Wing-Feather Fables: Revolving Tales

A revolving door is magic, through a child’s eye. It can lead you in, or out, or nowhere, spinning round and round. There is a risk of getting stuck.

In the spirit of doors that go in more than one direction, I offer you a choice of tales. One alone just wouldn’t do. Step inside, and then decide.

Will you follow Izzy on a quest to guard the Passage?

Or will you pay a visit to The Dream Bank with Maurice?

Either way, I hope the door will spin you tales of quirk and wonder . . . just like Magic . . . .

Revolution #1: Passage

No one ever entered. Izzy had watched the burnished silver doorway for a decade. She learned its moods. In the morning, everything was shadowed. The recess emanated cold with such determination that Izzy, fifty yards away and indoors, shivered. Gold reflections came midafternoon. The girl knew every waver, cut, and bowl of light.

No one else seemed to know the door was there. No one saw it. No one paused outside its threshold. It was wedged between two skyscrapers in what should have been an alley. Instead, it was a narrow niche, inhabited by a spellbound door. Above the door, the air was fuzzy.

Izzy watched the door from Gran’s apartment. She discovered it when she was six, on the evening of her parents’ funeral. It winked at her, through the darkness. Izzy wiped her eyes and looked. The door winked a second time, a gesture both terrible and strangely reassuring.

She never doubted there was Something there, but she studied the door for months before she finally asked, “Why doesn’t anyone go in?”

“They don’t have the key,” Gran said, as if they’d been discussing broccoli or the sum of ten and three.

Izzy didn’t ask who did. Eventually she found her grandfather’s diary beneath the floorboards in her room. She was much older then, sixteen, and she read it through the night. In the morning, she found Gran waiting in the kitchen.

“He said you would inherit.” Gran eyes were moist. “That you’d replace him as the gatekeeper. Since he disappeared. . . we’ve relied on shift workers and luck.”

The door, Izzy learned, led into a separate world, one shorn off from the main. “A bit like Narnia,” Gran explained, “but with elements of Tolkien at his darkest.” There were other portals too, in Algeria, the Himalayas, and Peru. “We had to destroy the one in Amsterdam.”

The problem was this: if people could go in, creatures could come out. Shadowed beasts that preyed. Gatekeeping ran in families. Substitutes eventually lost the entrance, or went crazy, or got eaten. Part of guarding meant checking up on Things Inside.

Izzy thought about the double wink. She packed her bag, put on woolen socks. She chose shadows over sunlight because all those years of watching had taught her how reflections could deceive the eye.

Gran hugged her at the curb. “I can’t get closer or the door distracts me, sends me off to purchase eggs or cigarettes.”

“You don’t smoke.”


Izzy said, “Wish me luck.”

“Take these, instead. They were your grandfather’s.” Gran handed her a small, sheathed knife and a battered tin of marmalade. “For bait.”

Izzy stepped inside the recess. She placed her palm against the pane. The glass began to heat. It glowed. It glowed so bright Izzy shut her eyes.

Across the street, Gran watched Izzy vanish in a shaft of light. She pulled her sweater tight and turned towards the corner store, mumbling about matches and wishing it would rain.

~ Photo by Brenda Gottsabend; Story by Lisa Ahn

Learn more about Wing-Feather Fables here

Revolution #2: The Dream Bank

When the revolving door of the Dream Bank expelled him for the twelfth time in a row, Maurice lost his temper.

“Darn it all,” he muttered. It was as close as he ever came to swearing.

He rubbed his lower back as the spinning panels slowed and stopped. The “Entrance” letters seemed to mock him. Perhaps thirteen would be the charm. Maurice stepped inside the triangular recess, placed his palm against the glass and pushed.

This time, the door shoved him out so quickly he landed on his hands and knees. His suitcase skittered on the bricks and nearly slid into the street. Maurice lunged and caught it on the curb.

It was a small, blue vinyl hard-side, old-fashioned. Jason loved it. Maurice rubbed the scuff marks with his sleeve.

The manager would hear of this. Maurice was a loyal customer, as regular as rain. A deposit every month. No withdrawals in fifty years.

A small crowd gathered round him. From the fringe, a boy called out, “You gonna try again?” Maurice swallowed twice and nodded.

As he neared the door, it wavered back and forth to keep him out. “Crummy luck,” said the boy.

It was, Maurice agreed. It had been crummy for a while. He sat down with the suitcase on his lap, remembering when Jason got it. A beach vacation. Such excitement. Now the Superman decal was so faded, he had to squint to make it out.

The door had momentarily stilled. Gold light reflected off its surface like a promise. It was his second home. He stood and the door began to shimmy.

“Hey, Mister,” said the boy, “don’t cry.” Maurice touched his cheek and realized it was wet. The suitcase wiggled in his grip. Then it bucked against him, nearly flying. Maurice held tight, wrestled with it.

The crowd had grown quite large. The boy approached. “Need help?” he asked. He looked so much like Jason. Maurice was shaking. The suitcase squirmed. The boy reached out and took it. He set it on the pavement. He flipped one clasp. Then the other. He looked up. Maurice nodded. The lid popped open on its own.

Inside, there were tidy rows of something wrapped in cotton wool. The boy pulled them out at random. He snapped the bindings. Luminescent tendrils floated up like mist. There was Jason, just before he died. Maurice’s ex-wife, on the day they married. Old dogs, long buried, floated past images of the Himalayas and a trim and sturdy sailboat on the sea.

“My dreams,” Maurice croaked. “Scattered.”

The bank doors spun like mad, now. They raised a wind that blew Maurice’s dreams right into his face. He sneezed. The boy beside him laughed. A strange feeling burbled in Maurice’s gut, escaping in a rusty giggle.

When the crowd finally dispersed, the old man and the child were still rolling on the pavement, clutching at their stomachs, laughing near an empty suitcase. The bank door, spinning wildly, was nothing but a blur.

~ Photo by Brenda Gottsabend; Story by Lisa Ahn

Learn more about Wing-Feather Fables here

7 thoughts on “Wing-Feather Fables: Revolving Tales

  1. Pingback: Wing-Feather Fables: Revolving Door | How to Feather an Empty Nest

  2. Wow, two for the price of one. You’re spoiling us. I love both . . . one filled with exploration of the unknown, family secrets and history . . . the other made me giggle despite the scattered dreams.

    Beautifully descriptive, you bring such life to your characters.

    • Thanks Kathryn. My goal is always character, so I’m glad that comes through. And I’m glad you giggled with Maurice. He needed a good laugh.

    • Thanks Melissa — on a day when my novel revisions are beating me over the head, you’ve given me a perfect dose of pep 🙂

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