The Filing Cabinet
A Short Story
As I walked my dog, Max, down the street where we always walk, suddenly a filing cabinet stood in our path.
It was odd that such a thing would be right there on the sidewalk without notice, as if it had dropped from the sky.
I must admit, I could not fight the urge to open the top drawer. I looked around nervously as if someone might come running at me, yelling to leave alone what is not mine.
I reached out and touched the pull. It resisted at first as if locked, then gave way with a bit of muscle.
I peered inside and could not believe my eyes.
It was like a photograph, but moving, in full color, of a beach with ocean waves lapping at the sand, and I was looking down from a few feet above it.
I was drawn to it and did not even notice as my hand slowly reached in to touch it, to see for myself if what I was looking at was, in fact, there.
As my hand got closer to the water, I felt a sort of pulling and suddenly I found myself standing right there on the beach! My feet were partially in the water. I only knew this because my shoes were wet, as I could not look down, being in shock at my new surroundings.
I felt a tugging on my arm and remembered my dog. Looking down now, I saw the leash in my hand, yet no pup on the end. I still could feel him there like a safety line.
I allowed myself to lean into it, and just like that, I was back on the sidewalk, standing in a small puddle on the otherwise dry concrete.
My dog started barking furiosly, as if asking me what the hell had just happened. I had no answer.
I reached out to touch the Filing Cabinet. Maybe it was not real, and the whole episode had been a sort of waking dream, a hallucination brought on by little sleep, or boredom with life.
I shook it off and continued home with my poor pooch who seemed out of sorts with the whole situation, my wet shoes squeaking with every step.
About a week later, after taking different routes on our daily walks, I let my sweet puppy lead the way.
I had let my mind wander so I was not paying close attention to where we were going until it was too late. I looked ahead of us, and there it was, shining in the sunlight, the Filing Cabinet.
I stopped in my tracks, uncertain of what to do next. Part of me wanted to turn and go back the way we came, the other felt an almost irresistable pull to move forward.
I looked down at Max. "What do you think?"
He barked one time only.
"So we go on."
Slowly we walked toward it, Max constantly looking up at me for cues, a look of anticipation in his eyes.
I found this unusual given the fact that during our first encounter with the cabinet, he seemed not to like it at all.
We arrived at the magical device, which I had started to call it in my head, and stopped directly in front of it. I slowly reached out to touch the handle. I slid my fingers around it and gave it a tug.
It opened easily this time, as if it was expecting me. I peered inside.
"I will be leaving you here again, Max. You may be the only tether to this reality, and I would like to be able to come back."
One single bark came out, albeit a bit of a whisper.
"Here I go." I said more to myself. Max was silent.
I leaned over the open drawer, getting closer and closer to the scene it held. Then all at once I felt a pull and there I was, standing on the beach once again.
This time my feet were in the sand, and I realized I was holding my breath. I took a deep breath in and let it out slowly, maintaining a firm grip on the leash that would lead me home.
I turned to look at my surroundings. The beach was wide and beautiful with tall palm trees scattered across a well maintained yard in the distance.
I wondered at who might be the one keeping it looking so done, and felt a bit of a flutter in my stomach at the thought.
Could I not be alone here?
I saw a path a bit in from where the trees started, curiosity squashing any fear that had arisen. I started to walk toward it.
I only got a couple of steps away and felt a tug in my hand. The leash!
I called to Max. I felt a tug once again and leaned into it, finding myself back on the sidewalk.
An idea had come to me.
We walked briskly back to my cottage where I remember having a small sort of dolly in the back shed. I unleashed Max, and headed to take a look.
It had been buried under boxes, but there it was, and I congratulated myself at the memory of it.
I pulled it out, checked to see if the wheels were in working order and pushed it ahead of me back to the street that held the Filing Cabinet. I loaded it on, and walked it home.
I cleared a space in the middle of the room to put the thing and sat down to catch my breath.
I sat there for quite some time looking at it. Where did it come from? Where was I going? Was anyone able to open that drawer or was it just for me? What was I going to find upon exploring further? Would I find a friend? Foe?
Hours had passed while I pondered these questions and many more. When I finally looked around, Max sat at my feet with his dish in his mouth.
"Hungry, boy?" He dropped the bowl at my feet in reply.
I fed him then cooked a light supper for myself and sat back down in front of the cabinet, and formulated a plan.
First thing in the morning, I walked down to the hardware shop to find a longer leash for my dog. My plan was to explore off the beach while still having a lifeline back to this world.
The longest they had in stock was 20 feet so I bought several, and also some strong sort of construction tape to secure the fastenings to each other as an extra precaution.
I briskly walked home, took Max around the block to do his business, then set to work.
I attached the leashes, one to the other, buckle to handle. Once done, I took the tape and wrapped it as tight as I could around the buckles to ensure they would not somehow come undone whilst I was in the other world.
