Forked Logic

The Gap

Cover Image for The Gap

There was a small gap between the door to his bedroom and its frame that bothered him to no end. When he was lying in bed at night trying to fall asleep, the gap taunted him. The little sliver of light was like the little bit of his brain that was active and keeping him awake.

After a particularly frustrating sleepless night he decided to fix the door. Thinking it wise to start with what would be the simplest solution, he got a Phillips head screwdriver from the tool bag in the cabinet over the washing machine in his laundry room and began to adjust the hinges.

The gap was at the top of the side opposite the hinges. His hope was that he would be able to loosen the top hinge enough that the door would tilt and close it. The plan succeeded; at least it sort of succeeded. When he loosened the hinge, the door had tilted and closed the original gap, but in doing so had revealed a new gap on the side where the door met the frame.

To credit his patience, he spent at least twenty minutes loosening and tightening the hinge, trying to find the sweet spot that would hide both cracks. When both of his hands were cramping too badly to turn the screwdriver, he decided there was no sweet spot; the door just wasn’t wide enough to fill the doorway. Stumped but still determined, he sat down with his back to his desk and stared at the door, looking for the most suitable way to fix the problem.

The most obvious solution was to replace the door, but it was also the most difficult and the most expensive. He could take the door off and replace it with a quilt or a sheet, which would be less expensive and less difficult, but he worried about not being able to completely shut the door and about light and noise coming through from the outside. Maybe he could find a piece of wood to attach to the door that would fill the crack. Satisfied with that solution, he elected to take a break and have a snack.

He went into the kitchen, prepared a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, poured a tall glass of milk, and took them out to the back porch. It was early fall, the leaves on the high oak trees in his backyard were starting to change, and the sun was beginning its descent towards the rolling hills that made up his horizon. He could hear his neighbors’ children in the magnolia tree that sat on the edge of his property. They were pretending they were pirates and the tree was their ship.

“We’ll get that Peter Pan,” said Michael, their oldest son, from about three-quarters up the tree, “just wait until he gets a load of our secret weapon.”

“Arr! We’ll show him!” came the high-pitched pirate voice of Michael’s youngest brother Edward.

“Shhh! Here he comes…” said Michael.

Their middle brother Simon was coming around the corner from the front yard. He was wearing a pointed green hat and battling imaginary pirates as he went, occasionally diving away from attacks and rolling on the ground.

“Ah ha! You’re no match for Peter Pan! Is that the best you’ve got?! Ha!” He said as he went, shaming his imaginary enemies. Approaching the magnolia tree he called out to his brothers.

“Come out and face me Hook! It’s time to—“
Before he could finish his sentence he was struck directly in the face with the husk of a magnolia blossom.

“ARRRR!!! You’ll never defeat Hook and his pirates! Neverland belongs to me!! Fire ALL cannons!” said Michael, and Edward started to unload his stockpile of husks at his younger brother.

Simon had frozen after the first shot to the face, and took three more husks to the torso in rapid succession before erupting in tears and taking off towards the house. After some hushed debate the two older brothers must have agreed they had gone too far, as they emerged from the tree and walked slowly up to the house, hanging their heads as they went.

He laughed to himself and remembered what it was like to be young. Looking down at his snack he thought for a moment about how little had changed. He had been eating this same snack for as long as he could remember. He even still used the same routine for eating it that he had developed when he was a child.

He started by eating the four corners of the sandwich, turning it into a kind of square shaped cross. With the corners gone he was able to dip each of the remaining spokes in the glass of milk before eating them.

Eating all four spokes left him with that most glorious bite of the peanut butter and jelly, the center bite. This most sacred of bites he would place in the milk for exactly five seconds before eating, making sure to hold it under the surface so that both sides of the bread got drenched. Finally, with the sandwich gone, he would finish the milk in one long draught.

There had been some minor tweaks to the system throughout the years, mostly to account for the different soaking times associated with different types of bread, but the routine had basically stayed the same, and he saw no reason for it to change in the future. Some things were just perfect.

Satisfied with his snack, he felt reinvigorated and returned his focus to the gap. First he retrieved his measuring tape from the tool bag in the laundry room and took measurements of the crack. Then he went out to the garage and starting searching for a suitable piece of wood.

It had been months since he had been in the garage for any reason other than to retrieve bottled water from the fridge or meat from the freezer, and it surprised him to see all the things he had forgotten about. There were two broken lawnmowers, a weed eater that he had only used once, several old bikes with flat tires, and all sorts of things in old mason jars that had been there when he had bought the house. Everything was covered in a thick coat of dust, and cobwebs were everywhere cobwebs could be.

After taking a few minutes to walk around and take stock of all the things that had been left here to die, he took the handsaw from it’s spot on the pegboard beside the refrigerator and a two by four that was resting against the door frame and went back outside.

The handsaw was dull, the wood was old and warped, and he was trying to cut a sliver of wood just over an inch wide. After trying about a dozen different grips and saw angles, he decided it was impossible to hold the wood and saw it at the same time. He was considering giving up when he remembered the vice in the garage.

Even with the aid of the vice, he cut six different slivers before he got one that worked.

Determined to finish the project, he went back to the garage and got some rusty wood screws from one of the mason jars and the twenty-year-old power drill his father had passed down to him as a housewarming gift. He had partly thought it was a joke, and he was a little bit surprised when the drill actually worked. He attached the freshly cut sliver with three of the wood screws, driving them flush with the edge of the wood, and closed the door to check his handiwork.

There was a small place at the very top where the sliver rubbed the frame. It wasn’t all that noticeable, but it did make the door stick just a little bit when it was opened or closed. He thought about leaving it, he had already been working on this for hours and it was basically finished, but he knew it would bother him every time he used the door, so he went to the laundry room to look for sandpaper.

With the corner sanded and the door closing smoothly and completely, he allowed himself to feel satisfied with his work. After returning the tools to the garage, he went to the kitchen to make dinner. He had started pot roast in his crockpot that morning, so all he had to do was steam vegetables in the microwave and cut some bread and his dinner was ready.

He poured a beer and took his meal into the living room. While he ate he watched the evening news. Scientists had developed a revolutionary new cancer treatment that equipped leukemia patient’s white blood cells with a specially modified strain of HIV.

He spent the rest of the night flipping back and forth between a baseball game and the various sitcoms and late-night shows he watched. When he found himself dozing, he went upstairs, brushed and flossed his teeth, and got into bed. For the next few hours, as he tried unsuccessfully to fall asleep, there was one thought that kept running through his head.

“I wish it weren’t so dark.”

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