The Cellar Door

Jolee arrived first. I hadn’t seen her in ages and she looked at me skeptically as her slight frame crossed the threshold. “Had to see for myself,” she said.

“You want the tour?”

“I know where everything is.” She walked to the cellar door and waited for my permission.

“It’s fine,” I said.

Jolee raised her eyebrows. In one small motion I shook my head, gave her a thin smile.

A few days later Adam showed up. “Thought you’d forgotten all about us,” he said.

“I was worried.”

Adam fidgeted, looked around.

“I’m making tea,” I told him, taking his pack and placing it by the sofa.

“You still have that cellar?”

I nodded.

Adam picked up the pack and didn’t look over his shoulder as he descended the stairs. In my bedroom that night I listened to Adam and Jolee, the sounds of their laughter and lovemaking reverberating up the posts and beams of the house.

Weeks passed without seeing my new housemates. Every once in a while someone else would arrive, a person from another time, another dimension. Sometimes people I didn’t remember ever meeting before would shake my hand or kiss my cheek before sliding past me.

At night, preparing for bed, I would think about going down. Just for a minute. Just to say hi. If only to make sure they were OK.

I awoke one morning to find the cellar door open. Smells climbed the stairs and coiled around me. “Come on,” I heard, but whose voice I couldn’t tell. Maybe it was all of them speaking together.

“I’m cooking breakfast,” I said, “if anyone’s interested.”

Silence.

Balancing on the stairwell’s edge, all I had to do was shift myself just so, fall into the soft darkness. From the bowels of my home, gravity tugged: first with a finger, a fist, and then will all its might.

[This story originally appeared in Nailed Magazine]