Miss Wattered got enormously surprised when she perceived the slight sound of her front door being knocked; there was a bell, of course, so why would anybody bother hitting their knuckles against the rough, white-painted wood in the door? But then she remembered: it was not working.
Such a mystery invaded her tranquil morning thoughts, previously occupied with something god only could certainly say. She herself had forgotten this high; maybe it was something about lunch... Or perhaps that repairing her blue lacy dress seemed to need. Finally, it could have been the splendid overcast atmosphere the sky offered that day. In a permanently sunny country, you take a simple cloudy day as a celebration excuse. At least she did.
Her previous idea of this Sunday —because it was Sunday— was a bit of a joke to herself. "What if I wear pajamas till noon?" She had wondered sometimes... Well... Many times before, actually. But today she did it. There were no plans outside, so she dared.
"So, pajamas, huh?" She started to scold herself when recovered her sense of reality. "What a stupid idea! Going around the house just wearing extremely light clothes... Exposing myself?!" She had not even thought of it as 'exposing'. However, she was now starting to believe it was.
A third knock made her house of cards, built with all those ideas, come down. She was supposed to open the door, even in the stupid scenario of a mistake, even to face any kind of misread direction or a simple parcel from a deliveryman (she was not expecting anything, either). The point was, somebody —it did not matter who— was out there waiting for the slightest response, waiting maybe for a narrowly-opened, and secured with a door chain, front door of a —now quite pathetic— lady who would never dare to open in the clothes she was —not— wearing. She wondered whether she moved a single muscle after all that time. It was the fourth knock she counted.
Outside, she could see through the window behind her Tiffany-like lamp —whose lampshade by the way needed some dusting too—, that sunlight was a mere negatively-defined concept: partial absence of darkness. Wind was blowing strongly and even howling, she could hear. Time was inevitably going by.
"It might end it all if I stay all still and quiet.” she whispered to herself. It was the fifth knock. Legs stretched with her chin over her left knee —her eyes nervously looking at the nothingness—, a position she was comfortable with since long ago. The same way she used to keep calm. To try to keep calm. It was the pose she used to take back then in her elementary, middle and sometimes high school, days.
Suddenly she thought of something, a lightning of an idea: The new shrub in the pot by the front door.
The stupid shrub!
She had been given a potted shrub by her godmother, Lilian. The old lady loved plants and trees, so it was inevitable to receive that kind of presents from her. Her godmother gifting had always been something to deal with —long-thorn cactus, eerie ferns, overwhelming creeps and that sort of thing—. Anyway, this time, there was an exception. She really liked the shrub.
The shrub was a pretty kind of tree whose name she did not remember. Two months ago she had had it in the back yard, until some weeks ago, when she decided it would look better next to the front door, providing with life the small space next to the entrance to her home. Since that day the thin shrub had been getting drier and drier, and losing its leaves from day to day.
Putting two and two together, it was easy to understand that the strange breeze (which was very little to say, since it was actually more like a gale, according to the gusts of furious wind blowing every once in a while) could be rocking the shrub and therefore scratching or hitting, <
> the mentioned door.
She felt silly and ridiculous; after all, she was the one who had forgotten to
water the poor plant in the first place.
Giggling at first, and eventually bursting with laugh, she got on her feet and went towards the front door with a huge grin, 'from ear to ear' as some call it. She had the intention to open the door to look at the shrub and burst laughing again. Even louder, she expected.
Was it the seventh… or the eighth knock? Who knew! ...and anyway, who cared about that?
A long creak accompanied the slow opening of the door.
"Oh,finally, miss Wattered! I was starting to think you were not at home at all and..." Said Mr. Nossey, the local priest, who stopped speaking as he started, holding a pair of books under the arm. In that moment, hesitating among adjusting his glasses or crossing himself, he could not believe his eyes.