I Find a Hatch
By Noah Cain
In my dream I find a hatch in the concrete floor of the basement of my childhood home, a handle of bent rebar, a faint circle outlined in the grayness behind the furnace. The hatch lid is heavy, but I wrestle it off and lower myself down into the hole. I hunch through the dark, earthen tunnel, my hands stretched in front of me. Before long, I feel a weathered, damp wood surface and find the cool metal of an ornately textured doorknob. I start to turn it and then I wake up.
In the fridge light’s dim glow, I eat a leftover porkchop, carefully tipping a jar of applesauce to plop a little dollop on each bite, wondering about the door. Whether it was locked and what was behind it and about other doors, ones I never opened, joys and horrors I’ll never know, joys and horrors I will. Finished, I put the jar away, toss the bone, elbow shut the fridge, and wipe my hands on my underwear.
In the little office I share with my wife there are 2 desks and 2 office chairs. I pull on a hoodie, sit down on mine, and take an old yellow cigarette tin from the center drawer of my desk that holds a few joints and a red lighter. I light up and breathe deep. Sitting there like that I bring the lighter to my knee, slide it through my thumb and pointer finger, then flip it and slide it again in the same way.
Joint still between my lips, I open the bottom drawer of my desk and remove the short corroded knife I found in my dad’s old tackle box when I was a teenager snooping behind the furnace. That space only lit up if you tightened the incandescent bulb a half turn. That incandescent bulb was always surprisingly hot even after a few minutes of snooping. It was a dusty space, whose existence I can’t recall being acknowledged; no one ever said, “Well have you checked behind the furnace?” In my dad’s old tackle box was a spool of line, linked musky lures as long as my forearm, a five of diamonds spoon, and the knife I now use to carve the wick out of the candle I want to light because it smells like cedar, scattering bits of carved wax on the desktop.
And then my wife is at the threshold of our shared office and we sort of nod to one another and she takes the joint from my lips and takes a puff herself as she sits on her own rolly chair and I put the candle down and we turn to face each other.
“What’s up?” she says.
I take the joint from her outstretched hand and inhale. “Not too bad.” I release the smoke.
“Let’s hear it.” She reaches her hand out. I tell her my dream. “Unsettling. For sure unsettling.” The joint went out when I was talking and she holds it up to me to see if I want any more. I wave my hand to show I am good and she puts it on her desk. “You okay?” she asks me.
“Yeah.” I look at her sitting there not really knowing how to answer. “What time is it?” I ask.
“It’s the middle of the night.”
My eyes tear up because I am thinking about my dad and she notices and kisses each of my wet eyes and guides me by the hand to bed. Under the covers I turn toward the wall and she wraps her cool arms around me, pulls me close and says, “It’s okay little spoon.”
Noah Cain is a multimodal artist, critic, and teacher. His work has appeared in CV2, long con magazine, and Winnipeg Free Press. Find him online at noahjcain.com