Monday, Oct. 24, 2005 - 4:28 a.m.
As she sits up on her bed, her back against the headboard, she continues to sob. She wills herself to stop sobbing, but her will can only dampen the automatic rise of her chest and shoulders slightly. A person must sob after the cessation of tears. She thinks it is perhaps the body's compensatory reaction to the hypoxia sustained during the act of crying. Sobbing is a reflex that cannot be unjoined, a record of breathing, a record of having cried.
The door is broken. Splintered and cracked near the handle. Shards of wood lie on the square-tiled floor. Pieces of her father's anger. But what is anger, what is this human force, that can pass through a locked wooden door? It is night and her father is asleep in the room next door. How can a living creature let out so much anger and then be claimed by sleep in the next instance? The girl and the face on her pillow, the two of them, sit on the bed watching the broken, slightly ajar door.
It can still be closed, but with the lock broken, the door is useless. It can now only give an approximation of closure. The lock is what turns the door into a wall when she wants her four walls. She has that fantasy often enough: her alone on a bed, sitting up with her knees bent, in a room with no ingress. The door is a wall that can temporarily disappear, a demarcation of space, which was meaningless before the invention of doors.
A contractor who was a friend of her father had installed the cheap, beige-coloured door. The previous door came with the flat, and it had several rows of ugly ventilation slits cut into it near the top. She decides that she will refuse to have this broken door replaced; it must stay as a monument of anger (both her's and his). That edifice of broken wood will serve to induce her father's guilt: no doubt that will come every time he casts a look at its splintered side.
From her bed she laughs out loud because she thinks it absurd. Absurd that a man should rage and rage, and subsequently feel guilty about having angered. Absurd that each person was given a capacity to injure another. But yes, like everyone else, her father has remorse. What James Joyce called the agenbyte of inwit - a remorse of consciousness. Anger. Remorse. Anger. Why does one follow the other, and why are we allowed such complexity? Her father is unlike the tree outside her window, that either grows towards the light or does not. She thinks that her father is stupefyingly simple - and complex at the same time. Like Joyce's characters.
The interface between father and daughter is the bedroom door. That panel of wood was the separator, but it was not a complete seal. She could hear her father watching the news on the television outside; he could hear the ghost-strumming of her guitar inside the room. The rap of knuckle, the slap of the palm, the hammer-stroke of the closed fist against the door, the shouting matches, the horizontal force of his charging shoulder, and on the other side, the full opposition of her body weight - were all transduced bi-directionally by those compressed layers of laminated wood.
She looks at the pillow creature next to her, but its face just watches the door silently. It has no words for her. Sadness is not something eloquent.
The night is quiet outside the window. Occasionally a taxi with its idling diesel engine waits at the bottom of her block of flats.
Finally, she decides. She gets out of bed and leaves the room with her pillow. She stands in front of the closed door to her father's bedroom, and leaves the pillow leaning against it. The liquid face on the pillow faces the door. She is not sure of what that act means. She wants to tell her father that she - his daughter - had been hurt, by him - her father. But he would never understand the placement of the pillow, so part of her must want to carry that yoke: you have hurt me in ways you do not know. The liquid face will evaporate, and in the morning, he will unknowingly walk in the vapour of her tears.
Back on her bed, she considers constructing another door in her head. One better than wood, one that will shut him out completely. It will be composed of nods, shakes of her head, monosyllabic answers if she has to - a door composed of silence, which approaches the quality of a wall. It will not be too difficult, to spend the rest of her life not talking to him, since life is short and can be easily filled with silences.
In the stillness of her room, she finds a lonely sound. It is a quiet, sobbing sound. She looks around, and then realizes that the sound comes from herself. She touches her eyes and finds that she has cried. She lies back down in bed, and pulls the blanket over her head. The doors not made of wood are like the blanket - tear-stained but still unable to protect her, from the unbroken wetness of her own body.