Max watched me with curiosity, occassionally slapping his tail on the hardwood floor, slowly, as if relaying a quiet encouragement. I tested the connections, and they seemed sound enough, so I hooked one end to Max.
We looked each other straight in the eyes. We held each other's gaze until Max let out one single, quiet, whisper bark.
I turned to the cabinet, and opened the top drawer. I knew what to do, and found myself once again in this beautiful place. This time, I was even further from the water, almost to where the grass started and the palm trees grew. Interesting. It was almost as if it was assisting me in my venture.
I held the gathered lengths of leash, and slowly unrolled it as I walked down the narrow pathway through the palms.
All of a sudden, a house rose into view, appearing as if through a veil of shimmering light to become solid. And there my leash ended.
I tugged upon it to lessen the bit of slack, then leaned into it and was back in my room. Max had fallen asleep.
Night had fallen. I checked the clock and found I had been gone for hours. Surely Max was hungry, as was I, so I went to the kitchen to make us both dinner.
Max came alive at the sound of kibble hitting his bowl. I set it down at my feet, then sat at the table to eat.
My mind was back in the other world. The one I currently lived in seemed grey, cloudy, and lonely in comparison. Max had been my only companion since my dear Greta had died. She would've loved this place I had discovered.
I felt a tear run down my cheek. It had been a long time since I had allowed myself to indulge in the memory of her for it was still painful.
I cleared my plate, then got ready for bed.
Next thing I knew, morning had come! How did that happen? I had not slept through the night in years! I glanced at the clock and saw that it had been 10 full hours. Poor Max. He looked at me with a little whine.
"Forgive me boy! Let me get dressed and I will take you out." Max barked in gratitude.
We hurried around the block, and I think we were both surprised by the spring in my step. Max quickly did his business as if eager for me to go back into the top drawer of that magical cabinet.
When I entered this time, I was standing where I had ended up the day before, under the palm trees. The house was not there this time, but as I started walking further along the path, it shimmered before me once again.
I looked down at my feet, as I felt the ground beneath them change, and saw I was standing on a pavestone. They were thoughtfully scattered in a crooked line heading towards the house, weaving through the low lying, flowering plants that grew around them.
I stood there awhile, studying my surroundings. The house seemed familiar somehow, as if I had visited something similar in the past, or dreamed of it long ago.
It was quite lovely. A large home, painted a sort of pale yellow that looked soothing sitting among the greenery of the palm trees, tropical plants, and low grown grass in between them. There was a veranda that ran the length of it, and french windows trimmed in white that stood open, with sheer linens that occassionally drifted out on the breeze. One could easily step over the sill and onto the porch where there were many places to sit and take in the scenery that I was actually standing in.
A very inviting prospect to be sure, yet I could not bring myself to move closer. It was not fear, more of a not desiring to encroach upon the serenity I was witnessing, perhaps disturbing whomever resided there in doing so.
With a bit of longing, I wound in the leash, leaned in and was home.
My cottage seemed small, as if it had shrunk, or more accurately I had grown. Max even looked larger to me. Again, time had passed quicker here than it did for me in the cabinet, and it was time to feed Max. The excitement I was feeling, however, had replaced my appetite this evening, so I made a snack of cheese and bread then we went to bed.
I dreamed of the place that night, of slowly rocking the days away on that porch with Max at my feet, alone but not lonely.
I jumped out of bed the next morning with another idea.
After going on our morning walk, I rummaged around the closet looking for something to carry things in. I grabbed hold of a strap and pulled out the old rucksack I could not bring myself to toss out. It still held an old canteen. I opened it and took a sniff. It would do.
I made a snack, filled the rinsed out canteen with water and packed it in the sack. Max was watching me intently, wondering what I was up to no doubt.
I put the rucksack on, hooked the leash to Max, grabbed the other end, and went into the filing cabinet.
As before, I was at the same place I ended up the previous trip. I reached to my shoulder and felt the strap. I took the sack off to check the contents, all looked in place, then returned it to my back and took my next steps.
The house was already here this time and I walked towards it with caution. I wondered if someone actually lived here, if the filing cabinet took me to an actual place, and not some imaginary world it had made just for me.
I made it to the porch and to the closest open window. I peered inside.
"Hello?" I asked tentatively.
I cleared my throat and asked again, louder this time. " HELLO?"
There was silence.
I could see through the room into another. The furniture looked in very good condition, comfortable yet stylish. It was clean though it did have an unlived in air about it.
I stepped over the sill and into the house.
"Hello?" I asked again with no response.
I took another few steps into the room and felt the tug of the leash in my hand. I had reached the end of my exploring for the day. I leaned in and returned to my room to find Max sleeping at my feet.
