was listening, and if you changed the channel you’d better be ready to duck.

After a while it just kind of ran together, the same commercials as the day before. Mom had more friends over and we watched as they talked and argued in the kitchen. Pike’s smile dropped when Kelvin came in, because you could tell he’d been drinking. Or maybe he’d never stopped.

But that was our chance. Because when I saw Mom fix her hair and stub out her smoke I knew she’d be gone a while. Kelvin just stared us down, jingling his keys like he thought he was cool. My neck was still tender just looking at him.

As soon as they were gone I jabbed Pike in the ribs, “Come on."

“I, I d-d-d-don’t think was should.”

Pike stuttered something awful when he was worked up. Always had. Teachers thought he was dumber than spit but he wasn’t dumb, just nervous. I knew he could count and read and all that stuff, he just did it on his own time.

I put the chair against the door so that I could reach the top lock. Once I slid it out we moved the chair back and looked at each other. Well, I moved it, Pike just stood there being useless. We’d only been in this dump a week but it was just like the last one, only this one was on the third floor and I’d had my eyes on that fire escape since we’d pulled in that first day.

The door opened easy and a blast of rotten cold air hit me head on. I glanced back at Pike. Then I stepped out to the ledge.

It wasn't the ocean. But there was plenty to see from up there and I didn’t know what to look at first. It was so much better than the streaky window. The sounds just drifted with the stench. I let my legs dangle through the opening. Part of me wanted to climb down the ladder and run. But I couldn't ditch Pike.

Below us people were drinking and fighting, hollering and stumbling over their feet like Pike over words. I pointed to two old guys pushing and shoving each other, a bottle of beer clinked as it fell over on the street.

It was dusk, and the city lights glowed in the horizon. A train blasted its horn from not too far away. I thought about it slicing through our town, sometimes when a plane flew over my head I wondered if anyone ever saw me and wondered. I wondered what it would be like to be way up there. This was as close as I’d been.

Someone had tagged the dumpster, a tangle of silver and black that looked like a web. We were way up over the street and that’s when I got an idea

“Pike, watch this,” I said, trying to lure him out. Slowly, he edged forward.

I worked up a big, thick loogie and then I let it slide off my tongue.

As soon as it left my mouth I felt my heartbeat gallop. It was right on course. Just before it landed on the man’s head we both ducked back inside where we fell to the floor cackling.

“Do you think it hit him?” Pike asked. I nodded.


We waited for a couple minutes before peeking back out. Not far, just enough to hear. He was swearing and grunting, and I leaned out farther to see him wiping his head. When he turned up up I ducked back in and snorted.

“Bulls eye.”

We waited twenty minutes after that. Mom still wasn’t’ home and we figured she was gone for a while. She did that sometimes when she was with Kelvin. It was dark when we looked back out, but two streetlights down I saw her.

She and Kelvin were with some man who had a big belly and a bushy beard. I guess he knew Kelvin because they were talking quietly about something serious. Pike eased out to the ledge beside me, I raised a finger to my lips. I didn’t need him freaking out up there.

The man handed something to Kelvin who nodded. Mom and the man took a walk around the corner. I felt Pike squirm and I shook my head. The night was chilly with the breeze. We waited, watching Kelvin out there, nodding and laughing with people as they passed. Mom was gone for a long time.

Relief swept over me when she returned all alone. Kelvin said something to her and they both laughed. Her laughed sounded empty--mean. My stomach felt like it had been twisted into a ball. She never looked up.

I nudged Pike back inside. We locked the door. The television blared with fake laughter and jokes that I didn’t get. Pike just stared at the screen, his lips moving but not saying much of anything.

I looked back to the door. Was it really only yesterday, that it lead to the magical or the extraordinary?

Now it lead to nowhere...


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    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago from Texas

      Hello Pete, this is some fantastic writing.

      Thumb up, UABI and shared.

      Blessings Pete

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 3 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks for all the kind comments, I really appreciate it. And thanks to Billybuc for the inspiration!

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      I have to agree with the others, you have a gift for writing. A glimpse of life through the eyes of a child. Well done, voted up all the way.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Wow Pete, this is reality at its harshest. Each one of the stories in this challenge just seems to outdo the ones I have read before. That's not taking anything away from the others. It's just I read one and think it can't get any better, and then I read one like this. Voted up.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Pete......I rate this EXCELLENT. Your talent shines through this entire piece...I enjoy when writers revisit childhood. Very creative response to bill's challenge. Never doubt your cleverness!....UP+++

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great creativity, Pete. I loved this story. The suspense built as only it can through the eyes of a child...and then a cold, hard slap of reality entered the picture. So very well done. Thanks for taking part in the challenge.