She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally decided to walk through the door. Three hours ago Sarah raced to the morgue across town and had sat there waiting for when she was ready to identify the body. “One more paragraph” turned to “one more chapter” which turned to hours of sitting outside the cold green door. That door, she felt, would up heave her life once she walked through. She had watched employees leave for lunch and return, heard a sobbing mother exclaim “That’s my son!” and wondered how she would react when she crossed the threshold.
Sarah stood and walked the eight steps from the bench to the door. She made that walk several times in the hours leading up to this moment. “There’s the dirt filled crack in the tile,” she pointed out to herself as she took one more forced step. “Three more to go,” she said to herself before she stopped suddenly.
“If I can reach the door handle from here then I’ll go in. If I can’t I’ll finish the book.”
Sarah leaned forward cautiously and reached for the door handle with a clenched fist. The space between the silver knob and her white knuckles was minute; however, there was still a space. In that moment Sarah relaxed but then grazed the door knob as she swung her arm to turn. “Damn it.” Sara muttered to herself as she ceded to personal edict.
The walls of the room behind the door were a shade lighter than the door itself and it made Sarah think of guacamole. She continued counting steps as she thought, “He always loved guacamole, especially from that restaurant that made it at the table.” At step number ten Sarah passed a small desk with papers scattered across the top and a stack of files that looked as though they’d tumble at any moment; it was another reminder. Her father had a similar stack of documents on the desk in his study although his were stuffed full of articles about UFOs and other urban legends. This time Sarah wondered out loud, “Where did he go this time? I thought he was done traipsing around looking for things that weren’t there. It’s his own damn fault. I know it!”
There was another door when Sarah reached step seventeen. The slow burning ember of anger kept Sarah from hesitating and she immediately reached to open the door.
“Serves him right. At least we won’t have to listen to all of those stories anymore.”
But it was listening to those stories that made Sarah feel connected to her father and it was that connection that brought on the tears of the loss she was attempting to quell. As the door swung open Sarah saw the morgue employee first, a silver table second, and lastly a body covered by a green sheet.
“Can’t they find any other colors?” she thought. Five more steps and she found herself shaking hands with the employee and rushing through formalities so quickly that she was unprepared when the sheet was pulled away from the body’s head. She tried to avoid eye contact with the corpse by turning her own but not before she saw the familiar scar on the chin. Tears and snot began to pour from her.
“No, no, no, no. That’s not him,” she blurted out. “I don’t know him!”
After a few minutes Sarah composed herself and hurried back the twenty two steps. For the third time she sat back down, picked up the book, and continued reading from where she left off.