He awoke excitedly at my appearance as if he could feel my excitement! I had gone into the house and was quite sure that it was not inhabited. I took my faithful pup out then made us both our supper.
Max sat by my side at the table and I told him of my discoveries in between bites of sandwich. He wagged his tail non-stop and I knew that one day he would come in with me.
I was too wound up to sleep and was out of bed with the dawn. We went for our walk then got set up for another trip inside my world.
Yes, I had started thinking of it this way. It had a feeling of me there, of the energy of desires I had long forgotten in the living of life. I left the rucksack at home as I only wanted to know if I could carry something in. I connected myself to my pup and went in.
I was standing in the room I had left the day before. I headed out into the hall and started to explore the various first floor rooms to the length I could with the leash.
Just when I found the kitchen, I felt the tug and went back.
This was the place I was most hoping to take a look in. I took Max out, fed him, and went back in.
There I was, in the kitchen. It was large and filled with sunshine. There was a pantry on one end and many shelves and cabinets. I looked through them all and found them empty.
This encouraged me to fully believe that indeed no one lived here, this world was entirely mine, a gift from the Filing Cabinet.
There really was no logical explanation for why I felt this way. I just knew. It made no sense, yet I was sure it was so.
I left the kitchen and started up the stairs. At the top was a lovely sitting area with a huge window behind. On the side there were some low shelves, built in, filled with books.
I stepped toward it then felt the tug.
Poor Max was beside himself when I returned. He was barking and jumping around and I saw I had been gone the longest amount of time so far.
"My boy! I am home now." He whimpered as I gave him pets and hugged him " Twice in one day was too much for you, huh?" He thumped his tail.
We walked, ate, then slept, eager to greet the new day.
The next morning, I took my time getting up. It occurred to me I had not bathed in some time so I did, put on my best trousers and linen shirt.
We took a long morning walk. Max's exercise had been neglected by my selfish pursuit inside the cabinet. I had felt sure that if I had not left him behind connected to the leash, that I would not have been able to come home to him.
We went further than usual, downtown actually to the shops, and on a whim, we went in. I purchased things I normally do not, living on a pension: a couple of bottles of nice wine, quite a bit of dried meats, cheeses, and other fine things that could last some time.
I paid and we left, walking slowly home.
Once there, I made breakfast for the two of us: eggs, toast, bacon, and coffee for myself. I could see the joy in Max at the treat which in turn brought me joy.
I washed out his dishes, dried them, then took his food from the pantry. He looked nervous.
"Not to worry, boy. Today, you will be going with me." His thumped his tail with excitement.
I found another bag with a handle, put the dishes and dog food inside along with a few of his toys. In the rucksack, I put the things I purchased from the grocer. In the closet I found one of my favorite coats which I rolled up and stuffed in around the bottles.
Once everything was packed and set down in front of the cabinet, I sat down in my chair facing it.
I thought about the life I had lived, at the many joys along the way, the sorrows lately, and the loneliness of the last few years. I thought of my loved ones, friends and family that had left this earth, some way to soon.
My day to day living had not been about living at all, only existing. If not for Max, I would have already turned to dust in this chair. I stared at the filing cabinet.
I thought about the first time I saw it, opening that top drawer and stepping into something out of a novel. I thought of how it had brought me, and Max as well, more alive than I had been since Greta had died.
I had found a world of peace. I did not really know what else I would find once we were there for good. I DID know that I trusted this world would provide all that we required. And that was good enough for me.
I stood up. "Ready, Max?" He jumped up and barked. I laughed, startling myself at the sound I had not heard come out of me for a long time.
I put the rucksack on, bent down to pick up my best friend, reached down for the bag that held his supplies.
Then I went in for the last time.
It worked! Max jumped out of my arms and into the chair at the top of the stairs, tongue hanging out, happily panting.
We walked downstairs together and into the kitchen to put our supplies.
To my great astonishment, there was the love of my life, cooking at the stove. Tears of joy flowed down my face.
"Well there you are, love", she said. "And I see you have brought a friend. Well done, you. Now come over here and give us a hug. I've made supper."
Mail had been piling up at one of the houses on the postman's route which concerned him. He knew the resident was an older man, so he involved the town constable.
Who, arrived at the door and knocked several times before trying the knob. The door was unlocked, so he went inside the home to find it empty.
He checked the rooms and came back to where he started, sure it had been abandoned. He thought it curious there was a filing cabinet in the middle of the floor with it's top drawer open.
He walked up and peered inside to find a swirling universe of nebulae. Intrigued, he reached inside...
About the Creator
Musings and imaginings from the brain of a fifty something year old Gemini who sold everything and moved to Los Angeles in 2018.
I am no professional, I write because it brings me joy, release, and peace.
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Original narrative & well developed characters
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
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