Into the Light – a short story

Göttingen, Germany

Standing on the sidewalk, Hannah loosened the ring on one tripod leg and lengthened it slightly until the level-bubble was centered, then she re-tightened it. She sighted through the viewfinder again and verified that the doorway was within the frame. She focused on one of the double door’s pair of brass doorknobs. The shutter clicked.

Gabe watched, amused by Hannah’s careful advance of the film. He pretended impatience, tapping the body of the digital camera slung around his neck.

“Patience for the sake of art,” said Hannah.

“Patience for the sake of you, my dear,” he said. She didn’t reply.

“Come on, Hannah, no grudges, alright? Don’t I earn extra points for spending hours on the sidewalks of San Francisco fielding questioning looks about why we’re photographing doors?”

“At least they’re just looks.”

“Yeah, but everyone’s really wondering if we’re stalkers or paparazzi or, I don’t know, casing a joint.”

“Whatever,” she waved it off, sliding the tripod’s legs together and setting off down the street, almost without him.

“You still haven’t told me what you’re doing,” he said, skipping to catch up.

She laughed, softening a little, “I thought you’d noticed, I’m photographing old doors.”

“Duh! But why?”

“Because they’re beautiful maybe? Because I like them. Why do I need another reason?”

“I don’t know. I guess you don’t. You just seem so adamant about it, I thought there must be something behind it. Going into business, catching the coattails of the calendars-of-common-objects fad?”

Her faint smile assured him.

“Nope…just… I don’t know, G., maybe we fixate on the things that block us the most. I think it’s good to face that, shine a little light on what’s shadowed and secret, you know? To not let it have too much power.”

Gabe looked at an ugly grey stucco townhouse last renovated in the mid ’80s. As they as passed it he nodded grimly, recognizing something of his childhood in the hollow core door with its peeling varnish and three deadbolts and said, “Yeah, maybe you’re right.”

Later that afternoon Hannah would be in her darkened bathroom with a red-lit Hello Kitty desk lamp balanced on the sink, and her alarm clock on the only available surface area in the open medicine cabinet as she counted off the minutes until she could squeegee the water droplets and hang the negatives from clothespins strung on the shower curtain rod.

When they dried, the black and white transparencies of newly painted or not-touched-in years or peeling or postered-over doors would offer to lead into something, into somewhere. Hannah loved the doors into people’s lives, loved the things that, charmed or locked, kept the rest of everything out, admitted something or nothing, blocked the view or peeped out slyly. So many options gave her hope even if they were so many ways of being all just out of reach, their plane of existence flattened yet again on each reverse-shaded negative.

With darks turned to lights and light cast in shadow, she’d hang them in strips, a gallery of doors, in front of her aluminum-framed balcony slider — and the sunlight, when it finally crested the neighboring building would shine through and drop soft shadows. The shadows would land on her and Gabe, lying on the beige shag carpet. Maybe she’d be lost in her thoughts and he in his, locked in their own minds in a way, but each also slowly moving out of their private corridors, through the doors and into the light.


This story brought into the light of day by


which also brings you these fine stories:

Emily Plesner Time Stops When I’m With You
Barbara Lund Separate Space
Shana Blueming A Melting Heart
Juneta Key Don’t Drink the Water 
Angela Wooldridge Midwinter
Lee Lowery All Aboard
Elizabeth McCleary OverWhelmed
Viola Fury The Day the Cat Got Out
Karen Lynn Dragon Smoke and Wind
Katharina Gerlach Lobster One
S.R. Olson Malakai’s Gift


I hope you enjoyed my story and have a chance to read the others. Let me know what you think in the comment section, I’d love to hear from you.

This story got me to wondering about what else doors symbolize and how they represent something besides just a barrier. For more nifty door pictures and thoughts on the worlds revealed by different doors, see this blog post. Thanks for visiting!

*image credit: Wendy Smyer Yu, Göttingen, Germany

23 thoughts on “Into the Light – a short story

  1. I love this! The imagery is so vivid, and the conclusion as the separation between Gabe and Hannah is portrayed is understated yet illuminating. Just the right amount of friction for a short piece like this, a snapshot if you will, 😉 of two people finding their way into each other hearts.
    It’s great to see some of your stories come to light at last. :)

    1. Thank you so much Kirsten – if not for the unflagging enthusiasm of you and Cat, I don’t think I’d have gotten half this far.

      I promise, though, not all my stories are about photographers (though I admit, there IS a third one that’s got some film-makers) :)

    1. Aw, Cat, thanks! It was just one of those things, sitting around on my computer. I’m glad it found a place here in the blog hop :)

    1. Thanks, Karen. It’s kinda outside my usual “territory” – though I guess I haven’t written enough to actually qualify as having a “territory.” 😀

  2. I really enjoyed this; it engaged me right away and I love things that give one a lot of room for speculation. Your language is beautifully used and lyrical, like music and I love that as well. Thank you for sharing, Wendy!

    1. That’s very kind of you Viola, thanks for stopping by and reading. What an amazing journey you’ve been on and I’m glad to hear that you’re triumphing after travails. Your writing has that same gutsy spirit!

  3. What a nice story, Wendy. And it flows with such vivid details. I felt like I was there. And I liked the hint of tension between the two characters. Yes, doors can be metaphors for so much. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Aww, thanks, Casey! Both for your kind words and just for stopping by! This blog-hop has been a fun thing to join in on. Maybe we’ll see you at a future one? 😀

  4. You DO write! I enjoyed your story very much, but I liked your photos even more. Together they are … illuminating. Well done, Wendy!

    1. Haha Tom – I understand your surprise, given how… recalcitrant… I’ve been in actually putting something out for folks to read – other than my typical blatherings, anyway :)

      and kudos for that pun, I approve! 😀

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