A lovely blue door, but not just one. I am intrigued, even more than when we had the door in the tree. I wondered for a while whether the two were in some way connected. This of course is my weekly writephoto offering for KL Caley at New2writing.com. It’s just 900 words.
The Blue Door
Standing in front of the door, it reminded her of her first big career break, when she discovered something rare and exciting behind a blue door in a Scottish forest.
This one was human sized. Except it also catered for people of smaller stature. And it had roses around it, and an apple tree in front.
On her first tour of the premises, the outgoing director had led her past the walled garden, saying ‘we don’t go in there. Tom is monitoring a rare species’. No mention of what rare species, but she’d nodded and carried on. Plenty of time to catch up later.
But business had pressed in on her, and duties from how to set up zoom meetings during lockdown to how safe it was for the reserves to re-open. All part of decision-making at her level. Other people brought her their plans and recommendations. But the organisation was vast, and nooks and crannies abounded, like the partnership with the reserve on a small Pacific island that was being swamped by sea level changes.
The blue reminded her she was debating a visit to that island. Ethics and climate change; powerful drivers to stay away and save the planet, or visit the people and let them know in person that they were part of the solution to saving it.
Why was this door studded with gold stars? Merlin’s beard, it could almost be Merlin’s cloak!
Merlins. Tom had succumbed to the virus before she could meet him, and nobody had enlightened her on this rare species he was protecting. Was it a merlin? In which case she might as well search harder: it wouldn’t have returned on migration yet.
She toured the garden, looking more carefully for signs of nests and other bird activity. The robins were yelling their heads off, plenty of territorial posing going on. On cue, a wren popped out of the shrubbery and gave her a ticking off in its shrilling melodious song with built-in steam-hammer. Plenty of the finches and other small birds. Blackbirds… a song thrush repeating itself in the branch of the tree above. And a blackcap, who had probably overwintered in the mild climate rather than head off to Spain.
The plants were looking promising, although many had obviously suffered from the summer’s drought followed by the blast of ice before Christmas.
No sign of any merlin’s nest. She would check with the species team when she got back, but she had a feeling they now nested in conifers near heathland. There was heathland near the house, but no conifers in the walled garden. Was it something else? A butterfly, moth, or some exotic species of ant? Had Tom left notes?
She walked over to the potting shed in the corner. It had been tidied out. Everything very neat. Maybe Tom had been neat. Maybe he had put his notes somewhere safe. Who would know?
She arrived back at the blue door.
It was part of the house that was their headquarters. Perhaps it just led into the scullery, which was now the IT centre.
But why the small door?
Its latch moved.
The door swung open.
A small person stood there. She stepped out, showing her rural costume from the sixteenth century, complete with mob cap.
“May I help you?”
“Er, yes, sorry, you took me by surprise. I’m the Chief Exec. I was exploring between meetings and I hadn’t seen this door before. Where does it lead?”
“My quarters, if you please Ma’m. You can come in and inspect them if you like, but I haven’t done much tidying up since old Tom left. Do you know where he went?”
“Ah, I do, and I’m afraid I have bad news for you.” This was bizarre, but she was used to taking things that were thrown at her. “I’m afraid he died, winter before last.”
“Ah, I thought it must be something like that. It was all strange last year, and the year before. Very quiet. I’ve been doing my best to keep the garden tidy, and his vegetable log up to date.”
His log? This sounded promising, but unexciting. “My colleagues said we had to preserve Tom’s garden untouched. If you are happy to keep it going that would be great. Just let me know if you need anything.”
“I’ll do that Ma’m. I’ll leave a note on your desk, if that would suit you. You leave the reply in the same place, if it’s needed.”
“Er, you know where my desk is?”
“I knows everything about this place, Ma’m. If you need to know anything, ask me.”
“I was wondering if Tom kept any notes about the wildlife in the garden. He might have been caring for a specific bird or animal.”
“I don’t know of any notes, or any special wildlife. Just his vegetable log. It’s all special here, anyway.”
“It is, I can see that. Well, I’ll leave you in peace, but let me know if you need anything, any time.”
“I will, Ma’m, thank you.”
She stepped back from the door, and the small person bobbed a curtsey and disappeared inside, closing the small door behind her.
Should she go through the large door and see what it was like inside? No need, surely.
She had a pretty good idea of the species Tom had been protecting, after all. She would take over now.
© J M Pett 2023